Top 10 features to look for When buying an electric wheelchair
Updated: Jul 23
Electric wheelchairs come with price tags. They could start for 50,000 but could go up-to 5 Lac for top end models. Thus, it's important to make a right, informed decision, when you plan to buy one.
What features, one should consider, we have created a high level feature set list and there could still be some that you may want to consider for your own individual requirement, place you live, space constraints, weight, width, attendant available etc.
Weight and portability:
Electric wheelchairs can be heavy, so it is important to consider the weight of the wheelchair when making your purchase. If you will be transporting the wheelchair in a car, you will need to make sure that it is lightweight enough to be lifted and moved. Most electric wheelchairs are folding type and have a detachable battery.
Typical weight of an electric wheelchair is 25kg without a battery.
2. Drive Range:
The range of an electric wheelchair is the distance it can travel on a single charge. If you have a long commute or if you plan on using your wheelchair for outdoor activities, you will need to choose a wheelchair with a long range.
Typical distance range of an electric wheelchair is 15-20 km on a single charge.
The speed of an electric wheelchair is important if you need to get around quickly. However, it is also important to consider the maximum speed of the wheelchair, as you may not want to go too fast in crowded areas.
Typical max speed of an electric wheelchair is 6 km/hour for safety reasons.
4. Battery life:
The battery life of an electric wheelchair is the amount of time the battery will last before it needs to be recharged. If you plan on using your wheelchair for long periods of time, you will need to choose a wheelchair with a long battery life.
Battery life has two measures, single charge - stand by could be 15-20 days and on continuous usage based 3-4 hours covering 15-20 km. Anything in between, with moderate usage of 2 km a day, could last for 7-10 days before needing to recharge.
5. Cushion Comfort:
The comfort of an electric wheelchair is important, as you will be spending a lot of time sitting in it. Look for a wheelchair with a cushioned seat and backrest.
Sitting in a wheelchair for long with a good cushion and backrest are Important considerations. Additional cushion at times helps.
The stability of an electric wheelchair is important, especially if you are using it on uneven surfaces. Look for a wheelchair with wide wheels and a low centre of gravity.
Important consideration for “anti-tipper” for safety considerations.
7. Flip Up Armrest:
It may be important to relax from time to time, for a person in the wheelchair for long hours. Also, while shifting into a wheelchair, its much easier with flip-up armrest or a detachable arm-rest.
Important consideration for “sliding into a wheelchair” with flip-up armrest.
8. Reclining Backrest :
An Electric wheelchair with tilt-in-space feature, a headrest. These features can make your wheelchair more comfortable and easier to use.
Most wheelchairs may not support reclining features! Do make sure you choose the right one, based on this feature.
Electric wheelchairs can be expensive, so it is important to set a budget before you start shopping. You will need to decide how much you are willing to spend on a wheelchair, and then you can start looking for models that fit your budget.
Starting range of basic electric wheelchairs could be under 50,000 but premium features ones could be 1lac to 5lac.
Most electric wheelchairs come with a warranty, so you will want to make sure that you understand the terms of the warranty before you make your purchase. The warranty should cover any defects in the wheelchair, and it should also cover any repairs that may be needed during the warranty period.
Typical warranty for electric wheelchairs is 2-years, but for batteries mostly 6-months to 1-year.
11. Battery Type:
Important consideration for travelling by flight or concerned about charging time / range and battery life. The two types of battery are Lead Acid based and Lithium Ion based. Hands down Lithium Ion battery is better on most aspects, except being costly by 5k to 7k over Lead acid. Key advantages of Li-Ion Battery
a. Weight - Five time lighter than Lead Acid Battery
b. Charging Speed - Very efficient - Due to ability of fast charging only with Li-Ion technology, couple of hours versus 8-12 hours
c. Efficiency - Li-Ion battery is super efficient with 90% output without performance loss, Lead-Acid battery could be 60% efficient and potential performance degradation over time.
d. Life span - Li-Ion scores, almost double the life of Lead acid battery, making it ideal choice and TCO better
e. High maintenance and Polluting - Lead acid has high requirement of maintenance and prone to acidic fumes too
If cost is not a consideration, always go for Lithium Ion battery.
12. Try and Buy:
If finding it difficult to decide which electric wheelchair might work for you, check for service providers who are willing to Rent out before you choose to decide.
Check for Try and Buy offer, service provider of electric wheelchair.
13. Braking System:
It is important to check safety measures and one key element to check is braking system. Electric / motorised wheelchair with electro-magnetic brakes have advantages of smooth and controlled way to stop.
14. Reputation of the manufacturer:
It is important to buy an electric wheelchair from a reputable manufacturer. This will ensure that the wheelchair is well-made and that it will last for a long time.
Here are some Indian OEMs of electric wheelchairs:
Pride Mobility Product
Here are some service providers of electric wheelchairs in Delhi / North India:
Healthy Jeena Sikho: This company is a leading provider of home healthcare equipment in Delhi and North India. They offer a range of electric wheelchairs to choose from, and they also offer a repair and maintenance service.