Power Wheelchair or Scooter? Which is Best for You?

Both of these devices have specific features that make one better for an individual over the other. It is also important to note that your physician will be looking for key items when determining which mobility aid is best for you.

Below Aeroflow Healthcare breaks down the differences between a power wheelchair and scooter.


Power Wheelchair or Scooter? Which is Best for You?

For starters, the scooter is controlled with a tiller system.  As demonstrated above, the scooter’s tiller system is similar to bicycle handle bars and can be difficult to maneuver for individuals who lack upper body and grip strength.

Power Wheelchair or Scooter? Which is Best for You?

On the other hand, the power wheelchair, also pictured above, is operated with a joystick. This allows users with poor upper body strength to operate a less demanding control system and allows for quicker turning. The joystick steering system also allows users to approach counter tops and other surfaces easier since the front of the chair is not obstructed by handle bars.

The various steering options that work best for your specific needs will be one item that your physician will be looking at when writing your prescription for a mobility device.

Check out the details for the chair shown above on Aeroflow Healthcare’s website.


Another big difference is the seating. As you can see, the power chair has high back with van-style seating that provides excellent back support and overall comfort, while the scooter features stadium style seats that provides less back support and comfort, but is lighter for transportation. Ultimately, if you need back support and comfortable seating, the power chair will be your best option.


This one is a draw between both types of mobility aids. Both the wheelchair and the scooter max out at approximately 4 MPH, for chairs covered by insurance. You do have the option of a faster power wheelchair, however it would not be available through insurance.

Battery Life

This category is dominated by the power chair. With the industry standard getting approximately 15 miles per full charge, the power chair trumps the scooter’s industry standard of 6 miles. So, if you’re looking for something you don’t have to charge as frequently, the power wheelchair is for you.


Previously this category was predominately dominated by the scooter however, the power chair is closing the gap with their numerous new portable options. The scooter still has the edge because it is foldable and lighter, but newer portable power chairs can actually be broken down into four pieces and transported in most vehicles. Check out one of Aeroflow’s most popular portable chair options here.

 Stability & Turing Radius

Both chairs can make impressive turns but the power chair has the advantage in most models since it’s typically operated with front wheel drive or mid wheel drive in line motors. This provides close to zero turn capability and allows for optimal indoor performance. The power chair is also more stable. The scooter typically comes on a three wheel base which makes tight or quick turns risky. The standard power chair has 6 wheels touch the ground, 2 main drive wheels, 2 front stabilizers and 2 back stabilizers. This means if you go up or down a steep incline, or take a tight turn, you’re more likely to not flip.


Both pieces of equipment are quality products. However, if you’re looking for something with easier steering, better back support, more stability, better turning radius and longer battery life, a power wheelchair might work best to fit your need. If you’re most concerned with portability, the scooter is for you.

While being educated on the differences between a power wheelchair and scooter definitely help in choosing your mobility device, your physician will ultimately determine which mobility aid is best for you. When meeting with your doctor to discuss your mobility issues, be certain to give them all details, big or small.

Once you and your healthcare provider have determined the type of mobility device that will work best for you, it is time to qualify for your aid. Aeroflow Healthcare can help you find out if you qualify for your power wheelchair or scooter at little-to-no cost to you through insurance. Simply complete our Qualify Through Insurance form and let our Patient Care Representatives do the rest. Our representatives will verify your insurance and contact you within 3-5 days to discuss your coverage and mobility aid options.

Let Aeroflow Healthcare help you take control of your mobility today!