Components of an Electric Wheelchair Explained

By Published On: 11 November 2021

Even if you are a new wheelchair user, understanding the different areas of your electric powerchair – from the joystick to padding and under carriage batteries – can help make sure you know what to look out for.

Identifying the primary components and parts of an electric wheelchair is the first step in understanding your device better. It’s helpful to see beyond the jargon and understand the functions of the key parts that helps your wheelchair operate as efficiently as it does. Once you understand the anatomy of an electric wheelchair, you can operate it more confidently.

Electric Wheelchair Components

If you can identify and understand the functions of different electric wheelchair components, then you can address any future challenges, such as anxiety over battery range or speed averages.

Below are the key components every electric wheelchair user should know.

1.   Frame (Portability)

When it comes to electric wheelchair frames, the technology, design and build quality can vastly affect the driving experience for a user. The design of your frame will mostly determine how easily you can fold away and store your powerchair if you plan on using other modes of transport regularly.

A lightweight, foldable wheelchair will enable the user to enjoy greater freedoms when transporting their chair, but without compromising on the performance and design quality.

From the LITH-TECH lightweight folding electric wheelchair range, all models are compact, agile and are as light as 17kg (excluding the lithium batteries). Unburdened by the challenges of heavier frames, these compactible frames prioritise robustness and functionality no matter where they’re operated.

2.   Frame (Materials)

The frame of an electric wheelchair will not only impact how easily the user can stow and transport their device, but the frames materials can affect how well a chair lasts and performs. The powerchair market is forever in motion, where the likes of carbon-fibre (for lighter weight frames) or aerospace aluminium alloy are leading material technologies used by innovators like LITH-TECH. Materials chosen in the final frame construction will determine key properties, like the resting weight of a device, or its strength.

Choosing an electric wheelchair made from an advanced material will mean that your chair benefits from enhanced durability and it has a weight difference that can improve how well you or your carer can lift, store, and stow your wheelchair.

3.   Seat

The size and shape of seat featured in an electric wheelchair can be the difference from a device that operates comfortably, or one that hurts the user, such as a wheelchair lacking postural support.

Seat padding, or additional padding available around the seat, can allow the user a level of customisation that means comfort can still be a priority. A seat is critical if a user has a disability and requires additional postural help from their mobility device.

The LITH-TECH Smart Recliner, for example, is an ergonomically designed electric wheelchair that offers a user extra comfort and support. Addressing a range of postural issues, this ergonomic wheelchair can be fitted with additional accessories like leg extensions or headrests.  

4.   Backrests

There are a variety of backrests, depending on the user’s requirements and preferences. These include:

  • Folding backrests
  • Non-folding backrests
  • Semi-reclining backrests
  • Fully reclining backrests

A backrest has a very technical function, offering the user postural asymmetry and lateral support. As with many aspects of an electric wheelchair’s design, the backrest can influence how comfortably a device is operated.

If you require additional medical support or relief from your electric wheelchair, consider how adjusting backrests and additional padding can help.

LITH-TECH recommends:

If you’re on the market for customisations that can make operating an electric wheelchair, feel even more comfortable, consider the LITH-TECH headrest. Offering cushioned support, a headrest can help users maximise and control the comfort of their wheelchair, especially if they choose a recliner model.

wheelchair headrest

5.   Wheels (and tyres)

The size and material of your wheels will influence how well your wheelchair performs in different environments and on challenging terrains. Smaller wheels, for example, can manoeuvre in tight spaces, but will struggle to navigate unusual or tough terrains. Larger wheels are usually more durable and reliable on uneven surfaces.

Depending on the wheels, your electric wheelchair will be more equipped at negotiating kerbs and outdoor terrains (such as grass). Wheels can affect the manoeuvrability of an electric wheelchair, including how well one will operate across difficult terrains.

Ideally, an electric wheelchair should offer the user a balanced experience. This means wheels and tyres that have strong grip, better materials, and enough size to negotiate tougher terrains will offer the user a superior performance. The LITH-TECH Smart Chair XL, for example, has larger, solid rubber 12.5” tyres capable of absorbing bumps and other elevations within more challenging environments. 

6.   Controls (joystick)

Joysticks are, by default, included in the design of an electric wheelchair. Joysticks are used to control an electric wheelchair and can be mounted in different locations depending on the users’ preferences and if a carer needs some control.

Carers can assist in controlling an electric wheelchair when they install another joystick from the back of the chair.


7.   Batteries

Batteries are critical in powering your electric wheelchair and keeping it mobile. The battery is the main power source, ensuring that an electric wheelchair remains operational.

Oftentimes a wheelchair user will travel with a spare battery as a back-up. As every battery will have a different range, you should be familiar with the distances you can achieve on a single charge. For longer journeys, for example, consider travelling with extra batteries to keep you mobile.

wheelchair battery

LITH-TECH recommends:

The kinds of batteries that power your wheelchair will need to be compliant if you plan on travelling by plane. It is possible to travel internationally with your wheelchair, but you need to ensure that your wheelchair is compliant, and this is largely determined by the type of battery.

LITH-TECH batteries are all plane safe, meaning they can be onboarded safely on a plane with the user to prevent damage.

Making your electric wheelchair comfortable and convenient can be as easy as learning about helpful accessories. You can enhance your journeys when you know what to look out for, and what the different parts of your wheelchair do. Find out more about the different wheelchair accessories or smart electric wheelchairs on offer from LITH-TECH.  

Share this article
  1. Mr nk payne 18 November 2021 at 16:23

    Really appreciate your help finding the right chair for and great to meet you in person cannot fault customer service thank you so much…..

    • toby st george 7 February 2022 at 16:33

      Pleasure doing business with you, and we hope you’re getting on well with your chair.

  2. […] SMART Chair range, for example, features not only some of the most impressive, market leading components, but also boasts additional functionalities like multi-terrain […]

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