Electric Wheelchairs

We evaluated 14 electric wheelchair models, and after careful review identified the 4 best electric wheelchairs in 2018. To draw our conclusions, we looked at sales data, analyzed consumer reviews, consulted with seniors & checked with experts in the industry. While many of the electric wheelchairs we reviewed might be good choices, we found four options that also stood out for key buyer needs: Best to Transport (Forcemech Voyager R2), Best for All Sizes (Foldawheel PW-1000XL), Best Value (Drive Medical Cirrus Plus), and Best Battery Life (EZ Lite Cruiser).

This guide will provide you with the expert advice needed to choose the essential features for your mobility needs. We’ll also answer the top power chair questions asked by seniors and others looking for an electric wheelchair to improve their quality of life.

Top tips:

  • Not all chairs include the most-requested features. Know what you’re getting for the price, including shipping and handling
  • Performance (range, capabilities) vary by user needs. Know how you’ll use the chair before buying
  • Understand the difference between buying in-store and online, especially when it comes to warranty and return policies

Recommended models:

Research Stats:

Chairs
Considered
14
Chairs
Selected
4
# Hours
Analyzed
40
Experts
Consulted
3
Seniors
Consulted
20


Tips for a Wise Buyer


If you’ve decided that an electric wheelchair is needed to improve your mobility and help you live a more active lifestyle, it’s best to know the facts before buying. First, safety should be your primary concern, and this useful safety checklist can make sure you maintain and operate the device safely.

Lesson
Think safety first

Once you have determined you can safely use the equipment, you’ll need to establish some priorities to make a wise choice. Not every chair will likely have every perk you’re looking for (especially at a modest price). Develop a list of non-negotiable needs first. After you’ve done that, search for chairs that will also include a few “nice to haves.” Here are some of those other most important considerations:

Electric Wheelchair Price

Most fully-functional electric wheelchairs start at $1500. While it probably goes without saying that a power chair requires some accessories to function properly, these may not all be included in the base price. Often items such as battery chargers, spare batteries, foot rest extensions, and headrest cushions are not be included in the base price, and each one will cost extra. Some chairs are even suitable as a seat in a motor vehicle. As you can imagine, accessories drive up the price of the chair. Again, make a list of needs, and then classify other items as “nices to haves” so that you can look to see the impact of extras on the price before making your final decision.

Also, look for the presence of accessories (such as headrest extensions) that will not be needed and can be removed. Plug adapters for international use won’t be necessary if used only in the United States. Last, shipping can cost extra as well, so price your chair’s shipping based on where you live. If possible, ask for shipping to be included in the purchase price.

Electric Wheelchair Performance

Think about your performance needs carefully, because these chairs are expensive to replace. If you need a chair for around the house, your chair choice may be very different from someone with rugged outdoor requirements. Chairs come in different sizes, too. Larger and heavier adults may find some chair models uncomfortable, so read the dimensions carefully to see which ones will be the best fit.

Lesson
There’s a power chair for your lifestyle

Battery life is an important requirement for those using the chair day in and day out, while those who hope to keep it in the car only for travel may need no more than a few hours of power. Making a list of your top performance needs prior to purchase is recommended.

Buying Electric Wheelchairs Online

Purchasing an electric wheelchair can be a daunting experience. Not only is it scary to purchase something that is often not easy to test out in person, but it is a heavy purchase that may require special shipping and handling to get to your home. With many people not residing close to a power chair retailer, shopping online could be your best choice. Being aware of the special challenges (and advantages) of purchasing from the internet is essential.

Note that there may be several online retailers selling the same model of chair, and that not all will honor the original wheelchair warranty or manufacturer benefits. Be sure that you look into the conditions for return or repair before buying. If you think that you’ll need some time to try out the chair before committing, ensure that your particular retailer has a generous return policy with no excessive charges for return shipping and handling. Bonuses and special offers given by the manufacturer may not be available by all retailers and at all times, so read the fine print before purchasing.



Searching for the right electric wheelchair just might be toughest part of making a purchase. To bring recommendations to you, we reviewed sales data, analyzed consumer reviews, consulted with seniors and talked to experts in the industry.
man on electric wheelchair in park

Man on electric wheelchair in a park. Source: Getty Images

Our search started with 14 of the most widely considered electric wheelchairs and ended with 4 recommendations. The approach we took to narrow down the top power chairs was as follows:

1. We considered multiple electric wheelchairs

We began our search with 14 popular electric wheelchair models. We looked at consumer reviews and read the user’s comments. Companies with an average rating of less than 3 of 5 stars were disqualified. The models with favorable reviews were noted favorably. Models with suspect positive reviews or those with only a handful of reviews were excluded from the list.

2. We checked availability

We looked at the top electric wheelchair options available to purchase online to be shipped to anywhere in the country. Chairs ranged in price from just over $1,000 to $6,000 or more with added accessories. If it wasn’t available to ship across the country, it was cut from the list.

3. We shopped for electric wheelchairs & followed our buying tips

We narrowed our scope to companies that met our wise buyer criteria. Based on different buyer needs, we presented the top choice for power chairs in each category. Not all chairs offer all features. Our top chairs represent a variety of the best of what’s available on the market today.


Electric Wheelchair Reviews

After our evaluation, we selected four best electric wheelchair models: Forcemech Voyager R2, Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Folding Power Wheelchair, Foldawheel PW-1000XL, and EZ Lite Cruiser. Each of these models were good picks, and also stood out in a unique way.

Forcemech Power Wheelchair Voyager R2

  • Forcemech Voyager R2
  • Best to Transport
  • Weighs Only 43 lbs

Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Folding Power Wheelchair

  • Drive Medical Cirrus Plus
  • Best Value

Foldawheel PW-1000XL

  • Foldawheel PW-1000XL
  • Best For All Sizes
  • Supports up to 330 lbs

EZ Lite Cruiser

  • EZ Lite Cruiser
  • Best Battery Life
  • 10-20 Mile Range


Forcemech Voyager R2 Review

Best to Transport

Since most people use their power chairs for getting around outside their home, as well as inside, a popular feature of chairs is the ability to fold it up for storage or transportation. Most foldable power chairs are designed to be able to be folded and unfolded by the person using the chair – and not just a caregiver – encouraging maximum independence in any situation. A foldable chair must be light enough to be carried short distances, and also compact enough to fit in a standard car trunk or back seat.

We like the Forcemech Voyager R2 because it is designed specifically for taking in the car, on planes, or even cruises. The powder-coated finish on an aluminum frame keeps it light – just 43 pounds. It takes up about the same space as a large stroller when folded, and the batteries are much lighter than most chair batteries; each one is slightly more than 3 pounds. The portability of this chairs comes with weight restrictions: it is designed to accommodate up to 265 pounds.

Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Folding Power Wheelchair Review

Best Value

Many of the chairs we reviewed were priced north of $2000. Still, it’s possible to have many of the bells and whistles of a more top-of-the-line chair, without paying more than $1500 for it. The key is to consider all of the available options and insist on the features that you will use regularly. A chair of good value will likely have standard color (black or grey vs. neon or customizable color), and all of the basic comfort accessories included. They may have padded seats, adjustable cushions, removable armrests, and storage pouches. Your chair should include seat belts and safety features without additional cost and should be able to accommodate most adults, including those of 300 pounds or more.

We like the Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Folding Power Wheelchair because it is a foldable chair with just the right amount of upgrades to make it feel like high-end transportation without the shocking price tag. Priced well under $1500, it has high marks from consumers for being safe, comfortable, and having all the features you want without an additional upgrade cost. It looks more like a traditional wheelchair, and it accommodates weights of as much as 300 pounds.

Foldawheel PW-1000XL Review

Best for All Sizes

Sometimes, you need a chair that’s up to the task of handling more weight or a variety of surfaces. The proper chair can be found for people of all sizes, but you’ll need to consider both weight and size to know if a chair is right for you. Many chairs on the market only accommodate up to 300 pounds, and even those that can handle more weight may be too narrow by design to be comfortable for those with a larger body frame. Be sure you know the size of the seating area before purchase to ensure a good fit.

We like the Foldawheel PW-1000XL because it weighs just 57 pounds and folds/unfolds in just 2 seconds. Consumers praise its durability; it comfortably seats adults weighing 330 pounds or more. It’s designed to accommodate heavier frames, but it also takes up minimal trunk space. This chair gets rave reviews for working at up to 5 miles an hour on a variety of surfaces, including cobblestone and turf. It handles inclines well, and the battery life is good for a minimum of 6 miles under normal use.

EZ Lite Cruiser Review

Best Battery Life

Limited battery life can limit your mobility. Moreover, electric wheelchairs need time to recharge after normal use, and often 8-10 hours of recharging after the battery has been depleted. You will need to plan accordingly because your chair has limited range.

We like the EZ Lite Cruiser for its ability to go 10 miles on one lithium battery charge. Install the second battery (not included) for a full 20 miles of independence. As an additional benefit, it is a fan favorite for those who live in tight living conditions and need a maneuverable chair that can navigate narrow hallways and doorways. Weighing just 50 pounds with the battery, you can also remove the battery before transporting to make it lighter.


Frequently Asked Questions about Electric Wheelchairs


What style of electric wheelchair is right for me?
There are many different style options available, with some styles referring to function, and others to form. Whether you need a folding chair, indoor chair, one with front or rear-wheel drive, or a light-weight one for travel will be based on your specific use-case needs. Make sure you outline all the ways you will be using the chair before you look at buying one to be certain your final selection will work in your most commonly-used instances.

Am I better off with a lighter chair or a more durable one?
The weight of a chair doesn’t always indicate how sturdy it is. In fact, there are many portable and light-weight chairs on the market that are designed to hold extra weight or work on rough terrain. While a battery will have to work harder for a heavier chair, it is typically designed with that fact in mind. Don’t feel that you have to choose between portability and quality.

My house is small. Can a motorized wheelchair fit?
Most electric wheelchairs are designed with portability in mind, and this includes fitting in small spaces. You should always measure the doorways, hall spaces, entrances, and exits of your home, office, or other frequented areas to be sure, however. It is also wise to consider how small a folding chair will actually become and the space requirements you’ll have in your transport vehicle before buying.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor chairs?
Most chairs are made to do some travel in smooth, flat terrain at any location. Others are specially-designed to handle outdoor surfaces such as grass, gravel, and inclined slopes. Know the pros and cons of each chair, regardless of how it is marketed. Some wheelchairs that are advertised as suitable for outdoors don’t make the grade when it comes to keeping traction and pushing over rough surfaces.

If I’m not happy with my chair, can I return it?
Each chair retailer will have their own return policy, so please check this before buying. If the chair is unusable due to a manufacturer defect or flaw, you can address the maker directly only after the retailer has declined to help. As a last resort, you can always try working with your credit card company to help resolve an unsatisfactory purchase after all other avenues have been exhausted.

Will Medicare or my insurance cover my electric wheelchair?
Most insurance companies, including Medicare, won’t cover an electric wheelchair until you’ve seen the doctor and it was determined that you need one to perform daily activities inside your home. If the device is considered a medical necessity, you can may be eligible for coverage. Check the Medicare mobility device guidelines for more facts. If you’re seeking a chair for outdoor, leisure, or travel activities, it likely won’t be covered. Expect the process of getting approved to take months, and you may have to pay out of pocket before being reimbursed – even if approved.

Can I use my electric wheelchair on public transportation?
In order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, bus and rail service is required to accommodate electric wheelchairs and their operators, provided the total weight of the occupied chair is less than 600 pounds.

What is the difference between an electric wheelchair and a mobility scooter?
Electric wheelchairs are generally foldable, where a mobility scooter is not. Electric wheelchairs, therefore are generally easier to transport and store. Mobility scooters often move faster, but may be less stable. A quick reference tip for the difference – if you see handlebars, it’s a scooter.

mobility scooter

Mobility scooter parked near building. Source: Getty

Conclusion


Bottom Line: The right electric wheelchair can dramatically improve your quality of life, provided you choose the features that are best-suited to your personal needs.

There is no perfect product for everyone, and that’s why it is highly recommended that you take an honest assessment of how you will use your power chair in your daily life – not just when traveling. While finding the perfect match of features can be time-consuming, the value you’ll receive by buying the proper chair for your needs – and wants – will be worth it.

Pick the right chair from the start and avoid frustration, expensive returns, and the hassle of dealing with customer service and sales teams.