Powered or electric wheelchairs are extremely convenient devices for users with reduced mobility. With growing awareness about wheelchair friendly construction and facilities, a good electric wheelchair goes a long way towards restoring most, if not all, accessibility for users.
Power Wheelchairs for Outdoor Use
There are many factors that go into choosing a mobility device. But when it comes to choosing something as specific as the best power wheelchair for outdoor use, you need to make sure that the chosen product ticks as many boxes as possible. Below, we outline things to consider before selecting a power wheelchair for the outdoors, followed by actual product reviews, user benefits and pros and cons. We hope that this article gives you all the information you need to make a good choice.
Things you should consider before buying a power wheelchair
While there are many power wheelchairs in the market, that you can choose from, a few basic points should be kept in mind while selecting the final product. The priority of the following points would differ from user to user and is best left to the individual usage of the potential user. However, the buyer should ideally vet her buying decision against all of the below mentioned points. Each of the below characteristics and features, if not up to the mark or not adhering to minimum standards, may prove to be an experience spoiler, during the usage of the powered wheelchair.
It is absolutely essential to ensure that your potential buy is FDA cleared. The FDA is the US authority which is responsible for stipulating minimum standards that medical supplies and devices have to adhere to. This clearance will automatically mean that your wheelchair adheres to the minimum safety standards. In fact, there have been stray cases of wheelchairs not being allowed on flights, due to the product not having an FDA approval.
Convenience for air travel
Your wheelchair has to be convenient to fold and easy to wheel around for maximum convenience at airports and flight boarding gates. You can read this article if you are specifically looking for the best power wheelchairs for air travel.
Adjustable arm rests, recline and general seating comfort
If you have to use your wheelchair for extended time periods, which is likely, it is better to have adjustable arm rests and back support to support different seating postures. This may seem unimportant at first thought, but could be a life-saver in case of long periods of use. Adjustable arm rests are also very helpful in easier access to the seat. You can also go for reclining wheelchairs. Do watch out for the general seating comfort and seat quality of the power wheelchair.
Weight of the product
You should try and select a product with optimal weight. Too heavy a wheelchair may lead to reduced battery life along with being inconvenient to maneuver. If your power wheelchair is too light it may lead to reduced stability at higher speeds. The best of the electric wheelchairs weigh between 60 and 100 pounds. The newer device models come in at the lower end of this range. Most newer model power wheelchairs are made up of airplane grade aluminum alloy now-a-days, which contributes to sturdiness and lower weight.
Smooth to operate
The operating and maneuverability features of a wheelchair add a lot to your usage experience. You should be looking for smooth operation and breaking system. The wheelchair should be stable at moderate and even higher speeds. Since you are looking for a power wheelchair for outdoor use, it should be easy to maneuver too. You should carefully read product instructions and reviews to get a firm sense of the device tat you are interested in, before you invest in a power wheelchair.
Warranty and service quality
This can be one of the most overlooked part of wheelchair selection for many users. But insufficient warranty or poor after sales service quality can really be hard on your wallet. It is imperative that your power wheelchair has as comprehensive a warranty as possible and service is available widely, at least in and around your location.
Distance covered on full charge or range of the power wheelchair
Depending on your usage pattern, you may want to check the maximum distance your wheelchair will travel on a full battery. Most good wheelchairs would have ranges of 10-15 miles on full battery, however, it is advisable to not stretch travel on a single charge.
Time taken by the batteries to fully charge
Last on our list but by no means the least is time taken to fully charge your power wheelchair’s batteries. Some power wheelchairs take a bit of time to fully charge and is recommended to be charged during night time and immediately after every use. Good products take anywhere between 6-8 hours to fully charge, with new batteries taking a bit longer.
It is important to remember that some of the above features come at a cost. You may have to balance out some of these features with your budget. Continue reading for brief reviews about some of the best available power wheelchairs. All of the below options are FDA cleared.
Forcemech Power Wheelchair Voyager R2
This is one of the most lightweight power wheelchairs for outdoor use available in the market. It weighs only 45 pounds including the batteries. This lightweight wheelchair is made to carry up to a maximum weight of 265 pounds.
The joystick control may be a bit sensitive to begin with, but it can be adjusted from the panel. The device takes about 6 – 8 hours to fully charge its 2 rechargeable lithium ion batteries. The batteries do not run together, when one runs low, the wheelchair has the option to run on the second battery.
- Long battery life of up to 16 miles on full charge, including both batteries
- Lightweight and easy to fold and travel with
- Good ride quality
- Rear reflective lights for extra visibility during night time
- Solid wheels with metal alloy rim gives good support to the entire structure
- Good 24×7 customer support
- Height of this power wheelchair is comparably lower, may be inconvenient to get into wheelchair, depending upon the person
- Might be slow to start with heavier weights
Porto Mobility Ranger Portable Power Wheelchair D09S
This power wheelchair meant for outdoor use weighs only 48 pounds, with battery. This device is best for lighter passengers with maximum weight capacity being 265 pounds. The seat size is comfortable at 20 inches and the wheelchair is powered by a dual motor system.
The rear wheels are made of solid rubber which help to create traction when operating on smoother surfaces and are smaller than the competing products with a diameter of only 9 inches. The smaller rear wheel may reduce distance covered on one full charge.
On the downside, the list price only includes a single battery whereas the wheelchair has a provision to run with two batteries. If you want the second battery for added range, you will have to spend extra.
- Comfortable ride quality
- Good suspension mechanism for shock absorption
- Comes with a travel bag for ease of carry when folded
- The wheelchair arrives assembled. One just needs to install the joystick to be able to start using it
- Dual 500 watt motor system provides for better power and stability
- Good customer service
- Though the wheelchair can run either on single or 2 batteries, only 1 is included in the list price. You have to pay extra for the second battery.
- May not be suitable for heavy users
EBEI Portable Electric Wheelchair EBD09
This light weight electric wheelchair weighs about 52 pounds excluding battery weight. Its weight comes in at 58 pounds if the batteries are included. It is a value for money power wheelchair for outdoor use and has all the essential features one needs.
The wheelchair is powered by dual motor technology (two 250W motors) and runs on two 6 Ah batteries for up to 15 mile riding distance on a full charge. Its seat width is about 18 inches and it can support weight up to 360 pounds.
The wheelchair can be made to stand upright while folded, and does not require constant holding or support. The joystick can be mounted on both armrests depending on user preferences.
- Light weight and easy to handle when folded
- 5 position adjustable recliner
- Good shock absorbing mechanism on front and rear tires
- Product comes with a 2 year warranty
- Good customer service
- There is no model which comes with extra seat width for plus size users
- No remote control access
Thrive Mobility Electric Wheelchair E-7001
This is another electric wheelchair suitable for outdoor use. It is available with a blue-tooth remote controller which can let you maneuver your wheelchair from a distance and is a very handy feature to have.
The product comes with one lithium battery and consequently will travel slightly less on full charge (about 13 miles). However, if you are ok spending a couple of hundred dollars more, you can get one extra lithium ion battery, which can extend the range of this power wheelchair.
The wheelchair weighs around 62 pounds and maximum carrying capacity is stipulated at 365 pounds. The product generally has a 1 year parts replacement warranty and comes with 2 seating sizes of 17 inches and 19 inches.
- Value for money model with all essential features
- Remote control access
- Wheelchair has a variant for plus size users
- The warranty is not the most comprehensive in the industry
- Inflatable rear wheels require regular checks for optimal air pressure
Bangeran Remote Electric Wheelchair D09
This is a dual motor powered electric wheelchair. It comes with a blue-tooth enabled remote control. With larger rear wheels, it provides good ride comfort. It is definitely a power wheelchair built for outdoor use.
It has a single 13Ah (bigger size) lithium ion battery with a maximum range of 13 miles on one full charge at top speed of 4 miles per hour. The total weight of this power wheelchair is 69 pounds with battery. This is towards the higher end of the spectrum.
The XL version of this power wheelchair has a 19.5 inch wide seat. The product is easy to fold with a one-step action and can stand upright by itself when folded. This wheelchair can support a maximum weight of 360 pounds.
- Larger rear wheels (13 inches diameter) adding to ride comfort
- Bluetooth remote controller for remote access
- Reasonably priced at the mid two thousand range
- Shock absorbing mechanism on front wheels can do with some improvement for a smoother ride
- Rear wheels are inflatable and require regular checking for optimal air pressure
Most power wheelchairs will have the basic and essential features that are required for everyday use. However, if you are specifically looking for a power wheelchair for outdoor use, you will have to give certain features more importance than others. The top features to consider for using a power wheelchair outdoors are safety features, comfort, range and sturdiness.
It is always advisable to speak to your health care practitioner (doctor, therapist etc) and your near and dear ones, before making a purchase. Also, after buying a power wheelchair, it is always a good idea to thoroughly acquaint yourself with its features and read up on how to an electric wheelchair correctly. Happy mobility!