Summary & Highlights
The term “lightweight” when discussing power wheelchairs is relative. A standard power wheelchair weighs 250 pounds or more. The lightest portable power chair is the Featherweight which weighs 33 pounds.
When comparing portable power chairs, some manufacturers state the weight without batteries while others include them. The critical thing to understand is: how much the piece weighs that you have to lift into the car. I call this the “Loading Weight.”
The other primary consideration for a portable power wheelchair is the maximum range which is how far the chair will travel between charges. The lightweight folding power wheelchairs I am reviewing here have ranges between 12 miles and 26 miles.
Power wheelchairs are invaluable mobility aids for the elderly and individuals with disabilities that enhance their quality of life.
When I worked as a custom wheelchair specialist at a local medical equipment company, I had the privilege of connecting bedridden patients with mobility assistance. It was genuinely rewarding seeing them venture from room to room on their own!
But, the problem with power chairs is they are typically bulky and heavy and are designed to be used only in the home. Most people aren’t able to transport them because of this. So they don’t get the benefit of using them in the community.
Here’s the answer to that problem, though! Lightweight, portable wheelchairs that fold up for travel! These products offer portability and ease of use, making access to the outside world more manageable.
How Much Folding Power Wheelchairs Weigh [Comparison Table]
Here are the total weights, and the loading weights, of our recommended models:
|Product||Loading Weight||Total Weight||Weight Capacity||Max Range||Top Speed|
|33 lb||33 lb||300 lb||13 mi||4 mph|
|95 lb||95 lb||220 lb||12 mi||4 mph|
|41 lb||53 lb||265 lb||26 mi||4 mph
|90 lb||146 lb||300 lb||15 mi||5 mph|
|53 lb||59 lb||250 lb||12 mi||3.7 mph|
Lightweight Folding Power Wheelchair Reviews
Researching portable power wheelchairs before purchasing them is essential for those seeking a safe, comfortable, and reliable mobility solution.
With so many models and features available, it isn’t easy to know where to start. Fortunately, mobility experts like myself can help you make an informed decision.
Below, I have provided my professional reviews of some of the best lightweight folding power wheelchairs on the market so that you can make the best choice for yourself or a loved one.
The Featherweight is the lightest power wheelchair available today, with a loading weight of only 33 pounds.
The 800Wheelchair Featherweight 33lb Folding Wheelchair is an excellent choice for seniors or those with mobility impairments.
This lightweight wheelchair weighs just 33 pounds, including the lithium-ion battery!
Plus, it folds quickly, making it the perfect travel companion for those who need to transport their wheelchair. It folds small enough to fit into about any small space – even the trunks of most compact cars.
It has a weight capacity of 300 lbs which exceeds most of its competition, meaning more people can use it. Other essential features include electromagnetic brakes, a comfortable, breathable seat, armrests, and footrests.
The large rear wheels and multiple speed settings make it easy to navigate rough terrain. The oversized 8-inch front casters provide excellent maneuverability even in tight spaces.
Additionally, the powerful motors offer speeds up to 4 mph to tackle steep inclines and long distances without any problem.
These features make it an ideal choice for seniors and those with mobility issues who need a portable electric wheelchair.
How to Fold the Featherweight
The Featherweight is designed to fold and load into a vehicle easily. And it takes just three simple steps:
- Remove the leg rests,
- Fold down the backrests using the simple levers,
- Lift the handle in the middle of the seat to fold the chair.
Once the chair is folded, you can quickly load it into a vehicle or van trunk. The lightweight design makes it easy to lift and carry when necessary.
With a convenient design and easy foldability, this power wheelchair is an excellent choice for those who need to transport their wheelchair regularly.
- Lightweight design, making it easy to lift and carry when necessary
- Weight capacity of 300 lbs
- Comfortable seat and adjustable armrests and footrests
- Large rear wheels and front casters
- Airline approved
- The one-size seat may not fit larger people well
- The joystick is a bit sensitive, so turn down the speed controls while learning to operate it
The Featherweight is my top lightweight foldable chair pick because it has great features and the lowest loading weight. It is also the best portable power wheelchair for older adults who load their chairs themselves or have a caregiver who needs a lightweight chair for easy loading.
The Air Hawk offers an extended range (26 miles) compared to the chairs I am recommending and has a loading weight of 41 pounds.
The Air Hawk Portable Electric Wheelchair has a robust and lightweight aluminum frame that weighs just 41 pounds, making it one of the lightest electric wheelchairs available.
The total weight of the chair with the batteries is 53 lbs. These batteries provide an exceptional range of 26 miles on a single battery charge.
This is double the driving distance of most portable chairs. So, it’s an excellent choice for people who use their power chair heavily throughout the day or need a travel wheelchair for longer distances.
It supports up to 265 pounds which are adequate for most users.
It is designed for seniors requiring frequent and heavy use. It provides comfort options such as adjustable armrests, footrests, and a reclining seat to provide optimal comfort and support.
How to Fold the Air Hawk
The Air Hawk Portable Electric Wheelchair is designed with portability and convenience in mind.
While the process isn’t particularly arduous, it is more cumbersome than some of the others I have reviewed because it requires removing more parts. Here are the steps necessary.
- Disconnect and remove the joystick
- Disconnect and remove the chair batteries
- Engage the wheel locks
- Flip up the seat cushion and pull the release lever under the rear of the seat
- Fold the chair by grabbing and pulling up the footrest
- It weighs just 41 pounds, making it one of the lightest electric wheelchairs available.
- Lots of comfort options – adjustable armrests, adjustable footrests, and a reclining seat to provide optimal comfort and support
- Incredible battery life lasts up to 26 miles
- Comes in your choice of several fun colors
- The folding process is a bit more cumbersome and requires more steps
If you need a portable power wheelchair that (literally) goes the distance – the Air Hawk is the one. A 26-mile range in a 41-pound chair is pretty incredible. Just make sure you can handle the folding process.
WHILL Model F Folding Power Wheelchair
The Whill Model F is a lightweight folding power chair with Bluetooth app access and a loading weight of 53 pounds.
The WHILL Model F Folding Power Wheelchair has a total weight of only 59 lbs, with the battery included, and 53 pounds without.
It has a maximum speed of 3.7 mph and a range of up to 12 miles per charge, allowing users to go wherever they want.
It also features a lot of adjustments to provide a more comfortable fit: adjustable armrests, back angle, arm height, and arm width, as well as an adjustable joystick.
The upholstery is also adjustable and designed for comfort and support. The chair is designed with safety in mind, featuring a secure locking mechanism and anti-tip wheels.
In many ways, the Whill F Model has many of the same features as the other chairs. Still, there is one option that makes this power wheelchair stand out from the others: an app with Bluetooth connectivity.
The Whill app works as a remote control allowing users to lock and unlock this “Smart Chair” for security and control the chair’s speed settings.
Caregivers can also drive the chair from the app if the patient or handicapped user needs assistance navigating obstacles.
Folding the Whill F
The WHILL Model F is easy to fold and load in a vehicle. It folds in half in less than 3 seconds and can be stored in the trunk or the back of an SUV with minimal effort. The chair also has an integrated handle for easy transport.
- Press down on the release on the back of the chair with your foot.
- Pull back on the armrests.
- Collapse the chair by pulling up on the back of the seat.
- Quick and simple folding mechanism
- Adjustable armrest height and width, back angle, and controller height
- Five color trim package choices
- Can be driven by caregivers remotely via an app
- Lots of accessories are available, like cane holders and storage bags
- Speed is a bit slower than some others, and one of the shortest ranges
The Whill portable power wheelchair is an excellent choice for an average person who needs a lightweight mobile mobility chair. The integration of app control is a nice feature for caregivers too.
Vive Health Folding Power Wheelchair
The Vive Health Folding Power Wheelchair is the least expensive folding portable power chair I recommend. Still, it does have a loading weight of 95 pounds.
The Vive Health Folding Power Wheelchair is a lightweight and highly maneuverable electric wheelchair designed to make life easier for seniors.
It has a powerful motor and sizeable rear wheels that allow for a smooth and comfortable ride over rough terrain. The long battery life gives you a range of 12 miles between charging.
The wheelchair weighs 95 lb, including the batteries, heavier than many of the others I have reviewed here. The batteries are 30 pounds, but they aren’t designed to be removed every time the chair is folded.
The maximum weight capacity is 220 pounds which isn’t a lot. Because the chair is heavier and has a smaller weight capacity, this wheelchair use is limited to smaller people with loading assistance.
Vive is also known for its excellent customer service.
How to Fold the Vive Folding Power Wheelchair
The Vive Health Folding Power Wheelchair is an excellent choice for smaller seniors due to its easy-fold design, powerful motors, and large rear wheel. But, they may need caregiver assistance to fold, load, and unload it. Here’s the process:
- Flip the footplates up, swing them out, and remove them from the chair.
- Flip down the back of the wheelchair using the levers on the back canes.
- Pull the seat upholstery up in the middle to fold the chair.
- Lowest cost option on my list
- Useful range of 12 miles between charges
- Powerful 4 mph motor and larger wheels provide a smooth ride over rough terrain
- The easy folding frame allows for easy transportation and storage
- Safety lock prevents rolling on inclines
- Low weight capacity of 220 lbs
- It weighs more than most other options
While this is the most affordable option on my list, it is also one of the heavier options. You may need caregiver assistance to transport it.
Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Folding Power Wheelchair
The Drive Medical Cirrus Folding Power Wheelchair is a good choice for users with more advanced seating needs, but it does have a loading weight of 90 pounds.
The Drive Medical Cirrus Plus Folding Power Wheelchair weighs 90 lbs, not including the batteries (56 pounds).
It is one of the heaviest on this list, but there is a reason for that. It is “beefier” than the others with a sturdier frame, dual batteries, a wider seat, and high weight capacity of 300 pounds.
This folding wheelchair will also go up to 5 mph with a range of 15 miles.
So, if it is so heavy, why am I recommending it? Because it is still an excellent choice for larger seniors who need a heavy-duty electric wheelchair with a wider seat, higher weight capacity, and a stronger motor.
Adding aftermarket position accessories like specialty backs, cushions, and lateral supports is also easier for users who need those. Finally, it has the necessary codes for Medicare and other insurers who may consider paying for it if medically necessary.
For comfort and adjustability, this chair features a flip-back armrest and adjustable footrest.
Folding the Cirrus
The Drive Medical Cirrus Plus folds in half and can be easily stored in a trunk or the back of an SUV. But, it is larger and heavier than the others, so most seniors and older adults will need assistance loading it. Here’s the process:
- Swing the footrests back against the frame or remove them
- Remove the batteries from the tray (28 pounds each!)
- Pull the seat upholstery up from the middle to fold
- A fast maximum speed of 5 miles per hour
- Range of up to 15 miles per charge
- Adjustable, flip-back armrest, upholstery, and footrest
- Accepts aftermarket back supports and positioning components
- High weight capacity of 300 pounds
- While still portable, it is heavy
- It looks clunky and lacks the style of some of the other options
The Drive Medical Cirrus portable power wheelchair is an excellent option for users who need positioning assistance to sit upright or want to try to get their insurance company to pay for the chair. It will require loading assistance from caregivers most likely.
Features to Consider When Shopping for a Folding Electric Wheelchair
Shopping for and buying a power wheelchair is not something you do every day. So, here is the advice I gave my clients on finding the best features when I worked as a custom power wheelchair specialist:
Total Wheelchair Weight vs. Loading Weight
Because some wheelchair manufacturers aren’t always clear about what is included in their stated weights, read the description carefully.
The most important thing to know about the weight is how much the piece that you will be lifting and loading into the car weighs after removing accessories, batteries, etc.
Weight capacity is the maximum weight the chair can safely hold, which is an essential consideration for the user.
If the user is too heavy for the chair, it could cause safety issues, so make sure the chair’s weight capacity is at least 10-15% greater than the user’s weight.
Folding Ability and Portability
Many folding electric wheelchairs are designed to fold for easy storage and transportation. Still, some are more difficult to fold than others. Look for a chair that folds easily and quickly so the user can get on the road without any hassles.
Make sure you or a caretaker can assemble and reassemble the chair as needed. And, also, make sure you understand these instructions and can repeat them easily.
Maximum Drive Range Per Charge
The range is the maximum distance the wheelchair can travel on a single charge. The rechargeable battery range must be long enough to cover the user’s daily needs.
Running out of battery power is inconvenient and can be dangerous. Look for a model with a battery range greater than 10 miles.
The speed of the chair is essential for both safety and convenience. Look for a model with adjustable speeds so the user can set it to their comfort level.
Also, ensure the top speed is appropriate for the user’s needs. A higher rate is recommended if the chair is used in an urban environment with multiple street crossings.
Many electric wheelchairs have adjustable features like armrests, leg rests, and upholstery tension. So, choose a model with adjustable components to help the user get a comfortable and secure fit.
Available Seat Sizes
Look up the width and depth of the seating surface and compare that to the user of the wheelchair. Have the person using the electric wheelchair sit in a firm chair like a dining chair and measure them.
Measure across their hips (the seat width) and from the back of their rear end to the back of their knee (the seat depth). Make sure the user’s measurements do not exceed the seat width..
Overall Chair Width
Measure the doorways that the chair needs to go through and ensure the power wheelchair will fit. I suggest a chair width of at least 2″ narrower than the smallest doorway to allow room for navigating and turning.
Make sure the folding motorized chair you choose has proper foot support. I recommend swing away leg rests with footrests that also fold up. That way, the user can move the leg and footrests out of the way to get in and out of it more easily.
It is also good if the length of the leg rests is adjustable so that they fit the wheelchair rider. A flip-up footboard is acceptable too.
Ensure the joystick mounts to either the chair’s right or left side. It is also beneficial if it adjusts in and out to match the arm length of the user.
- Seatbelts are essential for user safety by reducing the chance of falling out.
- Adjustable upholstery allows the tightness of the back or seat upholstery to be adjusted for the user’s comfort.
- Cushions improve comfort, especially for those seated in a chair for long periods.
- Seat baskets allow you to carry essentials with you.
Why Would You Want a Folding Power Wheelchair?
A folding electric wheelchair provides seniors and handicap individuals with the freedom to move around independently, with the convenience of a lightweight, portable design.
It allows the user to transport the wheelchair easily and store it when not in use. They can take it with them in the community for shopping, eating out, attending church, or even going on vacations, airplanes, or cruise ships with the family.
The ugly secret behind having insurance pay for your power wheelchair is that they aren’t likely to consider your limited mobility needs in the community. They are only concerned about your use of the chair in the home to care for yourself.
I absolutely hated explaining this to my clients when I provided motorized wheelchairs as an ATP. It’s hard to tell people that leaving home is not a priority for third-party payors like Medicare and private insurance companies.
Most power chairs insurance will pay for are heavy and only travel well with specialty vans or powered vehicle lifts.
A lightweight fold-up electric wheelchair is a lighter chair that folds to a compact size, making them ideal for local travel in a car because they fit easily in the trunk. Even air travel becomes possible and more accessible with a wheelchair that folds.
Tips for Choosing the Best Folding Electric Wheelchair For Your Needs
Because you are likely paying for your portable power chair with your own money, here are some tips for getting the right product for your particular needs:
1. What’s Your Budget?
Take into account what you can afford to spend. There are many different models available, and you want to get the best quality for the price you can afford. Some companies offer payment plans to help you get your desired product if you are on a tight budget.
2. What Are Your Mobility Needs?
How often will you use the wheelchair? If you use it frequently, you may want a more durable, heavier model with a longer battery life and range. However, occasional users may not need the best battery life and most extended range.
3. Where Will You Use It?
Different types of electric wheelchairs are designed to handle different kinds of terrain. For example, some models are designed for indoor use, while others are designed for outdoor use.
If you use the chair outdoors on unpaved surfaces, get a power wheelchair with larger wheels for a smoother ride. Smaller chairs with a small turning radius do better in tight places.
4. What Size Do You Need?
Make sure the wheelchair you get will fit. Most portable power chairs only have one size option.
Measure your hip width when seated and compare that to the seat width. You shouldn’t be cramped in the chair, which can be uncomfortable and cause pressure-related problems.
5. How Safe Is It?
Choose safety features such as safety belts, wheel locks, and brakes.
6. What Accessories Do You Need?
How will you use the chair? For example, if you use the chair frequently, you may need a cup holder and a storage basket or bag.
An umbrella or sunshade is nice if you are outdoors in the sun. If you need a cane or walker, look for a cane or walker holder to carry those with you. If you use supplemental oxygen, you’ll need an oxygen tank holder.
7. What Do Actual Users Say?
It is always a good idea to read customer reviews before purchasing a folding electric wheelchair.
User reviews tell you how happy users are with their purchases and can help you decide if a particular model suits you. Also, look for comments about great customer service.
Safety Tips: Maximizing the Benefits of Lightweight Folding Power Chairs
While folding power chairs are simple to operate, there are a few things to keep in mind so that you stay safe while using them.
1. When loading the wheelchair into the car, secure it properly with a tie-down system if possible. An unsecured chair could injure vehicle occupants in the event of an accident.
2. Check that the batteries are correctly charged and the brakes are in good working order before each use.
3. When using the joystick controls to move the chair, keep your hands and feet clear of any moving parts.
4. If you need to go up or down an incline, use the joystick to slow down the chair to prevent it from tipping or slipping.
5. When you arrive at your destination, park the chair in safe parking areas and use the brakes to secure it.
6. Always check for obstacles that can cause the chair to tip or slip.
7. When folding the wheelchair, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it is done correctly.
8. Store it in a secure, dry place and not exposed to extreme temperatures.
Maintenance Tips: Keep Your Lightweight Power Wheelchair in Tip-Top Shape
1. Check the Battery: Inspect the battery for any signs of corrosion, cracks, or loose terminals. Check the charge level and make sure it’s fully charged before use.
2. Clean the Wheels: Wipe down the wheels with a damp cloth to remove dirt and debris. Check for loose or damaged spokes, and make sure the tires are inflated to the correct pressure.
3. Grease the Brakes: Lubricate the brakes regularly for smooth operation.
4. Inspect the Suspension: Inspect the suspension system for any signs of wear or damage. Tighten any loose bolts, and make sure all parts are secure.
5. Check the Controls: Ensure the joystick, buttons, and other control features are working correctly.
6. Clean the Upholstery: Wipe down the upholstery with a damp cloth to remove dirt and stains.
7. Check the Frame: Inspect the frame for signs of rust or corrosion. Tighten any loose bolts and check for any signs of damage.
Terrain Options: Using a Portable Power Chair Outdoors
Paved Roads: Most lightweight folding power wheelchairs can be used on paved roads, such as roads, sidewalks, and bike paths. When using a power wheelchair on a paved road, drive slowly and be aware of your surroundings.
Grassy Fields: Before driving your power wheelchair on grassy yards or terrain, ensure the ground is even and free of debris. Larger wheels are recommended for a smoother ride.
Gravel: Only some chairs will do well in gravel – especially loose gravel. When using a power wheelchair on gravel, driving slowly and being mindful of your speed is essential. Large tires with tread are important here too. Packed gravel is more straightforward to operate powerchairs on than loose gravel.
Wooden Paths: When using a power wheelchair on a wooden path, such as at a park or boardwalk at the beach, drive slowly and watch out for any uneven surfaces and loose or missing boards.
Mud or Sand: Some lightweight folding power wheelchairs are designed to be used on muddy or sandy terrain, but most aren’t. Only use your chair in these conditions if the manufacturer states it is safe.
Who Should Not Use a Folding Power Wheelchair
While these chairs are very convenient, they are not suitable for everyone. People with congenital orthopedic deformities or progressive neurological disorders should not use one.
The problem is these chairs do not offer options for positioning support for people who cannot sit upright on their own. Mounting back support devices like lateral pads, custom contoured backs, etc., is complicated at best and could prevent the chairs from folding up.
Infographic: How to Choose a Lightweight Folding Power Wheelchair
I hope this guide to choosing a portable power wheelchair and my lightweight folding power wheelchair reviews have been helpful. If so, I would appreciate you sharing this post on your favorite social media profiles!
Please let me know any additional questions you have in the comments below!
4 thoughts on “Lightweight Folding Power Wheelchair Reviews: An Expert Comparison of the Top Models”
Are you familiar with the power chair known as The Zinger?
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I haven’t seen that one. There is another manufacturer that makes one with a similar driving mechanism. At first viewing, love how portable it is. But, its use may be a little limited. Many of the patients I work with wouldn’t be able to use both hands to drive. However, it may be a good choice for people who are unable to walk but have good upper body control and strength. I have added this to my list of future topics.
Are you familiar with the fold & go wheelchair (foldandgo.com)? I am heavier (320 lbs) and need a larger size wheelchair which this brand provides. My insurance has pre-certified for a folding power travel wheelchair but I’m not sure if it covers this one.
Hi Nettie! – I haven’t personally driven a Fold and Go Power Wheelchair, but I know there was a lot of interest in this product once it hit the market. I did some quick research and could not find a HCPCS code on this item which would tell me it is coded for insurance (especially Medicare). BUT, their website says they will help people get it covered by insurance. Just make sure you understand the process – you may be on the hook for the item until the insurance company pays. Please check back in and let me know what happens.