Knowing the difference between a powerchair and a mobility scooter is somewhat harder than you would think, since they are typically lumped together because they are both forms of electric wheelchairs rather than the traditional manual wheelchair. The fact is you can still tell the difference between powerchairs and mobility scooters.
First of all, looking at a mobility scooter, you'll see that it typically has three to four wheels and is similar to a bicycle, as it has a handlebar to steer with. Mobility scooters are designed to go long distance(s), as they can travel longer distances before the battery runs out.
Most often, you'll see these devices used by those who still have some mobility but either tire from walking quickly, or are simply uncomfortable walking long distances. Also, depending on which model and make you consider buying, you might be able buy a mobility scooter that is foldable and thus transportable and can be stored easier.
Unlike a mobility scooter, a powerchair resembles a wheelchair much more. Some particular models actually are designed to look just like older manual wheelchairs, except that they have motors attached to the wheels and are powered by batteries. Instead of the handlebars used on a mobility scooter, powerchairs use a simple joystick that is located on the end of the powerchair's arm.
For the most part, powerchairs are used by users who will spend most of their time in the powerchair, which means that they are much easier to adapt for individual users, as opposed to scooters. Powerchairs can have modified seating and controls changed for hand, chin, or mouth use, making it a very versatile mobility product. Powerchairs are much easier to use indoors than scooters, even though they can be used outside as well.
One of the main features about powerchairs that makes them much better for indoors is that while a mobility scooter utilizes one motor to work the rear wheels, a powerchair has individual motors on each wheel which in turn creates a smaller turning circle. That also helps with control and increases traction, making the powerchair much more stable for indoor use.
For the most part, powerchairs are more expensive than mobility scooters, but that is because they can be adapted so easily, have better control features, and often, those who use powerchairs will be using them much more often than mobility scooter users. In some cases, these users will be unable to walk, or support themselves, so the powerchairs requirements can be vastly different than that of the mobility scooter.
Earlier days trying to dismantle a powerchair was a much more difficult process than that of dismantling a scooter, but things have started to change so that powerchairs can now fit into the car boot. As well as the size, the structure and manufacturing process of powerchairs are being redesigned to create a more sturdy and durable powerchair that can match the ruggedness of a scooter.