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Invacare Spectra Plus Power Wheelchair
A look at the Invacare Spectra Plus
Powerchair as often provided by the UK's Wheelchair Services. Sold as a
Indoor/Outdoor Powerchair that can have rehab seating. And its cheap.
So these kind of "Experts" just love it...
This page applies to MOST small cheap electric wheelchairs
and isn't just about the
Spectra Plus and remember that its actually
BETTER than chairs like the Harrier! God
forbid... This is an example of everything bad rolled into one device
Amazingly compared to some "Full
Sized" top end Indoor/Outdoor Powerchair alternatives
such as my own here
an Invacare Spectra Plus Powerchair manages to be both wider and longer
(especially with the rear wheels being so much behind you). It makes turning
into doorways a nightmare indoors.
Its also slower and
much less manoeuvrable than so called FULL SIZED
and FULL POWER top end rehab style Powerchairs...
less powerful with less range (smaller batteries) and is bigger
dimensionally and far less controllable indoors and almost completely useless outdoors
with its small hard wheels and slow speed while being uglier and more old
fashioned at the same time! Quite a trick! It manages to be
spectacularly bad at both indoor and outdoor use and doesn't do a SINGLE thing as well as my own off road / indoor / outdoor "full
power" faster modified F55s powerchair
does! Not a single one!
Quite how they managed to do all of that
stuff worse than a supposed "full sized" very capable outdoor powerchair
fitted with big fat off road tyres and bigger motors and batteries and high
power control system absolutely dumbfounds me! You would at least expect
it to be better indoors! Its actually much worse. Mostly because its so long in
front of the drive wheels. Like an oil tanker..
Built by a committee (team) of specialist OT's and Physios and
bean counters. And obviously not one of them understands even the
very basics of powerchairs. They are all fully trained up in "seating"
"posture" etc and don't
get the physics or electrics or dynamics of a powerchair. If they did they would
never have created this hopelessly incapable device of torture. Or at
least they should have specified that it is only of real use in big wide
hospital corridors or old peoples residential homes and moving slowly in big
not alone though. ALL cheap "small" (although big and spindly would be a better
name) powerchairs are amazingly, just as bad. So the same or
similar comments goes equally for all the other cheap and hateful powerchairs like the
"Invacare harrier" (amazingly even worse!) and Sunrise (add any cheap powerchair
here like rumba etc) models. All of these are offered as a cheap
solutions by the UK's wheelchair services after they, ahem, "assess" you!
doubt they could assess a
cheese sandwich properly and I never met an OT or any industry
professionals yet with any real clue about
wheelchair design. They just don't get the mechanics, the physics,
or any part of how powerchairs actually work.
They only read specs sheets and know
maximum weights limits specified (but not why!) and what seating options are
available etc. So after they have "assessed" you a for the cheap barely motorised
Harrier or Spectre Plus (or similar) powerchair they start on the seating.
Please excuse my lack of confidence in the
"experts" but I have met hundreds in many places from manufacturers, to
hospitals. And NEVER found one with any real engineering clue.
This one has the fancy seating fitted making it longer
and more nose heavy and less capable indoors than an already dismal
stock one. I suggest you avoid this option unless you are very light (steering
response issues due to rearward rear wheels and forward c of g position) and live in a very large house!
attempt to make the chair much wider than necessary the manufacturer chooses to
fit the control pod onto the outside of the arm! Here it is folded back
but it still sticks out and forwards to hit every door frame neatly... Many manufacturers do this daft
trick. It means it hits every door frame and you lose fingers... Also
notice the oil tanker wheelbase length here, compared to the much shorter one on
outdoor chair which
is almost mid wheeled.
And the small very hard caster wheels and the anti tip wheels that get caught up
every time you leave a curb! And the 12 inch long push handles that hit every
wall when you try to turn around. Yummy... What are they on???
One of the perceived plus points of this Invacare Spectre Plus is that its one
of few cheap powerchairs with so many options. Rehab seating. This
is the bit the "experts" think they understand after going on a course or
something... If they
"assess" that you need it.
Trust me if you are a typical active paraplegic
or quadriplegic you really don't! It HINDERS a powerchair in so many other ways
in many cases.
Unless you have no choice and really do need that seat riser/leg elevator etc.
Tilt seats alone have no real downsides usually though. But check it doesn't
mean the seat is higher or even further forwards than a stock chair. In some
cases it does. All these
cheap chairs are way too nose heavy already for sensible control and
manoeuvrability. And these options add weight to an already very flimsy flexible
advantage any of these small batteried 4mph motorised deck chairs have over a
"full size" is one of
cost. It does cost less to throw it in the skip when you realise how bad
they are though! The full size refers to batteries, control systems,
motors, wheels, not physical dimensions.
Of course if you don't really "use" the
power chair much you will never realise its lack of ability! This chair is ideal as a temporary solution
for while you get better after an injury or similar. Its really not a lifestyle
tool or full time powerchair solution for the likes of the average active paraplegics
/ quads etc Or any long term user that cant get out and walk or transfer
There's one here at my house for repairs at the moment (Invacare Spectra Plus). Not mine I hasten to
add!. Its hard work trying to get about the house without hitting door frames
etc. Its just so frustrating and clumsy. It cannot turn around in my own bathroom. (my "big"
do everything powerchair can
Its wheelbase is just too long.
(Like almost all production rear drive powerchairs). Its
programming is so delayed and damped you simply can't steer properly. It hasn't
the power to steer at all on thick carpet! Pretty crap then for a chair
DESIGNED as indoor capable!
This delay and difficult control isn't unusual because
almost all powerchairs start off like this until "repaired" slightly by
Although many are never exactly brilliant like this one due to small
undersized batteries/motors/controllers. This of course depends on your expectations and
previous experiences and your body weight too.
If I venture into the street its
just plain ungainly, very slow and lurches about. It has no suspension, and
small very hard tyres. Crashing HORRIBLY from
one tiny crack in our pavements to the next as its small solid casters jam and
follow ridges. Its totally out of its depth in the street. If you
plan on using a chair outdoors then buy something else because this chair and
all the cheap "clones" are just as unsuitable.
It causes me
masses of muscle spasm and hurts my spine in the few minutes I tried it. Its uncontrollable and
unbelievably uncomfortable over any slightly more uneven stuff (much of the outside
world is very
uneven in case you have never noticed!) and frankly dangerously slow too,
should you ever try to cross a busy road junction for e.g..
If money is a big problem and you
never go far or only run on flat surfaces like shopping centres or indoors where
there are wide doors then it may be perfectly ok for you. But for any active
full time user
its just torture and absolutely unsuitable and unusable.
Range is limited by its batteries (you
need full sized group 24 - 70ah sized ones for a sensible range in the
real world no matter what the spec sheet will tell you.) although
outdoors the sheer uncomfortable ride and the toll it takes on my spine and
probably skin damage on my backside as it rattles me around, and its boring slow
speed, all limit it more than its batteries for
Width is as wide with my
normal 18 inch cushion fitted as my much
more capable chair here
Actually since the control pod is mounted on the outside of the arm its
actually a good bit wider... The thing measures more than the claimed figure.
Same with length. The Invacare
Spectre Plus is
longer and less manoeuvrable indoors with a very nose heavy attitude and
feels like an oil tanker. Its rear wheels are too far back! Its not
alone here most powerchairs in this class are much the same. Bad for
control, and bad for doorways etc indoors and the extra effort required by
the motors to steer eats batteries faster too.
Seat Height is also higher than
need be with the usual desk and restaurant tables issues that this causes. A
high seat is a problem. A low seat that can be adjusted higher for
transferring to beds, vehicle seats etc to your desired height. So not good
Programming is dismal
further hindering control like all new
powerchairs (can be fixed if you can get hold of a suitable programmer), battery
power (capacity) wheel and caster size are all smaller than a "full sized" chair
giving much of the rough ride issues outdoors.
Motors and controllers are
smaller than true full sized powerchairs such as my own chair
here even though this Spectra
chair is dimensionally a little bigger. The effect is similar to say a "basic"
small engine car, compared to a fully loaded larger engine 4 wheel drive version
of the same car. The basic one is just barely adequate. Both the same
physical size but one is fully loaded and the other is an empty shell...
The difference is cost.
The swing away footrests hit every door frame
too. A single footplate is preferable if you can use one since its central and
doesn't get in the way when in small spaces or hit furniture or table legs etc.
Again this applies to every chair. But if you like damaged furniture and door
frames then the OTs favourite "swing away" ones are ideal!
Here follows an independent email review
that I received from a user of one of these chairs!
I was looking at your modified F55 as my wife is now fed up with trying
all manner of useless chairs and the only solution seems to be the DIY
We live in a fairly large house and every powerchair we have
tried ends up trashing the walls and furniture as they are far too long
and wide. (This includes mid drive 6 wheel chairs- ED).
The Invacare Spectra currently on eBay is a case in point. The
riser function is great but what's not mentioned is the extra 4" in
length over the standard chair as the seat frame is pushed further
forward to keep the C of G in a "safe" position. Unless you live in an
open-plan barn it's useless! Due to the extra length it also grounds on
the anti-tip rollers when using the ramp in our converted Renault Kangoo
and you end up stuck half way in with no traction to get back out.
I despair with the designers of these things who seem to use able bodied
testers and wide open spaces when developing the next wonder-chair...
All the best,
Acknowledgment - The photos on this page are also Pauls that
were sent with this email.
Comparison of width and length of a Invacare Spectre Plus
powerchair and my own home built power wheelchair.
Below entering my van is
my own very capable "full sized" top
en powerchair - it is shorter but also equally
as narrow as the Spectra Plus (and almost all powerchairs) But this is a
go anywhere "big" outdoor / indoor / off road powerchair. Its narrower across the arms
too! And its
the same width across the wheels! It manages that with huge batteries and
motors, as well as big fat comfortable easy riding balloon tyres. It also has no footrests
sticking out in the corners to hit door frames etc. But this picture is really
here just to
show the width in comparison to the Spectre Plus in the second image below this
Its also worth noticing how much shorter the Invacare Spectra Plus could
be. Check out the photo of my full sized chair below, compare length and
wheelbase to the large
photos of the Spectra Plus further up this page! This Spectra wheelchair is very long!
That makes for bad indoor capability when trying to manoeuvre. And there's no
reason for the width or length issues since they only have to fit small
motors / wheels / batteries in there! Its just plain bad design.
Not a brilliant photo (below) unfortunately but this is the spindly
looking shorter range, slower,
underpowered & less manoeuvrable Invacare Spectra Plus leaving a similar Chrysler
Van on an identical ramp to mine above...
Look at the width of the rear wheels on the ramp. This shows that its wheel
track is the same as my "full sized" full powered powerchair (2nd pic above). If I could make my
home built wheelchair above this narrow with its huge tyres/batteries and bigger
motors then just what were they thinking?
Unfortunately they are not alone here and almost every "cheap" lightweight 4mph
powerchair is much the same as this Spectra Plus. Unnecessarily wide, long
and sometimes high. You probably gathered that I don't much like this
powerchair! And you would be right. Its got all the disadvantages possible
rolled in to one chair! But much the same applies to almost every "small"
cheap 4mph powerchair. They have few if *any advantages over a full sized
and faster true indoor outdoor powerchair. In fact they do almost everything
worse. *Other than price and weight.
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