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. In order to make the right purchase when you are looking to buy an electric 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 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 having to pay restocking fees and turning your buying experience into a bad one.
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.
What Are The Best Power Wheelchair Brands?
Drive Medical is based out of New York and have been around since 1984. They have excellent pricing and quality products. They are also known to provide excellent customer service and service contracts with each sale. Some of the more popular electric wheelchairs by Drive Medical are the Trident, the Cirrus Plus and the Titan.
EV Rider has been in the power mobility business since 1996. It started with the design and distribution of battery powered scooters and led to the manufacturing of electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters. EV Rider now offers a complete line of powerful mobility scooters for kids, elderly, seniors and disabled customers for every need and every budget.
They offer a wide variety of powerful fun, functional, transportable and luxurious mobility solutions for selective users in search of different and higher quality products for leisure, medical and community use. Some of the more popular electric wheelchairs by EV Rider are the Puzzle, the Allure and the Maxx C.
Merits Health Products provide 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, Merits Health Products has adapted every way conceivable to satisfy our customers efficiently with quality and professionalism. Merits Health employs world-class engineers, technicians and craftsmen. 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 Merits Health are the Vision CF, the Regal and the P101 Travel-Ease.
Pride Mobility is perhaps the biggest brand in the mobility industry. Founded in 1986, Pride has a long history of creating designs that have cutting edge technology and many of their products offer patented features that you cannot find anywhere else. Pride Mobility is a big name player and offers 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 electric wheelchairs that Pride offers are the Passport, Go Chair, and the Jazzy Elite HD.
Types of Electric Wheelchairs
Folding Power Chairs are also considered a type of travel power chair because they can be folded and fit into compact spaces such as the trunk of a car. Electric wheelchairs that fold are known to have a weight capacity that is lower than average mostly because the frame work is made with light weight material not capable of supporting heavy weight. However there are exceptions to that and they can be found in products like The P181 by Merits Health. This folding handicap power chair is capable of holding a maximum weight capacity of 450 lbs.
Front Wheel Drive Power Chairs have their wheels in front of the seating area, which in effect pulls 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 pushes 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 feet positioned closer to the body. However, turning a front-wheel drive chair, can be tricky because most of the chair is in back of you, so you have to be aware of what is behind you. Front-wheel drive chairs can fishtail at higher speeds, so these chairs tend to have lower top speeds than others.
Mid-Wheel Drive Power Chairs have the drive wheels at 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. Mid-wheel drive chairs 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 smooth, and are more adept at climbing obstacles.
Rear-Wheel Drive Power Chairs are known for their power, making it a favorite among consumers who spend a lot of time outdoors or traveling over tough 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 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 causes 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.
That’s less of an issue with consumers who never ambulated, including very young children whose first independent mobility is a power chair. Many young children are put into rear-wheel-drive chairs because parents find the configuration to be very user friendly. When approaching a curb that needs to be climbed, caregivers push down on the back canes, tilt the chair back and just climb over the curb.
Travel Power Chairs are much lighter than most power chairs and mostly all of them 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.
A prime example of a reliable and durable travel power chair would be the P321 EZ-GO by Merits Health. This light weight electric travel wheelchair breaks down into 3 pieces in total weighing 112 lbs and can easily go in the back of the smallest of trunks. Although they do not last as long as most standard or heavy duty power chairs but travel power chairs are the most convenient way to get around both in and outdoors.
Bariatric Power Chairs are best for going outdoors and for supporting 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 a 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.
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 up hill, 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 up hill, this does not mean that you should constantly ride up hill.
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 so you do not make your electric wheelchair provide more power to move than necessary, as a result your battery can drain faster or if over the limit 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.
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.