Electric Wheelchairs – How to choose

To be totally sure of answering this correctly it is important to have an assessment by a trained assessor, ideally in your home as it will probably be used there. Your height/weight, general mobility, pressure care, seating requirements, home environment, your condition and what exactly you want from your chair are very important factors. However, the information below will help you initially understand the main types of chair available and what they can do for you. Once you have read this guide please contact us on 01572 755204 where we can explain in more detail and forward information to you or arrange a free home assessment if you require. Electric wheelchairs (powerchairs for short), are much more compact than a mobility scooter and are highly manoeuvrable, easy for getting around indoors and tight spaces. The seating on a powerchair can be a scooter type seat, or a totally bespoke seat formed around the user. Some powerchairs are fitted with power seating options to help the user find their most comfortable position.

Who benefits the most from Powerchairs?

  • People with long-term conditions that affect walking ability over short distances.
  • Long term wheelchair users who can no longer propel themselves and want to retain independence.
  • Those who have suffered spinal injuries from a traffic, work or sport related accident.

Powerchairs fall into three categories: Rear Wheel Drive, Mid Wheel Drive, and Front Wheel Drive. What is the difference and which is right for you?

Rear Wheel drive

Rear Wheel Drive Powerchairs are the most common type of powerchair. This type of wheelchair comes with either a folding frame or fixed frame. Rear Wheel Drive Powerchairs are driven using a joystick control, which can be mounted on either side of the wheelchair. The seating is adjustable and the batteries can be re-charged usually via a connection on the joystick. Rear wheel drive wheelchairs need larger spaces to turn around.

Mid Wheel Drive

Mid Wheel Drive Powerchairs, the main drive wheels have been moved from the rear of the wheelchair to the middle part of the wheelchair. Moving the drive wheels in this way makes a very big difference to how the wheelchair drives. Mid wheel drive powerchairs only need a small space to turn around in. Mid Wheel Drive Powerchairs have a low centre of gravity, making them feel more stable in use. Mid wheel drive powerchairs are controlled with a joystick, mounted on either side of the powerchair. The smaller turning circle of a mid wheel drive model means you can get a bigger powerchair into a smaller space.

Front Wheel Drive

The least common system is front wheel drive. This system is less commonly used, due to the poor drive quality when compared to Mid Wheel drive.


Phone 01572 755204 to discuss your Powerchair requirements with an expert