The 9 Best Electric Wheelchairs

Updated November 08, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

9 Best Electric Wheelchairs
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. People who are confined to a wheelchair permanently or for an extended period of time still value their independence. These electric wheelchairs allow them to go virtually wherever they want without having to depend on a nurse, relative or home care professional every time. Many can also be folded up and put into a trunk for easy transport. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric wheelchair on Amazon.

9. C.T.M. Homecare Compact

The C.T.M. Homecare Compact combines comfort and function, with its extra wide, padded and contoured backrest and seat, and adjustable armrests. It feels very stable, is easy to maneuver around obstacles, and allows for the option of adding elevated footrests.
  • power saving sleep mode
  • arms and headrest pivot
  • minimal suspension
Brand CTM Homecare
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

8. Drive Medical Cirrus Plus

The Drive Medical Cirrus Plus has a seatbelt to help the user feel extra secure and a very comfortable seat pad. The tension on the back upholstery is adjustable, and the footrests can swing away for a highly customizable riding experience.
  • tires are non-marking
  • secure manual wheel locks
  • heavy and difficult to transport
Brand Drive Medical
Model CPN20FBA
Weight 149.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Karman Stand Up

The Karman Stand Up makes a nurse or home aide's job much easier and safer because they no longer need to worry about manually lifting the user out of their wheelchair and onto their bed, toilet, or another seat. It nearly eliminates the chance of transfer accidents.
  • extremely versatile option
  • plush foam back cushion
  • upholstery breathes well
Brand Karman Healthcare
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Smart Chair KD

With its powerful motor, the Smart Chair KD can climb hills and ramps with up to a 12-degree slope, helping the user be more independent since they won't need someone to push them. It conveniently folds up compact enough to fit in the smallest of car trunks, as well.
  • can handle thick carpet
  • under-seat storage basket
  • fits though standard home doorways
Brand KD Smart Chair
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Giantex Foldable

The Giantex Foldable is ideal for those who travel often. It weighs just 55 lbs, folds up compactly, and has upholstery that is easy to clean. A sturdy aluminum frame offers the user stability, but its maximum speed is just 4 MPH, so it won't win any races.
  • battery lasts a long time
  • fits onto most airplanes
  • too small for tall individuals
Brand Giantex
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Invacare Pronto M51

The Invacare Pronto M51 has an attractive royal blue base and features a height adjustable headrest to accommodate most users. It's compact, so one can easily navigate it through tight spaces and around corners, yet has a tall captain-style chair for maximum comfort.
  • feels extremely stable
  • back can recline slightly
  • batteries are preinstalled
Brand Invacare
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

3. Wheelchair88 Foldawheel

Nurses or family members of wheelchair-bound individuals will appreciate the easy-to-transport Wheelchair88 Foldawheel. It includes a storage bag with holes for the wheels, so you can pull it like a suitcase, and can run at speeds up to 5 MPH.
  • folds and opens in seconds
  • silent brushless motor
  • nearly 20 inches between armrests
Brand Wheelchair88
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Golden Technologies LiteRider

The Golden Technologies LiteRider is great for active wheelchair users, with its large under-seat storage area for quick access to belongings, and its impressive 26-inch turning radius. It disassembles into three pieces, making it very easy to pack for traveling.
  • lightweight base
  • multiple joystick placement options
  • comfortable stadium style seat
Brand Golden Technologies
Model GP162
Weight 120 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12

The EZ Lite Cruiser Deluxe DX12 offers several charging options. Its lithium-ion battery can power the chair for 10 miles on one charge, but the user can also combine two batteries to travel 20 miles. It's a lightweight option that can still support 330 pounds.
  • comfortable padded handle
  • self-standing when folded
  • seat is removable for cleaning
Brand Ez lite cruiser
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

A Brief History Of The Wheelchair

It may seem like something that would have been invented immediately after we came up with the wheel, but wheelchairs as we know them have only been around since the late 1700s, when a gentleman named John Dawson got the idea to put two large wheels and one smaller one on a conventional chair. While his idea wasn't the most practical or comfortable, the underlying genius was apparent, and the race was on to invent a more suitable alternative.

However, it wasn't until 1881 that the self-propelled wheelchair came into existence, and with the US in the midst of the Civil War, the timing couldn't have been more opportune. This prototype placed rubber wheels over metal bicycle rims, so it's likely that it took quite a bit of upper-body strength to get around. Still, it was better than any alternative up to that point.

The first motorized wheelchair was created in London in 1916 by placing a 1.75 horsepower motor on something called an "invalid's tricycle." The resulting design was more like a motorcycle than a wheelchair, and as you might imagine, they weren't very effective for indoor use (unless you really wanted to run over family members), and the design never went into large-scale production.

In 1932, Harry Jennings invented the folding wheelchair, which is basically the design that most chairs follow today. Jennings's design was such an improvement over previous models, in fact, that he and his friend Herbert Everest quickly cornered the market. He was accused of price-rigging and lost an antitrust lawsuit, proving yet again that the allure of the wheelchair business can drive any man mad with power.

However, it would once again take a war to spur innovation in the industry, as Canadian George Klein invented an electric wheelchair to service WWII vets. This model went into mass-production in 1956, sold by a company owned guessed it, Harry Jennings and Herbert Everest. Presumably they had learned their lesson about price-fixing in the meantime.

Chairs are constantly being tinkered with and improved, but the basic idea and design has remained the same since. However, big changes could be looming on the horizon, as a company called Braingate is looking to make a motorized wheelchair that can be powered with your mind (cue spooky Twilight Zone music).

What To Look For When Shopping For Your Electric Wheelchair

Fortunately, wheelchairs are getting more convenient and comfortable all the time, so you don't have to sacrifice your lifestyle just because you're in a chair. We've come a long way from the souped-up motorcycle design of the invalid's tricycle, but there are still options out there if you really want to let the world know you mean business.

The first thing you need to consider is size. Some models are real beasts, with extremely wide dimensions. If you're cramped for space, you probably won't want a model with over-sized tires and broad armrests. Likewise, take into consideration who might be lugging it around when you travel. If you don't have a wheelchair lift on your car, someone will have to lift it into the trunk, so you'll want a lighter model if you don't want to put that person in a wheelchair, as well.

Ultimately, though, the most important factor is definitely comfort. If you plan on spending a lot of time in this thing, you don't want to be miserable every second. While there are cushions available to make the ride more comfortable, you don't want to buy a model that's uncomfortable from the get-go. It's far better to get a cushy ride and then upgrade from there.

Also, keep in mind your individual needs, and be proactive about finding a chair that will make life easier for you in the long run. Is it a hassle for you to get in and out of the seat? In that case, find an option that's comfortable to stay in all day, so you'll need as little transferring as possible. Many options recline, and some even stand, so you can still live your day-to-day life without much interference.

Adjusting To Your New Chair

If you're used to a traditional, self-powered wheelchair, or if your motorized model will be the first one you've ever had, there are a few tips and tricks to consider that can make your life much easier.

The first thing to know is you'll need to become much more aware of your environment than you were previously. Be aware of locations that might involve steep inclines, as pushing your chair beyond that which it's able to handle is a good way to burn out the motor, and that's not cheap or easy to replace. Likewise, ensuring that any accommodations have both a ramp and curb cut-outs is essential to making sure that your outing isn't ruined.

Being aware of the path you're traveling on is important as well. While most motorized chairs have plastic wheels, you still won't want to cross nails or broken glass. Similarly, it's not as easy to notice when you've rolled over dog waste as it is in a regular wheelchair, so you could find yourself tracking poop all over your carpet before you realize what you've done. That's a lesson that you'll likely only have to learn once, though (and at least you won't have to deal with getting it all over your hand).

Finally, keep any tools for fixing or maintaining you chair handy, preferably on the chair itself (backpacks strapped behind the seat come in very handy for this). You don't want to break down and be stranded with no means of saving yourself. Fortunately, most maintenance is fairly simple, and doesn't require special tools that aren't likely to be found in your basic tool kit.

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Last updated on November 08, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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