Electric wheelchairs have come a long way since their inception. Over the past decade, we've seen great advances in electric wheelchair technology that make it easier than ever before for people with limited mobility to navigate their world freely and independently.
Whether you have a health condition or you’re unable to walk on your feet for long periods of time, buying an electric wheelchair requires some basic product knowledge, hence our ultimate electric wheelchair buying guide. In order to make the right purchase when you are looking to buy a power wheelchair online, you should know about the types of models and major brands that are available on the market.
Most manufacturers will not sell power wheelchairs to consumers, but would rather utilize a dealer, like us, who sells them to the end-user, which is you. If you don’t do research or have some basic knowledge about the product that you are going to buy, you could end up with a product that doesn't suit your needs.
We pride ourselves on adding as much valuable information and product specifics on every product page and by having a FAQ section that is updated often. Learning a little about the industry and product that you are going to buy is a great way to ensure your buying experience is a good one.
As more choices become available, however, navigating the multitude of options can feel overwhelming. Don’t let all the bells and whistles distract you from an important decision—investing in an electric wheelchair is serious business!
Let Electric Wheelchairs USA guide you through today's impressive range of innovative electric wheelchairs and help you pick out a model that best fits your needs so you can get rolling in no time!
What Are The Best Power Wheelchair Brands?
Merits is a company that provides reliable, expertly engineered solutions for nearly every need. Their innovative designs constitute years of experience and research to fully understand the special needs of individuals. Through years of consultations, personal contacts, and studies, this company has adapted every way conceivable to satisfy their customers efficiently with quality and professionalism. Backed by the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, they develop high-quality healthcare products at fair prices. Some of the more popular electric wheelchairs by this company are the P322, the P310 and the P101.
Pride is perhaps the biggest brand in the mobility industry. Founded in 1986, they have a long history of creating designs that offer cutting edge technology and many of their products offer patented features that you cannot find anywhere else. They are a big name player and offer an extensive line of products from lift chairs to mobility scooters and to, of course, electric wheelchairs. Many of their products can be customized to suit the needs of the user. Some of the most popular power wheelchairs that this company offers are the Passport, Go Chair, and the Jazzy Elite HD.
Say goodbye to clunky, bulky wheelchairs! ComfyGo is the up and coming brand in mobility that makes its mark with innovative technology. Their foldable designs make it easy for you to travel without sacrificing comfort - making these lightweight wheels perfect for even active lifestyles.
ComfyGo's top-selling IQ-8000 Limited Edition power wheelchair is more than just luxurious looks and quality materials - this game changing electric wheelchair weighs in as one of the lightest electric wheelchairs on the go! Riding it with ease turns into a breeze when you control your speed using its convenient remote, so now anyone can enjoy maximum mobility without needing an attendant.
Each of the 3 above brands are the top power wheelchair brands in the industry. Combined they have over 70 years of experience and continue to push the envelope in the power chair industry. All 3 have some of the best product warranties in the industry as well, so you know you will be taken care of.
Now that we gotten the best brands out of the way, lets get into the types of power wheelchairs on the market, because their several; and you should know the differences...
Types of Electric Wheelchairs
Folding Power Wheelchairs are made for people who are active and want to travel with their power chair. Are you tired of lugging around a heavy and bulky wheelchair when you travel? And let's not forget the inconvenience of having to charge an electric wheelchair on the go. They can be folded and fit into compact spaces such as the trunk of a car or a storage closet. Well, the solution is here - a folding electric wheelchair! These lightweight wonders come in models as low as 45 pounds and easily fit into vehicles with minimal storage space required.
Plus, the best part is that they simply fold up instead of needing to be disassembled. Electric wheelchairs that fold are known to have a weight capacity that is lower than average mostly because the framework is made with lightweight material not capable of supporting heavy weight. However, there are a few exceptions and those units can hold more, but tend to weigh more for the user to lift as well. Say goodbye to travel headaches and hello to mobility freedom with a folding power wheelchair.
- Often airline/cruise approved, allowing you to easily take them on trips
- Easy to store at home, even if you have limited storage space
- Lightweight, making it easy to lift the chair into a car
- Fits into most cars
- Many models can be broken into smaller pieces for even more convenience
- Not suitable for driving on rugged terrain like wooded paths, deep grass and sand
- Less range due to smaller batteries
- Some models have less cushioning due to smaller frame size
- Not designed to accommodate larger individuals
Front Wheel Drive Power Chairs have their wheels in front of the seating area, which in effect allow the unit to pull itself over terrain and obstacles. This configuration is lauded for being very stable up and down hills and on uneven terrain. Because a front-wheel drive chair pulls from the front rather than pushing from the back, it’s good at handling softer terrains, such as grass.
Foot positioning can also be easier because there are no front casters to interfere with foot placement. Therefore, the front-wheel drive design can keep the user's feet positioned closer to the body. However, turning a front-wheel drive chair can take a little getting used to because most of the chair is in the back of you, so you have to be aware of what is behind you. These types of electric wheelchairs can fishtail at higher speeds, so they tend to have lower top speeds than others.
Have you ever struggled to maneuver in tight spaces and make turns without feeling like you're going to hit something? These chairs feature a smaller turning radius, making it a breeze to move around confined spaces and corners. Plus, with bigger wheels and a wider wheelbase, you'll enjoy an impressive ground clearance. Say goodbye to awkward movements and hello to smooth sailing with our products.
- Very stable chairs
- Often have swivel seats, making it easy to get in and out of these chairs
- Powerful front wheel motors, giving you the raw power needed to climb up steep inclines
- Smaller turning radius, making them ideal for use in shopping malls and grocery stores
- No front tillers interfering with you getting in and out of your chair
- Easy to get closer to a sink or table while staying in the chair
- Limited storage space
- Not good in grass, sand or gravel
- No overhead canopy option
Mid-Wheel Drive Electric Wheelchairs have the drive wheels in the middle of the unit and not at the front of the chair or the back. Because of their ability to basically spin in place, mid-wheel drive chairs are highly maneuverable, going through doorways or turning in tight spaces. These types of power wheelchairs are also considered more intuitive to drive, especially among consumers who have been ambulatory, because the drive wheels are underneath the seat which mimics the location of our feet when we walk.
Mid-wheel drive power chairs also have more difficulty in climbing obstacles than front-wheel-drive chairs do. Some manufacturers have developed technology to compensate, so some mid-wheel drive chairs now drive more smoothly, and are more adept at climbing obstacles.
Plus, out of all the drive wheel options, mid wheel drive is the most stable thanks to its six wheels - two drive wheels and four casters - which help keep the chair balanced. Bonus: these chairs have fantastic traction on all sorts of surfaces. So, if you want a comfortable and reliable ride, consider a mid wheel drive power wheelchair.
- Can basically spin around in place, making them a great option for tight spaces and crowded rooms
- Intuitive to drive due to the main wheels being directly underneath the seat
- Some of the most stable chairs on the market today are mid wheel models
- Fantastic traction on all sorts of surfaces
- Struggle to climb obstacles such as big curbs and steep hills
- Little storage options
- No overhead canopy options
Rear-Wheel Drive Electric Wheelchairs are known for their power, making it a favorite among consumers who spend a lot of time outdoors or traveling over tougher terrains. Rear-wheel drive has been traditionally capable of offering the highest top speeds, which is a plus for the consumer who has to cover a lot of ground. They also have a reputation for the best overall stability in a variety of different environments.
Its main drawback: With drive wheels in the back, rear-wheel drive chairs have a larger turning radius and therefore cause larger footprints, since the entire chair has to clear the corner before making a turn. Rear-wheel drive chairs are also less intuitive to learn to operate because they don’t closely mimic the way a person walks.
Because they're equipped with two big drive wheels at the back and two other wheels in front, the cool thing about these chairs is that their source of power is located where the drive wheels are. Trust us, they've got some serious power and can even drive smoothly on soft ground. If you come across an incline, these chairs have got you covered with a smooth uphill drive. Plus, they're equipped with suspension and shock absorbers on all four wheels. So, if you're looking for a durable and powerful chair, rear wheel drive power chairs are definitely worth a look!
- Some of the top speeds of all electric wheelchairs
- A reputation for the best overall stability
- Can drive smoothly on soft ground due to their serious power
- Often equipped with suspension and shock absorbers
- Able to handle inclines well
- A larger turning radius due to the main tires being in the back
- Less intuitive to learn to operate
- No storage options on chair
Travel Power Chairs are much lighter than most power chairs and these types of chairs disassemble into smaller pieces making them easy to store away and transport while traveling. They usually have a smaller body frame as well which allows them to squeeze through tight spaces such as doorways or hallways without hassle.
Although they do not last as long as most standard or heavy-duty power chairs, these types of power chairs are a great option for someone who lives an active lifestyle and is always on the go.
Looking for a hassle-free way to get around town or travel long distances? A portable electric wheelchair might just be the perfect solution for you. These lightweight wheelchairs can be easily loaded onto any vehicle, making them incredibly convenient for those on the go.
And the best part? Some models are even airplane-friendly, which means you can bring them along with you on your next flight. Plus, their narrow design will allow you to effortlessly navigate the airplane aisle or store them in an overhead compartment.
- Easily navigate down airplane aisles or store them in a compartment
- Lightweight, making them easy to store in vehicles
- Don’t take up much space in your home
- Often using cutting edge technology
- Many disassemble into smaller pieces for each carry and storage
- Less range than other models due to a smaller battery size
- Not designed for rough terrain
- Seats are often smaller and have less cushioning
Bariatric Power Chairs are also a great option for someone who likes to go indoors and outdoors. Plus, they are made to support above average-sized riders. There are many options to choose from that can carry anywhere from 400 to 700 lbs in weight capacity. These heavy-duty models usually have a lot more torque to add to their performance and also longer lasting battery life. Most importantly a majority of bariatric power chairs come with solid or flat-free tires making them durable enough to smoothly ride through most rugged terrains.
These power wheelchairs are tough cookies! You can count on them to last and withstand all kinds of wear and tear. They're made with sturdy materials that can take a beating. Don't worry about your size - these heavy-duty power wheelchairs can handle anyone. With their high-quality frames and exteriors, they're worth the investment.
If you're looking for more power, these heavy-duty models deliver. They pack in larger motors, longer frames and stronger torque than lighter power chairs. Navigating bumpy or uneven terrain is no problem either. These power chairs are designed to handle tough circumstances with ease.
- Many options have a weight capacity between 400 - 700 lbs!
- Excellent for both indoor and outdoor use
- Longer lasting battery life
- Often come with solid or flat-free tires for additional safety and comfort
- They are heavier than most other models, often requiring special equipment to load/unload into cars
- Limited storage space on most models
- Not as great in tight spaces as other lighter models
Things to Avoid When Using Your Electric Wheelchair
For first time users there a few things to remember never to do when using your electric wheelchair otherwise you could risk damaging or possibly breaking your unit. When using your electric wheelchair to drive uphill, make sure that it is designed to go up an incline or have a climbing degree anything between 8 degrees and 12 degrees will perform well uphill. This does not mean that you should constantly ride uphill though because it will drain your battery and cause more significant damage in the long run.
By doing this you make your electric wheelchair perform under more power and if this is done regularly, it can ruin your batteries or even your motor. Additionally, make sure you never go over the weight capacity, it is usually best to stay at least 20 to 30 lbs under the capacity. If you exceed the weight capacity, the battery will drain faster and you can ruin the motor or possibly break the frame.
Another important thing to remember is to never leave your power chair in the rain or in the outdoors. Parts can get rusted and they will not be covered under most warranty’s if this is the reason for the damage. Remember these simple things and you will be able to keep your electric wheelchair in great shape for years to come.
If you are unsure that an electric wheelchair is the right fit for you. You can also check out our Mobility Scooter Buying Guide. These type of units can generally go much faster and if you have the ability to use both hands, you can operate these similar to steering a car. We also have an article of our top Folding Power Wheelchairs on the market. This article has been helpful to many people, since this type of power chair is one of the more popular.
If you have any questions about choosing the right electric wheelchair for you, gives us a call at 800-682-9444 and one of our knowledgeable agents will be happy to help you find a unit that works best for your needs.