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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality


  • Taking your powerchair overseas ?

    Although the weather continues to be unseasonably wet and windy, some of you will be preparing for holidays for abroad. We have had a number of enquiries from users about taking their electric wheelchairs and powerchairs away with them and more specifically, questions about the electric wheelchair batteries and charging overseas.

    Most electric wheelchair batteries supplied these days are gel filled or AGM types which are non spillable and approved for transportation both by air and by sea. These batteries rely on regular charging to ensure you maximise their usable life. If you do not charge the batteries frequently the batteries can suffer deterioration in performance and failure to hold a full charge. This can also lead to what is known as gassing and the emission of acid vapour.

    It is good practice to check what type of batteries your electric wheelchair has. This is easily done by reading the sticker on the lid the next time you charge. Most are clearly stated as AGM on the label. If you cannot find this information then refer to the owner’s manual supplied when you bought the electric wheelchair.

    Charging electric wheelchairs overseas

    The next obstacle to overcome before you leave is the charging of the batteries overseas. If you are travelling to a country with 220 to 240 volts mains electricity then all you will need is a plug adapter to allow you to plug in. If the voltage is less than this like many European countries you need to find out if your charger will operate at 100 or 110 volts. The chargers supplied with electric wheelchairs by Sunrise Medical like the Salsa, will automatically sense the input voltage and adjust accordingly. This detail will be clearly marked on the Rating Label.

    Finally if you're flying and planning on taking your electric wheelchair, you should consult the CAA web site where it lists the regulations and obligations for the preparation and loading of electric wheelchairs on board passenger aircraft, to ensure it is made safe prior to loading.

    Many airlines will also insist on you providing information including the dimensions and weight of your electric wheelchair so be prepared !

    Read more about travelling with electric wheelchairs and what you will need to let the airline know.

  • New hybrid EC6 model from Z-tec

    Another interesting and innovative wheelchair we saw at Naidex is the new hybrid wheelchair from Z-Tec, known as the ZT-EC6.

    Due for release in late August

    This wheelchair looks a little unusual at first sight and then you realise why, it has not 4 but 6 wheels ! The reason for this is because it converts from a fully functional self propelled wheelchair in to a transit wheelchair in seconds by simply removing the rear wheels.
    Z-Tec hybrid wheelchair ec6 model

    You might think who is this type of wheelchair intended for as most users suit either a transit or a self propelled wheelchair but as we thought this thru it does make sense to offer both types in a single unit.

    If like most wheelchair users, you are aiming to maximise your freedom and minimise your reliance on others then a self propelled wheelchair is the obvious choice. Being able to propel yourself using the hand rims is of course empowering and allows you to get on in most conditions and go about your daily life. There are however certain situations when a transit wheelchair is far more suitable.

    If for example you commute or travel frequently then a transit wheelchair is far more suitable if you are with an attendant. With the hybrid you really do have the best of both worlds, the large quick release self propelled wheels can be easily removed and put in a transport bag that can be hung from the wheelchairs push handles. This leaves you on the solid 18cm castors front and back making it a very manoeuvrable wheelchair for you and your attendant.

    Most other features of this hybrid wheelchair are fairly standard and include swing away and removable footrests, flip up arm rests to assist in transfer to and from the wheelchair. In transit mode, it uses all four 18cm wheels and then comes with 60cm wheels with hand rims for use as a self propelled wheelchair. With a fold down backrest the wheelchair can be easily stored and transported. Other features include side skirts to keep your clothing away from the wheels, a lap belt for added security, heel loops and a parking brake.

    We think that this hybrid approach will be of great benefit to certain users and provide the function of both a transit and self propelled model in one wheelchair.

  • Traveling with your wheelchair

    I read recently of the poor man from Cornwall whose wheelchair was damaged on a return flight from Thailand. It reminded me of the importance of having adequate insurance provision at all times and not just when you embark on international travel.

    Like buying anything else, there's insurance and there's insurance. Wheelchairs generally warrant having their own specialist insurance particularly when your wheelchair is at all specialist. The other consideration with a specialist wheelchair is that if yours is damaged, how long will it take to get a replacement wheelchair and how will you cope in the meanwhile?

    The majority of the wheelchairs we sell are available immediately and do not require a special order nor special build. Prescriptive wheelchairs generally come under this category but not always. There are some models that ate effectively assembled to order and reflect the specific requirements of the wheelchair user. If you come under this category, insurance alone is not going to resolve the situation and a back up wheelchair is always a good plan.

    Going back to insuring wheelchairs, it is important to understand that general travel insurance will not provide cover for wheelchairs. Off the shelf insurance doesn't cater for specialist requirements and generally a special endorsement is required to ensure you have the right cover. General advice is to make sure you mention that you are travelling with a wheelchair when you buy insurance and ensure that it is mentioned specifically in the policy document. Also make sure that the single item claim amount is enough to cover your wheelchair, as often it is limited to a sum of £250 or similar.

    The man in question had had his very expensive wheelchair damaged in transit and was uninsured. His custom built titanium wheelchair worth £3600 was damaged beyond repair and the local mobility engineer condemned it as a right off. He is now not only without his wheelchair but is also potentially over £3000 out of pocket. No one is being held responsible for the damage.

    A quick look at the law shows that under the Montreal Convention, airlines are only liable to pay compensation of up to £1,350 for baggage damaged in the aircraft hold. This is irrespective of whether you can prove that the goods, or wheelchair in this case was not stowed properly during transit.

    So wherever you are going for your holidays, whether in the UK or further afield and overseas, please please make sure you have adequate insurance cover and a backup plan for your valuable wheelchair !

  • A new heavy duty bariatric model from Bristol Maid

    Following a recent visit to Naidex at the NEC we have some news on new wheelchairs rollators and other wheelchair accessories.

    Naidex is a good event to catch-up on all things mobility and meet suppliers of wheelchairs and other mobility products all under one roof. We will be adding the new wheelchairs and accessories to the site shortly but thought we would give let you know a little about what we saw.
    Minimaxx Bariatric wheelchair
    Bristol Maid are a long established wheelchair manufacturer originally from Bristol. Their new range of bariatric wheelchairs for the larger user was very impressive with both self propelled and transit wheelchairs intended for heavy duty use.

    One particular model is that caught our eye is the Minimaxx bariatric wheelchair which caters for users up to 325 KGs and folds down neatly for transportation and storage. The Minimaxx wheelchair is available with a powerful Push Motor that will move the wheelchair along at walking speed up to 3.1 mph and has a range of up to 2.75 miles. The control is on the attendant handle and allows speed control as well as braking, using the fitted disc brakes.

    An interesting variation on the bariatric wheelchair is the choice to go for a lowered seat for easy access. The lower than normal seat does make for easier sitting but presumably also makes getting out of the wheelchair less easy, so the arm rests are completely removable to make transfers easier.

    To allow correct user positioning, the rear magnum style wheels can be moved a few inches back or forward to ensure the users weight is suitably balanced on the wheelchair, similarly the front wheelchair castors are positioned forward to prevent forward tipping. Everything about this wheelchair is heavy duty including the footrests that will cater to up to 100KG each side. Needless to say the rear magnum wheels and front castors are puncture proof.

    The Minimaxx bariatric wheelchair has a good selection of optional extras including elevating calf supports made from moulded polyurethane, a table that fits neatly on to the arm rests and an IV / O2 holder, all of which are of a very high quality.

    This wheelchair is very well made and has a high standard of finish including a powder coated steel frame and seamless contoured flame retardant vinyl upholstery.

    Look out soon for this Minimaxx model in our bariatric wheelchair section.

  • Electric wheelchairs with elevating seats

    During a recent call from a customer we were asked how many of our electric wheelchairs have power seats fitted as standard and which powerchairs can have them fitted as an optional extra. We have sold models with this feature but it got us scratching our heads as to which of our current electric wheelchairs currently on sale have this ability.

    We rarely are asked for this so we started to wonder how powerchair users who live on their own actually manage to undertake some of the simplest chores like reaching for items that are stored in top cupboards or how do they reach light switches.

    Another good reason for using an electric wheelchair with an elevating chair is to allow the user to have conversations with people at an eye to eye level. This is often very important to many of us and is an important part of establishing good rapport when meeting people for the first time.

    We know that many rooms and in deed entire homes are often converted for use by wheelchair users and so appreciate that many household items are rearranged to make things in reach. However for those who are not fortunate enough to have had their home converted or those who find themselves on the move and in others houses and offices the use of an elevating seat is invaluable.

    Many daily chores including shopping require the ability to reach up for items, buttons or handles, even using the lift can sometimes become a problem if you can't reach the top range of the push buttons. This is where an electric wheelchair with an elevated seat comes in handy, allowing the user to rise sometimes as much as 500mm or 20" giving them that added reach.

    Wheelchair users who cannot afford nor qualify for financial assistance to have their rooms or entire home converted may consider replacing their model with an electric wheelchair that has the elevating seat or might be able to find a company who can carry out a retro fit of a lifting seat. This may be a more viable option.

    The most common design for the elevating or lifting seat is the gas powered or hydraulic system where a battery operated pump creates pressure to lift the chair on a hydraulic ram or piston which is operated from the wheelchair controls. However care should be taken to make sure the user's feet and or footrests do not become trapped under items including furniture as the seat rises up. There are some powerchair models that can be used at a reduced slow speed with the seat fully elevated which is often useful when browsing high shelves and other displays.

    We will soon be compiling a limited choice of electric wheelchairs with this feature.

  • Decisions on buying your electric wheelchair

    Not all users get the chance to select their first powerchair this decision is often made by the therapist. We have heard of some users only being able to select the colour of their new electric wheelchair and nothing else but we stress that the therapists are in the best position to assess your mobility needs and requirements to suit the lifestyle you lead. However powerchair users all know that until you have used the electric wheelchair for some time and in a range of circumstances you do not know how it is going to work out. For this reason we run an assessment where you and your needs are consulted to ensure the right model is supplied as this is a big commitment for most. When the time comes for a replacement model you will have much more idea about what you need and want.

    As the choice of powerchairs widens and the features increase the choice doesn't always become easier. Our team are on hand to advise you if needed on which model may suit you best and which features you should be looking for. One of the biggest considerations when buying an electric wheelchair is where is it going to be used most i.e. inside or outside. Comfort and mobility are the primary objectives so we work with you to ensure you find the model that is best matched to your lifestyle. Users buying their second powerchair generally have a far clearer idea of what to buy so their decision is generally based on price and after sales service, which we like to think we excel on both. Don't forget we have a price match promise so on most models of electric wheelchairs we are able to match a competitors price. Please see our Price Match Promise page for terms and conditions. Over and above price we are proud to offer an excellent assembly service to take the worry of getting your new powerchair ready for use. The assembly service includes delivery to your home, assembly, initial charging of the battery and a brief explanation of all features and advice on how best to use your new chair should you require it.

    In the ideal world we would spend a day in your life seeing what you get up to what your requirements both at home and when you leave, what your travel habits are and the sort of environment / terrain you encounter. This way we can best advise you on the powerchair. However this is not possible so our assessment is as thorough as is possible to address all the considerations you need to make when selecting the right electric wheelchair.

    In addition to medical factors there is an increasing move towards further considerations many of which are cosmetic ! At long last there is a move away from the powerchair looking like a medical device. This move is winning support from many users who may prefer not to be seen as having a medical condition. Many people we speak with are looking for a mobility scooter but need a powerchair so the convergence of design of these is increasing for this reason. The benefit being the functionality of the electric wheelchair but with some of the cosmetic looks of the scooter. As this happens there is a greater want for many users to get out of the house more and increase their mobility and quality of life.

    We will soon be looking at the main features to look for in your electric wheelchair but if you want some assistance in the meanwhile please do not hesitate to call us.

    Once the best model of chair has been found there is the question of wheelchair accessories which is in itself is a big consideration to make sure your comfort is maximised. We will be looking in to this soon and posting an article on powerchair accessories.

  • Electric wheelchair break down service

    We do receive quite a few enquiries from people who want some form of breakdown cover for their electric wheelchair or scooter. Mainly, these enquiries come from people who have suffered a problem leaving them without a working powerchair and want to know if they can rely on assistance.

    Most breakdowns occur because the electric wheelchair or powerchair runs out of battery power. This occurs because either the batter is old and no longer holds a full charge or the battery wasn't fully charges or the user failed to keep an eye on its status. Either way were keen to help, whether we supplied the wheelchair or not. So we have looked at what's available and what can be covered.

    ETA offer a comprehensive rescue service should your powerchair or electric wheelchair break down through mechanical failure, road traffic accident, criminal damage or other unforeseen event which renders the vehicle immobilised or unsafe to operate. Wherever you are in Britain their team will come and assist you you and your chair be immobilised and this covers flat battery scenarios.

    This is where their service stops however. They will get your wheelchair to the nearest suitable repair centre such as ours or alternatively deliver you and your powerchair to your home within a 15 mile radius. ETA will also get involved if you have had an accident but do insist that you liaise with your insurance company first as this service may be included in your existing policy as standard and might affect a claim if you do not.

    So let's hope you are not caught out in your electric wheelchair and don't need their services but if you interested you can enrol in their scheme here:

  • More roadside cover for your electric wheelchair

    Having written last week about one company who offer an electric wheelchair or powerchair breakdown service i learned from a colleague that there are a couple of other providers of this sort of cover and one in particular if you travel extensively including international travel in to mainland Europe at request.

    First call motor breakdown offer a very competitively priced cover for electric wheelchairs an powerchairs that starts from just £59. This option covers roadside repairs wherever possible, a lift for you and your wheelchair to your intended destination or back to your home which ever you prefer as long as they are within 10 miles. This sum covers you for up to 4 breakdowns per year.

    Please note that although they make best effort to repair your electric wheelchair, the fee does not include any labour charges for time spent fixing the chair nor cost of replacement parts or materials used. Either way this is an invaluable service at an affordable fee and is probably something that all disabled users should consider. Finally, this service is intended for breakdown of your electric wheelchair and not simply getting stuck in mud snow or ice!

    To read more and see the policy wording click here

  • We're here to help!

    Following our recent meeting with our BHTA representative we thought it was good timing to confirm exactly what we have to offer here at UK-Wheelchairs.

    In essence our service focuses on you and your requirements so we always aim to supply you with the wheelchair that meets your requirements, fits your body, allows you to achieve your goals and daily objectives.

    We are your leading sales and service centre for your self propelled, transit, folding, paediatric and tilt in space (or reclining) wheelchairs. In addition we want you to be entirely comfortable so supply a range of accessories designed to make things better for you, whether its clothing, cushions or other wheelchair accessories.

    We appreciate that finding your ideal wheelchair is a specialised process. Because each person is different, your chair needs to fit you and feel as though it becomes a part of you. We have one of the biggest ranges of wheelchairs in the UK. We work with many of the top brands to supply a full range and aim to make these available at competitive prices. To make this process easy we also offer our price match policy which gives you the confidence to buy from us.

    Many of our customers come back to us time after time for advice and after sales care. Our wheelchair servicing department can keep your chair in tip top condition so that you're never let down. We can advise you on the best accessories for your chair and then fit, service and deliver your chair back to you in the shortest time possible and even lend you a replacement chair while yours is being serviced.

    At UK-Wheelchairs we service hundreds of individuals & organisations but lets us remind you that we are always here at HQ to chat with you about your individual requirements. If you live in the South Devon area you are also welcome to visit one of our shops.

  • Electric wheelchair battery care tips

    Does my electric wheelchair need a new battery ?

    An electric wheelchair or power chair is for most users an invaluable tool to enable freedom and allows users to get out and about and be more self sufficient going about everyday routine like our able bodies friends and family do.

    But your electric wheelchair is only as reliable as its battery and it is this time of year that this can become more apparent, as temperatures start to cool down and batteries have to work harder to keep you and your power chair moving. So we are looking at a few ways that you can maximise the life of your battery and get the most from your electric wheelchair.

    The first tip we learn from the battery manufacturers is not to continually charge new batteries as it will reduce its long term life. If you look after a new battery in the early days it will provide you with a longer stronger performance. The best way to do this is to make sure you give it a full charge but don't leave it plugged in after this period.

    Second tip is to only charge the battery once it is mostly discharged. Never be tempted to charge the battery when it is only partly used as this will reduce its capacity to accept the charge and the journeys in your electric wheelchair will become shorter in between charges.

    Our third tip is to try to get in to a regular charging routine to keep your battery in tip top condition. If, like most, you use your electric wheelchair or powerchair in a fairly routine manner this is all the more easy. Most users use their powerchairs by day and charge them at night. If you do not use your power chair one day don't be tempted to charge it as this will ultimately reduce the performance.

    Our biggest and best tip is to have a spare battery at all times and when you buy one get a durable battery. Electric wheelchairs tend to be used more hours of the day than scooters as users are dependant on them. For this reason powerchairs are sold with gel batteries generally which provide greater durability, allowing more miles from a single charge.

    If you are able to follow these tips then you should get at least 18 months from a battery or more if you are fortunate.

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