Folding Power Wheelchairs
Folding Power Wheelchairs
Folding power wheelchairs are designed to be suitable for all day use while at the same time offer some portability. The frame of the folding power wheelchair is basically the same as the frame of a conventional folding manual wheelchair frame.
With very few exceptions, folding power wheelchairs are available with all the configuration options and are suitable for the many different types of seating systems available for manual folding wheelchairs.
To fold these power wheelchairs the user, or a caregiver, must remove the battery pack(s) and any seating products used. Once these items are removed from the wheelchair, it can be folded from side to side just as one would a manual wheelchair. The power wheelchair, when folded, will be substantialy heavier than a manual wheelchair because the joystick, electronic control box and motors will still be attached to the frame but it can be done.
Batteries and Performance
Because these power wheelchairs are intended to be folded and and lifted for transporting, the batteries are generally as small as practicable but there will be two of them which deliver each 12 volts and are wired together in series to provide 24 volts to the motors and controllers. The combined weight of the standard batteries will be somewhere between 45 lbs. and 60lbs. 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 15 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 usually be expected with normal use.
The speed of these smaller sized power wheelchairs are lower than what can be expected with full sized power wheelchairs and range from 4 mph to 6 mph. Again, this specification will be affected by user weight, terrain, slope and battery condition.
The seats for folding power wheelchairs are the same as manual wheelchairs and come in sizes between 14" and 22" wide by 16" or 18" deep depending on the model however added or reduced seat depth can be attained by how the wheelchair seating is set up.
Frames and Weights
The frame of this category of power wheelchair can be steel or aluminum and has a crossframe connecting the two sides together that allow the wheelchair to fold. The wheels, motors and electronics will also remain attached to the frame. Weight capacities for folding power wheelchairs are usually between 250 lbs. and 300 lbs. and in total weigh anywhere from 120 lbs. for the lightest of models and as much as 170 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 30" and 36".
The rear wheels are normally 12½" in diameter and have either solid rubber or air filled tires and the front casters will likely be either 5" or 6" in diameter with solid tires. The use of these smaller wheel sizes will help reduce the size and weight of these wheelchairs and aid manouverability but will limit the use of the power chair to more solid surfaces.