Broad product line
Not everyone who wants an electric wheelchair has the same needs. We excluded companies that only offer one or two chair models from our list, because we want to show you companies that have a range of products. Many of the companies on our list also offer various accessories, such as special cushions, suitcases and cup holders.
It takes a lot of time and money to buy an electric wheelchair that suits you. Warranty can help ensure that your investment in the purchase is not wasted, so in our research process, we eliminated companies that do not provide warranty. If something goes wrong during the first year, all the companies included will provide at least some insurance, and many companies will provide more insurance.
Electric wheelchairs are heavy-duty mobile devices and in some cases sell for approximately US$11,000. In our company review, we only include companies that offer at least one electric wheelchair at a price between $1,000 and $6,000, which is the lower half of the available price range.
Electric wheelchair basics
When you are looking for an electric wheelchair, you will find some terms that often appear on dealer websites. We explain some of the most basic terms below to make your shopping experience easier.
Front, middle and rear wheel drive
All electric wheelchairs have four or six wheels, but only two wheels get power directly from the motor. Other wheels (“casters”) stabilize the chair. Mid-wheel drive is often best for turning completely in small spaces, while rear-wheel and front-wheel drive wheelchairs often provide the smoothest ride experience and can best handle outdoor terrain. It is wise to consult with an occupational therapist to determine which type of wheel drive is best for your daily use.
The turning radius is the smallest U-turn that an electric wheelchair can make. The smaller the turning radius, the more suitable the chair is for indoor or small spaces. Turning radii between 20 inches and 35 inches are common. A heavy chair will have a large turning radius, but other factors such as footrest angle and wheel drive will also affect the turning radius.
The mileage of an electric wheelchair—often referred to simply as “endurance range”—refers to the number of miles it can travel before the battery needs to be recharged. The range varies greatly, from 4 or 5 miles for some chairs to nearly 20 miles for others. If the passenger is unusually heavy, the terrain is uneven, or the battery is aging, the cruising range may be shorter than advertised. For people who plan to travel or often take the electric wheelchair to a store or other places alone, it is most important to find an electric wheelchair with high endurance.
Electric wheelchairs usually have a “limited” warranty, and not all daily wear and tear will be borne by the manufacturer. Most warranties cover structural components (such as the metal frame of a chair) for five or ten years, and usually cover other components for a shorter period specified in the warranty agreement. In the overview table and company profile below, the number listed next to the word “limited” (for example, “5 years limited”) indicates the highest amount within the warranty, usually the frame.