A power wheelchair or electric wheelchair is a gift that allows people who are otherwise confined to their homes due to injury, illness, or stroke to have mobility. Bill Fertig is the director of the United Spinal Association Resource Center in Virginia Beach. He says, "I keep one in my garage to zoom around the yard while doing yard work." The devices are usually equipped with four to six wheels to help maintain stability. They also have batteries that last for around 10 miles.
The Forbes Health editorial staff analyzed over 100 electric wheelchairs from leading brands to determine the best ones. They evaluated them based on price, weight, weight capacity maximum, travel distance, top speed, portability, and other factors. See which electric wheelchairs made the list.
Note that prices are correct as of the publication date.
The Best Electric Wheelchairs for 2023: Our Methodology
The Forbes Health editorial team evaluated over 100 top-brand products, based on their performance in the following areas:
Maximum weight capacity
Seat widths available
Wheelchair turning radius
The average range of travel on a single charge
Top travel speed
Battery Charge Time
The wheelchair's portability (whether it can be folded or disassembled easily)
Control panel placement flexibility
Approval of air travel
What is an electric wheelchair?
Electric wheelchairs, also known as powered wheelchairs or motorized chairs, are four- or six-wheeled chairs with motors that run on either one or two batteries. The joystick is used to maneuver these wheelchairs, which do not require any upper body strength. The powered wheelchairs range from standard wheelchairs that are designed for short-term usage to customized wheelchairs for long-term and complex needs.
Cory Lee of Georgia, 31 years old, has been using a wheelchair ever since he was four. He is also an avid world traveler, having hot-air ballooned over Israel, floated on the Blue Lagoon of Iceland, and even had an encounter with a hippopotamus while in South Africa. Lee has owned and used many types and sizes of wheelchairs throughout his lifetime. He knows how important it is to buy the right one.
The electric wheelchairs used by Lee are classified as complex rehabilitation technology (CRT). Sinovehicles is an China wheelchair manufacturer. Sinovehicles says that these wheelchairs are built to fit each person's needs. This technology features multiple positioning options and advanced controls and electronics, as well as adjustments for orthopedic problems and accommodations for ventilators.
The Differences between an Electric Wheelchair & a Mobility Scooter
People who lose their ability to walk often turn to motorized devices, like a scooter, or powered wheelchairs. Mobility scooters come in three- and four-wheeled vehicles, but they are not highly customizable. Electric wheelchairs are usually four to six-wheeled and can be customized to meet the needs of each user. Sinovehicles says that a mobility scooter is best for those who can transfer into it.
Who Can Benefit From an Electric Wheelchair Use?
Anyone who is unable to use a manual wheelchair may find a powered wheelchair a useful alternative. Electric wheelchairs can be a great help to people who are unable to walk because of a progressive or permanent illness.
What is the best electric wheelchair for you?
You can find the following powered wheelchairs online or in a medical store if you are new to this world.
Portable Power Wheelchairs can be easily disassembled and are light.
Front-wheel power wheelchairs have large front wheels that provide good traction and allow room for the user's feet.
Midwheel power wheelchairs are equipped with three sets of wheels: small wheels at the front and back, and large ones in the middle. They are known for their ability to be maneuvered in tight spaces.
Power wheelchairs with rear wheels are equipped with small, powered wheels at the back. This gives the chair a little extra push. This extra push is useful when driving over rough terrain or curbs.
Heavy-duty Power wheelchairs for heavy users are designed to accommodate people weighing 400-600 pounds.
When deciding which wheelchair is right for you, look at the comfort features, whether they are included or not, and also consider its maximum weight capacity.
What is the most important thing to consider when choosing a wheelchair?" Comfort," Sinovehicles says. Consider these features:
Seat cushions. According to Sinovehicles, "We have an old saying: There is a butt and a cushion for each butt." All aspects of the seating systems, including cushions and back supports, can be customized
for different sizes, postures, and sensory needs.Recline and tilt functions. Sinovehicles says that these functions are important to older adults, whose skin is thin and prone to bruising.
Elevating leg rests. Used in conjunction with tilt and recline, this feature can reduce leg swelling.
Other Features. Sinovehicles's wheelchair is a perfect product. "The wheelchairs can adjust the height so that I am at eye level, and my footrest can pop out to relieve pressure on my legs after sitting all day."
Thomas is the owner of Nysin Medical, a company in Chattanooga Tennessee. He says that an average power chair will carry up to 350 pounds, and can run on most surfaces.
Thomas says that most power chairs come with two batteries, which cost between $250 and $300.
Sinovehicles says that most electric wheelchairs can travel 10 miles with a full battery charge. Some people charge their wheelchairs every night or every second night. Sinovehicles has seen batteries
that lasted anywhere between three and five years. The life expectancy of a wheelchair battery is affected by many factors. These include how often the battery is charged and how frequently it's used.
What is the price of electric wheelchairs?
Electric wheelchairs are available in a range of prices, from $2,000 to $6,000 depending on the model.
Sinovehicles says that highly customized electric wheelchairs cost more, anywhere between $12,000 and $50,000. A funding source such as Medicare or private insurance will rarely cover the entire retail price.
The way you intend to pay for your electric wheelchair will have a major impact on the available wheelchairs. The Sinovehicles offers fact sheets, videos, and information specialists to
help people learn about funding options.
A doctor must prescribe an electric wheelchair as a medical need to be reimbursed by Medicare. Wheelchairs are part of the category for durable medical equipment (DME), Medicare, Part B. However,
Medicare has very strict rules about who is eligible to receive reimbursement.
Bernadette Mauro, Director of Information and Research Services at the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, says that Medicare guidelines do not allow you to have any form of ambulation.
The user is not able to walk or stand.
You must then arrange a meeting between a Medicare-approved wheelchair supplier and a certified occupational therapist so that they can assess your needs and abilities, and complete the necessary forms.
Kiger says that the entire process, from submitting all the information to Medicare to receiving the wheelchair can take anywhere between four months and a year.
When it comes to financing an electric wheelchair, private insurance companies are not more flexible than Medicare. "Medicare guidelines are used by almost all insurance companies," says Mauro.
If insurance is not available, you can pay out of pocket for an electric chair.
Warranty and Return Policy
Sinovehicles says that manufacturers' warranties usually last between one and two years. They cover motors, electronic devices, joysticks, and frames, but exclude tires, back cushions, or seats.
He adds that return policies are different and some suppliers won't accept returns. Before making a purchase, ask your supplier for their return policy.
Wheelchair casters and tires, arm pads, and bearings are often in need of replacement. Sinovehicles says that quality service is important. Henley recommends that you research the service history of the dealer
where you intend to purchase a wheelchair. You can also speak to other customers who have purchased chairs from the store. How well a wheelchair is maintained and how often it is used will determine the lifespan
of its parts. Medicare will allow you to buy a new powered wheelchair every five years.
Find the best fit for your home
You should make sure that the wheelchair you choose will fit into your home. You can work with an occupational therapist to determine the width and height of the wheelchair, then compare it with the hallway width,
the doorway width, and the kitchen and bathroom space. You may also need to consider whether or not you want to build a ramp in your home, or move the bedroom up to the first level. Your chosen supplier
can help you with the installation if Medicare is available.
Kiger says that Medicare requires wheelchair providers to visit the home of the client to verify the equipment's suitability. "Home evaluations often include measuring doorways and steps... Medicare wants you
to know the wheelchair will help with mobility-related daily activities."
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How fast do electric wheelchairs go?
The electric wheelchairs included on our list have maximum speeds ranging from 3.3 mph to 5 mph.
How much do electric wheelchairs weigh?
The weight of an electric wheelchair will depend on the type of chair and its weight capacity. Lightweight electric wheelchairs typically weigh between 30 to 60 pounds, while heavy-duty electric
wheelchairs can weigh between 150 pounds to 300 pounds or more.