Electric Wheelchair Vs. Manual Wheelchair

Electric Wheelchair Vs. Manual Wheelchair

Wheelchair users have always been debating about an electric wheelchair vs manual wheelchair. Both types have their own pros and cons, and the answer to the question is only answerable by the wheelchair user themselves, their preferences, lifestyle, budget and mobility. 

Wheelchair models

Aside from manual and electric wheelchair, there are different types of wheelchairs for different needs. Wheelchairs help people with mobility issues to enjoy active, independent lives. Here are the most common types:

1. Manual wheelchairs

A manual wheelchair does not need any batteries to operate. The wheelchairs are manually operated by a caregiver or the wheelchair user themselves. They are usually lightweight and manoeuvrable, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor use (provided it’s not in a grassy or rough terrain). 

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2. Electric wheelchairs

Also known as power wheelchairs, these wheelchairs are motorised and run with rechargeable batteries. These wheelchairs are controlled by the user with a control panel or joystick. These wheelchairs such as the Air Hawk wheelchair provide more convenience and independence especially for those with limited upper body strength. 

However, since they run on batteries, they are costlier, require constant maintenance and would need recharging from an outlet to run again. These are just some of the common electric wheelchair problems that users face. 

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3. Transport wheelchairs

Transport wheelchairs, similar to manual wheelchairs, are lightweight and portable. They have smaller wheels and foldable frames. They are used for temporary mobility requirements mostly by an ambulatory wheelchair user, and elderly and senior people with fluctuating energy levels.

4. Standing wheelchairs

A standing wheelchair as it is called can transition from a sitting position to a standing position offering several positive health effects like circulation and preventing a secondary health condition because of a sedentary lifestyle. 

Manual Standing Sport Wheelchair

5. Sports wheelchair

Sports wheelchairs are made specifically to be used for wheelchair basketball, rugby, tennis, etc. These wheelchairs are sturdy, lightweight and can be easily manoeuvred to help players play high intensity sports. 

6. Bariatric wheelchairs

A bariatric electric wheelchair is suitable for heavier and bigger users. They have bigger seats, sturdier framework, and can accommodate heavy weight loads. Since some wheelchair models can only accommodate a certain weight limit, bariatric wheelchairs safely support a weight load of over 125 kg. 

7. Paediatric wheelchairs

These wheelchairs are smaller and made to specifically accommodate the needs and requirements of children with mobility issues. Paediatric wheelchairs are customisable and come in colourful designs to appeal to its younger users. 

Cost Comparison

If you’re on the lookout for a new wheelchair and you’re undecided between a manual or electric wheelchair, comparing the price between the two could help you decide especially if you’re shopping on a budget. 

Electric wheelchairs tend to be more expensive because of advanced features such as adjustable controls and power seating options. Maintenance of these wheelchairs also rack up fees, not to mention payment for replacement of parts such as batteries and other components. 

Manual wheelchairs on the other hand don’t need batteries or electric parts and need simpler maintenance making them more affordable for those with a limited budget. 

Ease of use

Electric wheelchairs are easier to use and preferred by those with limited upper strength or mobility since they don’t need to use their hands and arms to wheel themselves. Electric wheelchairs such as the falcon wheelchair have joysticks or control panels that operate the chair. 

Manual wheelchairs on the other hand need to put in more physical effort to operate the wheelchair. They have to use their upper body to push the wheels and navigate the chair to avoid obstructions.

Mobility and independence

The use of manual and electric wheelchairs has different effects on people with disabilities’ independence and mobility. Since they require less effort to use, electric wheelchairs are best for those with limited mobility. These wheelchairs provide more independence since users can travel greater distances and let them participate more in everyday activities. 

This doesn’t mean however that manual wheelchairs are limited in promoting independence among users. There are some wheelchair users who prefer manual wheelchairs since they are easier to navigate, fit into tight spaces and give the users more control. Even if they require more physical effort to operate, they make the user feel more independent and capable. 


The answer to the question of which wheelchair model is better, electric or manual, is actually irrelevant since both mobility products provide assistance to people with mobility challenges. Asking the professional recommendation of mobility aids specialists such as Gilani Engineering can help you make the choice on which wheelchair model can best accommodate your lifestyle and intended purpose.