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11 tips of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Views: 1     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-10-08      Origin: Site

Electric wheelchairs provide mobility and independence for wheelchair users. Folding electric wheelchairs offer the additional benefits of portability and transportability compared to standard electric wheelchairs. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about folding electric wheelchairs.

1. Overview of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding electric wheelchairs, also known as foldable power wheelchairs or portable electric wheelchairs, are electric-powered wheelchairs designed to fold into a compact shape for easy transportation and storage.

Key features:

  • Foldable frame and parts allow the wheelchair to fold into a smaller size

  • Typically folds into a width of 10 - 14 inches

  • Weighs between 25 - 50 lbs

  • Folding mechanisms vary - bi-fold, tri-fold, or tetra-fold

  • Ideal for travel as they fit in cars, buses, trains, airplanes

  • Can be stored in small spaces when not in use

Main Components:

  • Foldable lightweight metal frame

  • Motors - rear-wheel drive or mid-wheel drive

  • Batteries - typically lithium-ion batteries

  • Controller - controls speed and direction

  • Seat with seatbelt

  • Armrests - fixed, flip-back or removable

  • Footrests - fixed, swing-away or elevating leg rests

  • Wheels - drive wheels and front casters

  • Brakes - electronic and manual parking brakes

  • Accessories - trays, bags, cushions, headrests etc.

Applications and Use Cases:

  • Travel - air travel, cruises, buses, trains

  • Daily use for active wheelchair users

  • Part-time occasional use as a second transport chair

  • Compact storage in small homes and apartments

  • Use as a spare or backup wheelchair

  • Transitioning between manual and power wheelchairs

2. Types of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

There are several categories and types to consider when choosing a folding power wheelchair.

Category Types Features
Basic Folding - Basic foldable power chair <br>- Standard folding wheelchair - Simple fold mechanism <br>- Fewer adjustable features <br>- Affordable, lighter weight
Advanced Folding - Advanced folding wheelchair <br>- Modular folding wheelchair <br>- Custom folding wheelchair - More adjustments & customizations<br>- Heavier duty & full-featured <br>- Higher weight capacity
Ultra Lightweight - Lightweight folding power chair <br>- Travel folding wheelchair - Very light weight, 15 - 25 lbs <br>- Smaller motors and batteries
Heavy Duty - Heavy duty folding wheelchair <br>- Bariatric folding wheelchair - Higher weight capacities <br>- Up to 400 - 500 lb capacity
Specialty - Rehabilitation folding wheelchair <br> - Standing folding wheelchair <br>- Pediatric folding wheelchair - Custom positioning & supports <br>- Power standing function <br>- Smaller sizes for children

Key Differences:

  • Weight capacity - from 220 lbs to 500 lbs

  • Weights - lighter or heavier duty frames and components

  • Folding size and mechanism - more or less compact

  • Customization - seating, controls, and accessories

  • Power - drive wheel motors, battery capacity

  • Features - seating functions, electronics, driving speeds

Lighter folding chairs emphasize transportability while heavier duty models prioritize stability and capacity. Advanced folding chairs offer a middle ground with both portability and customizable features.

3. Folding Electric Wheelchair Specifications

Folding electric wheelchairs vary in their dimensions, capacity, speed, turning radius, range, and other parameters. Typical specifications are:

Specification Range of Values
Weight Capacity 220 - 500 lbs
Weight of Chair 25 - 100 lbs
Maximum Speed 3 - 6 mph
Ground Clearance 1.5 - 5 inches
Turning Radius 25 - 40 inches
Range Per Charge 10 - 25 miles
Batteries 24 - 40 Ah
Charging Time 4 - 8 hours
Overall Length 33 - 48 inches
Folded Width 10 - 14 inches
Seat Widths 14 - 22 inches
Seat Depths 14 - 20 inches
Electronics R-net, Curtis, VR2, Specialty

Design and Customization:

  • Frame styles - rigid, folding, or modular

  • Front, rear, mid wheel drive options

  • Specialty controls oralternative driving methods

  • Custom seating dimensions, materials, angles, cushions

  • Ergonomic adjustments - leg rests, backrest, armrests

  • Accessories - trays, bags, cushions, headrests, lights

ANSI/RESNA Standards:

  • ANSI/RESNA WC Vol 1 - section 21 on power wheelchairs

  • ISO 7176-15 - requirements for folding electric wheelchairs

  • FDA Class II medical device regulations

folding electric wheelchair

4. Choosing Folding Electric Wheelchair Suppliers

Many manufacturers offer folding power wheelchairs. Consider the following factors when choosing a supplier:

Factor Description
Reputation & Reviews Company reputation and customer reviews for quality and service
Product Range Number and variety of folding models offered
Customization Options Ability to customize with seating, controls etc.
Warranty Length of warranty on frame and components
Return Policy Satisfaction guarantee period for returns/exchanges
Price Range Affordable vs premium models offered
Customer Support Availability of support staff for questions
Shopping Experience Website usability, information, purchasing process
Delivery Process Order to delivery timelines and process

Top Electric Wheelchair Brands

Brand Price Range Models Offered
Permobil $$-$$$ Over 10 folding models
Invacare $ - $$$ 6 folding wheelchair models
Pride Mobility $ - $$ 4 folding power chairs
Sunrise Medical $$ - $$$ 8 folding electric chairs
Karman Healthcare $-$$ 3 folding wheelchair models
Drive Medical $ Basic folding wheelchair

Research multiple suppliers to find the right combination of model selection, pricing, and customer service.

5. Folding Electric Wheelchair Pricing

Wheelchair Type Price Range
Basic Folding Wheelchair $1200 - $2000
Standard Folding Wheelchair $2000 - $3500
Advanced Folding Wheelchair $4000 - $8000
Custom Folding Wheelchair $6000 - $12,000
Used/Refurbished Folding $800 - $1500

Additional Costs:

  • Batteries - $200 - $600

  • Shipping - $0 - $250

  • Seat and back cushions - $50 - $300

  • Accessories - $100 - $500

  • Maintenance - $100 - $300 annually

Insurance Coverage:

  • Medicare - wheelchairs covered if medically necessary

  • Medicaid - varies by state with prior authorization

  • Private insurance - depends on durable medical equipment coverage

Financing Options:

  • Payment plans - 3, 6, or 12 month installments

  • Rent-to-own plans - portion of rental cost goes towards purchase

  • Bank loans and borrowing against home equity

Shop multiple suppliers as folding electric wheelchair prices can vary widely. Compare warranty coverage, return policies, and included accessories.

6. Installing and Using Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Follow these steps when setting up your new folding power wheelchair:

1. Positioning and Adjustments

  • Adjust leg rest length and angle

  • Adjust seat and back angles to upright position

  • Position cushion and any supports or wedges

  • Adjust flip-back or detachable arms rests

  • Ensure good posture and pressure relief

2. Safety Checks

  • Check battery level

  • Ensure controller turns on/off

  • Test drive and brake functions

  • Ensure wheels are locked for transfers

  • Fasten seatbelt when seated

3. First Time Driving

  • Operate on slow speed in open area

  • Learn basic driving and turning

  • Practice folding and unfolding chair

  • Ensure grounds are accessible and obstacle-free

4. Transporting Your Wheelchair

  • Remove or secure detachable parts

  • Engage freewheel mode for pushing

  • Fold wheelchair and lift into vehicle

  • Anchor securely in vehicle during transport

5. Maintaining Your Wheelchair

  • Fully charge batteries daily

  • Check tire inflation monthly

  • Inspect frame and parts before use

  • Schedule yearly check-ups with suppliers

  • Clean with a damp cloth to remove dirt and dust

  • Store indoors away from extreme temperatures

Refer to the owner's manual for proper safety checks, driving instructions, and maintenance. Practice folding the wheelchair before transporting it to get comfortable with the process.

7. Benefits and Advantages of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding power wheelchairs offer unique benefits compared to traditional wheelchairs:

  • Portability - Easy to transport and store when folded

  • Travel-friendly - Can be taken on airplanes, buses, trains

  • Compact size - Takes up less space in small houses or apartments

  • Independence - Power-assist enables self-mobility

  • Comfort - Padded, adjustable seating provides comfort

  • Customizable - Seating, controls, and accessories can be personalized

  • Reduced strain - Power reduces physical strain compared to manual chairs

  • Active lifestyle - Enables users to continue active lifestyles

Other advantages over bulky power chairs:

  • More maneuverable in small spaces

  • Can accommodate rough or uneven terrain better

  • Easier to transport than heavier power chairs

  • Better balance compared to larger wheelchairs

  • Low maintenance and operation costs

Folding electric wheelchairs provide an optimal combination of independence, comfort, and mobility in a compact, transportable package.

folding electric wheelchair

8. Limitations and Challenges of Folding Power Wheelchairs

While folding electric wheelchairs provide many benefits, there are some limitations and disadvantages to consider:

  • Lower weight capacities - Typically accommodate 220-300 lb weight limits

  • Reduced stability - Increased risk of tipping over compared to larger power chairs

  • Shorter battery range - Smaller batteries equal shorter run times per charge

  • Lack of suspension - No shock absorption makes for a bumpier ride

  • Narrower wheel bases - Reduced stability and maneuverability vs wider models

  • Weak folding points - Weakness and potential failure points at folding joints

  • Higher cost - Can be expensive compared to manual wheelchairs

  • Air travel limitations - Airlines restrict number allowed per flight

Other usage challenges:

  • Difficulty handling uneven outdoor terrain

  • Lack of weatherproofing on some models

  • Getting stuck in loose gravel, grass, or mud

  • Breakdowns from excessive use and folding cycles

  • Obtaining repairs and parts for complex electronic systems

While folding power wheelchairs provide distinct advantages, prospective users should consider the limitations before purchasing.

9. Manual vs Electric Folding Wheelchairs

There are key differences between manual folding wheelchairs and electric folding wheelchairs:

Factor Manual Folding Wheelchair Electric Folding Wheelchair
Propulsion Self-propelled via pushing handrims Motorized, powered movement
Weight As little as 17 lbs Heavier, 25-50 lbs
Folding Size More compact when folded Slightly larger folded size
Cost $100 - $500 $1200 - $8000
Maintenance Low, user maintenance More repairs needed
Distance and Terrain User dependent 6-12 miles per charge
Custom Features Basic options Fully customizable
Spinal Cord Injury Use Possible for some users Better accommodation
Fatigue High fatigue if self-propelled Less strain and fatigue

Key questions when choosing:

  • Do you have arm and grip strength to self-propel a manual chair?

  • Is fatigue an issue with a manual wheelchair?

  • Are distances and terrain better managed with a power chair?

  • Does your disability require features like power tilt or recline?

  • Can you transport and lift a heavier power wheelchair?

Factor in your physical abilities, needs, activities, and transportation to decide between manual or electric folding wheelchairs.

10. Folding vs Traditional Power Wheelchairs

Folding electric wheelchairs differ from traditional power wheelchairs in several ways:

Factor Traditional Power Wheelchair Folding Electric Wheelchair
Folding Does not fold Folds into compact size
Weight Heavier, over 100 lbs Lighter weight
Portability Difficult to transport Easy to transport
Customization Fully customizable Less customizable
Stability Very stable Slightly less stable
Wheels Large rear wheels Smaller rear wheels
Seat Heights Higher seat positions Lower seat height
Weight Capacity Up to 500 lb capacity Up to 300 lb capacity
Cost $$ to $$$ $ to $$

Key Questions:

  • How often do you need to transport your wheelchair?

  • Do you require a higher weight capacity?

  • Will you use your chair daily or only occasionally?

  • Do you need lots of seating adjustments and customization?

  • What type of terrain will you use your wheelchair on?

Assess your specific mobility needs and usage to decide between a traditional power wheelchair versus a folding power wheelchair.

11. Maintenance and Care of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Follow this routine maintenance schedule to keep your folding wheelchair in optimal shape:


  • Fully charge batteries overnight

  • Check controller turns on and off

  • Inspect for loose parts before driving

  • Clean upholstery and armrests


  • Check tires for proper inflation

  • Test drive in open space

  • Practice folding and unfolding

  • Inspect batteries, terminals, and connections


  • Check wheels spin freely

  • Inspect frame and tighten hardware

  • Clean dirt and dust from frame

  • Test electronic controls and lights


  • Bring to supplier for yearly service

  • Replace tires if worn down

  • Replace or rebuild battery after 2-3 years

  • Update controllers or electronics if needed

As Needed Repairs

  • Replace fuses, lights, wires

  • Fix loose bolts, attachments

  • Troubleshoot motor or electrical issues

  • Repair punctured tires

  • Touch up chipped paint

Regular care and maintenance will extend the usable life of your folding power wheelchair.


12. FAQ

Q: Are folding electric wheelchairs allowed on airplanes?

A: Yes, most airlines allow folding wheelchairs if batteries are disconnected and terminals covered. Limit of 1-2 per flight.

Q: Can a folding electric wheelchair fit in a car trunk?

A: When folded, most models can fit inside sedan or SUV trunks. Measure your trunk size and compare to the folded dimensions.

Q: How long do folding wheelchair batteries last?

A: With regular charging, lithium-ion batteries typically last 2-3 years before needing replacement. Proper care improves lifespan.

Q: Are folding electric wheelchairs covered by insurance?

A: Original Medicare and many private insurers cover a portion of costs if medically necessary. Require doctor evaluation.

Q: Can folding power wheelchairs get wet?

A: No, moisture can damage electronics and upholstery. Avoid getting wet and wipe down immediately after.

Q: What are common repairs for folding wheelchairs?

A: Flat tires, loose bolts, frayed wiring, damaged controllers, broken bearings or casters, failed batteries.

Q: How do you transport a folding wheelchair in a vehicle?

A: Fold wheelchair, place in trunk or secure cargo area. Use straps to anchor. Engage freewheel mode and remove batteries.

Q: Are used folding power wheelchairs a good option?

A: Used chairs can provide significant cost savings but require careful inspection. Ensure electronics fully functional.

Q: Can folding electric wheelchairs traverse grass or gravel?

A: Difficult on loose or uneven terrain. Best suited for solid indoor and outdoor surfaces like concrete or asphalt.

Folding electric wheelchairs provide freedom and independence with portability. Consider your usage, transportation needs, and physical abilities when choosing a folding power chair.