March 25, 2016

Electric Wheelchairs vs. Mobility Scooters: What’s the Difference?

power wheelchair vs Mobility Scooters

Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are both great options for those who need assistance getting around but would like to maintain their freedom and independence. Although electric wheelchairs and power scooters serve similar purposes, the two products are quite different from one another.

The electric wheelchair looks and functions like a standard wheelchair, except that it is run by battery and electric motor rather than elbow grease. It provides both freedom and support for those who need assistance with mobility indoors and outdoors. A mobility scooter, on the other hand, looks and functions more like a scooter and is best for those whose primary needs are outside the home, such as getting around the mall or the grocery store.

But there are other differences, too. Below, we’ve compared both the electric wheelchair and the mobility scooter in four different areas: support, ease of transport, speed, and comfort. Read on to see these differences so you can determine which is best for you.


An electric wheelchair is controlled by the use of a joystick on the armrest, so it requires only a single hand to steer. It is also has a higher back and a lower profile than a mobility scooter, so it provides more stability and balance.

A mobility scooter works best for those with minimal support needs. It’s a safe choice for those who can walk a few steps, steer with both hands, and hold themselves upright. 

Ease of transport

An electric wheelchair is lighter and less bulky than a mobility scooter. Because they’re designed for both indoor and outdoor use, they can go wherever you do. Most electric wheelchairs can be folded and easily put in a closet or the trunk of a car.

Mobility scooters do not fold and do not store well inside small homes, though some are created to disassemble easily. They’re designed for outdoor use and can be both bulky and heavy. They require a large van or a special attachment on the outside of a car to transport them from place to place without disassembling.

Speed and dexterity

Electric wheelchairs are capable of traveling an average of 5 miles per hour, though some can go faster. Electric wheelchairs are able to maneuver in tight spaces and turn corners without disrupting stability.   

Mobility scooters can sometimes travel at greater speeds than electric wheelchairs, but it’s not safe to go much faster than 4 miles per hour on sidewalks or in grocery store aisles. Additionally, it’s important to note that mobility scooters risk stability issues when turning corners at higher speeds.


Both electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters are built for the rider’s maximum comfort, but that means something different to each person.  If you’re most comfortable with a roomy seat that also provides balance support, then you might prefer an electric wheelchair. On the other hand, if you do not need the additional support, and you prefer to ride a little higher, then you might be more comfortable on a power scooter.

Whichever you choose…we can help

At PA Healthcare in San Diego, we have electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters available for rent.  If you’re still not sure, our at-home medical supply experts can help determine which option is best for you. We offer weekly or monthly electric wheelchair or power scooter rental, and we’ll deliver to anywhere in San Diego or Imperial Counties.

Give us a call. We’d love to help provide you with the support you need while still maintaining your freedom and independence.

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