Top 10 Best Motorized Wheelchairs - Feb 2024
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Looking for a motorized wheelchair but do not know where to start? Relax for we have done the research job for you. We have analyzed thousands of reviews from hundreds of motorized wheelchairs and narrowed down to the 10 best. Even though we know the items listed here are the best, we always encourage readers to read reviews on their own to ensure that what you are buying is what you really need.
Motorized Wheelchairs Buying Guide
Before you make a final decision, consult with your doctor first and discuss your interest in getting a motorized wheelchair. That way, your doctor can help you determine whether this is a beneficial option for you and can provide you with some useful tips on operating an electric-powered wheelchair. After your doctor has approved the idea and you feel confident that using an electric wheelchair is best for you, then you can start searching for the ideal electric wheelchair for you.
Things to Look For When Selecting a Power Wheelchair
Before embarking on purchasing a motorized wheelchair, you first need to answer some questions to make sure you get one that meets your needs.
Basic questions you should ask before you buy a power wheelchair:
- Are you going to use the electric wheelchair mainly inside, outside, or both?
- Are you going to be transporting the wheelchair?
- What is the narrowest width your chair will need to pass through?
- Which seating style is the most comfortable for you, rehab, solid pan, or captain?
- How much do you weigh?
- What kind of Speed and Range do you want to be able to achieve?
Usually, travel power wheelchairs are rear- or front-wheel drive. They can fold or disassemble easily by removing the base, battery, and seat to fit inside airplane cargo or trunk of a car. Those chairs tend to be smaller, which makes them great for malls, apartments, or for going on cruises. The seat might have less padding on it so it might not be comfortable for individuals who need extra support or spend most of the day in their chairs. Normally the weight capacity is about 300 pounds.
If a user spends most of their time in a power wheelchair, a full-size chair might be a better option. Usually, full-size power chairs have bigger footrests, armrests, and seats, in addition to more padding to make it more comfortable. Also, it has a higher travel range (The distance it can travel before the battery must be recharged) because the battery is bigger than portable/travel wheelchairs. Usually, the weight capacity is about 300 pounds.
People who weigh more than 300 pounds need to have a heavy-duty power wheelchair that has a wider seating area and reinforced frame. The casters and wheels for these kinds of wheelchairs tend to be wider in order to support the user and wheelchair. Most heavy-duty power wheelchairs have a weight capacity of 450 pounds. Wheelchairs that are more specialized have a 600-pound weight capacity, and there are even some manufacturers that make power wheelchairs with a 1,000-pound capacity.
The advantage of a front-wheel-drive power wheelchair can maneuver around small obstacles successfully. They are easy to maneuver in tight spaces and in the home and have a good turning radius. Although these wheelchairs are known for offering good stability, when turning at a high speed, they can fishtail. A front-wheel-drive power wheelchair is well-suited to use both outdoors and indoors.
These wheelchairs give the tightest turning radius a boost on the three drives. They are great for use in malls, apartments, and anywhere else where there is limited space. They are easy to maneuver on flat surfaces outside and indoors but do not maneuver very well over rough terrain or hills.
A rear-wheel-drive power wheelchair can maneuver well across rough terrain which makes it a good option if you enjoy spending time outdoors. When the drive system is in the rear is provides greater maneuverability, including traveling at a high speed. Their turning radius is larger, so maneuvering them indoors might be difficult.
Considering your living environment is very important.
Check to ensure that the power wheelchair can maneuver and fit indoors. Measure your home’s doorways (make sure that you factor in the hinged doors since that can reduce the opening of the doorway by 2 inches). The opening of the doorway should be big enough so that the power wheelchair and the joystick and armrests can fit through. You also need to be able to make 90-degree turns into a room and navigate through hallways. Typically, spacing in bathrooms is tight and needs to be considered – will the power wheelchair be able to maneuver around the sink and toilet? If your house has multiple floors, considering having a wheelchair lift and make sure to pay close attention to the chair’s weight with you sitting in it (wheelchair lifts often have a 750-pound weight capacity).
The terrain affects the range of your wheelchair. Wider and larger casters and wheels can travel over rough terrain much better, which makes the ride a lot smoother. Houses with decks and/or porches can benefit from having a porch lift installed.
Seating and Positioning
Most users spend lots of time sitting in their power wheelchairs. Therefore, positioning and seating are critical for their comfort and health. The power wheelchair needs to accommodate a custom backrest as well as a seat cushion that is made from gels, contouring forms, or other materials that are designed for those who need extra support. People who cannot shift their own weight or have a limited ability to do so should choose a power wheelchair that is able to recline or tilt-in-space to increase blood flow or relieve pressure. Those kinds of chars also make it easier for caregivers to do transfers and help the user manage their posture.
Tilt-in-space — this changes the chair’s orientation with changing the lower body’s angle.
Recline – changes the backrest’s degree of recline while also elevating the person’s legs.
The user needs to be properly fitted and measures for a power wheelchair to make sure that all of their requirements are met. When a power wheelchair does not fit properly it might exacerbate pre-existing conditions and result in such ailments as pressure sores. An occupational therapist who works closely with a pre-qualified dealer within your local area can help to ensure that you choose a power wheelchair that fits you properly.
Another name for wheelchair controllers is Joysticks. The controller is used to drive the wheelchair in the direction that you prefer. It allows you to control the speed, which direction you prefer, when to start, and when to stop. There are two different kinds of power wheelchair controllers available in today’s market. There are integral controllers and modular controllers. Modular controllers come with separate components used for various elements and functions. Integral power wheelchair controllers come with all the necessary components contained in a single housing in the joystick. Compared to modular controllers, integral controllers are less expensive. You can replace some standard controllers that come with certain wheelchairs with a new controller that has more benefits and is more sophisticated.
Power Wheelchair Weight
Wheelchairs are designed to provide the user with independence and mobility. You want to enjoy life and be able to get out. A wheelchair’s weight is a significant factor in your adventures given that it can be harder to handle a heavier wheelchair. Traditional manual wheelchairs tend to be a lot heavier compared to innovative new power wheelchairs.
Mid-Wheel Drive Wheelchair – This type of wheelchair can be a bit unsteady when starting and stopping. It is not well-suited to travel across uneven surfaces. However, this type of wheelchair is great at turning and provides the best turning capability for all wheelchair drive types.
Rear-Wheel Drive Wheelchair – This s the most common type of wheelchair drive and lets the wheelchair travel fast. Although many wheelchair users do desire speed, these type does not have a good turning capacity, especially compared to front-wheel and mid-wheel drive wheelchairs.
One of the most critical components of a powered wheelchair is the battery. It is the major power source of the chair and must be carefully selected. You need to consider the battery’s maintenance requirements and whether you can keep up with maintaining your wheelchair’s battery. If you don’t think you will be able to meet these requirements, then you can select a battery that doesn’t need maintenance to work at its maximum capabilities.
AGM Batteries – This kind of battery does not require any maintenance. It is spill- or leak-proof, shock-resistant, and approved to used in air travel. Due to the convenience, it is the most expensive type of battery. The AGM battery has acid electrolyte saturated on the absorbent glass mat that is sandwiched in between the plates. Ultimately, this kind of sandwich lowers the chances that the battery will be damaged due to vibration and jarring.
Gel Batteries – This kind of battery does not require any maintenance. They have a longer life cycle than wet batteries doe. They also do not leak, work well in lower temperatures, and have been approved for use with ar travel. This type of battery contains a combination of phosphoric acid, fumed silica, sulphuric acid, and pure water. The result is that a thixotropic gel is created.
Wet Batteries – This is the cheapest type of battery for an electric wheelchair. They weigh less than Gel and AGM batteries and do require maintenance. Wet batteries must be periodically filled up with distilled water. A chemical reaction between lead and sulphuric acid creates electrical energy and used by the battery to operate. Wet batteries are not approved to be used with airline travel and are prone to leak.
Lithium-Ion Batteries – This type of battery is one of the favorites of wheelchair manufacturers since they are lightweight and have long-lasting energy power. While lead-acid batteries can store 25 watt-hours per kilogram, lithium-ion batteries are able to store as much as 6 times the energy. This makes them the ideal choice for power and lightweight wheelchairs. Also, they are environmentally friendly due to being non-hazardous and safe.