How to Choose An Electric Wheelchair

When it comes to choose electric wheelchair, it may seem be a difficult task because there are many different types available. You need to consider some factors, like living condition, drive system, sitting comfort, battery and so on. It’s important to focus on the power wheelchairs that best suit your needs.

choose electric wheelchair


1. Living Condition


  • Make sure the power wheelchair can fit and maneuver through hallways and entrances in your house. 
  • Bathroom space is generally limited, so measure the distance if the power wheelchair can move past the toilet and sink.
  • Keep it mind the weight of power chair if your home has a wheelchair lift. (Standard power wheelchairs weigh 51-150 lbs and many wheelchair lifts have a weight capacity of 750 lb.)


  • It’s about the terrains you go through. Larger and wider wheels will go more smoothly over uneven terrain.
  • Front wheel drive, with wheels located in the front of the power chair and casters in the rear, maneuvers well around tight corners and up and down slopes.

2. Drive System

Front-wheel Electric Wheelchair


  • A lower seat-to-floor height allows wheelchair users to fit more easily under standard size tables and desks, enhancing their inclusion and social interaction.
  • As the large driving wheels are at the front, they can easily move around tiny obstacles.
  • Front-wheel drive power wheelchairs offer a great option with good indoor and outdoor performance. 


  • Speed is the main disadvantage with front wheel drive chairs as the chair can ‘fishtail’ at higher speeds.
  • The front wheel drive is not the most suitable configuration for steep or hilly terrain.

Mid-wheel Electric Wheelchair


  • As the drive wheels are close to the chair base, they are more stable with six wheels, helping to prevent the electric wheelchair from tipping forward or backward.
  • Basic mid wheel drive chairs can struggle on bumpy surfaces and ramps as the middle wheels may lose traction if too steep.
  • Mid-wheel drive chairs have the best turning radius of all, making them perfect for users that plan on primarily using their power chair indoors and in tight quarters.


  • Getting stuck and being suspended between the front and back castors, which happens on soft surfaces like sand. 
  • 6 wheels touching the ground to experience bumps, which leaves the user with a less comfortable ride.

Rear-wheelchair Electric Wheelchair


  • Rear-wheel-drive power wheelchairs can easily navigate tough terrain, offering the best pure outdoor performance.
  • The rear wheels are shock-absorbent, offering a smooth and safe driving experience.
  • If you need maximum stability for high speeds, it is the best choice.


  • With a large rear, they result in a large turning radius. 
  • The castor wheels don’t have enough power to get over ledges and some obstacles.

3. Sitting Comfort

Seat Size

Most of wheelchair users spend a lot of time in their power wheelchairs, so seating and positioning are very important for their health and comfort. Determine seat width by measuring the person’s hips from one side to the other, in a straight line. Then add two inches to this measurement to select a proper wheelchair seat width. Determine seat depth by measuring from the back of the hip to the back of the knee of the person while seated.

Adjustable Back

An adjustable back enables you to change positions while sitting in your chair. The relining function allows the users to relieve the sitting pressure and spread the weight from the user’s buttocks onto the back. Being able to rest in the wheelchair is another great choice.

Padded Sitting

A padded seat can go a long way towards improving your sitting experience. Not only is it softer, but it can also offer a smoother driving experience, as it will absorb some of the rougher movements.


Footrests allow for the optimum sitting position to be achieved. This improves posture and promotes better blood circulation of mostly the legs, buttocks, back, and elbows. Correct feet positioning can avoid problems such as back pain and pressure sores. Having enough leg room will also greatly increase your comfort.


If you go shopping with your electric wheelchair, storage is necessary. There are different types including basket storage, floor storage and under-seat storage, but it all comes down to meet your personal needs.

4. Transportation

Folding Design

If you need to transport your chair, no matter lift into your car or pack for airplane, a folding design can beneficial greatly. A folding power wheelchair can be easily stored. As the name suggests, it can be folded to be more compact and make the chair easier to fit in the trunk of a car.

Wheelchair Vehicle

The first option is an accessible van with a vehicle lift. Many vehicles can accommodate a lift that can be used to easily raise an electric wheelchair into a vehicle, and to lower it out. Many vans can be modified before or after purchase, so they are accessible for motorized wheelchairs. 

5. Usability


The most common controller for power wheelchairs is a joystick and keypad. The joystick controls the direction and speed in some models. The keypad can also control speed and other functions such as degree of recline and horn. Most require constant pressure to operate and will brake once the pressure is lifted from the control. 


Most electric wheelchairs go about 5 miles per hour (mph) and rear wheel drive power chairs are easier to maneuver up to 10 mph. While five mph might seem slow, it’s still more than enough to keep up with friends and family when you’re out and about — the average walking speed of an adult is about 2.5-3 mph.


In general, manufacturers of power wheelchairs and power wheelchair batteries contend that your batteries should last for about two years. How often you use your electric wheelchair determines how often you should charge your batteries. We recommend charging your power wheelchair’s batteries for at least 8 to 14 hours after daily use. If you use your electric wheelchair less frequently, we recommend charging the batteries eight to 14 hours twice a week for a maintenance charge.

Summary on How to Choose Electric Wheelchair

This complete guide is to help you choose electric wheelchair effectively for elderly. The best way to choose electric wheelchair for your loved one is to try several models in your local mobility physical store.

Find top 5 electric wheelchair brands here! If you are looking for a travel wheelchair for outdoor use, check – Best power wheelchair for outdoor use.

Find a quality electric wheelchair at Xsto Mobility!

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