How High Voltage Makes Folding Electric Scooters Fast

Portrait of Mitchel Anderson, Rider Guide's Editorial Lead
Josh Jones
August 8, 2023

A devoted road and gravel cyclist and all-around gearhead, Josh has been riding and writing about electric scooters for the past five years. He’s generally happier on two wheels than two legs. When Josh isn’t writing or wrenching, he’s usually out on the road….

The 84v Dualtron Storm Limited is one of the fastest electric scooters we've tested
See the 84v Dualtron Storm Limited

Introduction: Voltage Matters

Electric scooters have revolutionized urban commutes, providing an easy and convenient form of transportation to get around city streets. One key to a successful electric scooter ride is having the right type of electric scooter with the right voltage.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between electric scooter battery voltages to help you make an informed decision when choosing the right scooter for you. We’ll discuss how electric scooter battery voltage affects the performance of electric scooters.

Electric scooter batteries come in many different voltages, usually ranging from 24 volts to 72 volts. This range makes it possible for users to choose the right level of performance that will suit their individual needs and riding style. Generally speaking, the higher voltage levels allow electric scooters to travel faster and for longer than those with lower voltage levels.

For most electric scooters, 24 volts is the minimum requirement for getting up to average speeds. If you’re looking for the fastest electric scooters on the market, you may want to consider models that use 60, 72, or even 84 volts, as in the ultra-fast Dualtron Storm Limited (above), since the increased voltage will allow for higher speeds and faster acceleration.

No matter what your needs are, understanding the difference between battery voltage levels can help you make the most informed decision when purchasing your electric scooter.

See the Rider Guide Electric Scooter Battery Voltage Chart to learn how the voltage of your electric scooter relates to its state of charge.

What Does Battery Voltage Mean?

Definition of Voltage

Voltage, also known as electrical potential difference, electromotive force, or electric tension, is the potential difference in electric potential between two points. It is the electric force, per unit charge, that drives current through an electrical circuit. Voltage is a measure of how much energy is available to do work in an electrical circuit and is expressed in volts.

When it comes to electric scooters, the battery voltage plays an integral role in determining the overall performance. The type and performance of a particular electric scooter will depend on its battery voltage level. Different models and manufacturers offer electric scooters with different voltage levels.

Typically, electric scooters are available with 24V, 36V, and 48V batteries. These numbers describe the nominal state of charge of scooter batteries. A higher voltage level generally translates to higher performance, such as more speed, quicker acceleration, and longer range on a single charge. 

High performance electric scooters, such as the new Apollo Pro (60v) and the Inmotion RS (72V), will almost always have higher voltage controllers, motors, and batteries.

The 60v Apollo Pro allows users to connect their phones as their primary display and monitor voltage through the app
See the 60v Apollo Pro

Relationship Between Voltage and Performance

Our Rider Guide resident physics expert Paul had this to say about the relationship between battery voltage and performance:

Ohm’s Law is V = IR, (voltage equals current times resistance) or the form we’d care about in this case is I = V/R. In other words, given that a motor has R amount of resistance, if you need to push I current, then you’re going to need V to be high enough to get it there.

In other words, if you want your motor to be able to accept 50 amps of current, and the resistance of that motor is 1.44 ohms then V = 50amps x 1.44 ohms = 72V. The reason we care about getting enough current (I) through the motor is that P = V x I (power = current times voltage).

So, in this case we have 72V x 50a = 3,600W per motor so 3,600 x 2 = 7,200W and now we’ve got enough nominal power to go 50 to 60 mph. Fully charged, that same battery would have 84V and push 8,400W and now we’re nudging up against 60mph on flat ground with no headwind or tailwind.

Motors also have maximum speeds they can spin without a load. Every motor has a Kv value which tells you the maximum RPM it will spin per volt. Max-RPM = Kv x Volts, but you can design a motor to have a high Kv or a low Kv depending on whether you want more torque (hard twisting at low RPM) or more speed (lower torque but higher total power at high RPM).

The other advantage of using high voltage is that big current needs big wires in the motor (and motor windings are heavy and expensive), but big voltage doesn’t need big wires.

If we want to go fast, all we ultimately care about is a motor that can make a lot of power when spinning fast. And we know Power = Current times Voltage P = IV.

So to get big power we can pump lots of current to make I x V into a big number, or we can use lots of voltage and less current. Less current means less heat, and generally more efficient operation with smaller, lighter, cheaper motors.

Voltage Sag

Voltage sag is caused by lithium-ion chemistry, high temperatures, and electrical resistance and results in non-linear behavior of the battery.

This means that once the battery reaches a certain state of discharge, the voltage can drop rapidly, slowing the scooter to a crawl at the end of a battery cycle.

Learn more about electric scooter batteries and voltage sag in our technical guide to electric scooter batteries.

man leans into a turn on an electric scooter
One of our expert reviewer Paul's favorite daily electric scooters, the NIU KQi3 Max, boosts acceleration, top speed, and range over competitors with its 48v system
See the 48v NIU KQi3 Max

Factors Determining Battery Voltage Levels

The type and performance of a particular electric scooter will depend in large part on its voltage level. Different models and manufacturers offer electric scooters with different voltages.

Typically, electric scooters are available with 24V, 36V, and 48V batteries and controllers. A higher voltage level generally translates to more speed, quicker acceleration, and longer range on a single charge.

High performance electric scooters, such as the new Apollo Pro (60v) and new, incredibly fast Inmotion RS (72V), will almost always have higher voltage controllers, motors, and batteries.

One of our expert reviewer Paul’s favorite commuter electric scooters, the NIU KQi3 Max, boosts acceleration, top speed, and range over competitors with its 48v system

Size of the Electric Scooter

An electric scooter with a larger frame size will tend to require a higher voltage, while a smaller scooter will need a lower voltage. Depending on the type of terrain you’ll be riding, you’ll need to choose the right size of electric scooter that fits your needs.

While larger scooters require higher voltage to work at peak efficiency, they may not always be made with the right voltage system, so look for higher volts to accompany larger frames and higher weights and weight limits.

Weight of the Rider

The weight of the rider has a huge impact on the voltage levels of the battery on electric scooters. Heavier riders may drain the battery more quickly, as the motor must work harder to carry the extra weight. Lighter riders, however, may find that their battery power lasts longer as the motor doesn’t have to work as hard.

This is an important factor to keep in mind when deciding on an electric scooter, as understanding how your weight will affect your battery power can help you decide between scooter with different volts.

The throttle, display, and right handgrip of the Dualtron Storm Limited electric scooter

Voltage Meters

Just as the voltage of the battery is a key factor in determining the speed of the scooter, it’s also essential to determining range. As a scooter battery discharges (loses power), its voltage level decreases. The voltage level roughly corresponds to the miles of charge remaining, so keep an eye on the voltage levels of the battery.

If your scooter has a voltage meter, check to ensure it is always charging and discharging to the correct level and make sure you understand your state of charge.

See the Rider Guide Electric Scooter Battery Voltage Chart to learn how the voltages of your particular electric scooter correspond to its state of charge.

Advantages of High Voltage Electric Scooters

High voltage electric scooters offer a number of advantages over other types. Firstly, they tend to be more powerful, resulting in faster acceleration and higher top speeds than electric scooters running at lower voltages. Secondly, they can, on average, travel longer distances given the same battery charge.

Increased Speed

One of the many reasons that people are buying more electric scooters is because of their increased speed. With an electric scooter, you can get up to speeds of 60 miles per hour, depending on the model. This ensures that you get from point A to point B as quickly and easily as you need — ideal for anyone who needs to commute quickly and cheaply.

Improved Hill Climbing

Electric scooters are great for traveling short distances quickly, but one of the best advantages of high voltage electric scooters is improved hill climbing. Many electric scooters can climb even the steepest of hills with ease, thanks to their powerful, high voltage motors and batteries. Instead of having to struggle to get through areas with inclines, high voltage electric scooters make commuting long distances much easier.

Heavier Load Capacity

Higher voltage electric scooters can more easily carry heavier packages, as well, with their stronger motors handling the extra weight with ease. If you’re looking for a way to make traveling around town easier, quicker, and with the least amount of effort, a higher voltage electric scooters is probably the way to go.

The 36v Unagi Model One Voyager goes almost twice as far as the 24v Model One Classic
See the 36v Unagi Voyager

Increased Battery Capacity

Higher voltage scooters generally have higher battery life than lower voltage models. In many cases, the differences can be dramatic, with an upgrade from 24v to 36v producing anywhere from 25-50% more battery life. 

In one dramatic example of increased battery life, Unagi scooters changed the voltage on their Model One Classic scooter from 24 to 36 volts in the updated Model One Voyager. The result was roughly twice as much range as the original, from around 12 miles to approximately 25. 

Disadvantages of High Voltage Electric Scooters

High voltage electric scooters may seem appealing at first glance for their ability to reach maximum speed at a lower power level, but they also come with a few disadvantages. High voltage electric scooters typically have an increased cost compared to traditional electric scooters, due to their more powerful battery.

In addition, high voltage can put an extra strain on the motor, as it needs to work harder to reach the desired speed, and this can reduce the life span of the scooter.

Higher Costs

High voltage electric scooters often come with a much higher price tag compared to regular electric scooters due to the additional cost of the battery pack, controllers, and other components necessary to power them.

While the price increase is worth it for long-distance rides with more power and safety features, buying a high voltage electric scooter can be too costly for some consumers.

Additionally, the costs of spare parts and service for high voltage electric scooters are higher, making them less suitable for those on a tight budget compared to lower voltage electric scooters.

Still, when all other specs are similar, the best budget scooter can often be the scooter with the higher voltage system if speed and power are high on your list of needs.

Shorter Lifespan

Electric scooters with high voltage batteries can have a shorter lifespan than other electric models. Even with proper care, they can break down over a shorter period of time compared to low voltage counterparts. This is largely due to the strain the powerful motors and intense battery usage place on the scooter.

Extreme conditions like rain and dusty roads, as well as several long trips, can shorten the lifespan of an electric scooter, regardless of voltage. Ultimately, anyone looking at electric scooters should consider the trade-off between power and longevity when making their purchase.

The 24v Unagi Model One Classic offers plenty of zip for gettting around town
See the 24v Unagi Model One Classic

Understanding the Right Voltage Level for You

Determining the right voltage level for your needs means assessing whether you’re willing to trade higher costs for higher performance. If that’s the case, you need to decide just how fast fast you need to go. 

If you’re simply looking for a small, ultra-portable commuter vehicle, the Unagi Model One Classic or Model One Voyager might be just what you need. If you want to size up to a more powerful, faster vehicle, the 60v Apollo Pro might be your thing (with a price difference of a few thousand dollars). It’s all a matter of what you need, and can afford, as a rider. 

How to Choose Based on Scooter Size

Depending on the scooter’s purpose and intended riders, you can examine the size options to determine which scooter will best meet your needs. 

Beyond that, you should also consider the weight capacity of the electric scooter, as this will help ensure you select a vehicle with the right capacity for rider size and weight. Remember that scooters with higher voltage systems work with more efficiency — they are on average lighter, faster, and can carry heavier loads.

Assessing Rider Needs

Choosing the right electric scooter voltage level for your given needs is key to achieving a satisfying ride. 

Whether you’re looking for an urban commuting option, a leisurely ride around the neighborhood, or something for a bit of off-roading, understanding your needs as a rider is essential in properly assessing the ideal voltage level for your scooter.

Different usage scenarios require different ranges of speed and torque from the motor, which translates into a specific voltage requirement. 

Make sure to take into account your weight, the terrain you plan on riding over, and the kind of performance you need when selecting your voltage level in order to ensure the best ride experience possible.

Conclusion

Electric scooters come in a wide range of voltage levels for their electrical components, including the battery, controllers, and motor.

The higher the voltage level, the faster, and more powerful your electric scooter will be. While there are many electric scooter controllers and batteries that offer impressive speeds, the fastest electric scooters typically require higher voltage levels and larger battery packs.

Customers need to make an informed decision when buying an electric scooter to make sure they get the best electric scooter for their needs. Therefore, it is important to understand the different types of electric scooter batteries and the voltage levels on offer before purchasing an electric scooter.

For more electric scooter service and maintenance tips, see our FAQ list below.

Electric Scooter FAQ

 

Q: Is it hard to maintain an electric scooter?

A: Electric scooters require minimal maintenance: you should check the battery, brakes, and tires regularly. Additionally, keep the scooter clean and regularly inspect for any damages or wear and tear. For more information about maintenance and repair, see our post here.

Q: What accessories do I need for an electric scooter?

A: At a minimum, you should consider investing in a lock and a helmet for your electric scooter. Other accessories, such as reflectors, phone mounts, and headlights can be especially helpful as well. Learn more about scooter accessories at our post on the 10 Best Electric Scooter Accessories.

Q: How much does a good electric scooter cost?

A: Prices for electric scooters can range from as low as $300 for basic models up to several thousand dollars for performance scooters. Prices will vary based on range, speed, suspension, and other features. Generally, whatever your budget, you can find a great scooter at an affordable price.

Q: Do I need to wear a helmet when using an electric scooter?

A: Riding an electric scooter requires the same safety precautions as riding a bicycle; therefore, riders should always wear a helmet while operating an electric scooter. Different jurisdictions have different rules, so it is important to be aware of and follow the laws in your area. What kind of helmet should you get? See our guide to learn more about electric scooter helmets and visit the Rider Guide electric scooter helmet database.

Q: What is the best way to store an electric scooter?

A: The best way to store an electric scooter is to place it indoors in a cool, dry area. If the scooter needs to be kept outdoors, be sure to invest in a scooter lock for added security and try to keep your scooter covered and out of the rain.

Q: How far can an electric scooter travel?

A: The range of an electric scooter can vary depending on the model and battery life. An average electric scooter can travel between 10-20 miles before needing to be recharged.

Q: How long do electric scooter batteries last?

A: It depends on the battery size and manufacturer. Generally, the smaller the battery, the shorter the range. Some batteries can last up to 40 miles on a single charge, while others last only a few miles. Learn more about electric scooter batteries here.

Q: Are electric scooters legal?

A: Rules and regulations on electric scooters vary by city or state, so it is important to contact local authorities for more information. See this Comprehensive Electric Scooter Laws article to learn more about specific laws for every state in the U.S.

Q: Can you ride an electric scooter on the sidewalk?

A: This depends on the city or state regulations. Generally speaking, electric scooters should be ridden on bike lanes, trails, or roads with the flow of traffic. It is also important to make sure that you keep your electric scooter away from pedestrians and make sure it is not blocking any public pathways. See Comprehensive Electric Scooter Laws to find out where and when it might be safe and legal to ride on the sidewalk.

Q: Are electric scooters safe?

A: Most electric scooters are considered safe if ridden responsibly on roadways that allow them, and in accordance with the speed limits in your area. Additionally, wearing a helmet and other protective gear is always a good idea while operating an electric scooter. See our Ultimate Guide to Scooter Safety for more.

Q: Can electric scooters be used off-road?

A: Some electric scooters are designed for off-road use, but it’s important to check with the manufacturer to make sure the scooter is designed to handle off-road terrain.

Q: Is it safe to ride an electric scooter in the rain?

A: That depends on the scooter. Please see our post on Best Electric Scooters for Riding in the Rain to learn more about which scooters function best on wet roads and how to navigate bad weather on your scooter.

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