Electric wheelchairs can be tagged as a lifesaver for people with mobility challenges who don’t have people around to constantly support them.
The wheelchair gives them the freedom to move around without the assistance of anyone.
Since this wheelchair works with electricity, there should be a limit to the distance it can cover when it is fully powered.
So, how far can an electric wheelchair go?
Knowing how far an electric wheelchair can go is very important so that you don’t get stranded when you’re out there.
Imagine being on a trip to a coffee shop on a sunny day and then the wheelchair seizes to move because its power has been exhausted.
Such awful situations can be prevented if you know how far the wheelchair can go.
This article will answer the earlier question ‘how far can a wheelchair go?’. I will also share some other things you must know about electric wheelchairs.
Table of Contents
- What is an Electric Wheelchair?
- Factors that Determine the Travel Range of an Electric Wheelchair
- How far Can an Electric Wheelchair Go? – The Answer
- Vital Tips for Choosing the Right Electric Wheelchair
What is an Electric Wheelchair?
An electric wheelchair, which can also be referred to as a Motorized or Power Wheelchair, is any seating surface that has wheels attached to it and is powered by an electric source like batteries.
This chair is particularly useful for those experiencing difficulty moving about with their legs due to old age, accidents, or injuries.
Since the chair is battery-operated, it is important to know how far it can go before purchasing one.
Related: How to Transport a Power Wheelchair (Complete Guide)
Factors that Determine the Travel Range of an Electric Wheelchair
The travel range of an electric wheelchair when fully charged is dependent on certain factors that would be discussed below.
Battery Life and Battery Percentage
There are different types of electric wheelchairs on the market with varying battery lives.
The battery life determines the total distance an electric wheelchair will cover when fully charged.
Nevertheless, the primary determinant of how far the wheelchair can go is the ‘battery percentage’. You can’t go a long distance with a low battery no matter how long it lasts.
Therefore, both the wheelchair battery life and its battery percentage contribute to the distance it can travel without stopping.
So, ensure you charge the wheelchair for at least 8 hours overnight before use.
Speed is another interesting factor that determines how far an electric wheelchair can go.
The faster the wheelchair the less the running time and distance covered, which means that your battery drains faster when you move at a fast pace.
Another speed factor is inconsistency, which also reduces the travel range of the wheelchair.
Traveling through rough terrain or going uphill consumes more energy that, in turn, drains the wheelchair battery, thereby reducing its travel range.
To avoid this, consider traveling only on smooth surfaces.
Related: How to Clean & Disinfect Your Wheelchair Like a Pro
The weight of the person in the wheelchair exerts pressure on it and increases its energy consumption.
So, be sure that there is no extra weight on the wheelchair as it will negatively affect the distance it can cover.
This is another thing that needs to be confirmed before using your electric wheelchair. Ensure that your tire is not deflated because a deflated tire will not only reduce the travel distance but also damage the wheelchair.
Therefore, always ensure the chair tires are well pumped before using.
How far Can an Electric Wheelchair Go? – The Answer
Having gone through the factors that affect the distance an electric wheelchair can cover, you can conclude that there is no fixed travel range for all electric wheelchairs.
However, on average, some electric wheelchairs can go as far as 8 to 10 miles when fully charged while more powerful models can travel up to 20 miles when fully charged. Although, you will find this information and other important details on the wheelchair manual.
The user manual contains a summary of everything you should know about your electric wheelchair.
And if the chair is properly managed, it should live up to its hype.
Some practices to make your electric wheelchair last long include; charging the battery correctly before use and not placing too much load on the chair.
Related: How to Wash Someone’s Hair in a Wheelchair
Vital Tips for Choosing the Right Electric Wheelchair
The portability of an electric wheelchair can be categorized into three; travel size, full size, and heavy-duty. Your choice depends on your personal preference.
- Travel Size
If you need a wheelchair that you can take about even while traveling, then you should go for the Travel Size. This category is foldable and can be disassembled. They are usually small in size.
- Full Size
Full Size wheelchairs are a great choice for people who will spend most of their day in the chair. They do come with larger armrests, seats, and footrests to enhance comfort. They have a greater travel range compared to the Travel Size wheelchair.
- Heavy Duty
This category is larger and more sophisticated than the Full Size. They are particularly made for people who are over 300lb.
When buying an electric wheelchair, ensure your choice suits your needs.
Sitting and Positioning
The sitting and positioning of the wheelchair is another thing to look out for when buying a new power wheelchair. Ensure that it provides you with the best of comfort, especially when you intend to spend a lot of time on the chair.
The right power wheelchair for you should have custom backrests as well as seat cushions made of foam or other cozy materials.
The Drive System
Choose the electric wheelchair with the right drive system for you.
- Front-Wheel Drive
The front-drive power wheelchair can pass over small obstacles because of its respectable turning radius. They are suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
- Mid Wheel Drive
These chairs have the tightest turning radius that enables them to be used in malls, apartments, and places where there is limited space.
- Rear Wheel Drive
The Rear Wheel Drive chairs are a great choice to maneuver over rough terrains.
The Wheelchair Controller
The most popular type of controller in an electric wheelchair is the combination of keypads and joystick. The joystick controls the speed and direction while keypads also control the speed and other functions.
Other types of controllers include:
- Sip and Puff which is controlled by inhaling/exhaling into a tube
- Foot Controller which is controlled with your feet
- Chin Controller which is operated with the chin
- Head Controller in the switches are added to both sides of the head
- Speech Controller which is controlled with voice commands
Lastly, you need to consider your environment. Is your environment spaced enough? Is it a tight environment? Is the Terrain rough or smooth?
Answering these questions will help you to choose the right electric wheelchair.