Entering the world of electric scooters for the first time can be confusing for many people. It sure was for me.
All those terms, volts, watts, amperes, numbers, metrics, comparisons, can be a little daunting. People encountering these terms for the first time, as I was a few years ago, may find this especially hard.
The good news is, they only look complicated on the surface. It only looks scary because of the lack of a good guide, explaining all the terms simply.
We will address that in this article.
In just a few minutes, you will be able to understand literally every metric that is important for understanding and choosing an electric scooter. You will reduce your dependency on mechanics, marketers, and other “experts”.
Electric scooter wattage
Power is the most important metric about an electric scooter. It is also commonly known as wattage. This is a metric that will describe how much power the motor generates. Power is measured in Watts, using the symbol “W”.
Wattage will greatly impact most of the key performance aspects.
The following will largely depend on wattage and not much else:
- top speed that the scooter can reach
- maximum angles that the scooter can climb
- maximum load that the scooter can carry
Aside from those, motor power will have some impact on the range as well.
Typically, budget scooters will have between 200 and 600 Watts of power. That will usually give them top speeds between 25 km/h and 35 km/h.
However, the most powerful electric scooters can reach wattages of 5000 Watts of real power, and they will be able to go as fast as 100 km/h or more!
If you want a deeper dive into the technical details, I suggest starting from the Wikipedia page on Watts.
Real vs peak motor power
You should be aware that there are two common ways in which electric scooter brands describe motor power – real power and peak power.
Simply put, the power that the motor outputs over time can vary. Depending on other circumstances, the same motor can be producing more or less power. This is because motors have thermal limits before they start to degrade in performance or fail completely.
The power that the motor is producing for the majority of the time is known as real power, and that’s the most accurate metric.
At times, the power that the motor produces can grow. The maximum power level that the motor is able to produce is known as peak power.
Brands will often prefer to advertise what is the peak power of the motor, without specifying whether they’re talking about real or peak power. As a result, that makes their scooters look more powerful than they actually are to people that are not familiar with this.
Keep this in mind at all times when looking at motor power. If the metric doesn’t specify whether it’s about the real or peak power, it is safe to assume that it is actually the peak power.
If you only know the peak power, you can easily estimate the real power. Real power will be somewhere between 30% to 90% of the peak power. On average, the real power is about 57% of the peak power. For a super-simple way of figuring out one based on the other, see the real and peak motor power converters.
How many Watts do electric scooter motors have?
Nominal wattage for electric scooter ranges from 250 Watts, all the way up to 5000 Watts and more. Averaged across all models, it comes down to 1145 Watts. But that number is inflated because of the high-power outliers, and most of the popular electric scooters today will have between 250 and 1000 Watts.
Electric scooter battery capacity
The second most important metric to understand electric scooter performance is the energy storage capacity of its battery. A more technical term sometimes used is electric charge of the battery.
The term is kind of self-explanatory. It describes how much energy is the battery able to store.
We measure the energy storage capacity in Watt-hours, denoted by the symbol “Wh”.
It will be the primary factor behind the maximum range that your scooter can provide on a single battery charge.
Most budget scooters will typically have between 150 and 500 Watt-hours. That results in ranges between 15 and 40 kilometers on a single charge. In contrast, the most powerful and expensive scooters with great ranges can go well over 100 kilometers on a single charge.
Sometimes manufacturers show other metrics about the battery, like its capacity expressed in Ampere-hours, or “Ah”, and voltage expressed in Volts, or “V”. If you know these two values, you can easily calculate the energy storage capacity of your battery in Watt-hours by multiplying the Ampere-hours with the Volts. The formula looks like this:
1 Wh = 1 Ah * 1 VFormula for battery energy storage capacity
You can see the battery calculators to convert between these:
In effect, to increase range, manufacturers can increase either the Ampere-hours or the Volts of the battery, and the battery capacity will increase.
How much battery capacity do electric scooters have?
Averaged across all models, electric scooters have 700 Watt-hours battery capacity. The smallest batteries can have as little as 100 Watt-hours, but the biggest ones can reach as much as 3000 Watt-hours. Most commuter scooters will have between 250 and 700 Watt-hours.
Electric scooter voltage
Unlike the other electricity concepts, voltage is a bit more difficult to explain simply. For the purposes of this guide, we will only provide a very broad and imprecise definition of it.
Put as simply as possible, the voltage will affect how fast the energy moves from one electric component to another. The greater the voltage, the faster the transfer.
The energy in the electric scooter system moves in a direction as such:
Power outlet -> Charger -> Battery -> Motor
Components that transfer electricity, like the charger and the battery, have voltage levels on both the receiving and the giving levels. We call these input and output voltages.
The motor doesn’t transfer electricity out, therefore it only has an input voltage.
Usually, we use voltage to describe the battery only. The battery voltage will often be referring to the battery’s output voltage. A big part of electric scooters will have either a 36 V or 48 V battery, as these are pretty standard voltages for batteries. Higher-powered scooters will have batteries with bigger voltages, as their motors will require more energy as fast as possible.
Motor input voltage is rarely specified. It will be either the same or slightly lower than the battery output voltage.
The charger has both input and output voltages. The input voltage determines how fast it can draw electricity from the power grid. On the other hand, the output voltage determines how fast it transfers it to the battery when charging.
Overvolting an electric scooter
Overvolting an electric scooter can mean:
- replacing the original battery with one with a higher voltage
- adding an extra battery serially
Both of those can result in extra voltage, which will translate into both more battery capacity, and possibly more motor power. Your motor needs to be able to handle the higher Voltage.
How much voltage do electric scooter batteries have?
Most of the popular electric scooters will have either 24 V, 36 V, 48 V, or 52 V batteries. On average, electric scooters batteries have 45 Volts. The battery with the highest voltage is in the Rion2 RE90, and it has 96 Volts.
Electric scooter torque
In electric scooters, torque is a measurement that determines how much work can the motor perform. The higher the torque, the higher the potential top speed, and the higher the climbing angle.
In physics, torque is the tendency of a force to rotate the body to which it is applied. We can think of it as power in a certain direction, or a force that tends to turn or rotate things. Those are both very crude definitions, but they can serve as a simple explanation.
Torque is measured in Newton-meters (Nm), but I’ve very rarely seen it specified by electric scooter manufacturers. That’s probably the reason why torque is the least discussed metric for electric scooter performance.
Electric scooter charging time
The charging time is the time needed to charge the battery from completely empty to completely full. This works under the assumption that the battery is not too old, as battery performance degrades over time, and charging time increases.
Most manufacturers express the charge times of their scooters as publicly available information.
For the ones that don’t, there is a way to calculate the charge time, given that you know the charger’s current (expressed in Amperes, or “A”), and the battery energy storage capacity (expressed in Watt-hours, or “Wh”). We also factor in a coefficient of charging efficiency.
The formula then looks like this:
Charging time (h) = Battery energy capacity (Ah) / [Charger current (A) * Charging efficiency (%)]The formula for calculating the charging time for your electric scooter
See the electric scooter charging time calculator for a simpler way to figure this out for your scooter.
How much time does it take to charge an electric scooter?
Most electric scooters will take between 3 and 8 hours to fully charge, though charge time varies from 1 to 25 hours. On average, it takes 5.5 hours for an electric scooter to fully charge.
Check out the full guide on electric scooter charge time to find out how long will your scooter of choice take to charge, and how to possibly improve the whole charging process to extend your battery life.
The big picture of electric scooter performance
Let’s have a general bird’s eye view of the components in the electric scooter and how they work together.
The following illustration explains how power flows through the components.
Electric scooter top speed
The top speed of the scooter is the maximum speed that the scooter can reach in test conditions. As a result, it often differs from what users get as their real top speed in their everyday use.
Test conditions usually mean conditions ideal for reaching the maximum speed available. Those include brand new scooters, ridden flat and straight road, without any stops or obstacles, and a driver weighing around 75 kilograms.
In the real world, you will rarely ride on a smooth and straight road, without having to stop. Also, a lot of people weigh more than 75 kilograms.
However, the test conditions are at least somewhat standard. Every manufacturer wants to advertise faster top speeds, so they all test under the same ideal conditions. That means the numbers will at least be relative one to another.
The bottom line is that, while your scooter should technically be able to reach the maximum speeds advertised, you shouldn’t be too surprised if your scooter is a bit slower than that.
How fast can electric scooters go?
The average top speed of all electric scooters is 25.86 mph / 41.62 kmh. This number is slightly skewed because of the fastest racing scooters, some of which can reach speeds of 160 km/h. Budget scooters will typically have top speeds between 25 km/h and 40 km/h.
A scooter can come with a speed limitation installed so that it abides by local traffic laws. For example, many scooters will come limited to 15 mph / 25 kmh, even though they are able to reach much higher speeds.
Electric scooter range
Electric scooter range is the distance that the scooter can cross on a single battery charge.
As with the top speeds, manufacturers obtain these values in perfect world scenarios.
There is also the additional detail that they typically obtain the ranges riding in the most power-saving mode that the scooter has. That way, the range looks as big as possible.
In the real world, you will rarely ride in power-saving mode the entire time.
As with the top speed measurements, this is a good start. However, the range you get may actually vary even more, since the mode in which you ride also plays a big role.
You can check out the electric scooter range calculator to get a general idea of how much real range you will get from your specific scooter.
How far can electric scooters go on a single charge?
Electric scooters have a range of 28.76 mi / 46.29 km on average. Individual scooters have ranges from only 6 mi / 10 km, all the way up to 93 mi / 150 km. Common scooters will have ranges between 9 and 25 mi / 15 and 40 km, and many higher-end scooters will provide distances of 31 mi / 50 km or more.
Electric scooter load capacity
The load capacity, often called maximum weight, is the maximum weight that the scooter can carry on its deck without suffering performance hits.
Naturally, the more load the scooter has to pull, the less performant it will be, both in terms of speed and distance, but also for going uphill.
Since we are talking about electric scooters for adults, a significant part of them will be able to carry at least 220 lbs / 100 kg. In fact, many can actually carry up to 330 lbs / 150 kg.
Users on the heavier side can still ride without much worry, even if their weight surpasses the weight limit of the scooter a few kilograms. However, there will typically be a noticeable degradation in performance.
Heavier users should consider getting a scooter made to support greater weights.
How much weight can electric scooters carry?
On average, electric scooters have a weight limit of 265 lbs / 120 kg. Most scooters will have a weight limit of 220-265 lbs / 100-120 kilograms. The electric scooters best equipped for heavy adults will be able to carry up to 660 lbs / 300 kg.
You can take a look at the full guide on electric scooter weight limit to get a better picture of weight capacity and the best models for heavy adults.
Electric scooter climbing angle
The climb angle of the scooter is the maximum slope that the scooter can climb with a rider on it.
This metric is problematic since it’s hard to define what “climbing an angle” actually means. Is it climbing it for 5 meters, or for 100 meters? Is it with an already built momentum, or from a dead start?
Some manufacturers provide at least some angles. Most don’t.
The average scooter can climb hills no steeper than 22 degrees. Most scooters will be fairly decent at taking you uphill when the hill is not too inclined. They will still struggle with steeper hills.
You should know that there are two ways to report climbing angles – degrees and percentages. Degrees are a more common and official measurement, but each can easily be converted into the other. Here are the formulas:
Degrees = Tan-1 (Slope Percent/100)
Slope Percent = Tan (Slope Degrees) * 100%Degrees and percentage conversion formulas.
You can use angle calculators for this task too.
I would advise that you always research a bit more into climbing angles and look past the advertised numbers from the manufacturers. Some publish angles so steep, that they would be difficult to climb even on foot. That is simply ridiculous.
Always try and find out the tested and proven climb angle. We have a lot of climb angle data on our blog, but YouTube is also a great source of demonstration material.
How much can electric scooters climb?
The average climbing angle of electric scooters is 21.76°. The climbing angle in individual scooters varies from 6° all the way up to a claimed angle of 65° for the best climbers. Most of the popular scooters’ climb angles will be somewhere between 15° and 35°.
Electric scooter waterproof (IP) rating
The IP rating of the electric scooter is a value indicating the protection a scooter has against foreign particles.
It consists of two digits, like for example “IP54” or “IP67”.
The first digit indicates the protection against solid particles, like dust or dirt. The second digit indicates the protection level against water.
When we’re talking about how waterproof an electric scooter is, we are always looking at the second digit. The higher the digit, the bigger the protection level.
Most brands don’t specify an IP rating. That’s likely because their scooters are not able to provide those kinds of protection. Chances are, if the IP rating of the scooter is impossible to find online or in the manual, the scooter is not very waterproof.
Also, we commonly use two terms when talking about water protection – waterproof and water-resistant.
Waterproof scooters, by definition, should have an IP water protection value of at least 7. Technically, that means they can be thrown into a 1-meter deep pool full of water, left there for 30 minutes, and when taken out they will continue to work as normal. Very few scooters are fully waterproof.
Most scooters with an IP rating have an IP water protection value of 4, which means they are protected from water splashes from all angles. This is what we commonly refer to as the scooter being water-resistant.
Check the post about waterproof electric scooters to find out which scooters are best for rainy or snowy environments.
High-performance electric scooters
We can’t talk about performance and not mention the most ridiculously powerful electric scooters.
While most commuter or budget scooters will have decent performance, the most performing machines will be out of this world, and even have dangerous amounts of power.
Currently, there are about 20 different models that are simply insane. They have top speeds of over 50 mph / 80 kmh, and about 6 of them have top speeds of 62 mph / 100 kmh. Many of them will have 62 mi / 100 km ranges, amazing climbing angles (some will even climb angles as steep as 50 degrees), and they will be prepared to handle very heavy loads.
Almost all of these monsters will cost more than $2000, and some will cost a lot more than that.
You can check out the full post on the most powerful electric scooters to see who these heroes are, and maybe make you think if you want a bit more adventure…
How to choose an electric scooter
When choosing your scooter, performance stats and features should play a vital role in your choice. They shouldn’t be the only one. Always consider:
- the price
- the looks and the design of the scooter
- the brand
- the popularity of the scooter
- how well it has been proven to work
Still, raw performance numbers are a great starting point.
Start with your needs.
Do you have long commutes or will make long trips with your scooter? Start looking at the long range scooters, and narrow your choice from there.
If you are on the heavier side and the weaker scooters won’t fill your needs, make sure to pick one from the scooters designed for heavier adults.
Do you live in a hilly area? Then a great climbing angle should be your priority, and then look at everything else.
Do you need to carry your scooter around a lot, like in public transport or through lots of doors, elevators, etc? Then you will probably want a lightweight scooter.
Do you want a more powerful or faster scooter? Of course, start from the fast scooters.
Do you live in a wet environment, or someplace with lots of rain? Then go for a waterproof electric scooter first, and then look at the rest.
After that, look at your budget. Unless it’s lower than $500, there should be plenty of options to choose from. Even for less than that, you can still find a great bargain scooter.
Finally, take a step back and have a more wholesome view of the few choices remaining.
Are they from a known and reputable brand and manufacturer?
What is their customer support like? What are their delivery times like?
Have many owners bought and loved them so far, without having too many complaints or asked for a return?
When you have a final few options selected in the Super Bowl, pick the one that you like how it looks the most.
That’s a fool-proof way of picking an electric scooter that will fill your every need.