Close this search box.

Manual vs Electric: Which Wheelchair Is Right For Me?

The decision to purchase a wheelchair should not be taken lightly, and you must do your research to ensure you choose the most suitable chair, particularly for daily use. You must consider all aspects of manual wheelchairs or powered wheelchairs; including positioning, seating, wheels and even customizable wheelchair accessories.


Three Considerations

Does your power wheelchair take apart easily? 

Chairs that can be disassembled or folded will be easier to load onto a bus, car or taxi than those that do not. Some power chairs require some extra effort or equipment to disassemble, but may be a fair compromise to someone who values both independent mobility and portability.


What is your destination? 

Modern industrialized nations are more likely to provide conditions that are accessible to a power wheelchair, such as lifts on buses, sidewalks with ramped curbs, and relatively easy access to most public buildings than developing countries. When asking about access in lodgings, classrooms, etc. abroad see if you can get measurements and photographs. Also be specific when asking, for example "I need a door opening to be at least 3 feet (92cm) and 5 feet (152cm) diameter turning space."


Charging wheelchair batteries is not practical in remote rural areas with unreliable or nonexistent electricity. Heavy, sturdier power wheelchairs are useful on difficult terrain, but a narrow folding chair with push handles is easier for lifting when there are steps or high curbs to navigate. There are third-wheels that can be attached to fronts of chairs to assist with rougher terrain.

 power wheelchair

How manageable are repairs?

If your chair becomes damaged in transit, will you have difficulty getting it fixed in the host country? What kinds of resources are available in your host community?


Benefits of powered wheelchairs

There are enormous benefits to powered wheelchairs – especially for those with continued reduced mobility:


Offers a range of controls – such as joysticks and touchpads – to ensure all abilities can move the chair;

Powered wheelchairs travel well outdoors – especially over rough terrain;

Some power assist wheelchairs can reach speeds of up to 8 mph;

Customisable accessories and adjustments to ensure greater comfort, such as recline and tilt, leg rests, arm rests and more.

A manual wheelchair requires you to propel yourself when travelling, requiring significant upper body strength to avoid muscle strain. However, if you don’t have the ability to move your arms as such, powered wheelchairs can offer you great independence.


Following on from the above, there are a range of controls available for powered wheelchair users. You can opt for a joystick – the most common option – to move the chair. Alternatively, there are mini joysticks available also. If you struggle with gripping a joystick, touchpads are available to move the chair.

 power wheelchair

Powered wheelchairs are ideal for those who are looking to explore and travel more with their new chair. There are mid wheel drive powered wheelchairs for sale, offering a better turning radius for indoors. However, rear wheel drive powered wheelchairs are much better suited to outdoors, providing you with more security when travelling over rough terrain and on public transport. If you do travel regularly, mobility electric wheelchairs can also reach speeds of up to 8 mph, which can greatly save your energy if you do travel outdoors.


Another primary advantage to choosing powered wheelchairs is the ability to customise the chair to suit your needs and requirements. For instance, if you suffer from conditions such as Edema, adjustable leg rests are available to keep your legs above your heart. Likewise, you can also opt for recline and tilt – especially ideal for those that do suffer from reduced mobility – as the movement can alleviate any pressure and minimise the risk of sores.


More information is available on our guide to choosing a power chair.


It's important to note, however, that powered wheelchairs do require the ability to store near a power source. We do recommend charging overnight to ensure you are never caught short when outdoors. You must also consider the size of the powered wheelchairs when travelling, as they are larger than manual chairs.


If you are in the market for a new chair, browse the Related Links of our company Aoshida that offers power wheelchairs designed to be lightweight, low-maintenance, and easy to assemble. Be sure to contact us if you are interested. 

Table of Contents

Post Category
Request A Free Quote
* We respect your privacy. When you submit your contact information, we agree to only contact you in accordance with our Privacy Policy.