Types of Wheelchairs and Powerchairs

Selecting a wheelchair or power chair for yourself or a loved one is quite a big decision and can be a daunting one with so many choices to make. Here at Pearce Brothers Mobility, we aim to make it as simple and as easy as possible.

This guide should help to steer you straight to the option that makes the most sense for you or a family member, and the lifestyle you aim to lead.

Mobility Chairs break down into two main categories, Power Chairs and Manual Wheelchairs, and we’re going to take a look at both.


The Basic Transit Wheelchair

The most simple and a highly durable option. This is a great choice, as it’s competitively priced, a chair that is a relatively inexpensive option.

Its tyres often have puncture-free technology, which make it suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.

Coming with many standard features, including a 15-degree hinged folding backrest, detachable armrests, detachable and adjustable footrests, a durable and lightweight steel frame, slim line wheels and successful crash test ratings.

This type of wheelchair is attendant propelled, so it is ideal for nursing homes, hospitals, or any scenario where an attendant will be able to assist with mobility. A simple and great choice if this fits your specific needs.

Lightweight Transit Wheelchairs

These models are all similar in style and function to basic transit wheelchairs, however they are designed for more ‘on-the-go’ use. They are extremely lightweight for the function they provide. With a few different versions to choose from, this option is fantastic if you need a more tailored-use chair.

The first version is a standard lightweight wheelchair. This shares the function of the Basic Transit, while also providing you with travel friendly weight and style.

Next is the basic entry wheelchair in the manual range, which is very similar to the first variety. It differs in the fact that this chair will offer smaller overall dimensions and also come with a braking system at the handles.

These attendant operated brakes can be extremely helpful in travel and overall mobility.

The last variety of this type of wheelchair is an ergonomic transit chair. Ergonomic light wheelchairs are both ultra-light and ultra-comfortable.

They typically fold up nicely and travel well but provide the comfort of an ergonomic office chair.

Passive Manual Wheelchairs

With many different types to choose from, the passive manual wheelchair is a great choice.

These chairs provide a priority on comfort but also the option to manually operate. This provides great freedom and also retains the option for an attendant to be ready with an assist if necessary.

The first kind we’re going to discuss is a fully adjustable comfort seat manual wheelchair. This type places priority on the comfort level and security of the seat, whilst also giving the manual option for optimum freedom and mobility.

Next comes recliner specific model types. This style places priority on the ability to adjust and recline. More of a flat style and more dependent on an active attendant, as there is not a manual option with this kind.

In this category of wheelchairs, the main difference is the level of adjustment. In both paediatric and adult chairs, there is a range of manual use and partial to full-adjustment of the chair.

For instance, if a priority of care is frequent repositioning of the body required by long sitting hours or leg elevation, there are the passive manual chairs that specialise in this field.

You can even decide whether you want to manually adjust the chairs or allow the user to adjust themselves with electrics or remote. Certain chairs in this category can also cross-over into the power chair field and be completely automatic.

These chairs come in a range of wheel styles and leaves it up to you if you want the chair to be front wheel driven. There are so many options, the possibilities are truly up to you and we can completely tailor your choice to your needs.

Power Chairs

Depending on your needs, power chairs provide the next level of user freedom. Sleek, stylish, and compact, power wheelchairs are both versatile and maneuverable indoors or out.

They can be highly maneuverable where space is limited, which opens up a whole realm of possibilities. Power chairs are highly configurable and adjustable, both manually and electrically.

Comfort Padded

This style is completely adjustable and can offer even higher levels of comfort. These are considered high-performance chairs, equipped with many different select options to fit your exact lifestyle and needs.

These types of chairs usually come standard with height adjustments and foot stand adjustments, As well as other standard chair height adjustment specifics. This is a great, versatile, catch-all design for many different needs.


This style is very similar to the comfort padded style; however, it also adds some additional electric adjustments such as extended reclining.

Be sure to check for this capability if this need is within the scope of your necessities. We can of course advise on all aspects of your requirements in this regard.

Driving Formats

When it comes to power chairs, there are different driving formats. One trick to finding the right chair for you is combining the right model with the right seating system that allows you to achieve your personal goals and live as independently as possible.

Drive wheels are the largest wheels on a power chair. These wheels are directly connected to the motors, which means they are the main propeller of the chair.

Similar to a car, this concept changes the result of the driving experience. This aspect is the biggest priority and the most personal decision to be made in a power chair. Fortunately, many of these configurations are fully customisable.

Front Wheel Drive

A front wheel drive power wheelchair means that the drive system is located towards the front of the seat.

Front wheel drive power wheelchairs can easily go over bumps and curbs up to two inches high.

These do not always have the tightest of turning radius, but they can still maneuver very well around sharp corners. This chair is great at providing good stability. If you're looking for speed, this might not be your first option, but it is really great if steadiness is your priority.

Mid Wheel Drive

This style, also known as centre drive, means that the drive system for this wheelchair is located in the centre of the chair, right below the seat.

Chairs with this driving system provide the tightest turning radius and are really great for small spaces like apartments, travel, and anywhere that space might be limited.

While not entirely built for rough terrain, this power chair is easy to maneuver on regular flooring.

Rear Wheel Drive

For rear-wheel-drive chairs, the drive system is located towards the back of the power wheelchair with the castors up in front.

Rear wheel drive allows for greater maneuverability, even when traveling faster! This does come with the consequence of a larger turning radius, but the speed and mobility can easily make up for what it lacks in turn.

This style is also less sensitive to oversteering and is much better with rough or outdoor terrain.

Again, the “best” type of power wheelchair and driving system will depend solely on its user’s personal challenges and goals and we are here to advise based on our many years of equipping people with the best chair for their budget and needs.

Here to Help

At Pearce Brothers Mobility, our goal is always to enhance the independence and quality of life of the wheelchair and power chair user. Whatever the demands of your life may be, we will help you find the perfect style of wheelchair for your specific requirements.

We hope this guide will help point you in a direction, and we would love to help you to make the right wheelchair choice for you.

Please click here to view our range of wheelchairs and click here for our power chairs

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