How to Convert a Manual Wheelchair to Electric

How to Convert a Manual Wheelchair to Electric

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If you have a manual wheelchair, you may have noticed that it isn’t ideally suited to all situations. Sometimes, the terrain calls for a powered wheelchair but investing in one can be incredibly expensive.

So, wouldn’t it be great if you could convert your manual wheelchair to an electric one? The good news is that this is perfectly feasible using a power kit. These kits can be easily attached to the wheelchair and give you that extra boost of power when the moment calls for it.

Why You May Want to Convert a Manual Wheelchair to Electric

Power assist devices to convert a manual wheelchair to powered

Manual wheelchairs are great for convenience but they are lacking in some areas which is why many people consider converting them to an electric wheelchair. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons you might wish to do this.

  • If you often find that you need to move over rough terrain or up steep inclines, then an electric wheelchair will aid you with this much more easily and safely than a manual chair.
  • Self-propelling a manual wheelchair can get tiring, especially if you use the wheelchair for long periods. Converting your wheelchair to a powered version will reduce this strain and fatigue on your hands.
  • Some people may need to travel further in their wheelchair, so it just makes sense to have a power boost.
  • Where a fully electric wheelchair may be cumbersome and heavy, a power add on is lightweight and much more easily portable.
  • The cost of an electric wheelchair is enough to make your eyes water. Conversely, a power add-on won’t break the bank but will give you all of the same benefits.

How Do Wheelchair Power Assist Conversion Kits Work?

How do wheelchair power assist devices work

Power assist conversion kits operate using batteries. Compared to an electric wheelchair battery these are much more lightweight and easier to travel with. However, it is worth noting that, owing to the smaller size, they don’t offer as much range. Typically speaking, you’ll get up to 12 miles per charge. If you’re looking for something to get you through the day, this is ideal.

These devices attach to the wheelchair and have a separate set of wheels that you must install. They activate when you manually propel the wheelchair giving an additional boost of power. It’s been shown that, compared to using a fully manual wheelchair, you’ll only have to exert one-third of the effort when using a power pack.

What’s more, they help you to travel much more quickly. In fact, you might get up to around 4 miles per hour compared to the average 1.5 mph of a manual chair.

You’re probably wondering how much a power assist kit is going to set you back. The truth is that these products range vastly in price, with some being just a few hundred dollars and others exceeding four figures.

Power Assist Conversion Kits for Manual Wheelchairs

When it comes to shopping for a power assist conversion kit for your manual wheelchair, it’s good news. There is a diverse range of products on the market, so you’ll almost certainly be able to find something that suits your needs and your budget.

1. EZRide+ Lightweight Electric Mobility Device

The EZ Ride is great if you want handlebar control as it features a 36-inch handlebar that fits at the front of the wheelchair for super easy steering.

The kit allows you to power your wheelchair on a four-hour charge which allows it to run for up to 15 miles. What’s more, this is a three-speed power kit, so you’ll find it a breeze to use on all types of terrain. It’s particularly adept on rough terrain and steep slopes.

The EZ Ride is incredibly simple to attach and uses butterfly clips so it can be mounted and dismounted in seconds. It’ll fit on almost any 14” to 22” inch manual wheelchair and has a weight capacity of 300lbs.

EZRide+ wheelchair power assist device

2. Rio Mobility Firefly 2.5 Electric Handcycle

Slightly more expensive than the EZ Ride, the Rio Handcycle is ideal for people who want something that’s quick and easy to attach. The initial installation will take around 30 to 60 minutes but after this, the system can be clipped and unclipped in mere seconds so it’s great if you travel a lot.

We also love that this power kit charges in just three hours and on a single charge you’ll get up to 15 miles range as well as being able to travel at speeds of up to 12 mph.

You’ll find the Rio handcycle very easy to control thanks to 2 brake handles, and it works incredibly well over grass and up steep slopes.

Rio Mobility Firefly 2.5 Electric Handcycle

3. SmartDrive MX2+ Wheelchair Power Assist

The SmartDrive really does live up to its name and is a truly innovative piece of equipment. It features a wheel that attaches to the back central part of the wheelchair. The great news is that it’ll fit on pretty much any manual wheelchair regardless of the type, size, or model.

This is one of the safest power kits thanks to the anti-rollback feature. If you’re moving up a steep slope and need to stop, there’s no need to worry, it’ll keep you right where you are. What’s more, the SmartDrive does incredibly well over thick carpet, grass, and other challenging terrain.

The SmartDrive is beautifully easy to control with push buttons and brakes and will deliver up to 12 miles on a single charge.

SmartDrive MX2+ Wheelchair Power Assist

4. Invacare SMOOV One Power Add-On Kit

Finally, we have the Invacare Smoov One, which has something that a lot of other power kits cannot offer; consistent speed. Once you hit the start button, it will maintain a constant speed making it safe and easy to use.

This power kit is super lightweight at just 15lbs, so it’s perfect if you want to travel. That said, it’s not quite as light as the SmartDrive, which is a mere 12.5lbs!

It’ll fit onto any wheelchair, rigid or folding, and comes with some handy features such as a USB charging point, so you can keep your smartphone battery topped up on the go. The controls are super smooth and easy to use, and if you want to remove the device, you simply unclip it from the back of the wheelchair.

Invacare SMOOV One Power Wheelchair Add-On Kit

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