The primary benefit of a power wheelchair is that it gives you back your freedom and restores your access to most places, with minimal effort. However, if your wheelchair is not narrow enough you run the risk of not being able to pass through a lot of standard sized doorways and hallways. In this article, we will look at the best narrow electric wheelchairs.
Narrow Electric Wheelchairs
When we look to buy a power wheelchair, the width of the seat is one of the primary considerations. Seat sizes can range anywhere between 16 inches to 22 inches and you must select the one as per your build.
Typically, the armrests, tires and axle mechanism add around an extra 7-9 inches in width on top of the seat size. However, as compared to a manual wheelchair, you do not need to provision another 2 – 3 inches for your hands on the rims and even then, end up with knuckle bruises while going through narrow doorways.
It is obvious, therefore, that the smaller your build is, the smaller seat size you will select, and the narrower your wheelchair will be. The typical width of a power wheelchair is therefore between 24 – 33 inches, depending upon the seat size.
Relevant ADA Guidelines
Increasing awareness and strict implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made it much easier for wheelchair users to access public spaces and buildings, as compared to about a decade ago.
The ADA guidelines also layout in great detail the specifications of doorways and hallways that constructors need to adhere to, to make spaces accessible for wheelchair users. The guidelines for doorways can be found at this link.
How Narrow Should Your Wheelchair Be
As per the ADA guidelines mentioned above, the minimum width of a doorway should be 32 inches for it to be considered part of the accessible infrastructure.
Moreover, at least 60 percent of all doorways in a building should adhere to these standards, if the building is to adhere to accessibility standards as set by the ADA.
Accordingly, you should always try to limit the overall with of the electric wheelchair to under 30 inches for comfortably passing through doorways in public buildings and infrastructure.
However, at your home, things may be a bit complicated if you have narrow doorways. Most standard doorways at homes will be about 30 inches in width, and even 26 – 28 inches is not uncommon.
It is not really possible to change the width of the doorways in your home, which will require a lot of rework. Therefore, you should be cognizant of the fact and always measure doorways at your home before selecting a wheelchair.
Having said that, if you have a heavier build and are buying seat sizes of 20 – 22 inches, chances are that some parts of your home will not be accessible to you on your wheelchair.
But knowing that beforehand and planning for it (like not keeping any of your frequent necessities in that part of your home) is essential.
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What to Consider Before Buying an Electric Wheelchair, Apart from Width
Apart from the width, you should be concerned about a few aspects of your electric wheelchair that will make your ride better suited to your needs and make for a comfortable experience. While better features will obviously make the product more expensive, you should balance the following features with the price that you pay:
- Adherence to safety standards and clearance of the medical device by the US FDA
- Your wheelchair should be as lightweight as possible. Most modern electric wheelchairs are made of airplane grade aluminium and weigh between 50 – 80 lbs
- Maneuverability and ride smoothness. User friendliness of the joystick and control panel
- Suitability and ease of air travel. The wheelchair should be easy to fold and carry along
- Seating and backrest comfort and quality of cushioning
- Distance that the wheelchair will cover on full charge and the time taken to fully charge the batteries.
- Warranty and customer service for the device
The priority that you would attach to the above specifications depend completely on your pattern of your usage and lifestyle. However, you can use this as a checklist for major factors to consider while buying your electric wheelchair. Below, we have reviewed some of the best narrow electric wheelchairs that are available in the market.
#1 Sentire Med Forza Foldable Electric Wheelchair
This is a lightweight electric wheelchair, made of aircraft-grade aluminum, weighing about 67 lbs along with batteries. The model with the 19-inch seat size has a total width of just 24 inches, making it a good candidate to pass through most doorways and hallways.
The maximum weight that the wheelchair can carry is 360 lbs. The device runs on dual motor technology with 2 x 250 W motors.
- Good ground to seat height of 21 inches; makes it easy to get on the wheelchair.
- Front and rear suspensions, along with bigger rear wheels provide more comfortable rides
- Comes with seat belt, storage bag and cup holder
- Indicates remaining battery life on control panel and has 5 speed options
- Seat depth of 17.5 inches makes it ideal for taller users as well
- Easy to fold and carry along
- Comes with two 12-volt batteries, which gives range of 20 miles on full charge
- The tires are solid rubber and you will not suffer a flat tire
- Back rest height is adjustable for better customization and comfort
- On the expensive side
- Joystick cannot be self-adjusted and fixed on any of the arm rests. By default, it comes suited for right-handed use, you will have to contact company beforehand if you want left-handed mount
- Solid rubber tires may leave black marks on your floor, especially in hot weather
Here we have a video featuring Sentire Med- Forza FCX Folding Portable Deluxe Wheelchair.
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#2 Porto Mobility Ranger D09 XL
The best thing about this wheelchair from Innuovo is that you need not worry about it, getting tilted to a side if you do not position yourself right at the center of the seat. It has a balanced weight, stable anti-tip front wheels, and an anti-leaning rear design, all of which ensure your safety.
It is made of an aviation aluminum frame making it lightweight and easy to move around rugged terrain. If you are traveling, you can have this foldable power wheelchair tucked in your car trunk. Do not worry about the space on the chair as it has a 12 inch rear design for seating comfort. The seat is designed to protect from bedsores and gives maximum support to the caudal, neck, and lumbar vertebrae.
The 360-degree joystick control helps you to navigate through the terrain and quick turning motion. You can travel up to 20 miles on the wheelchair when the dual lithium-ion battery is charged fully. High stability, comfort, and swiftness in the movement are what I liked about this wheelchair from Innuovo the most. If you face some issues with the wheelchair, their quick customer service team will resolve it for you.
- It has good after-sale support. The customer support is active 24/7, and their turnaround time is within 24 hours.
- The unique seat design ensures 100% support and comfort at all times.
- Its anti-tip wheels allow maximum control even when traveling on a slope.
- It comes with 4 high-quality shock absorbers allowing you to travel through rugged terrain smoothly.
- There is no definite braking system. For applying the brakes, you need to change the wheelchair from power to manual mode.
- You might require caregiver assistance to access the two switches behind the rear wheel.
#3 Rubicon Premium Electric Wheelchair for Adults
Do you use the wheelchair for a long period of the day? In that case, you will require something more comfortable and ergonomically designed. The Rubicon Premium product is one of the best we have on our list of electric wheelchairs. The ergonomic design and the ease of movement will allow you to move around without hitting the corners. The turning radius of the wheelchair is 33 inches and helps you take turns easily in small enclosed places.
If you travel a lot, this foldable electric wheelchair is the best you can have. It folds quickly and fits in a small space. The wheelchair is also air travel approved.
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It is a very strong wheelchair with effective shock absorbers and an electromagnetic brake that ensures your safety while moving through all kinds of terrain. In addition to the ergonomic design, the wheelchair comes with a very comfortable cushion. The seat and back cushions can be removed, which aids in cleaning the chair at ease. It has a joystick controller for your movements and a brake on the armrest for ease of access. The aluminum alloy used to make the wheelchair makes it a very durable option.
- It comes with a warranty of 6 months, one year, one year, and three years for the battery, motor, joystick, and frame, respectively.
- It can operate through rugged terrain at ease.
- It has a long-lasting battery.
- It has a small turning radius of 33 inches that allows it to make sharp turns.
- The braking efficiency is high, ensuring your safety at all times.
- It is easily foldable and comes with under the seat storage for your best interest.
- The after-sale support is not responsive enough.
- It is an expensive product, but if you have the budget, you can go for it
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#4 EBEI Super Lightweight Electric Wheelchair
This is a basic very lightweight electric wheelchair, made of aluminum alloy, with total weight of 36 lbs with batteries. The maximum weight carting capacity is 220 lbs.
The model with a seat width of 17.5 inches has total width of just under 23 inches and is one of the narrowest electric wheelchairs around.
- Has anti-tipper wheels for safety and prevents wheelchair from tipping over backwards
- Reclining back in 3 positions; arm rests can be lifted for easier access to seat
- Easy to fold and carry along. Stands upright over rear tires and anti-tippers when folded
- You have the option of mounting joystick on the right or left arm rest
- Value for money option for users on a budget
- Does not have side guards on the seat which increases risk of a fall
- No shock absorption mechanism on the wheels or under the seat; may not be comfortable to ride on rough and pebbly surfaces
- Not meant for users over a 100 kgs in weight
#5 SSP20RBDDA Reclining Sports Wheelchair by Drive Medical
Comfort is what you look for in a wheelchair, and that search for comfort ends for you in the Recliner Sports Wheelchair by Drive Medical. The wheelchair design is such that it comes with the ultimate comfort and convenience of movement.
If you have trouble getting up from a low height, don’t worry, this wheelchair has just the optimal length of 20.5 inches from the floor. The dimensions of 28, 16, and 50 inches in width, depth, and length ensure that you can move it around the house at ease.
Another wonderful thing about this wheelchair is that it comes with a swing-away leg rest in addition to the metal resting footplates. The padded armrest and the extended headrest provide you with the ultimate comfort on the go.
What I like best in this wheelchair by-drive medical is the hydraulic reclining mechanism. You can get multiple reclining postures up to 180 degrees. You can also extend the armrest to suit the reclining postures. It is made up of very durable material. The push-to-lock wheels and anti-rear tippers ensure your safety, especially while riding on sloping ground.
- It is made of lightweight material with nylon upholstery for your comfort and easy to carry around.
- The dimensions ensure enough space for relaxing and ease of movement around tight corners.
- You can reset the seating postures with the help of the hydraulic recliner, up to 180 degrees.
- The footplates with the leg rest ensure that you do not overtrain your legs when you keep them on the metal footplates.
- The anti-tripper rear locks provide safety and reliability always.
- The carrying capacity of this wheelchair is low. So if you are planning to purchase a wheelchair for a heavy person, it might not be a good option. Read the weight allowance before purchase.
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#6 Forcemech Power Wheelchair – Voyager R2
One of the most lightweight power wheelchairs available in the market is the Forcemech Voyager R2 model. It weighs only 45 lbs including the batteries. The wheelchair is made to carry up to a maximum weight of 265 lbs.
The joystick control may be a bit sensitive to begin with, but it can be adjusted from the panel. You will do well to adjust it to a less sensitive mode before starting to venture out for longer rides.
The device takes about 6 – 8 hours to fully charge its 2 rechargeable lithium ion batteries. The batteries do not run together, when one runs low, the wheelchair has the option to run on the second battery. The 17-inch seat width model has a total width of 23 inches.
- Long battery life of up to 16 miles on full charge, including both batteries, suitable for travelling long distances
- Lightweight and easy to fold and travel with
- Good ride quality
- Rear reflective lights for extra visibility during night-time
- Solid wheels with metal alloy rim give good support to the entire structure
- Seat height of 20 inches and depth of 17 inches makes it comfortable for taller users as well
- Good 24×7 customer support
- Height of the wheelchair is comparably lower, may be inconvenient to get into wheelchair, depending upon type of mobility challenge
- Might be slow to start and pick up pace with heavier weights
#7 Folding Ultra Lightweight Electric Wheelchair by Bangeran
The wheelchair is a basic electric model with Bluetooth remote controller option. The model with the 17 inch seat width has a total width of 23 inches. The wheelchair weighs 71 lbs with battery and has a total carrying capacity of 265 lbs.
- Comes with Bluetooth remote controller for easy access from a distance
- Equipped with safety features of seat belt and anti-tipper wheels
- Shock absorbing mechanism on the wheels makes for a comfortable ride
- Digital display on control panel for easy understanding of ride statistics: speed & battery
- Good seat height and depth makes it suitable for taller users as well
- Not much cushioning on seat; You may have to invest in cushions if you anticipate long periods of wheelchair use
- Comes with a single battery that runs for 12 miles on full charge. If you anticipate going further than 6 miles from your home, you have to buy a back up battery
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#8 Smart Electric Wheelchair with Headrest by A&DW
This is a power wheelchair with full back support and removable headrest, full armrests, adjustable foot supports, and calf muscle padding. The product is powered by dual-motor technology (2 x 250 W motors) and runs on 2 lithium-ion batteries. The model with a 17.7-inch seat width has a total width of 24.4 inches.
- Full back support can be fully reclined to 180 degrees for better flexibility and support
- Removable headrest for relaxing your neck muscles
- Anti-tipper wheels will prevent the wheelchair from tipping over backward; Equipped with seat belts
- Hand brakes behind headrest will lend better control to caregiver, if you decide to have one
- Full-length armrests that can be flipped back up to provide easy access to the wheelchair seat
- Large rear tires provide better support to wheelchair structure
- Easy switching between manual and electronic modes
- Good cushioning available on seat and backrest for better comfort
- Suitable for heavy users with maximum weight carrying capacity at 330 lbs
- The wheelchair is comparatively heavier at about 80 lbs with batteries
- Comes with one battery; for back up battery you will have to spend extra
#9 Weatherproof Electric Wheelchair Ranger D09 by Porto Mobility
One of the best features of this weatherproof power wheelchair is it can be folded within 3 seconds. Made for heavy-duty use across all-terrain, this wheelchair is compact and can be carried around easily, given its weight of about 50 pounds.
As the name suggests, it comes in a heavy aircraft quality aluminum alloy with a weather-resistant finish that allows you to ride it conveniently across all weather conditions.
This power wheelchair comes with dual-side batteries that can be removed at ease while traveling. You can travel for 20 miles with a powerful lithium-ion battery. I like the off-board charging feature that ensures that you can charge the batteries without the chair. The powerful 250W brushless motor allows you to ride across challenging terrain.
The electromagnetic braking system ensures your safety even on snowy roads, mud, and gravel. If you are about to use the power wheelchair inside the room, the amazing turning efficiency, allowing a turning radius of 32 inches, makes sure you can move around the corners and through the doors at ease.
- The 360-degree joystick allows ease of movement.
- The sharp turning radius of 32 inches makes sure that you can move around the house or outdoors without hitting corners.
- The off-board turning feature allows you to charge the dual batteries even when it is not connected to the wheelchair. The batteries are so powerful that you can travel for 20 miles with one complete charge.
- The lightweight, compact design and easy foldability make this wheelchair a very good buy if you are planning to travel a lot.
- The user manual is not very comprehensive, not that you will need it much as the wheelchair comes completely assembled and is more or less self-explanatory.
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A wheelchair is an extremely personal choice and depends on your anticipated usage pattern and budget. Sometimes, it will require as much consideration from you as that required for buying a car.
So, take your time in deciding on the final purchase as it is a significant investment and you would not want to be stuck with a chair that is a compromise. Once it arrives and you get comfortable with it, the world will open up to you for you to explore.