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Nothing is more tempting than boosting your kid's Power Wheels, especially if they’re a little bit older, and the pace has become way too slow for their active little brains. Power Wheels are costly, and it’s a shame to have one gathering dust in your garage because your little one is tired of the snail's pace ride. However, upgrading your battery means you need to consider a variable speed pedal.
To boost Power Wheels with a variable speed pedal requires an electronic speed control and to protect your child and the factory 12-volt components. Variable speed pedals allow smother rides, increase control, and combat terrain issues. They also reduce stress and damage to factory components.
Although your Power Wheels are considered a toy, it’s a piece of potentially dangerous machinery for a young child. You must take care that you put your child's safety first and foremost when attempting any modifications. That said, you may increase your Power Wheel speed without compromising your child's wellbeing, and here are some tips to guide you to boost speed with variable speed pedals safely.
Why Boost Your Power Wheels Speed?
Power Wheels are a comparatively costly investment when it comes to children's toys. Ranging between $200 and $450, it’s hardly child's play when it comes to your pocket. With the sizable initial investment, parents often find that children become bored with the low speeds and selective terrain challenges. You may end up with the car taking up space in your garage.
Boosting your Power Wheels speed with a larger battery and including a variable speed pedal has several advantages and benefits, the most apparent being eliminating the core bugbears of a Power Wheels and your child:
- The maximum speed is six mph, which is fine for a toddler but may frustrate and bore a child as they get older.
- The constant recharging of the small 12-Volt battery disturbs playing with an average running battery life of between 45 and 90 minutes.
- According to Fisher-Price, recharging time takes on average 18 hours, and running out of juice means the play has ended for the day (and most of the next day).
- The factory 12-volt lead-acid battery is not strong enough to power the Power Wheel over rugged terrain or inclines, and children are limited to level, tarred tracks to gain full speed.
What Are the Advantages of a Variable Speed Pedal?
Simply adding a greater capacity battery to your Power Wheels may increase the speed, but in itself, the increased battery power may cause more damage in the long run. The Power Wheels' factory wiring and setup won’t withstand the greater voltage, and parts such as the small plastic gearbox will wear down over time and may damage or burn out the motor.
Also, simply increasing your battery power will make the car hard to control and damage the battery and the motor's circuit boards. The torque in electric motors is substantial, and increasing your battery capacity will put excessive pressure on the factory components if the driver doesn’t increase the power gradually. Variable speed pedals allow the necessary control to ensure the success of your Power wheel upgrade.
Other advantages of a variable speed pedal include:
- Variable speed throttles offer a gradual startup instead of the instant-on power of the factory Power Wheels pedal.
- Variable speed pedals are less stressful on the factory parts and less likely to damage components like gears.
- Variable throttles provide more driver control and smooth acceleration.
- It eliminates the jerky on-off motion of the factory pedals.
- It enhances the limited two-speed capacity of the factory pedal.
- Variable speed pedals offer enhanced control over a variety of driving conditions, especially more challenging terrains,
- Young drivers have a greater range of speeds to explore.
Variable Speed Pedals Upgrade: DIY
Fisher-Price does issue a warning that using the wrong battery or charger can cause overheating, fire or explosion, and with your children's safety in mind, the custom kits do present a safer, more fail-safe option. Increasing your battery power also voids any warranty you may claim from the manufacturer. Increasing the ride-on vehicle's speed may be dangerous, and you shouldn’t undertake home modifications lightly.
Other potential hazards include:
- Improperly secured batteries may come loose if the vehicle flips and create a severe threat to the rider.
- All loose wires should be properly insulated and covered, and kept out of the child's reach wherever possible to prevent electrical shocks.
A simple battery upgrade may gain more speed for your Power Wheels, but it’s essential to match the correct battery to the car's factory components. For instance, a lithium battery substitution may be problematic because they deliver too much discharge rating, approximately five times higher than the SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) battery found in your Power Wheels.
With no clutch in your ride on the buffer, the increased ‘punch' motors may burn out, and gears may strip very quickly. SLA style cars use a gel form of acid for slower discharge and offer enhanced safety because they have a safety vent to release gas in excessive internal temperature build-up. So using a lawnmower/motorcycle battery is dangerous since the liquid may boil or explode.
The stock electronic speed controller or ESC on your Power Wheels is just an on/off switch, full throttle, or no gas. When upgrading your battery for your Power Wheels, you’d need to replace the stock ESC to control how much power your battery sends to your wheels. Although an 18-volt upgrade may operate without much threat of damage, a 24-volt upgrade without an ESC will most definitely strip out your gears.
Most ESCs come with a dialed control output which is very handy when you have little ones. Parents can gradually increase the speed of the vehicle to match the increased capability of their children. That way, the parent has greater control over the appropriate speeds as the child grows in dexterity and riding skills.
There are DIY options for using Razor scooter variable speed controllers and the pedals, wires, and connections. Modifiers have found success with a 30-amp inline fuse, an ESC, and a USB power source adaptor for a drill battery. But if you aren't technically skilled, there are custom kits to avoid much of the potential hazards of home power wheel modifications.
However, if you’re capable and have a good grasp of electronics and mechanics, here’s a great Youtube Video from MatthewMCRepair, if you’d like to see a live DIY upgrade:
Power Wheels Upgrade Kits With ESC and Variable Speed Pedal
The Eastcoast powerUp is a high-performance ESC modification kit for any electric car type without rubber wheel traction). Users may replace all the factory wiring and add a new wiring system complete with all the parts and safety features that’ll increase your Power Wheels' speed without taxing the factory build.
For DIY enthusiasts, the Eastcoast PowerUp kit comes in two versions, the DIY parts-only kit or the plug-and-play variety for quick modification. The DIY version is the cheaper option with the current price of $149, and the plug-and-play at an extra $150. (Refer to the Eastcoast Website for price changes.)
The kit comes with:
- Variable speed throttle
- Separate brake pedal popsi-lock forward and reverse
- 1,000-watt controller with 40 amp
- 24v doubles the car speed on 12v Power Wheels
- Easy accessory points including lights, brake lights, and underglow
- Optional remote brake switch.
The controller comes with several fail-safe features. Now, say the child accidentally pushes the throttle pedal down while the power is on; the car won’t take off but will only respond on the throttle release. If there’s a mechanical failure, the controller also has sensors that will disconnect the battery's controller connection.
The kit offers an optional remote brake that works from 20-30 feet (6.1-9.14 meters) away for added safety when supervising your children's activity.
Part and Pedals
The kit provides a high-quality metal variable throttle and brake pedal and 3 40 amp relays for failsafe, brake, and reverse functions. With the plug-and-play kit, several parts are pre-assembled and already soldered, so all you have to use is crimp connectors. The Variable brake pedal softens the braking effect, reduces wheel lock, and protects gearboxes and tires from wear and tear.
A simple battery upgrade may cause more harm than good in your child's power wheels. Increases in amperage and voltage need to have corresponding modifications such as the ESC and variable speed pedals for proper functioning. DIY work does take some technical expertise; otherwise, custom kits are a tested means to boost your speed safely.
Although these kits aren't cheap, the joy on your children's faces as they push their new pedal will be priceless.