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Powerchairs & Rain...
Is it OK to drive an electric wheelchair
(Powerchair) in the rain?
Or to wash it with a bucket of soapy water and
a hose pipe?
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I use my PowerChair outside in all
weathers every single day of the year.
The dog has to be walked! I have to go about my daily
If I leave the pub at midnight in
my powerchair I have no choice
but to go home! I just use an umbrella!
Rain isn't an issue MOST of the time. I even wash my powerchair
in my shower room at home twice a week or so using a hand held electric power
Modern powerchair control systems, motors and batteries are
all pretty well protected from rain and water.
So the short answer is try to keep the joystick pod from
getting soaked if possible but otherwise don't worry!
One thing (component) at a time:
Powerchair Motors. These sit very low
down on most powerchairs and are going to get wet if you drive in the rain. For
what its worth they will actually run pretty well submerged completely under
water. But splashed and wet on the outside is no concern.
They will not break down or fail just because of ANY amount of
water - even under water. They use only 24 volts (on the majority of power
chairs) which is not enough to cause any problems with water at all. And you
cant get a shock or be electrocuted!
Water can get into bearings and cause internal corrosion
problems at a later date if you go through deep puddles fast. Especially in winter if you drive on
"treated" pavements and roads. Salt causes corrosion. So water in
summer is less of an issue.
Salt causes masses of corrosion problems with cars,
wheelchairs and everything else mechanical! But we are talking about rain or a
quick rinse clean with a bucket and sponge here!
So no problem! They are very splash proof and designed to be
used outdoors in the rain. Avoid deep puddles if it worries you!
Personally I just take no notice and go about my business normally.
Wiring and Batteries.
Batteries are normally Gel and "sealed" so are definitely rain, splash and
They CAN draw some water in if submerged under extreme circumstances, but that's not
going to happen unless you drive in 12 inches of water or more! And you
have bigger problems by then! So no worries here and wiring is waterproof
although corrosion from the winter salt can cause problems after many years if
you are very unlucky... But again don't worry they are designed for outdoor use.
That mysterious "controller box"
power module (and
lighting/seat actuator etc under the seat). These
are not waterproof. But its not likely in a modern powerchair that the rain can
get at them even during a hurricane! They should be in a safe spot that
stays dry. Even so they are fairly splash resistant.
But a hose potentially could get water
inside one. A shower like the one I use
cant actually reach the controller very easily and a few minor splashes are not a
So if you rinse your powerchair with a hose don't aim it
under the seat or at where these components live. Other than that again
Joystick & housing (pod)
This is the one bit that IS vulnerable in rain. Light rain? Again don't worry. Heavy
rain for a couple of minutes while you dash home still no problem. But out in
the rain for long periods and you should worry!
If rain gets in (or my water from the shower) then it usually
results in an error and no go! Typically no serious damage but strange errors
and you may be stranded. If you leave it for a while or even a day it will likely
dry out and be just fine. Mine always is.
Simple precaution, just keep a plastic bag under your seat cushion
or somewhere just in case you get caught out in heavy rain. Or call into a shop
and scrounge a plastic bag. Just pop it over the entire pod for protection.
Then drive normally while you drown. Its not a problem in light rain/short
periods. In heavy rain and for long periods its not a problem either provided
the joystick pod is protected with a plastic bag.
For those that worry about water and powerchairs, I washed my chair down with
a hose here, before hitting it with a brush and soapy water. And at that its a
10 year old chair, that LIVES outside in all weather, with a huge hole in the
joystick rubber. I sprayed this in particular to prove a point... As well as
motors, and controller.
Here you go! The pre wash...
Remember AFTER this, I washed it all with soapy water, then rinsed it more
vigorously than this. I rinse the salt, mud off my chairs in winter daily after
watching, but download (right click, save as, to your desktop) first. 100mb
And then there's the big HOLE on the joystick rubber...
Now next time it rains, DON'T WORRY!!!
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