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Types of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Views: 1     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-10-12      Origin: Site

Folding electric wheelchairs provide mobility and independence for wheelchair users who need the power of an electric chair but also the convenience of one that folds for transport and storage. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about folding power wheelchairs.

Overview of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding electric wheelchairs, also known as foldable power chairs or foldaways, are motorized mobility devices that can be collapsed and folded for easy transportation and storage. Here is an overview of their key features:

  • Powered mobility - They provide powered movement via electric motors and batteries so users don't have to manually propel the wheels. This makes them ideal for those with limited mobility and upper body strength.

  • Foldable design - Their frames are made of lightweight materials and constructed to fold up into a compact size for portability and storage when not in use. This makes them transportable in cars and ideal for travel.

  • Adjustable features - They offer adjustable seating, armrests, leg rests, and backrests to provide customized comfort and support. Control panels and joysticks are also adjustable.

  • Range of models - Folding electric wheelchairs come in a variety of models with differences in frame styles, seating options, drive wheel configurations, turning radii, drive types, power options, and more.

  • Indoor and outdoor use - Most models are designed for both indoor mobility around tight spaces and outdoor use for pavement, sidewalks, grass, gravel, etc. Their tires and suspension provide a smooth ride.

  • Limited weight capacities - Foldaways have lower weight limits around 250-300 lbs compared to heavier duty full-size power chairs. Always check the manufacturer specs for weight limits.

Folding electric wheelchairs provide powered mobility with the versatility of a folding, compact chair. They give users independence and the freedom to easily go places without relying on others to transport a wheelchair.

Types of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

There are several different configurations and models of folding power chairs. Here is an overview of the main types:

Travel Power Wheelchairs

These ultra lightweight folding chairs are designed specifically for travel. They feature very compact folding mechanisms to fit easily in cars and airplanes. Travel power chairs have tight turning radii and range from 25-50 lbs in weight.

Standard Foldaways

The most common style, standard foldaways strike a balance between compact size and comfortable seating. They offer full seating options and fold to a third of their open size. Weight ranges from 80-120 lbs with 5-10 mile ranges per charge.

Heavy Duty Folding Wheelchairs

Built with sturdier frames and components, these support heavier weights up to 350 lbs while still folding up. They may have wider, more supportive seats and higher weight capacities.

All-Terrain Folding Models

With puncture-proof tires and higher ground clearance, all-terrain folding chairs can maneuver over rougher surfaces while still folding for transport. Some have tracks instead of wheels.

Custom Made-to-Measure

For those needing perfect custom fits, made-to-measure folding chairs are built to your exact body measurements and specifications.

This table compares the main types:

Type Weight Folded Size Weight Limit Range Key Features
Travel 25-50 lbs Very compact Up to 265 lbs Up to 10 miles Lightweight, tight turning, airline friendly
Standard 80-120 lbs ~30" x 30" x 30" Up to 300 lbs 10-15 miles Balance of portability and comfort
Heavy Duty 120-200 lbs Larger when folded Up to 350 lbs 12-20 miles Sturdier frames and parts
All-Terrain 90-150 lbs Standard fold size 265-300 lbs 10-15 miles Rugged build, traction tires
Custom Varies Varies As needed As required Built to match user's measurements

folding electric wheelchair

Main Components of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding power chairs are made up of several important components that allow them to provide motorized mobility and fold away when needed. Here are the key components:

Foldable Metal Frame

The wheelchair frame is made of lightweight metal alloys like aluminum or titanium and jointed to allow the chair to fold up. Materials like aircraft-grade aluminum allow for a sturdy but lightweight frame.

Upholstered Seat, Backrest, and Armrests

The seating components like seat cushion, adjustable backrest, and flip-up armrests are upholstered in vinyl or fabric for comfort. Some models offer reclining backrests.

Drive Wheels with Electric Hub Motors

The large rear wheels have integrated compact electric hub motors inside them powered by on-board batteries to provide powered mobility. Hub motors maximize space.

Casters Wheels in Front

Smaller front caster wheels with rubber or air-filled tires provide swiveling and smooth rolling. Larger casters offer more stability. Some models have anti-tip casters.

Folding Frame and Footrests

Matching folding footrests provide support and comfort for the lower legs and feet. They flip up when folding the chair.

Joystick Control Module

An attached control panel or joystick controller connects to the motors allowing the user to steers and control speed and direction. Controls can be mounted on armrests.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries ranging from 10 to 40 amp-hours offer power. Higher capacity batteries provide longer range but weigh more. Most foldaways run 24V-36V systems.

Suspension and Adjustability

Suspension components like shocks and springs provide a smooth ride. Posture adjustments allow users to customize the seating position as needed.

Folding power wheelchairs combine folding frames, electric drive systems, and adjustable seating to provide both powered mobility and convenience.

Typical Specifications of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding power chairs have a range of specifications depending on the model and features. Here are the key specifications to look for when selecting one:

Weight Capacity

  • Standard models accommodate 180-300 lbs

  • Heavy duty models support 300-350 lbs

  • Know your weight with clothing and items to match capacity

Wheelchair Weight

  • Light travel sizes are 25-50 lbs

  • Heavier models run 80-200 lbs

  • Lighter chairs are easier to maneuver when folded

Folded Size

  • Approximately 30" x 30" x 12-30" folded

  • Measure space available in car, closets, etc.

Battery Range

  • Standard models average 10-15 miles per charge

  • Range depends on: terrain, rider weight, driving style

  • Longer range requires larger, heavier batteries

Battery Charging Time

  • Standard charge time is 6-8 hours

  • Rapid chargers may charge in 2-3 hours

  • Second battery extends range

Maximum Speed

  • Typically 3-6 mph max speed

  • Speed control knob or settings allow speed adjustment


  • Drive wheels: 14, 16, 18, or 20 inches

  • Front casters: 6, 8 inches with solid or pneumatic tires

  • Larger wheels provide more ground clearance


  • Compact hub motors built into drive wheels

  • 200-400 watt power on average

  • More power provides more torque and hill climbing ability


  • Dynamic braking system for smooth stops

  • LED battery gauge shows charge level

  • Control panel has speed adjustment, lights, horn, etc.

Frame and Finish

  • Aircraft grade aluminum and steel parts

  • Powder coated finishes resist scratches

  • Look for anti-corrosion treatments

Weight Limitations

  • Standard models handle 180-300 lbs

  • Heavy duty foldaways support 300-350 lbs

  • Know total weight with items loaded

Consider key specifications like range, dimensions, speed, and capacity to select the right folding power wheelchair. Prioritize needs like battery range, turning radius, and weight capacity.

Applications and Uses of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding power wheelchairs are versatile mobility aids that can be used in many different circumstances. Here are some of the most common applications and uses:

Travel and Transportation

The compact folded size makes them ideal for taking on trips where space is limited like in cars, buses, trains, and airplanes. Easily take them to work, school, errands, etc.

Part-Time or Occasional Use

For those who only need or want to use a power chair part-time, a foldaway can be stored out of the way when not needed. They allow for portable powered mobility as needed.

Reduced Living Space

In smaller homes, apartments, or care facilities, the folding function allows wheelchairs to be put away in closets and out of the way when not in use to save space.

Quick Errands

The ability to quickly fold and stow the chair makes them great for short trips running errands around town where you'll be getting in and out of the chair frequently.

Backup Wheelchairs

Some folks use a folding power chair as a backup to their primary mobility aid for occasions when needed as a spare or when traveling.

Active Users

For active users going between home, car, office, outdoors, and other locations throughout the day, a foldaway provides powered mobility without hassles transporting.

Their versatile folding design makes electric folding wheelchairs useful in many circumstances where convenience and space savings matter.

Choosing the Right Folding Electric Wheelchair

Selecting the right foldaway chair means considering factors like your needs, living situation, activities, and measurements. Follow this guide for picking the ideal model:

Identify Primary Use Case

  • Will it be for occasional travel or daily full-time use? In a small apartment or larger home? Used indoors, outdoors, or both?

  • Your primary uses help decide size, range, power, seating, and portability needs

Measure Weight and Dimensions

  • Know your weight fully dressed with items loaded to match capacity

  • Measure doorways, vehicles, storage areas to meet folded dimensions -allowance for legrests, armrests when measuring for overall width

Calculate Required Range

  • Measure your regular daily routes and trips to determine range needed

  • Standard models have 10-15 mile range. Add backup battery if needed.

  • Terrain, hills, and user weight impact range

Assess Power Needs

  • Do you need more torque for hills and slopes? Go for higher watt motors

  • Top speed reqs determine power. Standard is 3-6 mph

  • More power drains batteries faster. Prioritize needs.

Compare Control Options

  • Test different joysticks and specialty controls if needed

  • Mounting locations like armrests, headrests? Wired or wireless?

  • Input controls should be ergonomic for your usage and capabilities

Choose Seat/Backrest Type

  • Do you need basic seat or full reclining seating system?

  • Stadium style seat, sling seat, or solid seat pan? Back height?

  • Ensure width and depth accommodate your proportions

Select Portability Level

  • Travel models have very compact, lightweight folding. Make sure it's not too small.

  • Measure storage space at home and mode of transport to ensure fit.

  • Standard foldaways strike a good balance.

Test Maneuverability

  • Try turning radius and ease of controlling directions

  • Adjust driving settings to your capability and comfort

  • Ensure you can handle tight spaces and corners

Evaluate Additional Features

  • Power elevating legrests? Specialty controls or electronics?

  • Customization options like seat fabrics? Accessory mounts?

  • Prioritize useful extras versus unnecessary ones

Take the time to thoroughly evaluate your needs and test models. Choosing the right electric folding wheelchair takes research but enables independence.

Folding Electric Wheelchair Suppliers and Prices

There are many manufacturers and mobility equipment suppliers that offer folding power wheelchairs. Here is an overview of some leading brands and sample pricing:

Brand Sample Models Price Range
Permobil M300 Corpus, M5 Corpus $5000 - $11,000
Invacare TDX SP2, Spree 3 $2000 - $6500
Pride Mobility Go-Go Folding Traveler $2000 - $3000
Drive Medical Compact Travel Power Chair $1200 - $2000
Karman Healthcare S-Ergo 115 $3000 - $7000
Ewheels LiteRider Envy $2500 - $4000
TopChair ez-Lighting $4000 - $6000
Colours NX-250 $2500 - $3500
  • Prices vary based on features like range, capacity, seating, and portability

  • Basic folding models start around $1200. Higher-end retail $6000+

  • Check motors, batteries, electronics when comparing quality

  • Order through local mobility dealers or medical equipment suppliers

  • Insurance may provide full or partial payment if prescribed

There are folding power chairs at different price points. Evaluate quality and features when comparing brands. Seek local dealers who can help find the right match.

Installation, Operation and Maintenance

Operating and maintaining a folding electric wheelchair properly is important for safety, performance, and durability. Follow this guide for using and caring for foldaways:

Initial Setup

  • Fully charge batteries before first use

  • Install or attach seating components, armrests, legrests, etc.

  • Adjust seating angles, legrests, and armrests for ergonomic positioning

  • Program or set preferred driving modes and max speeds

Daily Operation

  • Check battery charge level and recharge if needed

  • Inspect tires, casters, and controls to ensure functioning normally

  • Keep moving parts lubricated and free of dirt

  • Engage and lock brakes when stationary

Learning to Drive

  • Practice operating in open areas until comfortable steering and stopping

  • Start at low speeds and work up as you gain experience

  • Be mindful of traction on surfaces and stability on slopes

Battery Charging

  • Use supplied off-board charger to recharge batteries daily or as needed

  • Turn off power when charging. Charge in ventilated areas.

  • Newer lithium batteries don't need full discharging

  • Swap dual batteries to double runtime if available

Maintenance Checks

  • Check tires and casters, ensure no cracks or wear

  • Inspect frame and hinges for cracks or damage

  • Check for loose fasteners, fixings, damaged cables

  • Keep upholstery and metal parts clean

Transport and Storage

  • Move cautiously in folded position. Get assistance if needed.

  • For storage, engage locks to prevent unfolding

  • Avoid exposure to heat, cold, or moisture in storage

  • Prevent dust buildup if stored long term

Proper operation, charging routines, repairs, and maintenance will keep your folding wheelchair working safely. Regular upkeep also extends the lifetime of components.

Choosing a Supplier and Sales Process

Choosing the right supplier for a folding power wheelchair involves research and comparison. Follow these tips for selecting a provider and navigating the sales process:

Research Reputable Suppliers

  • Search for suppliers near you or online with good ratings

  • Ask for recommendations from health providers, friends, or support groups

  • Compare customer reviews and testimonials

Check Credentials

  • Licensed, accredited medical equipment sellers

  • Specialists in mobility devices preferred

  • Custom builders should have certified technicians

Compare Range of Products

  • Offer wide selection of major brands and models

  • Have options across price ranges and features

  • Customization capabilities a plus

Assess Customer Service

  • Responsive sales and service team

  • Help to select right chair for needs and environment

  • Provide training on use, adjustments, maintenance

Inquire About Funding Support

  • Accept Medicare, Medicaid, insurance

  • Provide guidance navigating coverage

  • Offer financing options and payment plans

Understand Pricing

  • Itemize product, shipping, warranty, returns, taxes

  • No hidden fees or gimmicks

  • Price match policies a plus

Try In-Person Visits

  • Schedule appointments to see, test, compare products

  • Ensure showroom models match your requirements

  • Take measurements to your environment

Review Delivery Process

  • White glove delivery and setup services ideal

  • Assess delivery fees if applicable

  • Detailed instructions for use on delivery

Conduct research to find suppliers with expertise in electric wheelchairs. They should provide guidance selecting the right model and offer services like funding help, customization, and delivery.

Comparing Folding vs. Rigid Frame Electric Wheelchairs

Folding electric wheelchairs provide powered mobility plus the ability to collapse for storage and transport. But rigid (non-folding) power chairs have benefits too. Here's a comparison:

Parameter Folding Wheelchair Rigid Frame Wheelchair
Foldability Folds into compact size Does not fold due to fixed frame
Weight 25-120 lbs typical Heavier, 100-400 lbs
Frame style Jointed, hinged frame Solid fixed frame
Portability Very portable for transport Harder to transport
Storage Can be stored in small space Takes up more storage space
Seating size More compact seating Larger seats and proportions
Custom sizing Some models custom fit Fully customized often available
Comfort features Standard adjustability More seating and recline options
Terrain handling Works well on smooth surfaces Handles rough terrain better
Max user weight 265-350 lbs usually Up to 500+ lbs capacity
Price range $1200-$6000 $2000-$10000
Maintenance Hinges require lubrication Less movable parts to maintain

When rigid frame is better

In contrast, here are situations where a rigid (non-folding) power wheelchair may be the better choice:

  • Full-time daily usage - For all day use as a primary mobility device, a rigid chair provides optimal comfort and customization. Folding chairs work better for part-time use.

  • Larger weight capacities - Rigid chairs often accommodate heavier users up to 500 lbs or more, while folding chairs max out around 350 lbs typically.

  • Custom fitting - Rigid chairs can be fully customized and built to measurements for a perfect fit. Some folding chairs have custom options too.

  • Heavy duty durability - The fixed solid frame of a rigid wheelchair is built for rugged use with reinforced parts designed to handle heavier stresses long-term.

  • Expanded seating options - Rigid chairs allow for more adjustable seating configurations including powered features like leg rests and recline.

  • Speciality controls - The larger frames of rigid wheelchairs better accommodate alternative control systems like sip and puff, etc. if needed.

  • Outdoor terrain - Larger wheels and tires equip rigid chairs to handle rougher outdoor conditions better than some folding models.

When features like full customization, heavy duty capacity, and specialized seating are top priorities, a rigid power wheelchair is likely the best choice.

By weighing portability vs long-term comfort and durability needs, you can determine whether a folding or rigid electric wheelchair makes the most sense for your situation. Test rides and input from mobility specialists also helps make the right choice between the folding and rigid options.

folding electric wheelchair

Pros and Cons of Folding Electric Wheelchairs

Folding power wheelchairs provide unique advantages in terms of portability and convenience. But there are some limitations to consider as well. Here is a look at the key pros and cons of folding electric wheelchairs:


  • Compact size when folded makes transportation easy

  • Can be stowed discretely out of the way when not in use

  • Allowusers to take powered mobility with them on trips

  • Tight turning radius ideal for indoor navigation

  • Weigh less than rigid power chairs - easier to move

  • Provide power mobility with flexibility and portability

  • Lower cost than many full-size power chairs

  • Modular components are easy to repair


  • Limited weight capacities around 300 lbs maximum

  • Less powerful than large motored power chairs

  • Seating and customization options more limited

  • Components may wear faster than heavy duty chairs

  • Shorter battery range compared to bigger batteries

  • Not ideal for very prolonged continuous daily use

  • Frame flexing possible compared to rigid chairs

  • Frequent folding can loosen joints over time

While foldaways have limitations in terms of strength, battery life and seating adjustability, their transportability creates opportunities for powered mobility for travel, part-time use, and storage that rigid chairs do not offer.

Knowing both the advantages and potential drawbacks helps ensure folding electric wheelchairs match your needs and that you can use them reliably within their intended scope. Working with mobility specialists ensures you select the right model to maximize the benefits while understanding the tradeoffs.


Q: How compact do they fold?

A: When collapsed, they typically fold to around 30" wide x 30" long x 12"-30" high. Measure doorways, trunks, storage spaces to ensure the folded size fits your needs.

Q: Can they be transported by air?

A: Yes, when folded they will fit airline cargo holds and inside the cabin in most cases. Be sure to contact the airline about their wheelchair policies. Some disassembly may be required.

Q: Are they safe to operate?

A: They meet the same general ADA and FDA standards for wheelchairs. Go at low speeds, avoid slopes, and use anti-tips for stability. Seatbelts are recommended as well.

Q: How long do the batteries last?

A: Average range per charge is 10-15 miles depending on weight, hills, and driving style. Have a backup battery or charger if needed. Lithium batteries last the longest.

Q: What is the typical weight capacity?

A: Standard folding wheelchairs accommodate 180-300 lbs. Heavy duty models support 300-350 lbs. Custom foldaways can support even more.

Q: How durable are folding frames?

A: Aircraft-grade aluminum or alloy frames are lightweight but very strong. Avoid overloading to stay within weight limits. Inspect hinges and fasteners periodically.

Q: Do they come with warranties?

A: Most come with limited warranties of 1-3 years covering manufacturing defects. Extended warranties can be purchased as well.

Q: Can I get financing help?

A: Yes, many vendors offer payment plans or financing assistance. Medicare, Medicaid, VA often help with costs if prescribed by a doctor.

Q: Are used folding chairs available?

A: Yes, gently used models can offer savings. Ensure electronics, tires, and frames are in good shape. Medical charities also provide used chairs.