What’s the Difference Between a Mobility Scooter and a Powered Wheelchair?

generic electric mobility scooter for disabled or elderly people against white background in studio

Are you considering the purchase of a motorized mobility aid? While there are many models to choose from, these devices fall into two basic categories: scooters and powered wheelchairs. Both provide reliable personal transportation for those with mobility limitations, but there are several important differences between the two. Knowing the advantages and limitations of each will allow you to make an informed decision about which is right for you.

Electric Scooters

Scooters are mobility devices built on rectangular chassis. They come in three- and four-wheeled versions and are steered with a tiller that pivots left and right. This method of operation is one of the primary differences between scooters and powered wheelchairs. Scooter seats swivel to allow for easy entry and exit and can be customized to some extent with added storage, safety features such as visibility flags and LED lights, and upgraded batteries. There are also off-road models with higher ground clearance and larger wheels. Scooters have a wider turning radius than powered wheelchairs, so they’re not as maneuverable in tight spaces.

Powered Wheelchair Vs. Mobility ScooterPowered Wheelchairs

As previously mentioned, the big difference between scooters and powered wheelchairs is how they’re operated. Instead of a tiller, powered chairs use a joystick. They also have more wheels, usually six: two large powered ones and four smaller ones providing increased stability. Powered wheelchairs can pivot on a dime and can be adjusted to a larger degree than scooters. Armrests, headrests, back cushions, and seats are usually adjustable with a push of a button.

Which Is Right for You?

The two big considerations when deciding which device is right for you are your mobility level and where you intend to use your transport. For individuals who can stand and sit without assistance and have good arm control, a scooter may be the better option since portable models are easier to transport than a powered wheelchair. They are also better suited for off-road use. With their exceptional maneuverability, power wheelchairs can be used both inside and outside. They also provide more body support and have controls that can be used even by those with limited upper body strength.


If you need a mobility aid, the company to turn to is the Barrier Free Store. We specialize in providing accessibility solutions for residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“My stair climber has made it possible for me to stay in my home and I am pleased with the bathroom remodel/updates. The employees are very friendly, efficient, helpful, and polite!”

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“I am extremely satisfied with the lift and all who worked on it. Thank you for everything!”

“My stair climber has made it possible for me to stay in my home and I am pleased with the bathroom remodel/updates. The employees are very friendly, efficient, helpful, and polite!”

“My dad’s strength deteriorated over a short period of time due to medicines he needed to take. Your company provided prompt service. We most appreciated the person who had the foresight to have a stair lift in stock because my dad basically needed an emergency installation for his safety and mine, so we could safely get upstairs. Thank you to everyone for your kindness and quick assistance at a difficult time. My dad loves the lift!”

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