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Before you buy

Person in wheelchair pushing wheels.

Will you be travelling long distances?

If you are, look for wheelchairs with more durable tyres that can withstand punctures. The larger and wider the wheel, the easier it will tackle uneven terrains.

Man putting a wheelchair in back of car.

Will you need to transport it?

If you'll need to lift your wheelchair into the boot of a car, opt for a lightweight model that weighs less than 15kg or one that is easily foldable.

Man in wheelchair pushing himself around.

Are you able to push yourself?

If you can't manage this, it's better to opt for a wheelchair with handles at the back that can be pushed by someone else.

Man in wheelchair on tablet.

How much do you weigh?

Wheelchairs usually have a maximum user weight of 18st. If your weight is more than this, you may need to buy your wheelchair from a specialist supplier.

Types of wheelchair

Self-propelling wheelchair.

Self-propelled wheelchairs

Suitable for anyone who is physically able to push themselves. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor use, they have larger back wheels fitted with pushrims for propulsion. The large back wheels make self-propelled wheelchairs suitable for longer and regular trips. These chairs often have handles on the back so that someone can assist with pushing where needed.

Suitable for:

  • Indoor use & outdoor use
  • Short distance & long distance
  • Independent use
  • Easy transportation
  • Easier maneuverability over kerbs & obstacles
Compact wheelchair.

Transit & travel wheelchairs

Ideal for anyone who needs extra help with pushing, transit wheelchairs feature smaller back wheels for easy maneuverability in compact spaces. They're very lightweight and easy to fold down, making them ideal for short, occasional trips. The downside is you can't propel yourself with these much smaller wheels - these chairs are designed to just be pushed by someone else.

Suitable for:

  • Outdoor use
  • Short distance
  • Restricted use
  • Easy transportation
  • When you need something lightweight

Wheelchair considerations

Close up of wheelchair seat.

Seat width and depth

It's best to choose a wheelchair that is 5cm wider than your hip measurement. For the correct seat depth, measure the distance from your lower back to the hollow of the knees and subtract around 4cm.

Close up of wheelchair footrests.

Adjustable footrests

Footrests should be around 5cm from the ground and the back of your thigh should be touching the seat when your feet are in the footrests.

Close up of wheelchair with padded armrests.

Armrest height and angle

Armrests should sit 2-3cm higher than your arm when positioned at a 90 degree angle. Removable or flip-up armrests can help with getting in and out of the wheelchair.

This guidance is provided to assist you to pick the right product for your needs. It should not be treated as professional health advice. You should seek advice from an appropriate medical practitioner if you have any concern about any product's suitability to you.

Wheelchair reviews

Wheelchair accessories

More advice and information

Claim back the VAT

If you’re buying specific mobility products and living aids to support a disability or long-term illness, you may be eligible for a VAT refund.