10 Things to Know When Buying Your Ideal Electric Wheelchair

Posted by Shelley Zander on

10 Things to Know When Buying Your Ideal Electric Wheelchair

Personal mobility aids (PMAs) help individuals with walking difficulties to move around. The most common assisting devices include wheelchairs. Electric versions powered by a charged battery ensure the user invests minimal effort when moving and controlling the aid. It makes the device a valuable asset that enhances the quality of life.

But what is your ideal electric wheelchair? It depends on your requirements, but you can consider different sizes, types, and features. The guide below simplifies your search and explains factors to consider when choosing a motorized chair. Here’s how to find the desired model!


1. What Is an Electric Wheelchair?

electric wheelchair

    Let’s start with the basics and define a power wheelchair. These units come with batteries that you charge to run the motor. That component activates the wheels and your chair without any effort on your side. The only thing you need to do is to use a controller. They are suitable for different user types for maximum versatility. That maximizes the convenience and makes these models suitable for frequent use and long distances.

    An electric wheelchair has a base. It features a strong frame and a seating area for the user. Power wheelchair often has generous padding and arm and footrests. The wheel setup depends on the accessory type and model.

    2. Mid-Wheel Drive Systems Are Best for Indoor Use

    travel wheelchair

      While discussing different motorized chair types, it’s vital to analyze the position of the drive wheels. They can be in the front, middle, or rear. Additional casters boost the chair’s stability, but the drive wheels crucially affect the device’s performance.

      Do you plan to use the vehicle mostly inside? If yes, it’s best to go for a mid-wheel drive electric wheelchair. That setup has the smallest turning radius. The chair can virtually spin in place. Thanks to that, you can navigate around tight corners and spaces like doorways.

      Mid-wheel wheelchairs are user-friendly and easy to drive. It’s because this position is right where the feet would be if the user is walking. That makes getting used to the wheelchair easier.

      3. Rear-Wheel Setup Is Great for Long Distances

      electric travel wheelchair

        Although it depends on the model, rear-wheel drive power chairs tend to be the fastest. If you have a large yard or enjoy passing long distances with your mobility aid, this is a wise choice.

        Rear-wheel drive wheelchairs offer excellent stability across different surfaces. They are suitable for balancing tough terrains and decent speeds. 

        But rear-wheel units come with a big turning radius. You’ll need more space when going around the corner, and the chair will leave larger footprints. It takes time to master moving this vehicle. While the controls are user-friendly, the actual ride isn’t very intuitive since it doesn’t mimic walking.

        4. Pick Front-Wheel Chairs for Rough Surfaces


          The yard or area around your house could be full of bumps or slopes. If you want to have optimal mobility when outside, go with a motorized chair that has a front-wheel drive system. Their main advantage is stability, which contributes to feeling safe and comfortable when using the vehicle.

          Front wheels make the chair suitable for obstacles and bumpy surfaces. You can use them when going up or downhill. The wheelchair also has decent performance on grass and other soft terrains.

          It takes awareness when controlling this personal mobility aid. The user needs to check what’s behind them when turning. The majority of the device is in the back, so there’s a risk of bumping into someone or something accidentally.

          Front-wheel drive systems are excellent for positioning your feet. There’s no concern you’d hit the casters, which ensures maximum comfort.

          5. Do You Need Full-Size or Bariatric Power Chairs?

          Bariatric Power Chairs

            Most users with permanent health conditions pick full-size power chairs. Their design is suitable for daily and frequent use. You can spend hours on these devices, and they’ll do their best to offer optimal comfort. That includes generous padding in the seating area and arm and footrests. 

            While the durability is impressive, standard full-size power wheelchairs rarely accommodate more than 300 pounds. Users who have problems with extra weight will require a bigger bearing capacity. 

            That’s where bariatric or heavy-duty electric wheelchairs come into play. They feature a reinforced frame and a construction that can hold up to 1,000 pounds. Although more expansive, these models are durable and should last for years.

             6. Go with Portable Power Chairs When Going on Travels

            Portable Power Chairs when travelling

              Another integral breakthrough in the wheelchair industry is the offering of foldable mobility aids. These are ideal for maximizing portability and are suitable for going on travels. A foldable electric wheelchair takes minimum space when packed. Some units might allow removing the seat or other components. That’ll save even more room.

              Foldable wheelchairs can be every bit as durable as the standard units. They offer a bit smaller bearing capacity, which is often between 200 and 250 pounds. While you shouldn’t use them on rough terrains frequently, their battery range is decent.

               7. Standing Wheelchairs Are Expensive But Can Be Worth It

              Standing Wheelchairs

                Another type to consider is the stand-up wheelchair. That personal mobility aid allows users to get in an upright position. That might boost the quality of life in ways that other motorized wheelchairs can’t. Some users can reach for items on top shelves when standing, and it offers a new dimension of interacting with people.

                Don’t underestimate the health benefits offered by stand-up wheelchairs. Being upright can improve blood circulation and help develop muscle tone.

                 8. How Do You Control a Power Wheelchair?

                Power Wheelchair Control

                  The entire idea of an electric travel wheelchair is to simplify things for the user. Instead of moving the vehicle manually, you use a controller to reach the desired destination.

                  A typical power wheelchair controller is a joystick. It might remind you of those arcade games you played as a kid. The actual controller shapes vary, but these are the most common:

                  • Standard joysticks. It’s a frequent option that’s user-friendly and suitable for the majority of users.

                  • T-handle. If the user has better motor skills from the elbow and shoulder, this setup can be the most convenient one.

                  • Stick. Users who have a lower hand or finger strength might find a stick more suitable.

                  • Softball. It’s possible to use the entire palm to grasp this controller. If you release it, the device stops, making this suitable for users with poor finger control.

                  Some alternative options include a finger, foot, chin, or head control. Users can also have a tablet that acts as a joystick. If using classic controllers, go with the units that allow choosing between positioning it left or right. For some users, the joystick placement is vital.

                  9. What’s the Distance That the Wheelchair Can Cover on a Single Charge?

                  Battery Power of electric wheelchair

                    Motorized wheelchairs use batteries as energy. These customized components should come with the product since getting them separately can be expensive. As for the battery power, two things are vital from the user’s perspective.

                    First, how much it takes for the component to charge fully? The general rule is that several hours are necessary to reach 100% battery life. And once you are on a full charge, what’s the distance the device can cover?

                    A travel wheelchair can typically cover from 12 to 15 miles. Full-size units might increase this distance to 20 or more. It’s convenient to have a battery life indicator. It can ensure you don’t suddenly stop when far from the charging station.

                    10. What Is the Maximum Speed the Wheelchair Can Develop?

                    lightweight electric foldable wheelchair

                      Speed isn’t a pressing issue when using a power chair indoors. It shouldn’t take much time to get to another room, so focus on steering and turning performance.

                      But if you often go outside and cover large distances, speed can make a difference. A lightweight electric foldable wheelchair can go up to five miles per hour. Full-size units might go twice as faster as that. 

                      The important thing is not to rush, especially when turning or going over bumpy terrain. The general rule is that rear-wheel setups are better for turning at high speeds, especially if you have more room to maneuver.

                      Always apply caution and maximum awareness when controlling a power wheelchair. These devices come with protective features, such as a lap belt. But using electric wheelchairs responsibly is what’ll minimize safety risks in all situations.


                      Final Thoughts

                      You are likely to spend hours a day in a motorized wheelchair. It’s why maximum comfort and convenience are important. If you plan on using them around the house, pick models with drive wheels in the middle. But those who intend to go outside should pick a different power chair. Go with those with wheels in the front or rear.

                      And don’t forget the importance of the electric wheelchair being of superb quality. You achieve that by sticking to reputable brands that use only selected materials. For example, the EW-M30 Folding Electric Travel Mobility Wheelchair has a sturdy aluminum frame that guarantees maximum movement freedom. You’ll appreciate the simple transport and storage when going on long trips. You can order these and other units at online stores, so don’t hesitate to pick your favorite unit today!