Electric wheelchairs, or power wheelchairs, are wheelchairs that are powered by battery to help maximize a person's mobility. They can be customized for special seating and positioning for the user and can come with a variety of features to make the operation of power wheelchairs more efficient. Finding the right electric wheelchair requires a blend of knowing the features available as well as knowing an individual's needs when it comes to mobility. Different types of drives are available.
Rear-wheel drive on an electric wheelchair refers to the placement of the largest wheels on a power wheelchair. Placement of the largest wheels on the rear of the wheelchair allows for speed and stability, but often a poor turning radius. Rear-wheel drive electric wheelchairs are the most popular of the types of electric wheelchairs.
Center-wheel drive, mid-wheel drive
Center-wheel drive wheelchairs have the largest wheels positioned in the center for the wheelchair, with two sets of smaller casters in the front and back for safety and stability. Center-wheel drive wheelchairs allow for a tight turning radius and better navigation over curbs and other obstacles.
A front-wheel drive power wheelchair has good maneuverability and turning radius, as the large wheels sit forward of the seat. A disadvantage of front-wheel drive can be less stability at higher speeds.
Deep cycle batteries
Electric wheelchairs use deep cycle batteries, which means that batteries can be drained without damage to the battery. This is an important feature for an electric wheelchair battery, as it is typically only charged one time a day.
In addition to wheelchairs, seating can also be powered. This means that the chair on a wheelchair can be tilted or reclined to provide better positioning and to relieve pressure while sitting. Powered seating is generally accessible by the same joystick that controls the wheelchair.
Portable/travel power wheelchairs
Portable/travel power wheelchairs are those that are foldable or easily taken apart for transport. They generally weigh 100 pounds or less and have smaller frames for better accessibility.