Motorized Wheelchair Options – A Complete Buyers Guide

It’s hard to understate the impact that a quality motorized wheelchair can have on a person’s life. Mobility issues can wreck the lifestyle of almost anyone, but motorized wheelchairs are designed to help overcome these struggles as easily as possible.

There are a wide variety of chairs on the market, each style seeking to find the right balance of price, comfort, and versatility. Whatever aspect you value the most, the greatest perk will be a smooth return to your daily routine.

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Buying Considerations

A motorized wheelchair is only good if it is able to serve the specific needs of the user. Most of the differences in needs come from the locations where the chair is used. Some might prefer an ultra lightweight wheelchair that is foldable and portable, while others might need a rugged chair to navigate outdoor environments.

In the end, the best motorized wheelchair can mean different things to different people, but everyone needs the same essentials- having their needs met with a comfortable chair at a reasonable price.

Price

The first variable that comes to mind is usually price. Even budget-end models will often run over $1500, meaning that a motorized wheelchair is a financial burden no matter how you look at it. Higher end models will often have more features and longer durability, so any good motorized wheelchair will have to justify its price tag.

Pain

Comfort is also essential for the passenger. Many wheelchair users require a motorized chair because heart or fatigue issues keep them from propelling themselves, especially over long distances [1]. Essentially, any chair needs to be comfortable to sit in for a long period of time. Riders with muscular or spinal disorders will need to pay special attention to the ergonomics of their chair, and should ask for a doctor’s advice in choosing [2].

1. Many people with painful disorders like muscular dystrophy or multiple sclerosis (MS) need to feel comfortable in their wheelchair for long periods of time. The wheelchair needs to be large enough that any potentially painful pressure points can be padded without preventing the user from changing sitting positions.

2. Bumps can also be extremely uncomfortable without proper suspension. Not every motorized wheelchair comes with shock absorbers, so be sure to ask that question before purchase.

3. Most motorized wheelchairs are adjustable to some extent, but some adjustments, like a reclining back, do not come standard on many models.

Physical Ability

1. If you have limited strength and/or hypoxia, the power wheelchair can move you around, but can you move it around? With heavy chairs you may need a car lift to load it, but there are lightweight motorized wheelchair options that can allow you or a loved one to load it independently.

2. Make sure you can get in and out of the chair easily as well. Some options have side entry or a footrest that might make front entry more difficult.

Recovery or Decline?

Hopefully the motorized wheelchair will last you for years, so make sure that you consider the future.

Those recovering from a disease or accident will be fine with a chair that accommodates their needs right now, but for the elderly and those with progressive disorders, think about what they will need in 3 years.

For example, how difficult will it be for them to load the wheelchair into a car?

Motorized Wheelchair vs Scooter

Electric mobility scooters are similar to motorized wheelchairs, but they do not accommodate disabilities and limitations to the same extent as wheelchairs.

Mobility scooters have a steering wheel and assume that the user can stand and walk unaided for at least short distances.

If you think that a mobility scooter may be more suitable for your needs, check out our review of the best electric mobility scooters for adults.

Medicare Coverage

Medicare may cover some of the costs associated with purchasing a motorized wheelchair or electric mobility scooter. If you have a valid medical need for a motorized wheelchair, Medicare will pay 80% of the cost. Unfortunately, medicare will not cover mobility products purchased on the internet.

To be eligible you will need a written note from your doctor that you meet all the requirements listed on Medicare’s wheelchair and scooter benefits.

Medicare coverage for mobility products can be difficult to obtain for a variety of reasons. For example, medicare only covers in-home mobility products, and suppliers need to have a qualified professional on staff to meet with patients face-to-face to determine eligibility. These requirements mean that companies selling online are unable to meet medicare requirements, and you will be limited to a local selection available in stores near you.

The strict requirements today may be partly related to the fact that medicare scooter and wheelchair suppliers have a poor track record for honesty, and companies like The SCOOTER Store and Hoveround have been responsible for extensive Medicare fraud.

1 Best Motorized Wheelchair Overall

If you are looking for an all-around great value, the Alante Sport by Golden Technologies is your best bet. For a lower cost than many high-end motorized wheelchairs, it provides several great features that make it functional and comfortable in a range of environments.

Goldentech Compass GP605 Electric WheelchairThe Alante Sport is our all-around winner.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Multiple options for arm rests, leg rests, and seat types make the Alante Sport extremely customizable to your individual needs. New controller technology makes driving feel extremely natural. The chair self-adjusts to the environment, making for a smooth ride over hills and uneven terrain. Foldable for easy transport. All-day driving range (~19.5 miles)
  • Cons: Range of seat sizes may not accommodate everyone, and many sizes are upcharged. Slightly heavy to transport

Summary

  • Comfortable and natural ride over all landscapes
  • Customization options are numerous, though choosing a different seat size may cost you an extra $160 [3].
  • Folds for easy transport- weight is manageable in most cases

Specifications

  • Driving range- 19.5 miles
  • Weight- 185 lbs
  • Weight capacity- 300 lbs
  • Warranty: Frame- Lifetime. Electronics- 13 months

Questions

If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at +1 (716) 218-8053 or send an email to [email protected].

How to Buy the Alante Sport

2 Best Budget Motorized Wheelchair

If price is your main concern, the EZ-GO Travel Power Chair is the premier budget option. Though it lacks the sleekness or power of other higher-priced models, it nonetheless provides a great value in an expensive market.

EZ GO Motorized WheelchairThe EZ GO Travel Power Chair delivers incredible savings.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Thousands of dollars cheaper than most mid-range and high-end models. Lightweight, disassembles for transport/storage. Compact size (can transport while assembled)
  • Cons: Low driving range (~9 miles). Does not fold. Only seat option is a low-back “stadium seat”

Summary

  • Extremely cheap
  • Though it can’t fold, the small size and easy disassembly make transport and storage simple
  • Major sacrifices are driving range and seat comfort

Specifications

  • Driving range- 9 miles
  • Weight- 115 lbs
  • Weight capacity- 250 lbs
  • Warranty- 1 year

Questions:

If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at +1 (716) 218-8053 or send an email to [email protected].

How to Buy the EZ-GO

3 Best High-End Motorized Wheelchair

For unbeatable comfort and stability over rough and uneven terrain, you can count on the Compass Heavy Duty Powerchair GP620, also known as the Golden Compass HD. The name says it all- a big, rugged chair for any landscape.

Golden Compass HD Heavy Duty Motorized WheelchairThe Compass Heavy Duty Powerchair GP620 is extremely comfortable and stable.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Many customization options (armrests, footplates, seat back height). Captain’s seat (high back) comes standard- large seat is accommodating. Sturdy enough to hold up to 450 lbs and navigate rough terrain, without sacrificing agility. Folds for transport
  • Cons: Extremely expensive (~3x budget models). Heavier than cheaper models

Summary

  • Cost is the main drawback
  • Customization options and chair design prioritize comfort
  • Weight makes transportation difficult but feasible

Specifications

  • Driving range- 12 miles
  • Weight- 226 lbs
  • Weight capacity- 450 lbs
  • Warranty: Frame- 5 years. Electronics- 13 months

Questions:

If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at +1 (716) 218-8053 or send an email to [email protected].

How to Buy the Golden Compass HD

4 Best All Terrain Motorized Wheelchair

For anyone with stability and outdoor navigation as a main concern, the EV Rider Allure HP6 is worth a look. A clever combination of design factors helps this motorized wheelchair deliver a safe ride for both long distances and uneven terrains.

EV Rider Allure PowerchairThe EV Rider Allure HP6 is our top pick for outdoors.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Full suspension, low center of gravity. Cost falls between budget and mid-range. Captain’s seat. Disassembles for transport/storage. Excellent driving range (~25 miles)
  • Cons: Heavy, comparable to high-end models. Does not fold. No customization options for seat, arm/leg rests

Summary

  • Suspension and driving range make for easy outdoor travel
  • Transport is possible but difficult without folding
  • Comfortable ride if you don’t need a customized setup

Specifications

  • Driving range- 25 miles
  • Weight- 213 lbs
  • Weight capacity- 350 lbs
  • Warranty: Frame- 3 years. Electronics- 1 year

Questions:

If you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at +1 (716) 218-8053 or send an email to [email protected].

How to Buy the EV Rider Allure

Segways for Mobility and Balance Disorders

The segway is an unconventional but useful transportation aid for a variety of people.

Before getting one, or beginning to use one, there are a number of crucial things to consider. Besides the initial questions, like asking whether a segway is right for you or a loved one, it’s also important to look into common concerns of segway users, such as affordability and airplane travel. This collection of common segway-related topics and frequently asked questions will cover that, and more.

Talking Points

  • First off, the segway is meant to be used while standing. This is welcome to a large number of impaired individuals, mainly those who have difficulties walking but do not need the assistance of a wheelchair or scooter.
  • Segway users sometimes use a segway in addition to another mobility aid such as a wheelchair or cane, but none of these combinations are officially endorsed by the Segway company itself.
  • One of the most groundbreaking features of the segway is easily the internal gyroscopes, which keep the vehicle constantly upright even if the user leans back and forth. First and foremost, this is an important safety feature for users with poor balance or strength. For users suffering from muscular disorders, the segway provides an opportunity to practice standing safely, and can even help reduce spasticity.
  • Though opinions vary among users, being able to stand on a segway is often more enjoyable than using a wheelchair or scooter. Segways still provide a little bit of freedom, making them very appealing to anyone who struggles with walking. Minimizing time spent sitting down also leads to a wide range of health benefits, including better circulation and digestion.
  • It’s important to remember that the inventor of the segway, Dean Kamen, does not market it as a mobility aid. However, considering that the Independence iBOT (now discontinued), a “mobility aid” marketed by Kamen, cost about ten times as much as a segway, it’s easy to see why segways have become popular. Despite their usefulness, it is important to remember that the freedom of the segway has a cost.
  • Unlike the iBOT, the FDA does not classify the segway as a mobility aid for disabled people.
  • Since it only has two wheels, segway use is not protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the price worth it?

Despite being an unconventional mobility aid, segways can often be covered by health insurance.

The last question is factoring in the individual benefit of using a segway- how much it improves your current situation.

Can you take it on an airplane?

This question is complicated. Segways used for leisure are not allowed on airplanes, but a segway used as an “assistive device” may be allowed. Things to keep in mind:

  • Due to the large battery, segways are not allowed in checked luggage.
  • A segway can be allowed onboard, but only if the battery is less than 300 watt-hours (FAA)- check your owner’s manual.
  • Batteries over 300 watt-hours are only allowed with the approval of both the airline and the pilot.

Best preparation procedure:

  1. Call the TSA desk in advance if necessary
  2. Request hand inspection for the segway at security- X-rays can cause temporary issues with the motion sensors.
  3. Bring printed documentation regarding your right to an assisted mobility device (from the airline, FAA, and/or DOJ).

Is it useful as a mobility device for those with disabilities?

Within the past few years, segways have become extremely popular as an alternative mobility device. The internal gyroscopes help with balance, for any users with muscular disorders. Most reviews agree that being able to stand on and operate a segway improves mobility and quality of life.

What disabilities is it useful with?

  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Balance issues
  • Age-related
  • Inner-ear related
  • Lower leg amputations
  • Spinal cord injuries

For a number of reasons, the segway is rising in popularity as an assisted mobility device. In general, it plays an important role for people who have difficulty walking but still want individual freedom. If you’re aware of all the benefits, as well as the limitations, there’s a chance that a segway could be a good choice for you.

The Bottom Line

  1. With endless range and stellar comfort at just a mid range price, the Alante Sport is our all-around winner. Customization for personal comfort is easy, but some seat sizes will cost you extra.
  2. Looking to save money with minimal sacrifices? The EZ-GO Travel Power Chair is your best bet. Though it comes with a stadium seat and a short driving range, this motorized wheelchair delivers incredible savings.
  3. If price is less of a concern, the Compass Heavy Duty Powerchair GP620 delivers a comfortable and sturdy ride anywhere you go. It comes with unbeatable stability and weight capacity, but its size and weight can sometimes be a burden.
  4. Love the outdoors? EV Rider Allure HP6 has the best driving range of the bunch, and its suspension will help you tackle any terrain. At a mid-range price, this motorized wheelchair delivers high-end stability, but it lacks a customizable seat.

Additional Resources

  1. The Best Lightweight Electric Wheelchairs for Sale
  2. The Best Electric Mobility Scooters for Adults
  3. Medicare Options for Electric Mobility Scooters and Electric Wheelchairs
  4. Compass Sport User Manual
  5. EZ-GO Power Chair Manual
  6. Golden Compass HD Manual
  7. EV Rider Allure Manual

References

  1. http://www.searo.who.int/entity/disabilities_injury_rehabilitation/wheelchair_factsheet.pdf
  2. https://www.scootersnchairs.com/products/

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