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For people with impaired mobility, life can be difficult to navigate without the proper equipment, and a wheelchair is up there with some of the most important. Not only does a wheelchair provide the user with the ability to go wherever they want, but it also adds independence, especially for those who have been reliant on others to get them to where they need to be.
For the active person, a portable electric wheelchair can provide many benefits to patients who struggle to get around, and it can be an important addition to their mobility aid kit.
However, when selecting a portable electric wheelchair, it is always important to consider the individual needs of the user, after all, what will benefit one person might be a hindrance to another. This guide will arm you with all the knowledge that you will need to source and purchase a portable electric wheelchair that will best serve you or someone you love.
Portable Electric Wheelchairs Comparison Chart
Feather Chair Featherweight Powerchair
Pride Go Powerchair
HOVER All-New Move Lite Folding Powerchair
Model H Hybrid Manual and Powerchair in One
AirWheel H3S Auto Folding Smart Chair
Dimensions (W x L)
23.62" x 41.73"
22.5" x 28.5"
24" x 36"
24.4" x 43.3"
Seat Size (W x D)
17.72" x 16.5"
18" x 17"
18.5" x 16"
18" x 16"
18" x 18"
8 miles, 13 miles
7" (front), 9.8" (rear)
6" (front), 9" (mid), 3" (rear)
7" (front), 12" (rear)
6" (front), 22" (rear)
8" (front), 12.5" (rear)
Max Incline Angle
What is a Portable Electric Wheelchair?
As its name suggests, a travel or portable electric wheelchair is used by those who need to get around using a car, train, airplane, or other modes of transport.
These electric wheelchairs are lightweight, which means that taking them in and out of a vehicle is much easier compared to heavier and bulkier models. What’s more, they are designed with convenience in mind, and as such, are much simpler to take apart and reassemble.
Much like their manual counterparts, electric wheelchairs feature four or more wheels as well as a seat. However, rather than being manually propelled, they make use of two motors that propel the wheels. Control is given to the user who can operate the motorized wheelchair using a joystick type control for steering.
When we look at an electric wheelchair, we can see that there are two main elements to the device – the seating area and the base – this is the part that contains the motors and electronic systems.
It is important to remember that portable electric wheelchairs are not designed for heavy use. They generally have a shorter battery life, so they are better suited for things such as shopping trips and running errands.
What are the Benefits of an Electric Wheelchair?
Electric wheelchairs can offer patients many benefits including:
- Increased independence – For people who struggle to move around their home, town, workplace, or anywhere else, an electric wheelchair can bring them an improved sense of independence – this is vital in maintaining a good quality of life.
- Less reliance on a caregiver – Manual wheelchairs may not be a suitable option for all wheelchair users. The reason for this is, either the patient requires an assistant to push them, or they must propel the wheelchair themselves. If there is not a caregiver to help propel the wheelchair, or the user does not have the upper body strength to do it themselves, this can pose a massive dilemma. An electric wheelchair does all the hard work for you, so you never have to worry about becoming stranded.
- Can handle outdoor terrain – Even if a manual wheelchair can be used, when it comes to steep slopes or tricky outdoor terrain, even those with good upper body strength or an assistant may find it challenging. With an electric wheelchair, no matter what the incline, you will freely be able to navigate it.
- Allows you to travel further – Many modern electric wheelchairs come equipped with a powerful battery that can get you to where you need to be and beyond. This is great news for people who need to go further distances during the day. Traditional manual wheelchairs are good for shorter journeys, but if you have a lot of places to go to, they can become tiresome.
- Good maneuverability even in confined spaces – When you use a manual wheelchair, it can be difficult to turn, especially when you are in smaller spaces such as a small office or within the home. However, turning in an electric wheelchair does not require as much space, so these are excellent options for people who need something that can operate in smaller areas without an issue.
- Can be transported with you – There is some belief that an electric wheelchair is more difficult to transport, and this is true to a certain extent. However, many models can be folded for much easier transportation and storage, so it can be ideal if you need something efficient that can also be taken with you wherever you go.
How to Choose the Right Portable Electric Wheelchair
With so many portable electric wheelchair options available, it’s easy to become confused, and many people may make the mistake of buying the first electric wheelchair they come across to avoid the headache of reading up on hundreds of different models.
But if you are going to be using your electric wheelchair a lot, it is important to consider certain factors to make sure that you find a powerchair that will not only meet your unique needs but will also be comfortable and above all, safe to use.
Here are some important factors you may want to consider before deciding on the right portable electric wheelchair for your particular needs:
Where Will the Electric Wheelchair be Used?
For some people, an electric wheelchair will simply be an aid for moving around the home or workplace. In contrast, other people may rely on their electric wheelchair for use both indoor and outdoor use. This demonstrates that each user has his or her own specific needs, and it is therefore vital that you think about where it will be used.
If you are going to be using it outdoors and going longer distances, it is important to think about getting a powerchair that has been designed to withstand this type of use. It will need to have wider wheels that can absorb much of the shock of going over uneven ground and will likely need a extended battery life.
If your electric wheelchair is going to be for mainly indoor use, it might be worth considering a more slimline model that is easily able to navigate its way around the tighter spaces that we often see indoors.
It is important that you carefully measure any doorways, entranceways, or narrow spaces, which your electric wheelchair will need to fit through and buy a model that can handle this.
There are full-sized electric wheelchairs that tend to be larger and are designed with full-time use in mind, these can be an excellent choice for people who heavily rely on their wheelchairs, but it is worth checking that the model you choose will work in the space that you have.
Do You Need To Travel Regularly?
If you are going to be using your portable electric wheelchair when you go on vacation, or will need to take it on your daily commute to work, it pays to think about whether you would benefit from having a wheelchair that can be folded or disassembled for better transportation.
Of course, your abilities will come into the mix and whether you are easily able to take your wheelchair apart without assistance.
These wheelchairs are usually slimmer and so make a great alternative for people who are going to work in a smaller space.
The last thing that anyone wants, or needs, is their powerchair running out of juice in the middle of the day – this could leave you unable to get home, not to mention being inconvenient and distressing.
For this reason, it is vital that you check the battery capacity of the wheelchair to make sure that it will keep running for as long as you need it to. For example, those who require their power chair for running errands may only need a wheelchair with a shorter battery life, however, if you are going to be using your wheelchair all day, every day, something a little more durable will be required.
On average, a fully charged battery will give you around 8 hours or 10 miles of power, but this can vary greatly, with some models offering much less and other models giving you the ability to go up to 20 miles on one charge!
Some electric wheelchairs have a turning radius that is as small as 20 inches meaning that moving around in tight spaces can be a breeze. That being said, there are some models whose turning radius is a lot larger, and this can pose a problem if you are turning indoors or in a confined space.
One of the best places to measure your turning radius is in the bathroom, since this is often the smallest room in the house, it is also the one which poses the most problems.
Be sure that wherever you will need to use your wheelchair, you will be able to turn it without getting stuck.
Easy to Operate
Ease-of-use is important in all cases but even more so if you are going to be using the electric wheelchair for prolonged periods throughout the day. How easy it is to control should be one of the main deciding factors when purchasing a wheelchair.
While powerchairs are normally controlled via a joystick, some models have other types of controls that are often better suited for those who have limited hand dexterity. These can include:
- Some can be controlled using voice commands, which is ideal for patients who are paralyzed.
- There are electric wheelchairs which can be controlled using the chin.
- If you have decreased upper body strength but relatively good power in the feet, there is the option to select foot controls.
- Some power chairs feature control on the headrests, which can be controlled with the user’s head.
- Sip and puff controls are operated by breathing in and out through a tube, perfect for people with extremely limited movement.
If you are going to be in your power chair for most of the day, it is vital that you are comfortable. Be sure to check that the seat is wide enough for your body and whether it comes with suitable padding. You will notice that many power chairs provide the user with gel cushions that are able to contour to the body, giving personalized comfort. There is also the option to add extra cushions or padding where it is needed to fully support your body and ensure you are comfortable.
When buying an electric wheelchair, you will often find that you will need to be measured for the chair, this will ensure a safe and comfortable fit. It is important that the backrest, arms rests and foot rests all provide the right level of comfort.
It is important to pay particular attention to the weight capacity of the wheelchair since choosing one that is not strong enough could result in an accident or injury. While most models on the market can handle weights up to 300 lbs, always check the individual specifications to ensure it is suitable for the patient’s weight.
Best Portable Travel Electric Wheelchairs
1. Feather Chair Featherweight 33 lbs. Powerchair
This featherweight powerchair weighs just 33 lbs making it the lightest electric wheelchair currently on the market. It is perfectly suited for those looking for a powered wheelchair that can easily be transported in the trunk of any sized vehicle, no matter how small.
The wheelchair folds down to a compact size (28″x 28.35″ x 13.39″) with minimal effort in a matter of seconds. This eliminates the need of having to disassemble and reassemble it every time you need to take it with you on day trips out in your vehicle, saving you considerable time.
While it may be incredibly lightweight, it certainly does not skimp on power. The 240-watt motor provides top speeds of 3.7 mph, and it can travel up to an impressive 9.3 miles on just a single charge. It can handle inclines of up to 10°, and the flat-free tires and 3″ ground clearance make it suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The wheelchair also has a removable lithium battery so it can be safely taken on an airplane.
The 1″ padded seat and back cushion provides good comfort, and the padded armrests also flip back, allowing for easier and safer transfers into and out of the wheelchair. It also means it can be positioned closer to a table. For added safety, it comes with a seat belt as well as anti-tippers.
- Weight capacity: 242.5 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 23.62″ x 41.73″
- Max speed: 3.7 mph
- Driving range: 9.3 miles
- Turning radius: 47.24″
- Ground clearance: 3″
- Max incline angle: 10°
- Product weight: 33 lbs
2. Pride Go Chair
The Pride Go is a good option for those looking for a good quality but inexpensive portable powerchair.
The wheelchair is shorter in length than some of the other models that we have reviewed. The benefit of this is, it has a tighter turning radius (25.5″), so it can navigate through tighter areas more easily. The excellent maneuverability means it is a good choice if you are looking for one that can be comfortably used in confined spaces.
This powerchair dissembles rather than folds, so it is more suited for users with relatively good upper body strength. The wheelchair dissembles into 5 pieces, with the heaviest piece weighing just 36 lbs, so it can be carried into and out of a vehicle without requiring too much effort.
The wheelchair is easy to control via the joystick, which can be positioned on either the right or left armrest, making it suitable for right or left handed users. The comfortably sized swivel seat (18″ (W) x 17″ (D)) provides good support, and the armrests are width and height adjustable. Beneath the seat are swing-away storage bins where you can conveniently store your personal belongings, so they’re always close to hand when you are out and about.
The 18AH battery provides a driving range of up to 8.7 miles, and it has a top speed of 3.7 miles. The lower 1.7″ ground clearance and the 6° max incline angle means the powerchair is less suited for uneven terrain and areas with steeper inclines.
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 22.5″ x 28.5″
- Max speed: 3.7 mph
- Driving range: 8.7 miles
- Turning radius: 25.5″
- Ground clearance: 1.7″
- Max incline angle: 6°
- Product weight: 128 lbs
>> See full Pride Go-Chair power wheelchair review
3. HOVER All-New Move Lite Folding Powerchair
The HOVER Move Lite powerchair is both lightweight and airline approved, making it particularly suited for the active user or frequent air traveler.
Constructed from durable aluminum, the powerchair is sturdy, and despite it weighing just 50 lbs, it has a weight capacity of up to 300 lbs. The folding mechanism on this wheelchair is easy to operate. With just a touch of a button, it will fold and unfold in one piece in literally just a few seconds. Due to its compact size when folded, it will fit in the trunk of most sized vehicles, and it can comfortably fit in a closet when not in use.
The larger battery capacity means it has an impressive driving range of up to 15 miles, and it has a top speed of 5 mph. This makes the powerchair suitable for all-day use. So no matter whether you’re popping over to see your next-door neighbours, or you’re going to a local shopping mall, you can be assured that it will get you there and back without having to worry about it running out of power.
The joystick is easy to operate, and it is responsive. An adjustable speed control allows you to adjust the maximum speed. There is also a safety horn that can be used to warn others of your presence in crowded areas. The 12″ flat-free rear tires provide a comfortable and stable ride, even when traveling over uneven terrain.
The padded armrests on the chair flip back, which allows for easier transfers. The padded 2″ seat helps to provide the patient with increased comfort. The seat also features a removable cover, so it can be conveniently washed.
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 24″ x 36″
- Max speed: 5 mph
- Driving range: 15 miles
- Turning radius: 32.8″
- Ground clearance: 3.5″
- Max incline angle: 12°
- Product weight: 50 lbs
4. Model H Hybrid Manual and Powerchair in One
The versatile Model H Hybrid wheelchair provides the best of both worlds. It is both a manual wheelchair and a powerchair in one device. This means it can be self-propelled by the patient, on longer journeys, or when the patient is tired, it can be switched into power mode, which will convert it into a fully motorized wheelchair.
The wheelchair features a lightweight frame, which means it only weighs 39 lbs, making it easily transportable. As it folds down into one compact piece, it can be stored in the trunk of a vehicle without needing to disassemble and reassemble it.
The wheelchair is fitted with a 6V battery, which provides a travel range of up to 8 miles. There is the option, however, to upgrade the battery to a 12V version, which will increase its range to 13 miles. As it is fitted with a removable lithium battery, the wheelchair is airline approved, which is ideal if you’re looking for one that you can take on vacation with you.
The large 22″ rear flat-free tires make it suitable for outdoor use, and it offers good stability on uneven terrain. For added safety, the wheelchair is fitted with a seat belt as well as a safety horn, and optional anti-tippers are available if required. The armrests flip-up as do the leg rests, which assists with transfers when getting into and out of the chair.
The location of the joystick can either be mounted on the left or right armrest, and the upholstery on the wheelchair is customizable with a choice of colors including red, grey, or black.
- Weight capacity: 260 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 24″, 31.5″
- Max speed: 5 mph
- Driving range: 8 miles, 13 miles
- Turning radius: 31.5″
- Ground clearance: 3.5″
- Max incline angle: 12°
- Product weight: 39 lbs
5. AirWheel H3S Auto Folding Smart Chair
Trying to manually fold or unfold, or having to assemble or disassemble a powerchair, can prove a real challenge, in particular for those suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, which can impair their dexterity.
The AirWheel H3S powerchair differs somewhat from the earlier chairs that we have reviewed. This model is an automatically folding chair. With a simple touch of a button, the chair will open and fold electronically, which significantly reduces the effort required on the user’s part.
Once folded, it will stand upright by itself, making it easy to store and transport. It folds down to a compact size (35″ (L) x 24″ (W) x 15.75″ (H)), and with it weighing just 65 lbs it can easily be lifted into and out of a vehicle.
The frame is constructed from high-grade aluminum, which makes it extremely durable but lightweight, and it can handle weights up to 286 lbs. The wheelchair is agile, the 200W dual-motor design provides a top speed of 3.7 mph. Due to its energy-saving design it has an impressive driving range of up to 15 miles per charge.
The powerchair is suited for outdoor use. The larger 12.5″ rear flat-free tires provide a smooth ride, and the 4.3″ ground clearance allows it to handle obstacles such as curbs and uneven ground, in its path.
One of the standout features is it can be controlled remotely via the remote control that comes with it, or via the free app, which is available for Android and iOS devices. You can remotely perform such tasks as folding/unfolding the chair, requesting the wheelchair over to where you are, turning the headlights on/off, sounding the horn, and many more useful tasks.
The comfortable padded seat features a honeycomb mesh design, which makes the fabric washable as well as breathable, helping to reduce heat build-up, and improving the user’s comfort, making it perfect for all-day use. The armrests can be raised to help with transfers. The joystick controller is interchangeable, and it can be fitted quickly on either side, to suit the user’s requirements.
- Weight capacity: 286 lbs
- Dimensions (W x L): 24.4″ x 43.3″
- Max speed: 3.7 mph
- Driving range: 15 miles
- Turning radius: 31.5″
- Ground clearance: 4.3″
- Max incline angle: 8°
- Product weight: 65 lbs
Portable electric wheelchairs are a great option for people who rely on a wheelchair to get them around but who may struggle with the strength it takes to operate a manual wheelchair.
There are many great options available for those who lead an active lifestyle. Looking at your requirements will ensure that you are able to find the most safe and comfortable electric wheelchair for your particular needs.