A Guide to Electric Wheelchairs

There are different kinds of wheelchairs that are available for seniors and people with disabilities to use, and one of the most popular is the electric wheelchair. This type of wheelchair is powered by batteries that can be recharged using electricity. Besides being run by batteries and electricity, what are the other reasons why electric wheelchairs are popular? To know more about this specific type of wheelchair, here is a simple guide for electric wheelchairs that talks about their features and their benefits.

What are Electric Wheelchairs?

senior woman on an electric wheelchair

An electric wheelchair, also known as a power wheelchair, is a type of wheelchair that can move with the use of electricity, which is stored inside batteries that are installed on the back or at the bottom of the wheelchair. Electric wheelchairs are significantly heavier compared to manual and foldable wheelchairs, mainly due to the batteries that are installed on them, as well as the numerous parts that make the wheelchairs move.

Electric wheelchairs have a controller on the armrests, and this controller can then be used to move the wheels of the wheelchairs. The wheels of electric wheelchairs are typically smaller in size compared to the ones found on manual and foldable wheelchairs, although they are thicker for durability. For electric wheelchairs, there are three types of wheels that you will find installed on them, and these are:

  • Full-sized wheels
  • Transport or travel wheels
  • Heavy-duty wheels

Full-sized wheels are what you will find in most electric wheelchairs, while heavy-duty wheels that are bigger and thicker than standard wheels are found in wheelchairs used in hospitals. Then, the transport or travel wheels are optional wheels that can be used to make the wheelchairs lighter so that they can be transported on a car or truck. It is important to keep in mind that there are some electric wheelchairs that have six wheels, with two at the front, two at the middle, and two at the rear, while there are also electric wheelchairs that have the regular four-wheel design.

Drivetrain Types for Electric Wheelchairs

person on an electric wheelchair

Electric wheelchairs can have different drivetrain or drive system types, and each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are the things you need to know about each type of drivetrain.

  • Rear-wheel drive – this type of drive system allows you to control the two rear wheels of the wheelchair with the use of a controller. The rear-wheel drive is suitable for those that want to move faster on flat surfaces, but the problem is that rear-wheel drive wheelchairs consume a lot more battery juice compared to other drivetrain types.
  • Front-wheel drive – this drive system is perfect for those that want to have better control of their wheelchairs even on uneven surfaces. The drawback to this type of drivetrain is that it tends to be much slower than the other types.
  • Mid-wheel drive – the mid-wheel drive system has the best stability out of all types. However, the downside to this system is that it is slow, and the user would sometimes have maneuverability issues when controlling the wheelchair.

What are the Benefits of Electric Wheelchairs?

Electric wheelchairs have numerous benefits for seniors or patients with special needs and disabilities. Here are the details to know about the benefits of using electric wheelchairs.

They are Very Easy to Use

electric wheelchair controller

A big reason why electric wheelchairs are popular is because of how easy they are to use. All the person in the wheelchair has to do to move the wheelchair is control the joystick on one of the armrests. There would also be buttons or levels on the wheelchair that can activate the brakes or adjust the seat and backrest. Electric wheelchairs are convenient to use, but keep in mind that they are heavier than manual wheelchairs, so they may be hard to lift and carry around for transport or storage.

They Require Less Effort to Move

What’s also great about electric wheelchairs is that the user doesn’t need to exert a lot of effort to move the wheelchairs. Manual and foldable wheelchairs would require you to spin the rear wheels using your hands in order for them to move, or you can just ask for the assistance of a caregiver, family member, or friend who can push the wheelchair for you. With electric wheelchairs, you don’t need assistance anymore, and you also don’t need to use your arms a lot just to move. While electric wheelchairs are easier to control, it is still challenging when there are obstacles like steps or stairs. But with the use of portable ramps, you’ll be able to navigate with an electric wheelchair better. You may learn more about this in our Portable Ramps Buying Guide.

They Tend to Be More Comfortable

elderly man on an electric wheelchair

Many electric wheelchairs are designed to provide the ultimate convenience and comfort for the people that will be sitting on them, which is why these electric wheelchairs tend to be more comfortable than manual and foldable wheelchairs. The seat and the backrest of most electric wheelchairs are very cushioned and are made from high-quality materials.

But, the con to the high-level convenience and comfort that electric wheelchairs offer is the price, as these wheelchairs are more expensive than manual wheelchairs. Despite their relative expensiveness, electric wheelchairs are worth it for their price, as they are considered by many to be much more convenient, safer, and more comfortable to use when you compare them to other types of wheelchairs.

The electric wheelchair is one of the best types of wheelchairs that you can buy today, although you may need to save a lot of money if you want to experience their benefits or to give one to an elderly loved one or a friend or family member that has disabilities or special needs. Check out some of the best electric wheelchairs online so that you will have references on what to buy.

Also, if you are searching for the best cushions for a wheelchair, you may check out our Guide to Buying Wheelchair Cushions for tips and recommendations.

If you need tips on how to keep your patient or loved one safe in wheelchairs, the use of seat belts is a good idea. If you are interested to learn more about these, you may check out our Guide to Choosing Wheelchair Seat Belts.