Must-Know Basics Before Buying an Electric Wheelchair

When it comes to choosing a mobility aid, electric wheelchairs are often the best choice for individuals who need extra support. But before you make the decision to purchase an electric wheelchair, there are some important things to consider.

Electric wheelchairs offer convenience, comfort and independence for those with limited mobility, but that doesn’t mean making the decision should be taken lightly. There are several factors to consider before buying one, such as your budget, lifestyle needs and overall health and safety. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what these considerations are or how to begin the process of choosing an electric wheelchair that best suits their needs.

This post is here to help put you on the right track before investing in an electric wheelchair. We’ll provide some must-know basics about what you should research and consider before taking the plunge into electric wheelchair ownership.

Understanding Power Mobility Basics

If you’re in the market for an electric wheelchair, you’ll want to make sure you understand the basics before making that all-important purchase. An electric wheelchair is a power mobility device used to increase your freedom and independence, and it can be a valuable asset to those with mobility issues.

To truly appreciate what an electric wheelchair can offer, it’s important to understand some of its key elements. Here are just a few of the must-know basics when it comes to electric wheelchairs:

  • Weight: Electric wheelchairs tend to be heavier than manual wheelchairs and can weigh anywhere from 50 – 200 pounds depending on the type and model.
  • Battery Life: The battery is essential for powering your chair and it’s important to understand its capacity. Modern batteries can run up to 10-15 miles per charge, but this will depend on the size of your battery and how you use your chair.
  • Mobility: Electric wheelchairs are incredibly versatile and come in many shapes and sizes, including chair designs designed for outdoor terrain or those that fold into compact shapes for smaller spaces.

By understanding the basics of electric wheelchairs, you’ll be better equipped when choosing one that best fits your lifestyle needs.

Choosing the Right Wheelchair for Your Needs

When selecting an electric wheelchair, it is important to consider what features best fit your lifestyle and needs. Different models may have different features that can best suit certain needs.

Before making a decision, ask yourself:

  • Are you looking for something lightweight and portable?
  • Are you seeking extra-wide seating space?
  • Do you need something adjustable or with fine-tuned maneuverability?
  • Do you require special access at home or elsewhere?
  • Is the power source important to you and your situation?

Think about how each feature might make living with a wheelchair easier and how it will impact your daily life. Knowing what exactly you need and want in a wheelchair is the first step towards finding one that’s right for you.

Battery Technologies for Electric Wheelchairs

Before you start shopping for an electric wheelchair, make sure you know your battery options. The type of battery you get determines the range of your electric wheelchair and how quickly it will recharge.

Lead-Acid Batteries

Lead-acid batteries are the most common type of battery used in electric wheelchairs and are usually offers on lower-cost models. This type of battery provides a moderate range of up to 16 miles per charge and typically recharges in 8-10 hours.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Lithium ion batteries are more powerful, providing an extended range of up to 35 miles per charge and faster recharge time of 4-6 hours. Although slightly more expensive, lithium ion batteries are becoming a popular choice for electric wheelchairs because they offer increased performance, lighter weight, and longer cycle life (number of times it can be discharged and charged).

Regardless of which type you choose, make sure you understand the maintenance requirements for your electric wheelchair’s battery. This includes proper charging maintenance and being aware of proper storage conditions for when the wheelchair isn’t in use.

Manual vs Electric Wheelchair: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to selecting an electric wheelchair, it’s important to understand the differences between manual and electric wheelchairs. Of course, with an electric wheelchair, you have the added benefit of using a motorized chair that requires less physical effort.

Here are a few key differences between manual and electric wheelchairs:

  1. Motorized vs Manual Movement: Manual wheelchairs require the occupant to propel themselves forward via two large wheels at the rear while electric wheelchairs use a motorized system to move.
  2. Weight: Electric wheelchairs tend to be heavier than manual ones due to the added weight of the motor and batteries, while manual chairs are relatively lightweight and easy to move around.
  3. Speed and Range: Electric wheelchairs can reach higher top speeds and travel farther distances than manual ones, especially when fully-charged batteries are used.
  4. Accessories: Electric wheelchairs often come with accessories like headlights, cupholders, and Bluetooth connectivity—all of which add an extra layer of convenience for wheelchair users.

Whether you choose a manual or electric wheelchair will depend on your needs and budget, but in any case, it’s important to do your research so you can make an informed decision about which chair is right for you.

Types of Electric Wheelchairs: Scooters, Power Chairs & More

Before you commit to buying an electric wheelchair, it’s important to understand the different types of wheelchairs that are available. There are three main categories: manual wheelchairs, scooters, and power chairs.

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs are exactly what they sound like—they’re operated manually and require some upper-body strength in order to move around. This type of wheelchair is great for those who have the ability to use upper-body strength for mobility, but need a bit of help getting around. They come in both folding and rigid models and can be customized with various accessories to make them more comfortable and useful.


Scooters are larger than manual wheelchairs and are quite distinct from traditional wheelchairs. They typically feature three or four wheels for stability and often come with a basket for carrying items. Scooters vary in terms of speed, range and maneuverability; some are best used indoors while others offer full outdoor capabilities.

Power Chairs

Power chairs are the king of electric wheelchairs. They’re designed to provide the maximum amount of comfort, safety and control while allowing users to maintain their independence. Power chairs usually come equipped with features such as adjustable seating, joystick control systems and even brakes for added safety. Power chairs offer a range of features and can be used both indoors and outdoors depending on your needs.

Tips to Consider Before You Buy an Electric Wheelchair

If you’re planning to buy an electric wheelchair, there are a few key things you should consider before making a purchase. Doing your research and taking into account the following tips can make selecting the right electric wheelchair for your needs much easier.

Battery life

Electric wheelchairs are powered by batteries, so it’s important to research the battery life of each model before buying. Look for a model that has good battery life, so that it won’t need to be replaced or recharged often.

Speed and durability

The speed and overall durability of an electric wheelchair are important considerations when looking for one. Check the maximum speed listed by a product, as well as its weight capacity, so you’ll know what to expect before using it.

Comfort features

It’s also important to look for models that are comfortable to sit in: adjustable arm and footrests, lumbar support, upholstered padding, etc. It’s also worth researching any additional accessories—like cup holders or anti-tippers—that may come with the wheelchair. All these features can make a big difference in providing comfort and convenience while using an electric wheelchair.


When it comes to purchasing an electric wheelchair, there are a few basics that are important to understand. While price and performance are important factors, you should also take into consideration the size, weight, and durability of the wheelchair, as well as the different features and controls.

An electric wheelchair is a great option for those who are looking for increased mobility and independence. Taking the time to research and compare different models can help you find the best model for your individual needs and budget, ensuring that you make an informed purchasing decision.