Electric scooters use one of the following types of batteries:
- Lithium-ion – Li-ion
- Lithium Polymer – LiPo
- Lithium iron phosphate battery – LFP
- Nickel Metal Hydride Battery – NiMH
- Sealed Lead Acid Battery – SLA
The most popular type of batteries is lithium-based, basically the first 3 on the list above. Sealed lead-acid batteries are used mostly on low-speed e-scooters or the “normal” electric scooter (the ones similar in size to a gas scooter).
Razor uses a sealed lead-acid battery for example while Qiewa (a much more powerful e-scooter) uses a lithium battery.
Differences between electric scooter batteries
But what’s the difference between these batteries and which one should you choose if you decide to buy a new electric scooter.
Lithium-Ion vs. Lithium Polymer
The main difference between lithium-ion and lithium-polymer is energy density. Lithium-ion has a significantly higher energy density than lithium polymer.
Here is the full table of comparison:
|Efficiency (actual power return for stored energy)||85-95%||75-90%|
|Explosion risk||Only when overcharged (e-scooters chargers have overcharge protection)||Low risk|
|Lifespan||Can lose it’s capacity over time even if not used||Don’t lose as much capacity as Li-ion batteries|
Lithium batteries vs Sealed Lead Acid Battery
Sealed lead-acid batteries are cheaper than lithium batteries but they don’t offer as much efficiency, power, and reliability as Lithium-ion batteries.
Depth of discharge is another big difference between these types of batteries. This tells us the percentage of battery that can be used without damaging the battery. In lithium-ion’s case, the percentage that can be used is up to 85% while lead-acid batteries should not be discharged past 50% in order to last for a long time. The problem here is that you could only use half of the range of the electric scooter which is not convenient. So you are forced to use more and slowly damage your battery. That’s why only cheaper versions of e-scooters use lead-acid batteries and high-end ones use only lithium.
Efficiency is also a difference, lithium-ion converting up to 95% of the stored energy to real-world power while lead-acid are in the range of 80-85%. Due to this fact, lithium-ion batteries charge much faster than lead-acid batteries. Razor, for example, can take up to 12 hours to charge while an average lithium-ion scooter takes about 2-4 hours depending on the battery capacity.
Lifespan comparison is worth considering as well because lithium-ion will last much more charging cycles than lead-acid batteries. A lithium-ion can last between 500-1000 cycles of discharge/charge while a sealed lead acid only lasts between 200 and 300 on average.
NiMH batteries have a high energy density, sometimes exceeding the density of lithium-ion batteries. They are also safer because, in the worst case they pop, but don’t blow up like lithium-ion when overcharged. If you wonder if electric scooter batteries explode check this article (and video) here: do electric scooters explode?
Why aren’t they more popular then? The first disadvantage is the charging time, which is typically between 10-12 hours. This is considered to be too long for an electric scooter especially if you are in a hurry.
Also, they have a low voltage output. Comparing to Li-ion that can deliver 3.7 volts per cell, NiMH cells only provide 1.2 volts.
They are also less suitable in cold areas. Lithium-Ion have this problem as well to some extent but they do tolerate cold temperatures fairly well. I don’t see more than a 15% drop in range with my e-scooter on a cold 41 Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) day.
NiMH batteries are also bigger and heavier than lithium-ion batteries and talking about e-scooters, every pound counts.
Do lithium-ion batteries have other cons?
They do have a couple. Or more, but I don’t consider those important.
The main ones are that they are more expensive (source) than other types of batteries and subject to aging. Even if you don’t use them as much, they will slowly degrade over time. The best way to prolong lithium-ion battery life is to store it in a cool place, with moderate humidity, and with at least 40% charge. This reduce the aging effect. (source)
Other disadvantages, but not strictly affecting the customer:
- protection required when charging them in order to prevent overcharging
- all e-scooter have a charger with overcharge protection nowadays
- transportation is difficult and taking it on a plane may have restrictions. Read this article if you can take your electric scooter on a plane
- immature technology
What’s the cost of electric scooter batteries?
The average cost of a lithium battery is between $200-300. The price of the battery on average models is about 1/3 of the electric scooter. Read more about batteries cost for different models here.
Charging the battery
If you want more tips on charging the battery. Do and don’ts and also battery storage tips check out my other article here.
So? Which one to choose? I would go for an electric scooter with a Lithium-Ion or a Lithium-Polymer battery. What about you? Do you have any experience with electric scooter batteries?