Lightweight vs. Standard Wheelchair: Here’s the Right One to Choose

lightweight vs standard wheelchair

Wheelchairs are assistive appliances that are designed to help people with locomotive problems or disabilities.

They are, therefore, necessary for people who find it difficult to walk with or without assistance.

There are, however, many things to consider when buying a wheelchair. This is because there is a wide range of wheelchairs to choose from. These chairs also vary according to usage, model, maneuverability, and so much more.

We shall be looking at two main types of wheelchairs in this article, and their properties and unique features will be weighed against each other. That way, you can easily tell which would better suit your needs.

But before we delve into the comparisons between a lightweight and standard wheelchair, I’ll briefly discuss what these chairs are all about.

Table of Contents

What is a Lightweight Wheelchair?

lightweight wheelchair

It is a wheelchair that is characteristically made of aluminum, a very light metal, which makes it weigh less. It has small front wheels and large rear ones that allow it to be easily propelled by both the user and their caretaker.

Lightweight wheelchairs have sleek outlooks and build that makes them perfect for day-to-day usage. They require minimal effort to be propelled by the user and have handrails attached to the outer upper part of the seat, which the caretaker can use to move the wheelchair around.

These properties make them perfect for sports and other engaging activities. They can also be adjusted or customized to meet the specific needs of the user.

In addition, lightweight wheelchairs are preferred for users of younger and older age groups, as their light structure makes them easier to propel.

Their light frame, however, could cause them to be more prone to damage over time. Their sleek features, as well as customizations, also make them relatively more expensive than the standard wheelchair.

Related: Group 2 vs. Group 3 Power Wheelchair: Here’s the Right One to Choose

Some distinct features of the lightweight wheelchair include:

  • Handles
  • Backrest with padding
  • Foot pedals
  • Aluminum body (Light but sturdy)
  • Seat
  • 4 tires (2 large rotating rear tires and two small front ones)

The features can be adjusted according to quality, size, or other specifications by the user. Some lightweight wheelchairs are purpose-oriented, like airport wheelchairs and sports wheelchairs. They are specifically for these activities and are built for that.

What is a Standard Wheelchair?

standard wheelchair

Standard wheelchairs are usually made of heavy steel.

They weigh over 35 to 40 pounds, with their front wheels smaller when compared with their larger back wheels. They have the traditional wheelchair appearance and don’t give room for specifications of size or usage. Furthermore, they are quite inexpensive.

Their tires make them self-propellable, but their bulky frames make it so that the user will require extensive upper muscle effort to effectively propel the wheelchair without help. The tires are also more suited for roads with little to no bumps or constrictions, as their build does not cater to such rough structures.

Standard wheelchairs are more suitable for short-term usage and are, therefore, mostly used by people whose mobility health problems are more acute and short term, than chronic and long term.

They are also more readily available for rentals and purchases. Most hospitals use standard wheelchairs for in-house patients.

Related: Hemi Height Wheelchair vs. Standard Wheelchair: Here’s the Right One to Choose

The following are some of the distinct features of a standard wheelchair:

  • Wheels and tires
  • Handrails
  • Sturdy steel body
  • Armrest
  • Footrest
  • Seat
  • Brakes

Other features, depending on the brand and price range, include an oxygen attachment, food tray or cup holder, foldable frame, and moveable footrest.

Related: Bariatric Wheelchair vs. Standard Wheelchair: Here’s the Right Choice

Differences between a Lightweight and Standard Wheelchair


The lighter the wheelchair the more expensive it is. This is because the lightweight material is made of lighter metal, which is quite pricey. Also, lightweight wheelchairs are usually customized to meet the specific needs of the user. The more the specifications the more expensive it is.

Standard wheelchairs have a traditional build with no added features. They require no extra processing because they are made of steel. They are, therefore, cheaper when compared to lightweight wheelchairs.

Verdict: Go for the standard wheelchair if you have a low budget

Vigorous Routines & Activities

The lightweight wheelchair has unique features like adjustable motors, rails, and wheels. These make it perfect for exercises and activities like sports. Its light structure also makes it comfortable to move around in.

Lightweight wheelchairs require lesser muscle power, unlike the standard wheelchair. Also, the latter’s bulky frame makes it harder to maneuver, so it lacks the speed and functionality of the lightweight wheelchair in this regard.

Verdict: The lightweight wheelchair is the better option if you’d love to move fast  


Lightweight wheelchairs are easier to maneuver with minimal effort and offer a wider range of allowance for moving in uncomfortable spaces, unlike the standard ones. The lightweight wheelchairs also have tires built for variable terrains, rough or otherwise.

Standard wheelchairs, asides from being heavy, are built for smooth rides with little to no features that allow for a free range of movement.

Verdict: Lightweight wheelchairs are perfect moving around easily


Lightweight wheelchairs cannot carry as much weight as standard wheelchairs can. This is partly because of the material used to make them and partly due to the build of the wheelchairs.

The former is made of aluminum while the latter is made of steel, a considerably stronger material.

The lightweight wheelchair would have to be considerably upgraded to be able to carry a heavier weight but standard wheelchairs are specifically designed for heavier weight.

Verdict: Standard wheelchairs win in terms of weight accommodation

Similarities between a Lightweight and a Standard Wheelchair


Their wheels allow users the ability to self-propel the wheelchairs. This is a distinct feature that is unique to the lightweight and standard wheelchairs as well as other wheelchairs that are, in actuality, modalities of the two.

They also both have handrails that are meant for the caretaker to easily push the wheelchairs around.


They are both meant to be primarily used by people with mobility constraints or disabilities.

Final Verdict

When choosing between a lightweight and standard wheelchair, you need to take into consideration the aforementioned points.

Different types of wheelchairs are designed for various purposes; but when it comes down to the basics, it’s either you go for a standard or a lightweight wheelchair. Both are outstanding options and pretty much serve the same purpose.

However, when you put into consideration your specific needs, it will be easier to readily pick the one that will serve you better. 

Lightweight vs. Standard Wheelchair: Here’s the Right One to Choose


My love for the disabled community started when I helped a blind man cross the road at around age 6. Fast forward to decades later, I became the caregiver of my grandma, who lost her ability to speak in her 90s. This blog helps me to produce helpful content that aligns with my passion.

3 thoughts on “Lightweight vs. Standard Wheelchair: Here’s the Right One to Choose

  1. U have to push up on chair when transfering and it does not mention anything about strength. I need to know if it will hold my weight when pushing up without tipping over and I cannot find anyone to answer

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