Mobility trouble can be extremely challenging. Many times, those with mobility issues often not only have trouble walking, but also have trouble pushing themselves in a wheelchair. In these cases, a motorized transport such as a scooter or powerchair is often the best solution. But which to choose? Knowing the difference between a powerchair and a scooter and deciding correctly which is best for you can save you money and frustration and ensure that you get the best experience out of your purchase. Let’s take a look at the two types of motorized mobility vehicles and review how to choose the best one for your situation.
The first type of motorized mobility vehicle is called a mobility scooter. An electric mobility scooter is usually controlled with handlebars similar to those found on bicycles. Mobility scooters can reach speeds of up to 10 miles per hour, and some models can be used on roads, across fields, and up steep hills. Mobility scooters come in a variety of types, including three-wheeled models, four-wheeled models, and compact models. Each has its advantages. A four-wheel mobility scooter is more stable and generally supports more weight than other models. A three-wheel mobility scooter offers a tight turning radius and thus has improved maneuverability. A compact mobility scooter can be easily folded or disassembled for transportation in the trunk of a car. Compact mobility scooters are also a good choice if the storage room in your home is limited. These vehicles can be easily kept in an out-of-the-way corner or closet.
Mobility scooters are usually lower-cost than powerchairs, and are often much more rugged in design, allowing the user to tackle more difficult terrain. Additionally, scooters have a psychological advantage in the minds of some users since they appear so different from wheelchairs. Sometimes, not feeling confined to a wheelchair can make all the difference. Scooters do have drawbacks, however. Scooters are generally larger than powerchairs, and thus can be difficult to maneuver indoors or in tight spaces. In worst case scenarios, this makes a user have to get up from the chair and walk, negating the purpose of owning the vehicle in the first place.
Powerchairs, also known as power wheelchairs or electric wheelchairs, are high-tech devices packed with features to make mobility a cinch. Although more expensive than scooters, they offer a wider range of features. Powerchairs generally have either four or six wheels, offer zero-radius turning for increased maneuverability, and are controlled with a joystick. Electric wheelchairs have advanced abilities such as motorized stand, recline, and tilt features to make getting into and out of them easier and to provide greater comfort to the user. They also offer the best support to users with posture issues.
Powerchairs do not fair as well as scooters on rough terrain, and are primarily made for use indoors or on smooth paved surfaces, which limits their usefulness to some users. Additionally, they are very heavy and do not usually fold, making their ability to be transported and used on lifts problematic.
Choosing the Right Vehicle
Which type of electric mobility vehicle is right for you depends largely on the use for which you need it. Do you intend to use it primarily as an aid for normal walking, or do you intend to use it continuously or for long periods of time? Because of their advanced comfort, powerchairs are best for longer use, but due to their weight and increased expensive should only be used in situations where a scooter will not be sufficient. Still confused? At Pacific Mobility Center, our highly-trained and knowledgeable sales staff has the ability and takes the time to get to know your situation and recommend the best scooter or chair for your circumstances or budget. This is just one more advantage of dealing with a local, family-owned and-operated company. Come see what a difference that makes for your shopping and buying experience.
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President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)