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What are the Three Types of Power Wheelchairs?

What are the Three Types of Power Wheelchairs

Power Wheelchairs are helpful for those who spend most of their time in a wheelchair because it gives them independence. They don’t need to rely on someone to take them from one place to another. Electric wheelchairs are powered by batteries and controlled using a joystick with just a fingertip. 

There are different types of wheelchairs with varied features and capabilities. So, let’s look at different types of electric or power wheelchairs. 

Types of Wheelchairs

Depending upon the folding capability and load capacity, there are three types of wheelchairs. 

  1. Portable Power Wheelchairs 
  2. Full-Size Power Wheelchairs
  3. Heavy Duty Power Wheelchairs

1- Portable Wheelchairs

Portable Power Wheelchairs are less bulky and suitable for home and shorter journeys. They are transportable because of their lightweight construction and travel-friendly design. Wheelchairs are designed to be easily folded or disassembled to fit in the car trunk and then assembled again quickly. A portable wheelchair can hold a maximum of 200 to 250 lbs weight because of its light and travel-friendly frame. 

2- Full-Size Power Wheelchairs

These Wheelchairs are bigger than portable wheelchairs yet smaller than heavy-duty wheelchairs. They are ideal for use for a more extended time and offer larger size sitting seats. Compared to a travel-size wheelchair, it has additional features and provides suspension for a smooth ride.

Despite being a helpful mobility device, it isn’t easy to fold and fit in the trunk of a car. Full-size wheelchairs, on the other hand, can support up to 300 lbs.

3- Heavy Duty Power Wheelchairs

Heavy-duty wheelchairs or bariatric wheelchairs are manufactured for heavy-weight individuals and can take loads of 400 to 600 lbs. Even some models can support up to 1000 lbs weight. These wheelchairs are sturdy and long-lasting, and the seats are wide and deep. Steel bars and other sturdy materials are used to construct the frame.

Heavy-duty wheelchairs with long-lasting batteries allow for all-day use. However, wheelchairs cannot be folded and transported in the trunk of a car.

Each type of wheelchair can be further divided into three types based on the drive system. 

Wheelchairs Drive System

A wheelchair further divides into three different types depending on its drive system. These three types are;

  1. Rear Wheel Drive
  2. Mid Wheel Drive
  3. Front Wheel Drive

Drive wheels are the biggest tire on the wheelchairs that are connected to their motor. They provide moving force, and their position is responsible for turning radius and maneuverability.

1- Rear Wheel Drive

The rear-wheel drive wheelchair has two big wheels at the back end and two front casters for stability and easy maneuverability. 

Rear wheels provide moving force because they are attached to the motor. Rear wheel drive wheelchairs are comfortable and provide shock absorption to the rider. However, their popularity has decreased with the advancement of technology. 


  • Comfort
  • Smooth drive at obstacle-free terrain


  • Large turning radius

2- Mid Wheel Drive

Mid Wheel Drive system wheelchairs have two large wheels at the mid and four smaller wheels at the front and back. Since the center of gravity is in the middle, these wheelchairs are stable.

With a 360⁰ turning radius, the mid-wheel drive system is excellent for navigating tight locations.


  • 360⁰ turning radius
  • Stability


  • Not much comfortable

3- Front Wheel Drive

Wheelchairs with front-wheel drives feature two large wheels up front and two smaller wheels at the back for maneuverability. This drive system is favorable because all four wheels give more power than any other driving system. Wheelchairs with front wheels can navigate rough or uneven terrain with ease.


  • Comfortable
  • Smooth driving over any terrain


  • Larger 360⁰ turning radius


Searching for different types of wheelchairs is necessary to find a suitable one. It is also crucial to know which one will fit best for you.