Portable Power Wheelchairs
Portable/Travel Power Wheelchairs
Portable power wheelchairs are designed to be used occasionally for short periods of time and easily transported from one location to another. They are manufactured to be as light as possible while still providing for the mobility needs of the user. Their design is such that they can be disassembled as needed and loaded into the trunk of a car or back of a van, transported to another location, unloaded and reassembled for use.
These power wheelchairs are not suitable for people who require special wheelchair seating, require specialty controls or electronics, use the chair for many hours at a time or may want to use them on rough or soft terrains such as lawns, sand, loose dirt or snow. These are used for very basic forms of mobility indoors and on hard surfaces for short periods of time.
Batteries and Performance
Because these power wheelchairs are intended to be disassembled and lifted, the batteries are generally as small as practicable but there will usually be two which deliver 12 volts each that are wired together in series to provide 24 volts to the motors and controllers. The combined weight of the batteries will be somewhere between 25 lbs. and 50lbs. but the user should be able to separate them when loading them into a vehicle.
Manufacturers will advertise their power wheelchairs of this category will provide anywhere from 10 to 25 miles on a full battery charge. The range promoted should be taken with a grain of salt as weight of user, age of batteries, number slopes that are climbed and condition of the power wheelchair all have an effect on the range that can be expected. The range indicated on any power wheelchair will be the best case scenario and can not be expected with normal use.
The speed of these small power wheelchairs are lower than what can be expected with full sized power wheelchairs and range from 3.5 mph to 4 mph. Again, this specification will be affected by user weight, terrain, slope and battery condition.
The seats for portable/travel power wheelchairs are very basic and offer none of the adjustability or features expected in conventional power wheelchairs. They are more comparable to a mobility scooter seat than a wheelchair seat and will weigh anywhere from 15 lbs. to 30lbs. They will have some padding for comfort, arms for support, a fold down back and will swivel for safer transfers. The seats are manufactured to be a lightweight as possible and meant to come off to save space for transporting.
Frames and Weights
The frame of this category of power wheelchair is usually steel and when the wheelchair is taken apart will have to be lifted in one piece into a vehicle. The wheels, motors, footboard and electronics will also remain attached to the frame. Weight capacities for these small power wheelchairs are usually between 250 lbs. and 300 lbs. and weigh anywhere from 35 lbs. for the lightest of models and as much as 95 lbs. for the heavier models.
The turning radius is the amount of free space required in each direction around the power wheelchair when turning a complete circle. The radius is one half of the diameter of the total circle. The smaller the turning radius, the more manoeuvrable the power wheelchair will be indoors. The range for the turning radius for this type of power wheelchair will be between 20" and 30".
Rear wheels are normally 8" in diameter and either solid rubber or have solid inserts to prevent flats and the front casters will likely be either 5" or 6" in diameter with solid tires. The use of small wheels with solid tires on portable wheelchairs makes sidewalk cracks and bumps more noticeable but these wheelchairs were really meant for hard flat surfaces.