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Frequently Asked Questions

Iíve seen power equipment advertised on the Internet for less than my local dealer sells it for. Is there any reason I shouldnít buy my scooter or power wheelchair that way?

How can I determine which scooter or power wheelchair is right for me?

How far and how fast can I go?

What type of tires should I use?

What drive types are available?

What about seating options for my scooter or power wheelchair?

How will I transport my scooter or power wheelchair?

What is a stairlift and how does it work?

What, then, is a porchlift?

Iíve seen power equipment advertised on the Internet for less than my local dealer sells it for. Is there any reason I shouldnít buy my scooter or power wheelchair that way?

Many dealers will sell you a scooter or power wheelchair for a discounted price over the Internet, and can do so because the dealer can have the equipment directly drop-shipped to you from the manufacturer without having to handle it at all. This would be a good alternative for the user who knows exactly what he needs, can assemble the equipment himself, and can repair the equipment if anything fails. If this does not describe you, you may want to consider paying a little extra to buy from a dealer with a local reputation for servicing the equipment he sells. Consider the following:

  • The industry is fraught with dealers who only sell; they will not service anything they didn’t sell and many won’t even service what they have sold. The reason for this is that service of scooters and power wheelchairs is time consuming and requires expertise, and is thus not very profitable.
  • A reputable, experienced dealer will be able to ascertain exactly what you need from your conversation, and you will consequently be buying the right equipment for your particular needs.
  • He will typically be asking you for information like your height and weight, where and how often will you use the equipment, and whether or not you will be needing to transport the equipment.
  • The local dealer will be delivering you a finished product, not a crate of components that need to be assembled. He will be able to train you on the use of the equipment and recommend the proper maintenance procedures to ensure a trouble-free ownership.
  • If and when your equipment fails, who will you call? You might not be at home, you may be alone. A local dealer will be there for you; an Internet seller or remote dealer can’t help you even if they want to.

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How can I determine which scooter or power wheelchair is right for me?

In general, the manufacturer you decide on is a question of personal choice. Most manufacturers carry a product line that will accommodate many different user needs. One of the most important considerations in choosing a particular model is the userís weight. The scooter or power wheelchair weight rating should exceed your weight in order to ensure it can safely carry the rider and cargo. A scooter or power wheelchair with a high weight rating is built with a stronger frame and more heavy-duty components and is normally not collapsible. A scooter or power wheelchair with a lower weight rating is normally easier to break down into separate components and thus is more transportable.

Another thing to consider is the application. If you intend to use the scooter or power wheelchair outdoors over rough terrain, you should consider a model that is specifically designed for outdoor use. A scooter or power wheelchair that is designed for outdoor use usually has larger tires and more powerful motors.

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How far and how fast can I go?

The range and speed of a scooter or power wheelchair is determined by the motors and batteries it uses. As a rule of thumb, the larger capacity battery used, the faster and farther the scooter will go. A small, lightweight scooter designed for ease of transport and small trips might use a 7.5 AH battery and go 4.5 MPH, while a heavy duty scooter can use up to a 100 AH battery and go up to 10 MPH. General purpose scooters normally use a 33AH battery and have a top speed of about 6 MPH. A small power wheelchair designed for light duty normally uses 33AH batteries. Larger, more customizable power wheelchairs generally use Group 22 (55AH) or Group 24 (70AH) batteries. Power wheelchairs and scooters have comparable speed and distance capabilities. The distance you can cover depends on the weight of the user and cargo, the type of terrain, and the userís driving habits. This distance usually runs from about 10 miles to 25 miles.

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What type of tires should I use?

Normally, the tires that come available from the manufacturer will fit the application of the scooter. Outdoor scooters or power wheelchairs will have larger tires with more tread; indoor scooters or power wheelchairs will have smaller tires with less tread, and general-purpose scooters or power wheelchairs will have general-purpose tires. An important consideration is whether or not to get flat free tires. A scooter or power wheelchair with pneumatic tires has a softer ride, but may leave you in a vexing (if not dangerous) situation should one go flat. Since solid tires offer a bumpy ride (especially on sidewalks), most scooters or power wheelchairs now come available with foam filled tires which will not go flat and lessen the shock of going over bumps. Some manufacturers are now offering models with shock absorbers to further cushion the ride, especially for clients with spinal injuries. Many scooters and power wheelchairs utilize a small set of hard wheels that generally do not come in contact with the ground. These are called anti-tip wheels and are used to provide safety and stability on steep inclines.

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What drive types are available?

Most scooters utilize a rear wheel drive maintenance-free motor/transaxle assembly. Some older scooters have a chain drive system that provides a lot of torque, but requires more maintenance. A front wheel drive system is usually indicated in smaller indoor scooters that need to be maneuvered in tight spaces. The front wheel drive is not suitable for rough terrain or inclines. Power wheelchairs use two motors to provide power to the drive wheels. A regular duty power wheelchair normally has rear wheel drive, although some have mid wheel drive for a tighter turning radius. Front wheel drive power wheelchairs are also available. Some of the more high-end power wheelchairs have brushless motors that provide more torque and also improve driver control through feedback.

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What about seating options for my scooter or power wheelchair?

Most manufacturers offer a basic seat on their standard models in order to be base-price competitive. A basic seat usually consists of covered foam cushions on a molded plastic shell. This type of seat is suitable for short periods of use, but does offer a comfortable support for the all-day user. If you will be using the scooter or power wheelchair a lot, or have special support needs, it is best to upgrade to a premium seat. Premium seats are generally contoured and have more padding; especially welcome when driving the scooter or power wheelchair over rough terrain. Fabric upholstery is usually more comfortable and visually appealing, however, vinyl is a good choice for easy of cleaning, durability and ease of transferring. Persons with poor lower extremity function can also consider a power lift seat that will make it much easier to mount and dismount the scooter or power wheelchair. Most seats nowadays mount to the scooter or power wheelchair via a seat post/receptacle that allow the seat to be easily removed, and to be swiveled in any direction. Power wheelchairs can also come with a customizable seat mounted on an H-frame. This type of seat is also used in tilt-in-space systems used for patients who cannot reposition themselves in their seat. If your size demands a wider seat, be aware that this may impede your access to facilities with narrow doorways.

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How will I transport my scooter or power wheelchair?

There are a number of options available for transporting your scooter or power wheelchair. First, you may buy a small collapsible scooter that can be taken apart and stowed in any car. Even a small power wheelchair is usually too heavy for the average person to lift into the trunk. Secondly, you can buy a vehicle lift to assist in lifting the scooter or power wheelchair into the trunk. Many different types of vehicle lifts are available on the market, allowing you to lift the scooter or power wheelchair into just about any model of car. We use a portable aluminum ramp for loading scooters and power wheelchairs into a cargo van; it requires some physical ability, but is a low cost alternative to a vehicle lift.

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What is a stairlift and how does it work?

A stairlift is an electro-mechanical device that is designed to transport disabled persons up and down stairs. It has a seat for the person to sit in and does not carry the wheelchair or scooter. Most stairlifts are electrically controlled and use an electric motor to propel a carriage up and down a rail that follows the slope of the stairs. The type of stairlift we recommend and install most is battery operated and does not require electrical modification to your home.

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What, then, is a porchlift?

A porchlift is designed to transport the patient in their mobility device from one altitude to another. Essentially, it is a personal elevator that is normally installed outside and enables the user to negotiate set of outdoor stairs; for example, from a sidewalk to the porch. It can also be installed indoors, but requires modification to the structure of the building. Outdoors, it is normally freestanding, requiring little modification the site aside from possibly pouring a concrete pad to support it.

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