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An electric wheelchair can be a real lifesaver for users with mobility impairments. These motorized aids can allow the occupant to travel further than a manual wheelchair will allow. They also provide the user with greater freedom and independence to carry out their day to day activities.
The problem, however, with a traditional electric wheelchair is the user’s reach is restricted as the height of their wheelchair is usually fixed. For paralyzed users who are unable to stand, trying to stretch to open a high cabinet door or turn on a faucet, for example, can prove particularly challenging. This can mean the user is reliant on others to help perform these basic tasks for them.
An electric wheelchair with an elevating seat can make regular tasks much more accessible. The patient can elevate their seat at a touch of a button and extend their reach, allowing them to perform tasks that may have proved inaccessible otherwise, as well as allowing them to speak to other people at eye level, which helps with social contact.
In this article, we will cover the important features you should look for when choosing an elevating electric wheelchair. We will also review some of the best elevating electric wheelchairs that will help to make life much more accessible and allow you to lead a more independent life.
Elevating Seat Electric Wheelchairs Comparison Chart
Merits Vision Super Elevating Seat Powerchair
Karman XO-202 Stand-Up Power Wheelchair
Jazzy Air 2 Elevating Seat Powerchair
Karman XO-505 Standing Powerchair
Dimensions (W x L)
27.2" x 35.4"
25", 26.5" x 42"
23.22" x 41.93"
28" x 45"
Seat Size (W x D)
20" – 24" x 20"
16", 18" x 19", 20"
16" – 20" x 16" – 22"
18" x 18" – 20"
16.8, 19.2 miles
6" (front), 12" (rear)
8" (front), 14" (rear)
6" (front), 10" (mid), 6" (rear)
8" (front), 14" (mid), 8" (rear)
110 lbs (without battery)
230 lbs, 245 lbs
What is an Elevating Seat Electric Wheelchair?
This type of electric wheelchair features a powered elevating seat that can be raised or lowered using a battery-powered control. Depending on the model, it can be raised whilst static or driven at a lower speed, with the seat in a raised position.
These types of powered wheelchairs are particularly suited for patients who need to spend considerable amounts of time in their wheelchair, such as those who are paralyzed or for anyone who is unable to stand. There may be times when the position of the seat needs to be adjusted. This could be for reaching a desk more easily or being able to complete tasks at a different level. They can also come in handy when the patient wants to be at eye level while conversing with other people.
Some types of elevating electric wheelchairs also feature a lift mechanism system that can automatically stand the patient to a full upright position, while they are supported securely in their wheelchair.
Elevating seat electric wheelchairs can prove beneficial, especially as it can provide the patient with increased accessibility to areas that might otherwise have been out of reach for the standard powered wheelchair user.
What Are the Benefits of an Elevating Seat Powerchair?
The use of an elevating seat electric wheelchair can offer a range of benefits over a standard powered wheelchair, especially for patients with more severe mobility impairments. Some of these benefits may include:
Extended Vertical Reach
For the able-bodied person, the simple task of turning a light switch on, opening a cabinet door, using an ATM, calling for an elevator, or just sitting at a desk, is usually never given a second thought.
For the average wheelchair user, however, performing these common day-to-day tasks can prove challenging, mainly due to the fact that they are often located out of reach. Not being able to perform these basic tasks can be particularly frustrating, and it can also limit the person’s independence, as they may need to rely on others for assistance. An elevated seat wheelchair can help to increase the user’s reaching abilities, therefore making common tasks much more accessible.
Easier and Safer Transfers
Transferring from a wheelchair to a different height surface such as a bed, recliner, commode, or car can prove particularly challenging for patients who are unable to bear weight. It can also be fraught with danger.
The wheelchair user may require the assistance of a caregiver to help with lateral transfers. In some cases, a hoist may need to be employed if the patient is particularly heavy. By using an elevating electric wheelchair, however, the seat can be elevated to the same level or higher than the destination surface, to allow for an easier and safer transfer. This can not only reduce the strain for both the patient and caregiver, but it can also reduce the risk of fall-related injuries, and allow for independent transfers.
Better Social Interaction
For wheelchair users, trying to participate in a conversation with an able-bodied person that is not at eye level, can prove challenging, and often impersonal. It can mean that the user will need to crane their neck so that they can maintain eye contact while they speak to the person standing. This can not only prove uncomfortable, but it can also cause neck or back pain.
An elevating wheelchair allows the user to have a conversation at eye-level with the other party instead of having to strain their neck. This allows for more natural and comfortable conversation.
Sitting for extended periods in a wheelchair can be uncomfortable. It can also increase the risk of developing pressure sores. This can be a particularly serious problem for patients suffering from paralysis, who are unable to shift their weight independently in order to relieve pressure. In cases where the user is unable to feel pain in certain parts of their body or suffer with reduced sensitivity, they may fail to notice any discomfort while sitting. This can mean they may not realize that they need to change position. This can increase the likelihood of developing pressure sores.
An elevating wheelchair can help to reduce discomfort, as it allows the patient to self-reposition themselves by operating the seat lift mechanism without requiring the assistance of others. Not only can this type of powered wheelchair improve comfort, but it can also assist with circulation, digestion, and improve respiratory function.
What to Look for When Buying an Elevating Seat Electric Wheelchair?
An electric wheelchair with an elevating seat can prove immensely beneficial for patients with severe mobility impairments. Not only can it improve their quality of life, but it can also make things more accessible, and allow the user to lead a more independent life.
Before deciding on a suitable elevating powered wheelchair, it is imperative that you consider your needs. The following factors will ensure that you choose one that meets your particular mobility requirements:
An electric wheelchair’s weight capacity determines how much weight the mobility aid can safely support. Exceeding its maximum weight capacity can not only cause damage to the wheelchair, but it can also cause it to become unstable, especially when the seat is in an elevated position. This will put the occupant’s safety at risk.
Regular electric wheelchairs generally have weight capacities of up to 300 lbs. For larger individuals, there are heavy-duty models available that feature a reinforced frame, and are designed for bariatric use, and can support weights up to 650 lbs.
Heavy-duty models usually feature a scissor mechanism elevating seat as opposed to a single post elevating seat that is normally found on standard models. The scissor mechanism provides better stability and durability, and therefore it is better suited for heavier individuals.
It is important that you choose the correct sized seat, so that it provides the patient with sufficient support and ensures maximum comfort. This is not only important for their safety, but it can also help to reduce fatigue and prevent the risk of developing pressure sores.
The correct width seat must not be too narrow, or too wide. There should ideally be a maximum of a 1-2 inch gap between the edge of the seat and the user’s hips. Seat widths can vary between models. This can start at 16 inches, and it can go as high as 24 inches on some heavy-duty wheelchairs.
You should also consider the depth of the seat. Selecting the right depth seat will allow for the user’s weight to be evenly distributed across the seat’s surface. If the depth is too short, it will provide inadequate support for the user’s thighs, and it may place excessive pressure on the buttocks area, which can increase the risk of pressure-related injuries. If the seat is too deep, it will place pressure behind the back of the user’s knees, which may cause skin irritation. To ensure that you choose the correct depth seat, measure in a straight line the distance from the back of the user’s bottom to just behind their knees while they are seated, and then subtract 2-inches from this measurement.
You will want to pay particular attention to the wheelchair’s dimensions if you plan on using it mainly indoors.
While electric wheelchairs are generally designed to fit through standard-sized doorways and passageways, it is important to check that the wheelchair is not too wide for use in confined spaces.
The width of an electric wheelchairs can range anywhere from 22″ up to 34″ for some heavy-duty models. Always measure the narrowest parts within your home or relevant indoor setting, and compare this to the dimensions of the wheelchair to ensure it is suitable.
Consider how frequently you plan to use your powered wheelchair. Will you be mostly using it at home, or will you need to take it on longer trips such as to the shops or the park?
If you need to use your electric wheelchair throughout the day, consider opting for one that has a longer range. The longer its range, the further you will be able to travel on a single charge. This importantly means the less often you will need to recharge it. As a general guideline, consider how many miles you typically travel in a day and choose a wheelchair with an adequate range.
While the battery range will vary depending on the wheelchair model, elevating powered wheelchairs generally can achieve ranges of between 10 miles to 30 miles.
With turning radiuses ranging from as low as 20 inches to as high as 40 inches, it is important to choose wisely, as it can influence how maneuverable your electric wheelchair will be. The smaller the turning radius, the easier it will be to maneuver it in confined spaces, and the tighter the turns the wheelchair will be able to perform.
Mid-wheel drive elevating wheelchairs have the smallest turning radiuses (ranging between 20 inches to 25 inches), which makes them ideal for use in indoor settings.
The base height of an elevating powerchair can vary, although this typically is in the 20–25 inches region, with the seat able to elevate to a maximum height of between 10 to 15 inches depending on the model of wheelchair.
The elevation mechanism is usually operated via a hydraulic or gas-powered lift system that can be controlled by the user using a joystick or button/s. Elevating the seat to its highest position will usually take anywhere between 10-15 seconds.
An elevating seat wheelchair is designed to improve the user’s reaching abilities. It is therefore important that you choose a model with a sufficient height range that will allow you to reach different height surfaces that you commonly need to access on a daily basis around the home, and/or at work to provide maximum benefit.
Best Elevating Seat Powerchairs
1. Merits Vision Super Elevating Seat Powerchair
With its excellent maneuverability, the Merits Vision Super elevating powered wheelchair is perfectly suited for use in confined indoor spaces. The tight 20.7″ turning radius means it can easily turn in narrow areas, allowing you to use the powerchair at home or take it into shops with you.
The powerchair provides up to 10-inches in elevation, with the seat raising from 24-inches off the ground to up to 34-inches. This means accessing those hard to reach areas that you may have struggled with previously, will now become much more accessible.
With a hefty weight capacity of up to 400 lbs, the Merits Vision Super powerchair is suitable for bariatric use. The scissor power seat lift mechanism provides good stability even for heavier users, and the wheelchair can be driven while the seat is in a raised position.
The mid-wheel drive powerchair is fitted with large 12″ drive tires, as well as with front and rear suspensions, which means it can tackle outdoor terrain well. It provides a smooth ride over uneven surfaces, and the six tires provide good traction.
The powerful dual in-line motors provide top speeds of 5 mph, and it can travel up to 20 miles on just a single charge, which means you can travel further without needing to worry about it running out of charge.
The Merits Vision Super is fitted with a comfortable and supportive padded captain’s chair, and it has a reclinable backrest that can be inclined by the user to maximize comfort. The seat is available in a choice of 3 width sizes including a 20″, 22″, and 24″. The armrest can be adjusted in height as well as width, to conform to the individual needs of the user. To assist with transfers the armrests also flip-up.
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 27.2″ x 35.4″
- Max speed: 5 mph
- Driving range: 20 miles
- Turning radius: 20.7″
- Ground clearance: 2.2″
- Product weight: 243 lbs
2. Karman XO-202 Stand-Up Power Wheelchair
The XO-202 stand-up powerchair from Karman could be the perfect solution for users with more complex mobility needs, such as those who are paralyzed or for patients who are unable to stand independently.
The Karman XO-202 electric wheelchair can gently lift the user to a standing position in just under 15 seconds. The benefit of this type of wheelchair is not only does it provide the user with better accessibility, but it also allows the user to relieve pressure. This is important if they need to spend extended periods seated. Importantly, it can also help to strengthen muscles and improve blood circulation.
The powerchair is fitted with a range of safety features to ensure sit to stand transfers are completed safely. A chest strap, lap seat belt, and knee wedge helps to stop the user from slipping out from the wheelchair and ensures transfers are completed securely. The powerchair can be driven by the user in both the standing and sitting positions. The anti-tip casters also provide extra stability.
Two 12V batteries provide the electric wheelchair with sufficient power to travel up to an impressive 25-miles on just a single charge, which is perfect for all-day use. The 14-inch rear and 8-inch front tires allow it to handle uneven terrain, and it can be driven both indoors and outdoors.
Due to its aluminum frame construction, the powerchair is sturdy but also relatively lightweight, and weighs just 110 lbs (without the battery). The wheelchair’s frame measures just 26.5-inches wide, which means it can easily pass through any standard-sized doorways, passageways, and corridors without any problem.
The wheelchair is fitted with a gel memory seat and backrest that provide exceptional comfort and pressure relief. The footrests are height and angle adjustable, and the backrest is height adjustable to accommodate users of differing heights.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 25″, 26.5″ x 42″
- Max speed: 5 mph
- Driving range: 25 miles
- Turning radius: 25″
- Ground clearance: 1.5″
- Product weight: 110 lbs (without battery)
3. Jazzy Air 2 Elevating Seat Powerchair
The Jazzy Air 2 is a well-built multi-purpose elevating seat powerchair that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
The elevating seat mechanism is simple to operate, and the seat can extend up to 12-inches in just 11 seconds, allowing you to access those hard-to-reach areas without needing to rely on others for assistance. The base height of the wheelchair stands at 21.25-inches, which is slightly lower than similar elevating models on the market. The advantage of the lower seat-to-floor height, is that it can easily slide under a standard height desk or table without any issues.
With a small turning radius of just 20.75″ the Jazzy Air 2 provides good maneuverability in tight spaces. The mid-wheel powerchair is fitted with six tires and Active-Trac suspension, which offers a very smooth and stable ride on outdoor surfaces, and it can handle inclines of up to 6-degrees. Bright LED ensures that you can safely operate the wheelchair when it’s dark, so you’re not confined to only going out during daylight hours.
The powerchair is fitted with 12V batteries, which provide a travel range of up to 16.8 miles. If you would like to extend its range further, you can upgrade the batteries to a higher capacity version (40AH), which increases its range to 19.2-miles. It can be driven with the seat elevated at speeds of up to 4 mph, allowing you to perform a range of actions while you’re on the go.
Depending on your particular needs, you can choose between a high-back captain’s seat or a solid seat pan, both of which are fitted with a lap belt for extra safety. There’s a choice of 3 different width seat sizes available, including a 16-inch, 18-inch, or 20-inch option. The armrests can be adjusted in terms of height, depth, and angle to provide maximum arm support, and they also flip-up to aid with transfers. Beneath the seat, there is a handy storage compartment where you can store your valuables while you’re out and about.
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 23.22″ x 41.93″
- Max speed: 4 mph
- Driving range: 16.8, 19.2 miles
- Turning radius: 24.25″
- Ground clearance: 1″
- Product weight: 230 lbs, 245 lbs
>> See full Jazzy Air 2 elevating power wheelchair review
4. Karman XO-505 Standing Powerchair
The Karman X0-505 is a premium standing powerchair that offers exceptional comfort and pressure relief. The powerchair is particularly suited for patients who need to spend prolonged periods in their wheelchair and have limited mobility in their lower body.
Not only does the Karman X0-505 offer the patient full sit to stand functionality it also has a powered tilting and reclining mechanism too. The wheelchair can recline at a touch of a button to nearly 180 degrees. This allows the user to elevate their legs in order to alleviate excessive pressure and this also helps to keep pressure sores at bay.
The user can go from a sitting to a standing position in just under 15 seconds, and it can be stopped at any desired angle. This provides the patient with greater freedom to complete tasks and access areas that might have seemed impossible previously. Not only does it help to improve the user’s reach, but it can also help to improve blood circulation and maintain bone density. This is particularly important for full-time wheelchair users.
The powerchair can be driven with either the user standing or seated. Due to the fact the wheelchair is fitted with several safety harnesses, this helps to maximize the user’s safety and prevents them from falling or sliding out of it.
Being a mid-wheel powerchair it has excellent maneuverability, it can turn in a 25-inch space, which makes it suitable for indoor use. The powered wheelchair is also fitted with rear shock absorbers that allow it to tackle outdoor terrain. Due to its six wheels, it has good stability, even on uneven ground. It can travel up to 25 miles on a single charge.
Operating the powerchair is a breeze. The joystick is responsive, and a user-friendly LCD color display allows you to control its different features. The ergonomic designed cushioned leg support rests provide good comfort and support. These also help to prevent the user’s knees from knocking against each other when the wheelchair is in motion.
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 28″ x 45″
- Max speed: 5 mph
- Driving range: 25 miles
- Turning radius: 25″
- Ground clearance: 2″
- Product weight: 180 lbs