6V vs 12V Power Wheels: What’s the Difference?

With such a huge selection of power wheel ride on cars to choose from, many people have asked the same question: 6V v 12V? What’s the difference and which is better?

This article aims to answer these questions for you, to help make your next purchase a little easier. 

What does 6V and 12V mean?

Before we begin, it is worth understanding what is 6V and 12V.

The easier way to explain it, is that voltage is the measure of the pressure of the electric current, and the higher the voltage the more power is delivered.

6V power wheels

  • Runs on 6V motor and battery
  • Needs less power to run it

12V power wheels

  • Runs on a 12V motor and battery
  • Needs more power to run it
  • Is more powerful than 6V

Charging times

Both 6v and 12v batteries, require an initial charge time and subsequent charges after regular usage. The charge times vary depending on which you choose:

6V vs 12V Power Wheels

As you can see from the table above, the higher the voltage the longer the charge time required.

However, the 12V has the capacity to run for a longer period before the battery charge is drained, compared to the 6V.

Battery type

6V power wheel’s batteries are sealed lead-acid (SLA) batteries. These are rechargeable, recyclable, maintenance-free, leakproof, and can be used in any position.

They release gas in the case of excessive pressure build-up which is a safety feature of the battery. 

A 12V power wheels battery has a large current capacity and surge capability. Both batteries have a shelf life and need disposing of with care.

The average power wheel’s battery life is 1-3 years, depending on its usage and if care has been taken when charging.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions will prolong the shelf life of any battery.

With two batteries side by side, 6V and 12V, the label should tell you which is which.

If there are no labels on the batteries, the 12V battery will generally be longer due to the increase in size of compartments to accommodate the difference in the number of cells inside.

There are different types of genuine power wheels batteries depending on which power wheels vehicle you own. The number of gearboxes and motors helps identify which vehicle you have.

The motors and gearboxes on the power wheels are generally located at the back of the vehicle.

6V standard vehicle: Standard vehicles with one motor, one gearbox, and one 6V power wheels battery. The blue battery is for use with power wheels toddler vehicles that require a 6V, 4.0 Ah lead-acid battery.

Super 6V vehicle: Super 6V vehicles have two motors and gearboxes, but only one 6V power wheels battery. The red battery is for use with Super 6V vehicles that require a 6V, 9.5 Ah lead-acid battery.

12V vehicle: 12V vehicles have two motors, two gearboxes, and two 6V power wheels batteries.

These batteries have an A-style connector and require conversion to a H style, with the H style conversion kit, normally included.

Age Range

The power wheels range of vehicles are suitable from 1-10 years old depending on the voltage, model, and driver’s weight.

For younger, more inexperienced drivers: the 6V power wheels are suitable for toddlers aged 1-3 years old

For older, more experienced, future racing drivers: the 12V power wheels are suitable for children aged 3+ years old.

Weight Limits

Both 6V and 12V batteries come with a thermal fuse built in. This is, in effect, a safety device installed, so if the vehicle becomes overloaded it will trip, which in turn stops the vehicle.

The thermal fuse then automatically resets after 25 second period, to allow the vehicle to move once more.

Therefore, the driver’s weight is an important factor to take into consideration when choosing between 6V and 12V, especially if it will be used by two riders at the same time in the case of the 12V models.

The approximate maximum weight limit varies between 6V and 12V:

6V: maximum capacity = 39 Ibs

12V: maximum capacity = 130 Ibs

Speed

The maximum speed of each power wheels vehicle varies greatly depending on the terrain/surface the power wheels vehicle is being used on.

As an example, the following table shows the average range of speeds achievable, with no parental controls in place, and ideal driving conditions for that model:

6V vs 12V Power Wheels

 

The speed in reverse is slightly less than going forward. 

Most 12V power wheels have a lock-out screw system which allows parents to control the speed and cut it in half if necessary.

This can be helpful if the rider is not as experienced or is younger and requires more practice before increasing the speed. This is a useful added safety feature.

Indoor or Outdoor?

Depending on where your child will be using the power wheels vehicle and the space available to them, will depend on whether 6V or 12V is more suitable.

6V are good for indoor use. The slower speed and lighter weight makes them suitable for younger children in the safety of the home.

They can also be used outdoors, but ideally on flat and even pavements or driveways.

12V can be used indoors, but are more suited outside on rougher terrain and have more power for steep inclines. Some of the 12V models claim to be able to tackle wet grass and gravel. 

One Seat or Two?

Generally, the 6V power wheels come with a single seat, because of lower power of the battery. The 12V can come with one or two seats depending on the age of the riders and combined weight. 

A 12V two-seater may be more suitable if you have more than one child in your household, providing their total weight does not exceed the maximum capacity.

This option could also be potentially more cost-effective, because they can share a ride, and you won’t need to buy one for each.

They will just have to battle it out between them who gets to drive first. 

Cost

As with most things, the more functions that are available, the bigger something is and the more power it has, and the more it costs.

The same is true for the power wheels range. Generally, the 12V models are more expensive than the 6V.

Comparison of Power Wheels Specifications

Comparison of the specifications of 6V and 12V power wheels vehicles.

6V vs 12V Power Wheels

The final decision to make before you buy is which model, color, or character-branded power wheels to choose.

With so many to choose from, there are models available in both 6v and 12v. There seems to be a bit more choice in the 12V range than 6V.

Converting 6V to 12V

It is possible to upgrade a 6V to 12V power wheels, however, you need to change not only the battery but also the motor.

The standard 6V power wheels are not compatible with a 12V battery alone. It wouldn’t last very long, and the internal wiring would potentially burn out due to the increase in power.

If the power wheels have components that work off a lower voltage i.e., lights or sounds, then there will be no guarantee that these components will tolerate the change and may not work. 

It is advisable to replace all batteries, gearboxes, and motors at the same time if you are upgrading.

It will give the best output and power potential for your kid’s vehicle, using genuine power wheels parts and batteries. Always read the enclosed instructions for safety information.

Sometimes the wheels may require changing due to the increase in power and usage type, as the original wheels may not be suitable.

There are guides online to help convert 6V to 12V power wheels.

Summary

For younger children, using a battery-controlled vehicle for the first time, usually, indoors, a 6V vehicle would be an ideal choice.

It appears to be safer to use, not as powerful or as fast, is lighter to control, and not as large to store.

If budget isn’t an issue and if the rider is more experienced and has a need for speed, or if they have a sibling, they are willing to share with, then the 12V option would be great.

With more power behind it and its ability to tackle most terrains, it would be the better option.

However, the 12V vehicles are generally larger and heavier, so storage space would need to be factored in.