Choosing the right ride-on car for your child can be a bit of a minefield (and it’s a significant investment for most parents); putting aside for one second the number of brands, models and colours to choose from, one of the most important decisions you will need to make is what battery size will power your child’s new favourite toy.
Making the wrong decision could lead to an overpowered car that is difficult for your little one to control, whilst picking a car that’s underpowered for your child’s size and age will make for a slow, sluggish and ultimately unhappy riding experience. To help parents make the best decision, our toy experts have outlined all of the vital information you will need to know in this handy guide.
What’s in this guide
- How do ride-on car batteries work?
- Quick reference factsheet
- What are 6v children’s ride-on cars?
- What are 12v children’s ride-on cars?
- What are 24v children’s ride-on cars?
- What’s the difference between a 12v and 24v kids’ ride-on car?
- How to look after your battery – no matter the voltage
- What amps do toy car motors use?
How do Ride-On Car Batteries Work?
Batteries are the lifeblood of any children’s toy vehicle and are generally either 6v, 12v or 24v in size, with the “v” standing for volts. The battery supplies the electrical power to the car’s motor. The higher the voltage, the more electrical current will be supplied and, providing the motor is suitable, the faster your kid’s ride-on vehicle can drive.
Here are a few “need to knows” about toy car batteries:
- The battery is made up of two electrodes (positive and negative), separated by an electrolyte (a liquid solution).
- When you connect the positive electrode to the negative electrode, electrons flow through the circuit. This creates an electric current.
- The amount of energy stored in the battery depends on the number of electrons flowing through the circuit.
- A battery stores energy in chemical bonds called ions.
- An ion is a positively charged atom surrounded by negatively charged atoms.
- To keep a battery healthy, you need to recharge it periodically. Otherwise, it may not last long enough to meet your needs.
Quick Reference Factsheet
This factsheet provides vital statistics, including maximum speed, charging and riding time. Parents can use this information to compare the differences and choose the one that meets their child’s needs.
|Voltage||Charging Time||Driving Time||Max Speed||Suitable Age Group|
|6v||8 hours||45-60 Minutes||2-3 mph||2-3 Years Old|
|12v||10 Hours||1 Hour||3-5 mph||3-6 Years Old|
|24v||10 Hours||1-2 Hours||4-6 mph||6-8 Years Old|
What are 6v Children’s Ride-On Cars?
Usually found in starter cars and motorbikes, the 6v battery produces the lowest power on the market. The vehicles they power are generally smaller and slower than the higher voltage equivalents, making them safer for younger children.
It’s important to understand that each cell in a battery produces power; therefore, 6-volt batteries will have fewer cells than 12v and 24v batteries. The lower power level of these batteries makes them ideal for smaller cars, and because they have fewer cells, they generally charge faster.
6v ride-on cars tend to be suitable for younger children between two and four years old; they are generally slower, smaller and safer than 12v cars and take less time to charge fully. A fully charged 6-volter will generally provide 45mins – 1 hour of driving time. You can expect the maximum speed of a fast 6-volt car to top out at around 4km/h. Commonly used to power kid’s scooters and motorbikes, they can drive outside, although we would advise they are better suited for indoor driving on a flat surface, as they may find uneven surfaces challenging to navigate. Typically these toys will take 10 hours for their first full charge, then 8 hours to fully charge every time after that.
What are 12v Children’s Ride-On Cars?
The 12-volt battery pack is the most popular powerplant found in children’s electric cars; it delivers the perfect speed and acceleration for cars generally suitable for 3-6-year-olds.
12-volt cars come in the form of sports cars, supercars, emergency service vehicles, jeeps, motorbikes, trucks, tractors, aeroplanes (yes, aeroplanes!) and even the odd fairground waltzer car! Generally considered suitable for indoor and outdoor driving, be mindful that 12-volters may struggle with steep climbs if they are not equipped with EVA tyres.
How long does a 12v ride on battery last? With double the amount of cells than 6v cars, 12v cars naturally produce greater power, giving the average 3-6-year-old a comfortable, continuous, 1-hour of driving thrills.
How fast does a 12v ride-on go? Depending on the size of both the car and your child, you can expect a very quick 12-volt car to top out at around 5-6km/h.
12v ride-ons are considered suitable for children aged 3-6 years old and are the most common type of car. The 12-volt battery delivers the ideal power to provide a fun driving experience for cars of all shapes and sizes. With more battery cells than 6v cars, they take longer to charge, with the initial charge taking 10 hours and every subsequent charge cycle also taking 10 hours.
What are 24v Children’s Ride-On Cars, and are they the Fastest?
We get this question all the time… are 24v kid’s cars faster than 12v cars? The simple answer is yes, although there are a few caveats. The maximum speed of a 24-volt car will depend mainly on the number of seats, overall size and weight of the car, but it is worth remembering, the fastest ever kids ride-on electric car was a 24-volter!
One fact worthy of mention; 24v batteries consume less power pound-for-pound than 12v batteries, making them a lot more energy-efficient. This is because the battery is actually comprised of two lower power twelve-volt batteries. 24v cars are incredibly suitable for indoor and outdoor riding, with most models able to tackle relatively steep terrain.
24v battery cars are generally suitable for 3-9-year-olds; they usually consist of 2 seats, rubber wheels to tackle rough surfaces, and are bigger than their lower-powered counterparts. These ride-ons are the fastest on the market, and have been known to achieve max speeds of 8km/h and the high voltage battery is found in supercars, large 2-seater jeeps and SUVs. As you would expect, 24-volt ride-ons take longer to charge fully, the first charge after purchase takes around 10 hours, and each charge cycle after that takes 10 hours. What’s the battery life? A fully charged 24-volter will generally provide 1 hour – 1 hour 30 mins of riding time.
What’s the Difference Between a 12v and 24v Kids’ Ride-On Car?
Both vehicle types offer similar features, but each has its advantages and disadvantages; here’s a quick run-through of the main differences:
- Battery life: 24v cars typically drive longer than 12v cars from a single charge.
- Speed: 24v cars tend to go faster than 12v cars.
- Cost: 12v cars cost less than 24v cars. You won’t have to pay as much for a 12v car.
- Size: 12v cars are smaller than 24v cars, making them easier to store and transport.
- Safety: 12v cars are safer than 24v cars. The voltage is lower, so the top speed is usually lower.
- Charging: 12v and 24v actually take roughly the same amount of time to charge.
How to Look After Your Battery (No Matter the Voltage)
No matter what size car you opt for, looking after the battery in your new toy will ensure you get the maximum value (and fun) from your investment.
Here are a few golden rules to follow:
- Rechargeable lead-acid batteries power most ride-on toys. This type of battery has a low energy density, meaning they do not like to be left in very hot or cold environments and will lose power if they are. Make sure you store your child’s vehicle indoors.
- The battery in your ride-on should always be fully discharged before you charge it again, ensuring it maintains its peak performance for as long as possible.
- Charge regularly – by charging your toy regularly, you will ensure the battery is better conditioned.
What Amps do Toy Car Motors Use?
The amperes children’s car motors draw will depend on battery voltage and the motor wattage; you can use this simple equation to calculate the amps your car will use:
Motor Wattage / Battery Voltage = Amps Drawn.
So, for example, a 12v car with a motor rated at 1000W will draw 83.3 amps; that’s 1000 / 12 = 83.3.
To sum it all up, 6-volt cars are generally smaller and less powerful, perfect for younger children aged 2-4 years old. 12-volters are the most common car sold in the UK and are suitable for single-seat cars for 3-6-year-olds. 24v ride-ons are the biggest and fastest; they come in the form of 2-seater cars, jeeps and SUVs; the fastest kid’s ride-on electric car is a 24-volter.