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Wheelchair "Power Pack" or Wheelchair
Power "Add-On" devices or "Powered Wheels" for normal manual Wheelchairs.
E.g. Max-e, JW1, Alber e-Motion & E-fix,
Viamobil, DAKA add on, Independence Technology iGlide & DeltaGlide, Roll-Aid and
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I get e-Mail every day
from manual wheelchair users that would like more information on these add on
devices hence this page.
serve only one real purpose
as I see it.
That is to allow
you to use a manual wheelchair in a "powered" fashion after packing it into a
normal (not an adapted) car. A better solution long term is almost always
to obtain a better more suitable vehicle for transporting a real powerchair
instead if you need or want power.
Power pack type add on devices or powered "wheels" as discussed here, are inferior in every way
to a good normal powerchair
other than weight (and even here the benefit is sometimes very marginal)
and the ability to fold and / or come apart for transport.
So if you do
not need this its much better to investigate a real powerchair! And
remember some "real" powerchairs can also fold and disassemble too. But it causes many of
the same issues as the add on power unit does as discussed below.
The issue of size (width, length, etc)
is not a real benefit or adding power to a manual wheelchair since its ABSOLUTELY possible to have the same
physical dimensions in a
good powerchair as in any manual wheelchair!
the manual wheelchair with "add on" power is typically harder to control, less
powerful for ramps, curbs etc, slower for and distance, less practical on the
street due to small skinny tyres and tiny diameter hard caster wheels, as well as having no
suspension or "give" in its tyres to absorb any
you will always come across as you travel outdoors.
Should you decide to go this way and buy an "Add On
Power Unit" for your Manual Wheelchair there are a few more big disadvantages to
A good powerchair has two BIG heavy 12v, 70ah batteries for power. It genuinely
TAKES this much
power to move an average adult about all day and have a sensible usable range
and to ensure its batteries live an "acceptable" time before they are replaced.
That's typically TEN TIMES the amount of "fuel" or battery capacity on board
compared to a typical Add On power device.,, Can you see how this is a real
problem? Some slower power chairs have smaller batteries but again the
advantages are mostly weight (rather than size) and price. See
Some of these devices use special shaped or hard to get
proprietary batteries moulded into wheel hubs, or in special cartridges or cases which means
you have no alternative but to use the manufacturer own batteries. Often very
regularly due to them being too small for the job they are trying to do and at
great expense with no alternatives available.
2) Power (torque) is
necessarily very low because batteries and motors are small. Steep ramps, thresholds
etc can cause problems with many systems.
3) Speed. As above, tiny
batteries and motors mean speed is also an issue. You NEED 6mph to safely cross a
busy road! (In a shopping centre its not an issue.) Including up the slope as you cross the roads
"camber"... More is better. But with small batteries the faster they are the
worse the range and "power" (torque) has to be due to basic physics and Ohms
law so its not really practical.
4) control. There are a
variety of methods used to control these add on systems. Joysticks tend to be
very difficult to steer and use due to a mix of programming and lack of torque.
Steering and moving using the wheels push rims has all the disadvantages of a
manual wheelchair. That is, try carrying a bowl of soup from one room to another
and using a few doors on the way with one hand! You cant do it...
A real powerchair is
again much better here. And with NO disadvantages indoors. Weight while putting
it into and out of a car is the ONLY place these add on systems give any
5) Strength. Your existing
manual chair was not designed for power. Or extra weight. Another reason
batteries are so small with these devices. And why real powerchairs have heavy
frames and wheels etc to carry very heavy properly sized batteries that are truly capable
of the job in hand!
Users review of the E-fix here on another of my sites
In all by all means buy one of these
devices if you don't expect too much in performance or battery longevity but there are
usually better alternatives.
But some people have been brainwashed into truly
believing that they "don't need a powerchair" (even though they
actually do or they wouldn't be looking at power "Add Ons"! And that their manual wheelchair
is best for them. In some cases that may be true but
in most, it simply isn't
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