The 5 Best Electric Power Wheelchairs [Updated for 2020]

Electric wheelchairs, also known as a power chair or motorized wheelchair, have come a long way since their original inception in 1953 by Canadian George Klein to help wounded war veterans. With humanity’s amazing advancements in science and technology, power wheelchair design has been positively transformed, making it easier than ever for people living with physical challenges to safely move about the world with freedom and independence.

The Top 5:

Stand-Up Electric Wheelchair by Karman Healthcare5) Stand-Up Electric Wheelchair by Karman HealthcareView Price
Literider Envy Compact Power Wheelchair4) Literider Envy Compact Power WheelchairView Price
Cirrus Plus EC Power Wheelchair3) Cirrus Plus EC Power WheelchairView Price
Titan AXS Reclining Electric Wheelchair2) Titan AXS Reclining Electric WheelchairView Price
Freedom Chair A08 Portable Folding Electric Wheelchair1) Freedom Chair A08 Portable Folding Electric WheelchairView Price

Power wheelchair features: 

Although the first electric wheelchairs were just one basic type for some time, as technological innovation advanced, it also led to the development of multiple design options and features. Today’s power wheelchairs come in quite a vast assortment to ensure that every unique user’s needs are met and that the wheelchair conforms to the individual rider rather than the rider having to conform to the wheelchair.

Some important design features to consider in order to choose the best electric wheelchair for you or a loved one include:

  • Rear, middle, or front-wheel drive: While rear-wheel-drive designs are usually the most commonly used for speed and outdoor travel, front-wheel-drive power wheelchairs are generally the most popular choice as they are well suited and versatile for both indoor and outdoor use and usually have a better turning radius than rear-driven designs. Mid-wheel-driven models are generally best for larger indoor environments or smooth surfaced outdoor environments, as they don’t tend to perform well on rough terrains, nor do they tend to turn easily.  
  • Portability, disassembly, and foldability: Unlike their large and bulky counterparts of the past, modern power wheelchairs often come in configurations that easily disassemble into smaller, lightweight parts or have the capability to fold down for simpler storage and portability in a vehicle.  
  • Adjustability: Several of the power wheelchairs available on the market today offer adjustability for the seat, footrests, and other components of the wheelchair for a perfect fit and optimal comfort. There are also models that come in different sizes. A reclining feature adds comfort, especially for extended sitting. 
  • Size: If you live in a small apartment or house, or if you intend on using your wheelchair in tighter, smaller spaces, be sure to choose a compact design with a width that can get through doorways and also turn easily. 
  • Maneuverability and turning radius: Because some power wheelchairs are specially designed for either indoor or outdoor use, their turning radiuses can vary greatly. A minimum of 47 inches for a turning radius for outdoor use is generally advised, while some electric wheelchairs can go as low as 20 inches. The tighter the turning radius, the easier it is to turn around in small indoor spaces. 
  • Weight capacity and dimensions: Aside from ensuring your wheelchair can get through doorways, it’s important to choose the size that will fit YOU the best. Even slight discomfort can become a huge pain when you’re using the wheelchair on a daily basis. It’s also crucial for safety that your wheelchair accommodates your weight, so be sure to check the weight capacity of the wheelchair before purchase.  

How do I choose the best electric power wheelchair? 

In order to choose the best motorized wheelchair, knowing your needs is the most important first step, along with matching those needs to the wheelchair that can meet them best. Learning about the features above combined with other components of each wheelchair, such as support and positioning options, anti-tipping and other safety features, freewheel operation capabilities, and battery power and charging times will all factor into the decision-making process.

This article provides information about the best of the best power wheelchairs available on the market today, all with a variety of benefits for different user requirements. We cover their basic design, functionality, durability, affordability, and overall performance along with customer feedback from the users of these wheelchairs to help you make the best selection for yourself or a loved one. 

5. Stand-Up Electric Wheelchair by Karman Healthcare

Even though the Stand-Up Electric Wheelchair from Karman Healthcare is by far the most expensive electric wheelchair in our review, most customers who use this innovative wheelchair said it was worth every penny to be able to stand again. Combining a power wheelchair and standing equipment all in one device, this innovative wheelchair is actually quite cost-effective. Its tight turning radius of 25 degrees and flat-free tires make this a versatile choice that works well in both indoor and outdoor environments.

Constructed with ultra-strong aircraft-grade aluminum for dependable durability, this tough material is also very lightweight, resulting in a heavy-duty power wheelchair that weighs just 110 pounds (without the battery), providing a weight capacity of 250 pounds. It can be selected in either a 16-inch or 18-inch seat width, with either left-sided or right-sided operational controls.

An easy-to-use remote operates this wheelchair in its standing mode, enabling secure support as the user stands and moves, while a companion control is also available as an add-on for operation by a caregiver. It comes with two batteries, and depending on the weight of the user and the type of terrain, it provides up to 25 miles per charge and can travel up to 5 mph. 

Flip-back armrests and an adjustable backrest and footrest optimize accessibility and comfort, along with a memory foam cushion and breathable nylon upholstery. This power stand-up wheelchair also comes with a safety belt, chest support, knee support, and leg strap for security and support while standing. 

Features and benefits

  • Provides secure standing support
  • Durably constructed with 6061 T-6 aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Adjustable footrest and backrest height
  • Adjustable knee and chest support, safety belt, and leg strap
  • Comfortable 2 to 3-inch memory foam cushioned back and seat
  • Breathable nylon upholstery
  • Flat-free front and rear wheels
  • Maximum 5 mph speed, 25-mile range per battery charge
  • Includes two 12 V/36 AH batteries

Customer feedback

Most customers who use this wheelchair give it a solid five out of five stars. The most noted and talked about feature is its standing ability, which multiple users said made the higher price well worth it, especially considering what quality standers usually cost just on their own. More than a few customers reported that this is the best stand-up wheelchair for the price. 

Pros: 

  • Combination riding and standing abilities a much-appreciated feature, and negates the need for two separate pieces of expensive equipment. 
  • Adjustable and comfortable, and comes in two different seat-width sizes.
  • Easy to operate for both regular wheelchair mode and stand-up mode.

Cons: 

  • Some users mentioned some issues with steering and said it’s much easier to guide accurately at lower speeds.
  • May not provide enough battery life for heavier users and/or longer and harder outdoor terrain travel.

4. Literider Envy Compact Power Wheelchair

Stylish, functional, and convenient, the Literider Envy Compact Power Wheelchair from Golden Technologies might indeed make you the envy of the neighborhood! If you’ve been looking for a power chair that will always be ready to go without a lot of work or heavy lifting, you’ll love this portable and versatile unit. 

First, there’s the convenience. The Literider is compact, measuring just 36” long and 22.5” wide. This, along with its short 26” turning radius, makes it ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, and other tight spaces. 

But this power wheelchair is by no means limited to the indoors - the chair’s non-scuff tires allow it to navigate a variety of terrain, with a battery life that gives it up to 15 miles of travel on a single charge! 

The Literider easily separates into four lightweight parts that all fit in the trunk of a car, and there is no need to purchase an expensive to transport this chair, as the heaviest piece weighs just 25 pounds. Simply disassemble it, place the parts in the trunk, and you’re ready for your next adventure! The Literider’s wheels detach and the two 22-amp batteries pull out for easy charging, so users aren’t obligated to bring the entire chair inside when the battery runs low. 

Although it is compact in size, the Literider features a full-size stadium seat made of durable vinyl as well as a generously sized footplate. A below-the-seat basket provides convenient storage for personal items. The stylish Literider is available in six eye-catching colors including Cherry Red and Sunburst Yellow.

Features and benefits

  • Disassembles into four lightweight parts for portability
  • Tight 26-inch turning radius for smaller spaces
  • Compact size is ideal for indoor use
  • Travels up to 15.5 miles on a single charge, a top speed of 3.5 mph
  • Comfortable and full-size stadium seat
  • Six vivid color choices
  • Generous 300-pound weight capacity

Customer feedback

Customers who purchased the Literider, either for themselves or for others, have been overwhelmingly positive when sharing their experience with the product. One user stated that without this chair, her father-in-law would not be able to continue living at home. 

Another user rented a Literider for vacation and liked it so much that he went out and purchased one! He was also pleased that thanks to its compact size and low weight, he was permitted to take his Literider aboard an airplane. 

Pros: 

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Can be taken on airplane and car trips

Cons: 

  • One customer perceived the chair’s seat to be a little wobbly

3. Cirrus Plus EC Power Wheelchair by Drive Medical

 

Offering many of the conveniences and safety features found in higher-budget chairs, the Cirrus Plus EC Power Chair from Drive Medical is lightweight, portable, and highly adjustable, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. 

This motorized wheelchair is big on comfort - its manufacturers have gone out of their way to put together a tool users can truly live in. The comfort features that make this chair superior start with a seat belt, padded back upholstery, and carefully cushioned seat. The swing-away footrests provide more foot room when the chair is not in motion. 

A folding battery tray and adjustable-length controller mount make the Cirrus even more customizable, and Drive Medical has even gone so far as to include adjustable tension on the back upholstery. This chair rides well on outdoor surfaces, remaining stable with its built-in anti-tippers. The locking brakes can be used with or without power. Users can transport themselves pretty much anywhere in this chair and are not limited to smooth, paved sidewalks.

For even greater customization options, the Cirrus is available in four different seat widths ranging all the way from 16 to 24 inches. Thigh, calf, and heel straps mean each user is positioned for optimal comfort and ergonomic health. Optional elevating leg rests can be purchased separately. Even with all these components, the Cirrus is one of the lighter power wheelchairs available in today’s market. Using its unique and intuitive folding mechanism, this electric wheelchair fits compactly into your car or van.

Freewheel operation means this chair is able to be pushed manually. The Cirrus has also surpassed testing requirements set by the Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

Features & Benefits

  • Dual indoor and outdoor use
  • Runs smoothly on outdoor surfaces
  • Folds easily to a compact size for portability
  • 15-mile battery range, 5 mph top speed
  • Adjustable, removable armrests and swing-away footrests with heel loops
  • Positioning straps for thigh and calf
  • Four seat widths, foam-cushioned seat
  • Adjustable tension on back upholstery
  • Freewheel capability, anti-tip wheels
  • Surpasses RESNA testing requirements

Customer Feedback

One customer describes this chair as “bulletproof”, while another user had had theirs for 17 years. What more could you say about a product’s durability? Another Cirrus rider describes how easy it is to fold and place into her SUV, enabling her and her husband to travel again. Another reviewer who does not own a car uses hers to run errands - “Walmart, Starbucks” - pretty much anywhere and everywhere she needs to go. It’s comfortable enough to sit in all day for most users.

Pros:

  • Durability - lasts over a decade!
  • Total body comfort for long days of sitting
  • Ease of transport

Cons:

  • May be harder for some users to control as far as speed

2. Titan AXS Reclining Electric Wheelchair by Drive Medical 

Grabbing the second position in our ranking with its wide range of sizes, adjustability, and super-easy operation is the Titan AXS Reclining Electric Wheelchair from Drive Medical. Offered in multiple width and depth combinations, the Titan AXS comes in four different sizes, with a height-adjustable Captain-style seat that swivels in 45-degree increments. It also reclines to optimize comfort and includes a padded height-adjustable headrest.

Contoured, padded armrests are also height, width, and angle-adjustable to ensure the perfect fit, along with height, depth, and angle-adjustable footplate that will flip up and out of the way for easier transfers and accessibility. Even the controller mount is adjustable! Since the red and blue panels are interchangeable, you can also create your own signature color scheme and change it whenever you want.

With a top speed of 4 mph, 300-pound weight capacity, 19-mile range on one charge, and the tightest turning radius of 20 degrees, the Titan AXS provides great overall performance for most users, especially when used indoors.

Features and Benefits

  • Offered in different width and depth combinations, four different sizes
  • Comfortable Captain’s seat reclines, swivels, and is height-adjustable
  • Padded, height-adjustable headrest
  • Padded, contoured, and height, width, and angle-adjustable armrests
  • Height, depth, and angle-adjustable footplate that also flips out of the way
  • Tightest turning radius of 20 degrees
  • Easy freewheel operation
  • Non-marking flat-free tires
  • Interchangeable blue and red panels
  • Adjustable length controller mount
  • Bluetooth-compatible programmable controller for troubleshooting and service

Customer Feedback

With an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, the vast majority of people who use the Titan AXS are very pleased with its ease of use, quality, and design features, while they also often mention how affordable it is for everything it offers. 

Another well-loved benefit is the 20-degree turning radius which makes it highly maneuverable for indoor environments and smaller spaces. However, several customers talked about how this power wheelchair with its mid-wheel design doesn’t tend to handle bumps and rough outdoor terrains very well, and can sometimes be troublesome going over indoor thresholds.

Pros:

  • Great turning radius
  • Ideal for indoor use, or smooth-terrain outdoor use
  • Exceptionally easy to use
  • Great value for the money
  • Comfortable, adjustable fit
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • May not perform as well on rough outdoor terrains or going over bumps

1. Freedom Chair A08 Portable Folding Electric Wheelchair by Freedomedi Technology 

Our top-rated selection in this power wheelchair group is the Freedom Chair A08 Portable Folding Electric Wheelchair from Freedomedi Technology

With its versatile indoor/outdoor use and convenient foldability, the Freedom Chair truly lives up to its name in the eyes of its many and varied users. Weighing only 55 pounds, this power wheelchair is one of the lightest on the market, quickly and easily folding compactly in a few seconds to fit into most vehicles, even smaller cars. FAA-approved for airplane travel, this motorized wheelchair is also ideal for cruise ships, buses, and trains.

Available in two different sizes to accommodate as many people as possible, the Freedom Chair offers a generous 350-pound weight capacity. The backrest adjusts in height to suit different users, the armrests lift up for convenient access, and the footrest can fold out of the way when not in use or for easier, close-up access. The comfortable back and seat cushions are also removable for simple cleaning. Another handy benefit is that the joystick controller can be mounted on either the left or right side of the wheelchair.

Durably constructed with long-lasting brushless motors for reliable operation and easier maintenance, the Freedom Chair also comes standard with dependable electromagnetic brakes, which automatically engage when the joystick is disengaged for safety. Anti-tip bars also come standard to ensure safer use on uneven terrains.

With its top speed of 7 mph and its ability to travel up to 9 miles with a single battery, or up to 27 miles with two batteries, the Freedom Chair provides a ride you can depend on to get you where you need to go. Its superior suspension system handles all kinds of terrains with ease, along with the standard size’s ability to climb 12-degree grades and the large size able to climb 14-degree grades. 

This power wheelchair comes standard with one battery and a 2A charger, but additional batteries can be purchased, along with an upgraded 5A charger that charges the batteries more quickly. It also includes a charger conversion connector, a car power inverter to charge other electronic devices, a cup and phone holder, an attendant control bracket for mounting the joystick on the back, and a waterproof travel bag for protected portability.

A trailer or trailer car can be added to facilitate simpler transport of multiple items, such as groceries or gardening supplies. 

Features and Benefits

  • Versatile indoor/outdoor use
  • Innovative suspension system to handle all terrains and 12 to 14-degree grades
  • Folds down compactly for storage and transport
  • FAA-approved for airplane travel
  • Two different sizes, 350-pound weight capacity
  • One of the lightest power wheelchairs available (55 pounds with battery)
  • Fold-away armrests and footrest, height-adjustable backrest
  • Brushless motors for long-lasting use and easy maintenance
  • Left, right, or rear-mounted joystick control
  • Trailer or trailer car options

Customer Feedback

Just about every customer who wrote a review for the Freedom Chair absolutely loves this power wheelchair! Receiving 5 out of 5 stars by most users, the positive comments abound for this wheelchair, ranging from how great it is in getting over all kinds of terrains, to how long it can go without charging, to how easy it is to fold up and take along in a vehicle or on a plane.

Most users just couldn’t get over how much better the Freedom Chair performs compared to other power wheelchairs, at such an affordable price point. They are amazed at its ruggedness and ability to traverse hills, inclines, and uneven, rough terrain, and recommend it for other potential users, especially those who use their power wheelchairs outside quite often.

Pros:

  • Folds down in seconds into the size of a medium-large suitcase
  • Easy to fit into most vehicles
  • Handles different terrains and inclines with ease
  • Great price 
  • Long traveling range, especially with two batteries
  • Batteries can be conveniently charged onboard or offboard
  • Improved quality of life, users experience more freedom and ability to go places

Cons:

  • Not as comfortable as a tilting/reclining wheelchair for long-term sitting

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Who needs an electric wheelchair?

An electric wheelchair uses rechargeable battery systems to mobilize the chair. Unlike manual wheelchairs that require the user’s strength or a caregiver to propel, electric power wheelchairs are operated via a joystick or some other type of controller to drive movement.

While there is a wide range of people who use power wheelchairs along with a multitude of reasons, the most common need is for individuals who are unable to self-propel a manual wheelchair and/or are unable to rely on self-propulsion for all of their daily mobility requirements. People living with physical challenges of any kind caused by aging, injury, disability, or illness, whether short-term or long-term, can benefit from the use of a motorized wheelchair.  

How to clean a power wheelchair?

Always refer to the wheelchair manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for the best way to clean and maintain your particular power wheelchair. In general, it’s a good idea to wipe down the seat and frame of the wheelchair with a soft, dry cloth, never using any abrasive chemicals or solvents, which can cause damage to the wheelchair’s electronics. Be sure to immediately address any spills or moisture, and never use water or sprays on electrical components.

Can electric wheelchairs get wet?

While it’s generally advisable not to get your power wheelchair wet, sometimes it’s just unavoidable, such as an unexpected rainfall while you’re out and about or the only available path is filled with puddles. Short-term exposure to water won’t usually cause a problem, and most quality manufacturers design their power wheelchairs to protect against moisture contact. You should always dry the wheelchair as thoroughly as possible with a towel whenever it comes in contact with any moisture. Direct or prolonged water or dampness exposure could result in corroded electrical components, a rusted frame, and major malfunctions with the wheelchair.

How heavy are electric wheelchairs?

Depending on the materials used, the weight and size of the batteries and motor, and the accessories added, electric wheelchairs can range in weight between 50 and 250 pounds.

Do electric wheelchairs fold up?

Many of today’s power wheelchairs are designed to fold for a more compact size to fit into a vehicle. Other designs offer easy disassembly into smaller, more lightweight parts for simple and quick portability and storage. 

What is the average speed of an electric wheelchair?

While top speeds will vary depending on the rider’s weight and the grade and type of terrain, most power wheelchairs offer an average speed of 5 mph for outdoor travel and recommend using lower speeds for safer indoor use. Some power wheelchairs designed for more active users can reach a top speed of 10 mph.

How long does an electric wheelchair last on a charge?

A fully-charged electric wheelchair battery will typically give an average of 8 hours of use. Some batteries may provide much more than this, or a bit less, depending on how and where the wheelchair is used. Older batteries will reduce this range, and sealed, lead-acid batteries are often thought to offer longer life than other types of batteries. 

How often should I charge my power wheelchair?

Power wheelchair batteries should always be fully charged before the first use of the wheelchair, generally requiring about 18 hours to charge. Most experts recommend charging the batteries after every discharge, even partial discharges, and it can take up to 12 hours before the batteries are fully charged again. It’s advised to provide a 24-hour charge once a week to ensure both batteries are fully charged (the one you’re using along with a back-up). 

Can you overcharge a wheelchair battery?

As long as you use the provided charger which comes with an automatic shutoff to prevent overcharging that’s included with your motorized wheelchair, you should not be in danger of overcharging your wheelchair’s battery. If your wheelchair didn’t come with a charger, or if it doesn’t have this safety feature, contact the manufacturer of the wheelchair and/or the battery manufacturer to get clear instructions to ensure you don’t overcharge your wheelchair batteries. 

Summary

Our research for determining the best power wheelchairs on the market today found all five of the wheelchairs in our review to be superior in terms of value and features, with any of them being a solid choice for most potential users. But as we took a closer look into the individual makeup of each product, we were able to rank each one by order of value, effectiveness, safety, and customization.

Although the Stand-Up Electric Wheelchair separates itself from the crowd by combining the benefits of both a stander and an electric wheelchair in one device, it may be out of the price range for some users. The Literider Envy has the lowest price point of any of the wheelchairs in our ranking, the Cirrus provides exceptional comfort, and the Titan AXS offers a wide range of width and depth combinations.

The number one spot in our best electric power wheelchair ranking goes to the Freedom Chair A08 Portable Folding Electric Wheelchair for its ability to combine multiple and well-loved features from other power wheelchairs into one unit. With its remarkable versatility for both indoor and outdoor use, two different sizes, quick compact folding for transport, and great price point for a variety of convenient features, the Freedom Chair is considered by its users to be the best power wheelchair available today.

Learn more about wheelchairs and how to choose the best here, and read about other durable medical equipment and tools for the job of living at our Caregiver University blog.  

Keep reading with our articles The 5 Best Manual Wheelchairs and The 5 Best Lightweight Wheelchairs!

 

Want to learn even more? Check out RehabMart's YouTube channel for caregiver tips, tricks, and product reviews!

Author:

Co-Founder of Rehabmart and an Occupational Therapist since 1993. Mike has spent his professional career working in multiple areas of Occupational Therapy, including pediatrics, geriatrics, hand therapy, ergonomics and inpatient / outpatient rehabilitation. Mike enjoys writing articles that help people solve complex therapeutic problems and make better product choices.

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