How to choose a power Wheelchair

When you or a loved one needs a power wheelchair, the options can seem overwhelming. How do you choose the right one? What should you look for? This blog post will discuss the critical factors to consider when making your purchase. We’ll help you understand what’s available in the market and how to find the perfect wheelchair for your needs!

You’ll want to keep in mind a few key factors when shopping for a new power wheelchair.

You’ll want to consider how the wheelchair will be used and what kind of terrain it will need to navigate. For example, a smaller chair with good maneuverability and the tightest turning radius might be the best option if you’re mostly indoors.

However, if you plan on using the wheelchair outdoors or on rough terrain, you’ll need a more robust chair that can handle those outdoor conditions. A heavy-duty power wheelchair can better navigate certain outdoor conditions and small obstacles.

What is a power wheelchair?

A power wheelchair is a mobility device that uses an electric motor to move the wheels. The user controls the speed and direction of the wheelchair with a joystick or other control device. Power wheelchairs are available in many different sizes, designs, and colors.

A Power or electric wheelchair can be used both indoors and outdoors. They come in all sizes, from lightweight to bariatric chairs, so there will always be a chair that fits your needs.

How to choose a power wheelchair?

When choosing an electric wheelchair, several things to consider, such as the user’s needs, lifestyle, and budget. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as an occupational therapist or mobility specialist, to ensure that the wheelchair selected is the best option. Other factors to consider when choosing the best chair for your needs may include:

  • The type of terrain the wheelchair will be used on (e.g., smooth surfaces indoors vs. rough terrain outdoors)
  • The size of the user and the weight capacity of the wheelchair
  • The features and options available on different models of chairs
  • How easy it is to operate the joystick or other control device
  • How easy it is to transport the wheelchair
  • Do you require a specialty chair for your medical needs that can tilt in space or recline
  • The warranty and service options offered by the manufacturer or retailer

How do I know if a power wheelchair is suitable for me?

A power wheelchair may be a suitable mobility device for you if:

  • You cannot operate a manual wheelchair
  • You need to travel over uneven terrain
  • You need a wheelchair that is easy to maneuver in tight spaces
  • You want a wheelchair with more features and options than an electric scooter

If you are unsure if a power wheelchair is the right piece of mobility equipment for you, speak to your doctor or a certified occupational or physical therapist. They can assess your needs and make recommendations on the type of mobility device best for you.

What are the different types of power wheelchairs?

Different types of power chairs

There are three main power wheelchairs: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and mid-wheel drive.

Front-wheel drive power wheelchairs are typically less expensive than rear-wheel drive chairs or mid-wheel drive chairs. Front-wheel drive chairs are also easier to turn and maneuver in tight spaces.

Rear-wheel-drive power wheelchairs have more power and stability than front-wheel drive wheelchairs, making them a good choice for users who need to travel over uneven terrain.

Mid-wheel drive or Center wheel drive electric wheelchairs combine the features of front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive wheelchairs. They are more expensive than a front- or rear-wheel drive electric wheelchairs but offer the user more control and stability.

What are the different types of control devices on a motorized wheelchair?

There are two main types of control devices for power wheelchairs:

joysticks and switches. Joysticks are the most common type of control device. They are usually located on the armrest of the power wheelchair and can be operated with one hand.

Switches are typically located on the lower part of the electric wheelchair near the user’s feet, called a foot control. They can be operated by the user’s hands, feet, or head. In addition, some wheelchairs have both joysticks and switches, which give the user more options for operating the chair.

What features should I look for in a power wheelchair?

Some features to look for when making a wheelchair purchase

  • A seat that is comfortable and supportive
  • Adjustable leg rests or footplates
  • Headrest and neck support
  • Armrests that are adjustable or removable
  • Storage pockets or baskets
  • Lap belts and chest straps
  • Wheel locks
  • Spoke guards
  • Fenders
  • Tires that are appropriate for the type of terrain the wheelchair will be used on

What is the difference between a power wheelchair and an electric scooter?

An electric wheelchair is a mobility device that uses an electric motor to move the wheels. The user controls the speed and direction of the chair with a joystick or other control device.

They are designed for use on all types of terrain, including rough terrain. A Powerchair typically has more features and options than electric scooters, such as adjustable leg rests, headrests, armrests, and storage pockets.

Electric scooters, like wheelchairs, can be used indoors and outdoors, but primarily outdoors. They are controlled usually by a thumb press or squeeze handle that makes the scooter move.

These are always steered by a bike-style handlebar that contains either a 3-wheel or 4-wheel scooter. Wheelchairs are a permanent mobility aid, whereas scooters are used outdoors. 

Power Chairs for outdoor use

Outdoor power chairs are typically more oversized, have a higher weight capacity with a reinforced frame, and are heavier than indoor power chairs.

They also have more ground clearance and larger, wider wheels, making them better suited for uneven terrain. If you plan to use your chair mostly outdoors, an outdoor power chair is the best option.

You will also find that these chairs have larger batteries and motors, allowing for more power and longer drive times.

Power chairs for indoor use

Power wheelchairs for indoors need to be small and have a tight turning radius. They also should be lightweight, so they are easy to maneuver around your home.

A Wheelchair makes getting around more accessible and safer. This is why choosing the best power chair that is the most tailored to your needs is essential. For indoor use, be sure the chair is lightweight, narrow enough to navigate your style home, and can maneuver indoors correctly for the best overall experience.

When choosing a power wheelchair, it is crucial to consider your individual needs. Think about where you will be using the wheelchair and what features are most important to you.

With so many options available, there is sure to be a power wheelchair that is perfect for you.

Battery life is important.

When it comes to battery life, most power wheelchairs will last anywhere from four to eight hours on a full charge. However, this number can vary depending on the type of terrain on which you’re using the wheelchair and how much weight you’re carrying. Therefore, if you plan on using your wheelchair for long distances, it’s essential to choose a model with enough battery life.

A seating system is essential for comfort.

Another vital factor to consider when choosing a power wheelchair is the seating system. This is what will provide you with the support and comfort you need while using the wheelchair. There are various seating systems available, so it’s essential to choose one right for your needs.

If you have any specific medical conditions that need to be taken into account, consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before making a final decision.

You are more comfortable when you have the proper size seat and a wheelchair cushion. Still, you dramatically reduce the chances of pressure relief and other conditions related to long-term sitting.

Folding ability in a power wheelchair

It is an important feature if you anticipate needing to store the chair or transport it in a vehicle. Many power wheelchair models now offer a folding frame that makes storage and transportation more accessible.

In addition, you may want to consider a lightweight power chair that folds and is much easier to lift for those that travel a lot. These chairs make getting around a breeze whether you’re at home or on the go.

When choosing a power wheelchair, another important consideration is portability. Many chairs can be disassembled into smaller pieces, making them easier to transport in a car or SUV. Some models even come with built-in carrying handles and wheels for easy lifting and

Cost of a power chair

How much does a power wheelchair cost? It depends on the type of power wheelchair you choose. A basic electric wheelchair can cost around $500, while a more advanced model can cost upwards of $5000.

You may also have to pay for shipping and handling, adding to the overall cost. But a lot of the larger retailers do not charge shipping.

So before you make your final decision, be sure to factor in all the costs associated with owning and operating a power wheelchair.


In addition to the cost of the chair itself, you may also need to purchase some accessories. These can include a charger, batteries, and a carrying case.

You may also want to consider purchasing a weatherproof cover for your wheelchair and insurance in case of theft or damage.

While these are not necessary, some accessories are well worth the cost in making the experience of using a wheelchair more comfortable and safer.

For example, investing in a quality wheelchair seat cushion is highly recommended. They come in all sizes and types. You can read more about our best seat cushions, gel cushions, ROHO cushions, and cushions for pressure sores.

Final thoughts

Now that you know some of the key features to look for when choosing a power wheelchair, it’s time to start shopping around.

Be sure to take your time to find the perfect fit for your needs and what will accommodate you the best. Unfortunately, most people skip this step. However, with a little bit of research, you’re sure to find the perfect power wheelchair in no time.

Finding a suitable electric wheelchair comes down to matching the best possible chair to your needs and budget. Luckily, this guide has helped you understand the process a little better and set you on the path to finding the perfect chair for you.

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About ASmith

Adam Smith is the main researcher and contributor at Mobility Medical Supply. Adam has many years of research in public data, and software security. With Mobility issues within Adam's family, he decided to dedicate in-depth guides on mobility products to anyone looking to improve movement and gain independence.