Technology’s development has made our lives incredibly easier, especially over the last decade. Electric wheelchairs are one of the biggest products of this development. An electric wheelchair provides mobility and freedom but is heavy and considerably expensive, so you have to know the essentials of buying one. Otherwise, the return process could be painful and costly. Here we put together a guide to help you find the power wheelchair that will bring you the mobility and comfort you expect.
- Electric Wheelchair Types
There are three electric wheelchairs types: front-wheel drive, mid-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive wheelchairs allow your lower back to be tucked further back, thus giving you more comfort. They can easily navigate 90-degree turns. Plus, because the front wheel is the first to meet an obstacle, going over it becomes way smoother. But with much of the wheelchair behind you, it may cause a longer learning curve. Difficulty in maneuvering well while traveling at high speeds is another one of their inadequacies.
On the other hand, if you use a mid-wheel drive electric wheelchair, you probably will not have the same challenges as the front and rear casters help provide a stable base. Besides, they allow the tightest turning radius when completing a 360-degree turn. Their biggest weakness is the possibility of the casters getting stuck on an obstacle.
Rear-wheel drive powerchairs come with benefits such as directional stability and a very stable base. They have the best performance outdoors, but not quite good if you use them indoors. These have large front casters, resulting in discomfort for the user. If you plan to use your electric wheelchair mostly at home, this type is definitely not the best option for you.
- Electric Wheelchair Weight
An electric wheelchair’ weight is another crucial factor. Power wheelchairs usually weigh between 50 lbs. and 250 lbs. Differences in weight are due to elements such as materials, accessories, and motor weight. Finding the right mass for yourself is absolutely crucial here. If you are a thin person and buy a light electric wheelchair, you might not be able to shift your momentum and slow down easily. However, a heavier chair is not necessarily better because it might be too heavy. So, you must find the perfect chair for you and your body.
- Electric Wheelchair Battery
A battery is a heart for a power wheelchair. Just as our heart pumps blood to our organs, a battery gives power to the other parts. There are mainly four types of batteries, lithium-ion batteries, non-spillable wet batteries, spillable wet batteries, and gel batteries. Gel batteries, also known as VRLA batteries, ensure the most safety for the user, and their maintenance is relatively easier. Yet, they are not really suitable for tighter budgets.
Wet batteries, both spillable and non-spillable, work quite similarly, even though they have some chemical differences. These are not the best if you have a big electric wheelchair, but they are budget-friendly. Lastly, lithium-ion batteries are one of the recent technology wonders. They are considerably lighter and have more power. Again, these can be quite expensive but are definitely worth your money.
- Electric Wheelchair Seating
Seating is one factor that you must choose wisely for your well-being and comfort. There isn’t a right or wrong option when it comes to seating; it all depends on you and your body. You will be on the chair for a better part of your day. Poor seating and cushioning choice may cause major pain, especially in your lower back. The correct choice here would be a chair that provides the best posture for you. (Click here to learn more about wheelchair cushions)
- Electric Wheelchair Joystick
Finally, the fifth factor that you have to think about is a rather overlooked one: the electric wheelchair’s joystick controller. Many people don’t assume this is something worthy of notice and imagine they will somehow learn how to use them correctly. But no, these things can get very tricky, especially for the elderly. Your body, and even your life, are on the line here, so you must get a user-friendly, easily drivable powerchair.
Key TakeawaysNow that you have learned all you need to browse different electric wheelchairs. Your priorities will specify your pick. Is weight your primary concern? Then, IQ 8000 Wheelchair can be your first alternative with its 55-pound lightweight construction. If you value seating comfort above anything else, an auto reclining backrest is a godsend. Therefore, it all depends on what you expect from your power wheelchair.