Electric Wheelchairs vs. Power Wheelchairs: Understanding the Distinctions

Last Updated on November 18, 2023 | Published: October 30, 2023

Electric Wheelchairs vs. Power Wheelchairs: Understanding the Distinctions

Electric wheelchairs and power wheelchairs are often used interchangeably, causing some confusion regarding their differences. While both wheelchairs are powered by electricity rather than manual propulsion, there are distinctions between them, primarily rooted in regional or colloquial preferences. This article will delve into the nuances that set these two categories apart.

Electric Wheelchair

General Term

“Electric wheelchair” is a broad term encompassing any wheelchair powered by electricity. It’s a versatile label that includes power wheelchairs but also refers to motorised adaptations of traditional manual wheelchairs.


Some electric wheelchairs are designed as motorised add-ons to manual wheelchairs. This unique feature allows users to switch between manual and electric modes, providing more customisation options.


The manoeuvrability of electric wheelchairs can vary significantly. Some models are tailored for indoor use, while others are optimised for outdoor mobility. The specific capabilities depend on the wheelchair’s design and features.

User Control

Electric wheelchairs typically utilise a joystick or other control mechanisms for user input, making them accessible to individuals with various physical abilities.

Power Wheelchair

Specific Term

“Power wheelchair” is a more specific term and generally refers to wheelchairs that are exclusively electrically powered. These wheelchairs are designed to provide mobility to individuals with limited or no lower extremity mobility.

Built for Mobility

Power wheelchairs are engineered with mobility as the central focus. They are usually optimised for a balance of indoor and outdoor use and equipped with features such as suspension for a smoother ride and more prominent, more rugged wheels to tackle outdoor terrain.

User Control

Like electric wheelchairs, power wheelchairs are controlled through a joystick or other input methods. However, they are typically tailored for individuals with severe mobility impairments.

Comfort and Support

Power wheelchairs prioritise user comfort and support. They often feature adjustable seating options and amenities like tilt, recline, and elevating leg rests to enhance user well-being.

In practice, the terminology can vary depending on the manufacturer or region. Many people use these terms interchangeably, which can add complexity to the decision-making process. 

Summary Of Electric Wheelchair Vs Power Wheelchair

When choosing between an electric wheelchair and a power wheelchair, focusing on the specific features, capabilities, and user requirements is essential rather than getting hung up on terminology. Consider the user’s mobility needs, intended usage (indoors, outdoors, or both), and customisation options to make an informed choice for the most suitable mobility device.

<a href="http://reviewmobility.co.uk/" target="_blank">Jacob Whitmore</a>

Jacob Whitmore

Jacob is a seasoned wordsmith with a passion for exploring and evaluating the world of mobility. Jacobs work has been providing insightful and well-researched reviews that help consumers make informed choices when it comes to their mobility needs.

Please Note: This is not medical advice, and you should seek the advice of a doctor or a qualified medical professional.

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