Power Wheelchairs vs Mobility Scooters: What You Need to Know

If you are considering a new piece of mobility equipment, it’s important to know the differences between power wheelchairs vs mobility scooters. This will help you make the most informed decision based on your unique needs and how you will use it on a regular basis. First, let’s go over what defines power wheelchairs vs mobility scooters.


The most obvious difference between power wheelchairs vs mobility scooters is their design. The power wheelchair is chair-like, where you sit with your feet on the footrest. While mobility scooters are similar in shape to a moped, where you have the tiller between your legs. Mobility scooters can have either three or four wheels, with three wheels having a tighter turn radius while four wheels are more stable. Mobility scooters often have a more sleek appearance.


How you control the mobility equipment is also a big difference between power wheelchairs vs mobility scooters. Power wheelchairs typically use a joystick control, with an on and off button. Once you get the hang of using the joystick, it can be straightforward. However, there is a learning curve if this is your first time using a joystick-type control. On the other hand, mobility scooters have a tiller that offers a steering mechanic. Some tillers offer digital display screens that show your speed or even the temperature outside. Typically mobility scooter controls are easier to learn for first-time users, as the steering is more familiar than with a joystick. 


Without a doubt, a power wheelchair offers more maneuverability. This is because it takes up less space, and has a much smaller turning radius. On the other hand, scooters, both three and four-wheel, have the tiller and wheels in front, which makes the turning radius much larger. Keep in mind that three-wheel scooters often have a smaller turning radius than four-wheel scooters. If you live in an apartment building with tight hallways and an elevator, a wheelchair may be a better option for your lifestyle.

Daily Usage

How and where you use your mobility device may help you decide between the two. Power wheelchairs are typically not recommended if you are planning to go on any trails, grass, or rough terrain in general.

Whereas four-wheel mobility scooters, like the Pride Baja Wrangler, can handle the tougher terrains. If you are sticking to sidewalks and indoor areas, both wheelchairs and mobility scooters will work.


If the speed of your mobility equipment is important to you, you may be better off with a scooter. Mobility scooters tend to be quite a bit faster than power wheelchairs. This is due to the design of the equipment. The fastest mobility scooter that we offer is the Pride Raptor, which can drive up to 22.4 km/h! The majority of power wheelchairs will go a walking pace, which is about 6.00 km/h. But, there are some power wheelchairs, like the Shoprider Navigator L that can go up to 9.6 km/h.

Weight Capacity

There are lightweight scooters and power chairs, and there are heavy-duty scooters and power chairs. However, heavy-duty scooters typically max out around 500 pounds with the Pride Maxima. While the heavy-duty power chairs typically max out at 600 pounds with the Jazzy 1450 power chair, or higher with custom bariatric chairs. Keep in mind the larger the weight capacity, the larger the equipment is in general, so it may reduce your turning radius and maneuverability.


When you are considering a power wheelchair vs mobility scooter, you’ll want to know what kind of accessories are compatible. The accessories that each have will depend on the brand, but usually bags, cane hooks, and oxygen bag holders are compatible with all. On the other hand, certain accessories like cup holders, some canopies, and phone holders may not be compatible with all as they may not have a place to connect to. If you want to know which accessories are compatible with which scooters, please contact us.

Final Words

Here at Scooter Country, we find that mobility scooters are much more popular and requested by our clients. Power wheelchairs often have a stereotype surrounding them, as a lot of people perceive them negatively. While power wheelchairs and mobility scooters have their differences, they can both be great options. When you are in the market for a mobility aid, list out features that you need, and features that you want. Then, try to find a mobility aid that meets your requirements.

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