Friday, October 16, 2009

Winter Scooting, Part 2

Anne posed this question in another post:

I'm close to ordering a TravelScoot (my b'day gift to myself), but still need to convince DH it's a wise investment.

One issue I've not seen discussed is, using a TravelScoot in the winter. How does it do on slushy or icy pavements, or an inch or two of snow? What happens if it gets wet, particularly the battery? Living in upstate NY, this is an important consideration for me.

Do you have any readers who might have winter experience with their TravelScoot? If so, I'd love to hear from them.

Several of you replied, and I don't want anyone who just gets the email version of this blog or only reads it on Facebook to miss any of the wonderful comments and discussion.

Welcome, Orla! You did great for a first blog post!

coach anne said...

Here's Hardy's reply to this same inquiry via his website:

=========begin quote========

Hi Anne,

Like every electric device it is not recommended to expose it to water and damages resulting from that will void the warranty.

But I can put you on ease. Unless it's already raining in the morning, I commute almost every day with my TravelScoot the half mile from my home to the shop. But when it's raining in the evening I have no other choice than getting wet. So my scooter got wet already a dozen times and so far there were no problems. But don;t seek shelter and leave the scooter outside. Also avoid puddle splashing.

Definitely do not use the TravelScoot in snow. Snow will easy get into the teeth of drive gear, getting compressed by the belt which eventually is getting too short and break.

Freezing temperatures should not harm the batteries but the power and capacity is significantly reduced. Best is to keep the battery warm as long as you can. So far no feed back from customers in cold areas.

Best regards,


=======end of quote=======

This is a little bit discouraging, as we have quite a few months every year which are wet and/or snowy.

I'd still love to hear from anyone who's using a TravelScoot in colder climes.



Bill Fabrey said...

Followers in southern climates can skip this comment:

I don't yet have TravelScoot experience, but have long experience with a fleet of 5 conventional scooters (Rascals, one Eagle) as part of my extended family in upstate NY, similar to Anne, so the following may be helpful:

1) Scooters are useful only on cleared pavement. Rolling on even as little as an inch of snow is equivalent to a triple thick carpet up a ramp. It demands so much extra current from the motor and batteries, that they are likely to be cut out automatically--that is true even when the drive wheels have traction, which is doubtful in icy or slippery conditions, as in snow. The presence of very cold air would only have a slight effect on keeping the motor or batteries from overheating.

[If, as a kid, you ever tried to ride a bicycle or tricycle in the snow, you may remember how much harder it is to pedal, forget about staying upright!]

2) Sealed lead-acid scooter batteries do not fare well at temperatures below, say, 40 degrees F. for prolonged periods, such as overnight. They don't necessarily freeze, but when you need to use them, they can take a while to warm up. (They can freeze and be damaged below freezing temperatures if mostly in the discharged condition, but not if fully charged.) Therefore, in the northern states, scooters with batteries should not be left overnight in a vehicle in the winter, and if they are, only when fully charged.

But if you have a heated garage, that's the place to keep the scooter overnight. Here's an alternative: Keep the scooter in the vehicle outdoors, but bring the batteries inside. This is harder to do with a conventional scooter, but easy, apparently, with the TravelScoot.

3) Lithium ion batteries are less vulnerable to cold temperatures. I have not yet tested them at sub-freezing temperatures, however.

Despite all this, in northern states, there are lots of time in the winter when you can use your scooter to go to a mall or theater, for example, because where you have to drive is usually cleared of snow in a day or so. Just use greater caution.

Anne asked about wetness, particularly the battery. Sealed lead-acid batteries are impervious to wetness, including direct rain. I don't know about Li-ion. Scooter control electronics is usually another story. This question needs to be answered by the manufacturer. Conventional scooters do a poor job of protecting their electronics from rain. Some people improvise using plastic bags over their control housings.

--Bill Fabrey, Electrical Engineer (retired)
and scooter wrangler (not retired)

OrlaM said...

Hi, I hope you will get some answers to your question Anne.

I know this will probably sound crazy, but would you consider in the long-term getting 2 different scooters?

One scooter may not match all of your needs, no matter which one it is. But maybe you could get one that could cope more with very wintery conditions, as well as getting something like the travelscoot for indoors in winter, or for when the weather is a bit better in Spring/Summer (which is probably most of the time you would be using a scooter outdoors anyway).

You could think about which is likely to be more useful to you, most of the time, and go for that one first.

Another issue is tranportability and whether you could manage with another type of scooter anyway? If (like me) you could only manage dismantling and lifting the Travelscoot, even though it might not suit all possible life circumstances, it might be to some extent the only realistic option to give you general mobility.

For me it was either the Travelscoot, or a much more expensive electric wheelchair (which would then lead to transport problems, as I don't drive, or have the money for an accessible car), or just not doing things.

I did use a manual wheelchair for years, but it was very frustrating relying on others to push me.

I also had another mobility scooter for years. This could be dismantled, but it was much too heavy and awkward for me to do this alone, and even too difficult most of the time with help. So I ended up just using it a bit around where I lived, which was better than being stuck in the house, but a far cry from being properly mobile.

I kept this old scooter after getting the Travelscoot, mostly as it was not worth selling for what I would get for it now. I thought it might also be useful to have a back up, especially if the weather was very bad and I absolutely had to go out (as the battery is more covered). Though to be honest, for myself, if I had had the Travelscoot first, I wouldn't have bothered to go out to get another scooter. But this could be different if we had more weather problems where I live.

So crazy as it might sound, I now have a manual wheelchair (which I have hardly used since getting the travelscoot), and 2 mobility scooters!

Anyway, not sure if my comments are of any use. I am in Ireland, and though we do not get much snow or daytime ice, we get a lot of rain. I just organise my activities a bit around the weather.

I am free to do indoor things whatever the weather, but save outdoor things for days it is not raining. If it starts to rain when I am out, I just nip in somewhere nearby until it stops. Lukily, here, you normally feel a few drops before the rain comes down properly, so there is plenty of time to get inside.
On this (Elizabeth's) website there is a link on the left-hand side, TravelScoot Reviews. If you click on that you can see that there are also links to reviews of other wheelchairs/scooters, as well as general articles. It doesn't seem that unusual to have a few mobility products.

Anyway, sorry for the long reply. This is my first blog post ever! I think the website is great Elizabeth.


cynth said...

I too am curious if anyone in a snow area has a TravelScoot. I am in Idaho and this will be my first winter with the scoot.

I have no plans to "ride it in the snow" but I do plan on riding it to do my shopping and what not when the parking lots are plowed.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...
sorry, not me, i'm in west palm beach but i have ridden in the rain before. i never thought about the battery and didn't have a problem. (now i'll worry! ha ha)

smiles, bee

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