Battery Charging Stations In An Institutional Setting
For electric wheelchairs or scooters in an institutional setting.
- Assume dimensions of one foot each length will fit any charger. Typical weight for a 20 Amp 24 Volt charger is 20 pounds. Assume 4 Amp input current at 120 VAC.
- Charger to sit on an open shelf. This will provide free air flow for adequate cooling ventilation for charger. This also allows a direct view of the charger’s front panel. Meter readings or front panel displays provide information about normal and abnormal events that occur in charging process.
- A switched AC GFI outlet, with AC-on indicator light, should be available at shelf level so that the AC plug connection is visible and not behind charger. Not all chargers are made with AC switches. Plugging DC connector into chair while AC power is off eliminates sparking hazards and connector wear.
- The shelf should have a lip at the front to prevent the charger from being pulled off.
To avoid all the maintenance problems and hazards associated with unsealed wet cell batteries, restrict use to only sealed batteries. Sealed batteries may be gel cell type construction, but there are other sealed types that do not present gassing problems.
Batteries should be charged with an automatic charger. All batteries are not created equal. Different batteries may require different chargers. We estimate that there are over twenty different battery chemistries in use. Recommendation: Use one type of deep cycle battery from the same manufacturer of the same construction. You then can get by with one type of charger.
- Remember that the DC cord length from the charger to chair connector is 6 feet. Think about that when shelf height is specified.
- Different types of chairs have different types of DC connectors. That means that certain chair types will require specific chargers or a charger with replaceable DC cordset.
- Each charging alcove should have a sprinkler head.
- DC connectors should be inspected regularly, both at the chair end and at the charger end, for connector wear and frayed cords.
- AC waveform in some charger designs may produce noticeable humming. It is suggested that the wall holding the charger shelf should not have a patient bed behind it. We try to make our designs quiet enough for someone to be able to sleep in the same room with the charger.
- Provision should be made for: literature storage to contain the manuals for the chargers and the wheelchairs; storage of extra corsets for chargers and wheelchair parts; as well as a bulletin board for instructions for the staff.
- Note: Chargers should be listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory as meeting the special application standard for electric wheelchair use. Do not use chargers designed for automotive use.
Our MP and ML series chargers solve many of the problems mentioned above. They have replaceable and adaptable cordsets; one charger will fit all chairs. They have battery hand-shaking to distinguish between a gel or wet cell battery and can charge either. They are fully automatic, requiring no special knowledge of the user or care giver. They are compact, using less space than conventional chargers.
The theory of charging batteries in a separate alcove seems to be contrary to the emerging opinion that persons should be rehabilitated and taught how to transfer themselves to a bed and plug the charger into the chair on their own. If a facility is for rehabilitation, the precept of self reliance and least restrictive environment ought to be followed. We recommend that you contact Robert Kimes, of Freedom Design in FreePort, IL at 815 235 9116, a designer who uses our chargers in his own electric wheelchair.