Jazzy Select 14 Power Base
Power Base Electric Wheelchairs
Power bases are the top of the line for conventional power wheelchairs when it comes to high end electronics and variety and quantity of options. They are basically wheelchair frames that are used as the starting point for building a custom electric wheelchair from the ground up.
There are many options and choices that will have to made when purchasing this type of wheelchair and the help of a professional experienced with this type of equipment will be needed to configure the wheelchair properly for the end user. In addition to choosing the wheels, tires, electronics type, drive control type and motor type a decision will have to be made on what type of seat frame, if any, will be ordered.
These chairs are not portable and will not fold, most of the users of this category of wheelchair will likely be transported while sitting in the wheelchair and loaded into vehicles using a van lift or ramp.
Batteries and Performance
Because these power wheelchairs are intended to be given heavy use and sometimes power several electrical components they often come with heavy duty batteries. For many users, the batteries must be able to supply enough power for all the wheelchair user's needs, for the entire day and be able to be recharged overnight.
Manufacturers will advertise their power wheelchairs of this category will provide anywhere from 15 to 25 miles on a full battery charge. Of course, power wheelchair users who expect to be using the electric wheelchair to get around town and travel long distances should be aware of the range of a power wheelchair before purchasing. 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 usually be expected with normal use.
The speed of a power base electric wheelchair will be 4 mph or 5 mph for mid wheel drive or heavy duty frames and as high as 8.5 mph for a rear wheel drive frame. Again, this specification will be affected by user weight, terrain, slope and battery condition.
Power bases don't come standard with any type of seat frame but one will have to be ordered. People who do not need any seating products or seating supports can usually get away with a seat commonly referred to as a van seat. The van seat basically looks like a vehicle seat with armrests, padding and upholstery. The van seat may be available in a couple of sizes but there will be no option for customization or modification.
The alternative to the van seat is usually referred to as a rehab seat frame. A rehab seat frame will not have upholstery and a cushion and back support will need to be ordered. The rehab seat will have many adjustments for width, depth, back height and seat height. The rehab seat can be modified as required over time.
In addition to deciding on a seat type, choice can be made as to whether the user will benefit from a reclining, tilting or elevating seat. These options are all available on a power base electric wheelchair.
Frames and Weights
There are two basic frame designs for power base electric wheelchairs; mid wheel drive and rear wheel drive and both will weigh between 200 lbs. and 300lbs. The weight of the seat frame chosen will have to be added to these numbers for a total wheelchair weight.
Mid wheel drive wheelchairs will be more manoeuvrable indoors and small spaces but harder to control at higher speeds. Rear wheel drive frames are more stable and controllable at higher speeds.
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 turning radius for mid wheel drive power wheelchair will be between 20" and 3o" while the rear wheel drive versions will require 40" or more.
There are several factors which affect the turning radius on a power base. In addition to the frame length we have to take into account of how much the footrests extend beyond the front and rear of the power base frame. The seat position and size, plus the footrest type and angle all will have a bearing on turning radius.
Weight capacities for power base wheelchairs will be somewhere between 300 lbs. and 400 lbs. with heavy duty models accepting up to 1,000 lbs.
The drive wheels are normally 12" to 14" in diameter and have a 2" to 4" width. The drive tires will usually be air filled but solid inserts are usually available.
The casters on the mid wheel drive power bases are at the back of the chair and are usually 8" in diameter. The front casters on a rear wheel drive power base will normally be either 8" or 9" and about 2" wide.