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.
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.
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
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
There are several categories and types to consider when choosing a folding power wheelchair.
|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|
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.
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 WC Vol 1 - section 21 on power wheelchairs
ISO 7176-15 - requirements for folding electric wheelchairs
FDA Class II medical device regulations
Many manufacturers offer folding power wheelchairs. Consider the following factors when choosing a supplier:
|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.
|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|
Batteries - $200 - $600
Shipping - $0 - $250
Seat and back cushions - $50 - $300
Accessories - $100 - $500
Maintenance - $100 - $300 annually
Medicare - wheelchairs covered if medically necessary
Medicaid - varies by state with prior authorization
Private insurance - depends on durable medical equipment coverage
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 $$$||$ to $$|
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.
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.
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.