Electric Scooters Seniors Will Love!
For a lot of seniors with limited mobility, an electric mobility scooter is a brilliant way to feel free and independent, and it is quickly becoming the preferred alternative to a wheelchair. People give preference to an automated scooter because they are easier to handle, and look and feel better.
Mobility scooters come in many different models by different brands. Therefore, it is essential that you know how to buy the best scooter and which features will suit your personal needs. We are going to make the selection process easier for you with a 10-point checklist, as well as tips on evaluating mobility scooters.
1) Scooter Structure
A mobility scooter is assembled using a wheeled platform containing the batteries and drive components, hand rests and the controls at the front and a seat at the back. The drive unit or platform is generally made from fiberglass, steel or aluminum and a cover may be set over the dashboard.
Different models are constructed for different uses. The maneuverability is directly determined by the size, turning radius and ground clearance so be sure to consider these when purchasing a mobility scooter.
If the mobility scooter is going to be used indoors, a 3-wheel model may be more suitable, due to its significantly smaller turning radius. For outdoors, a 4-wheel rear-wheel-drive unit would be preferred for rough terrains and uneven pathways, as they provide better stability as compared to a front-wheel model.
2) Where will it be used
Elaborating on what we just talked about, determine where you will be most using your scooter.
Front-Wheel Models: These are less powerful compared to rear wheel models but are more compact and easy to maneuver. Front Wheel models are specifically manufactured for indoor use and are primarily for smooth surfaces such as pavements. They will be difficult to steer on curbs or bumps. Due to their smaller size, Front Wheelers are easy to transport and fit better into wheelchair lifts. Being lightweight, these models can travel within a 10-mile range.
Rear-Wheel Models: Rear Wheelers have more powerful motors and remain stable in bumpy areas such as rough terrains. Their larger size makes them difficult to steer but are more suitable for the outdoors. The plus point is that they have higher speeds but, on the flip side, these scooters are less easily transported. Such heavyweight scooters can travel up to 30 miles.
3) Safety Features
Safety is undoubtedly the most important factor you should assess when purchasing a mobility scooter. The contraption should be able to make sharp turns without fear of toppling over. A helpful tip for evaluating the safety of mobility scooters is to look for wheels with anti-tip mechanisms on it which will give better stability during inclines and maneuvers.
Since the scooter is going to be used so frequently, you want a unit which is comfortable. The construction and base unit dimensions should be considered carefully to make sure the requirements of the rider are met.
The controls should be user-friendly and within reach, and the feet should be placed in a comfortable position, especially for riders who are either very tall or short. The best mobility scooter is the one with adjustable arms rests and seats, as well as extendable footrests. Keep in mind, there are also some great options for portable scooters for travel.
The rider’s weight is another thing to keep in mind. Lightweight scooters will support approximately 250 lbs. and heavy scooters will support around 400 lbs. Be sure to read the specifications to ensure it supports your weight.
Front Wheel Models don’t have an electronic braking system. But they do have a parking brake which has to be applied manually to the rear wheel. In contrast, an electronic braking system is present in Rear Wheel models and it is in action when the controls are not in use.
Therefore, this means that the brakes will constantly be engaged when the scooter is not in motion – forwards or backwards. A brake release lever enables the scooter to move manually. Some scooters have independent disc brakes or a combination with electronic brakes.
Powered by one or two batteries, the power unit is either 12 or 24 volts. Front wheel drive systems are generally 12 volts whereas the Rear Wheel drive systems are 24 volts. Mobility scooters batteries are either gel cell types or lead acid types. Although the batteries are included in the scooter when purchased, they can be bought as extras.
Depending on the manufacturer, extra units may be available to give better range, but the speed of the scooter will remain the same. As the batteries are going to be charged and discharged regularly, their average lifespan is around 12-18 months. I highly recommend that you purchase extra batteries from the start.
Make sure that the right type of battery is purchased as batteries are specific according to the drive unit system. Advantages and disadvantages exist for both integral and independent chargers – if an integrated charger goes wrong, the entire scooter will have to get repaired. An independent charger is easily replaceable but bulkier to carry.
7) Wheels and Tires
As mentioned before, the steering and maneuverability of the scooter is mostly attributed to the wheel size. Small wheels give smoother maneuverability but decreases traction and the wheels on a Rear Wheel Drive are larger for better grip on uneven surfaces.
Three types; Pneumatic, Foam filled, and Solid Tires are available. Pneumatic Tires are comfortable but get easily worn out. Foam filled tires require almost no maintenance and cannot be deflated; however, comfort will be compromised. Solid tires are only used indoors and are both maintenance-free and comfortable.
Another thing to consider is the number of tires on the scooter. 3 tires are better for maneuverability in tight spots, whereas 4 tires are better for durability outside.
Arm and headrests and seat padding play major roles in comfort, especially considering that the scooter will be used often and ridden for a long time. So the seating must be chosen diligently. Fabric covering is expensive but very comfortable. Getting on and off the scooter is easy with powered seats but will cost extra. Adjustable seating also helps when the rider is very tall or short.
The rider will be transporting the scooter around using the controls which is why they should be easy to use and properly functional. Thumb levers, loop handles and joysticks are all used as controllers. A joystick is most convenient for those who have very limited mobility.
According to the needs of the consumer, you might want to check for add-ons on the scooter. Some individuals might require accessories like oxygen transporters, baskets or crutch holders. Extra features like lights and horns are also optional. My mother had a rack built onto the back of her scooter to transport her walker in case she wants to use it.
This concludes our 10-point checklist for purchasing the best electric mobility scooter. Keeping these factors in mind will help narrow down your choices and help you to select an automated scooter with features which will best fulfill the needs of the rider. Be sure to check out our Amazon Mobility Store to see what scooter may be right for you.
Related Article: Product Review: Companion 4-Wheel Scooter by Golden Technologies