Manual vs. Power Wheelchairs: Wheeling Out The Pros And Cons

When choosing a wheelchair, it’s crucial to find the type that suits your needs. Depending on your lifestyle, you may decide a manual chair works better than a power chair or vice versa.

There are pros and cons of both. For example, manual wheelchairs may have more flexibility and more manageable transport, but power wheelchairs bring enhanced speed and comfort to the table. Everyone has their own requirements, and below are the pros and cons of both types of wheelchairs.

Power Wheelchairs

Power wheelchairs, also known as electric wheelchairs, run on rechargeable batteries and operate using a joystick.


Power wheelchair seats provide comfort that manual wheelchairs can’t due to the cushion quality. Manual wheelchairs require users to add their own cushions for a better seating experience. In addition to having more comfortable seating, electric wheelchairs have leg rests that provide more support to the legs than the standard footrests in manual wheelchairs.

Electric wheelchairs can also travel faster and farther than manual wheelchairs, making them an excellent choice for anyone who needs to cover a lot of ground during the day.


Electric wheelchairs are much heavier than manual models because of their extra hardware. This added weight can make the chairs difficult to transport, which worsens when you remember they can’t fold down. Some electric wheelchairs combine the lightweight features of the manual model with the increased power of the electric, but these chairs are breakout products and not the norm on the market.

Power wheelchairs also require regular maintenance and repairs, such as battery replacements. Because of their upkeep costs and initial investment, electric wheelchairs are much more expensive than manual wheelchairs.

Manual Wheelchairs

Manual wheelchairs, as the names states, require manual power by the user or another person to maneuver.


One of the best benefits of manual wheelchairs is that they are lightweight. The less substantial frame makes the chair easier to push for users with limited arm strength or dexterity. Since manual wheelchairs are light, they are also an excellent option for people with limited mobility who want to exercise and stay fit.

In addition to being lightweight, manual wheelchairs are easy to store. By pulling the seat upwards, the chair folds in half. Many manual wheelchairs even have a strap in the center to pull the chair into the folded position in a straightforward motion. Once folded, manual wheelchairs can easily be tucked away into a closet or small space.

For those who prefer to buy a manual wheelchair, they are relatively inexpensive. Some can be purchased from places like Amazon for as little as $125 or less. Some sellers offer next-day delivery as well.


Unlike with power wheelchairs, a person using a manual often needs to be pushed by another person since the arms can quickly tire when maneuvering long distances.

Since manual wheelchairs are lightweight, they are not suited for rough terrain. The thin wheels can easily get damaged or stuck, unable to pass over obstacles, such as rock or soft ground. Combined, these factors make manual chairs a less versatile, less robust option than a power wheelchair.

In Conclusion

When purchasing a wheelchair, there are many factors to consider, such as how often you will be using the chair, if you need assistance using the wheelchair, and more. Weigh the pros and cons carefully to find the best type of wheelchair for you.

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