If you’re shopping for a wheelchair, it’s helpful to know how much they typically weigh. After all, heavier wheelchairs are harder to transport, but they also tend to have important features like a motor or the ability to recline, tilt, or stand the wheelchair user up.
Let’s talk about why weight matters, what’s usually included in the listed weight, and some average weights of different types of wheelchairs.
Why Does Weight Matter?
Not only are lighter wheelchairs easier to get in and out of a vehicle, but they’re also easier to maneuver. Wheelchair users or caretakers who don’t have a ton of upper body strength may do better with a lighter wheelchair - although that may mean giving up certain features.
What’s Included in the Listed Weight?
When you’re shopping for a wheelchair, it’s important to note that many wheelchair manufacturers give the lowest weight possible in the listing. Typically, leg rests, which can weigh around 4 pounds, are not included in the listed weight.
Also, the smallest frame size is usually the only weight listed, so if a wheelchair is available in multiple sizes, you can be sure the larger sizes weigh more than the listed weight.
How Much Does a Wheelchair Weigh?
There are many different types of wheelchairs available, and each type has a different average weight range. We’ve broken down the most common types of wheelchairs and given some typical weights of each type along with who the type of wheelchair is best suited for.
As you might guess from the name, lightweight wheelchairs are the lightest type of wheelchairs available. These are the best wheelchair type for people who are constantly on the go because they’re easiest to throw into a trunk. They are often (though not always) foldable, making them perfect for traveling, whether that’s to doctor appointments or across the world.
Many models of lightweight wheelchairs are under 20 pounds, but any wheelchair under 40 pounds could be classified as lightweight. Also, keep in mind that the weight may not include things like leg rests or wheels.
Average weight: 13 to 40 pounds
Transport wheelchairs are designed to be pushed by another person. The person in the chair usually isn’t able to propel themselves (unless they use their feet).
These wheelchairs are best for getting people from point A to point B. They may be foldable to make it easier to put into a car trunk, but they tend not to be the most comfortable chairs for all-day use.
Average weight: 20 to 50 pounds
With their large rear wheels, manual wheelchairs are designed to be propelled by the person in the chair. They may also have rear handles for a caretaker to push the chair.
Manual wheelchairs are ideal for people with a fair amount of upper body strength to push themselves.
Due to their large wheels, manual wheelchairs can be a little more difficult to fit into a trunk. However, quick-release wheels are a popular option that can make these chairs easier to transport.
Keep in mind that the listed weight of a manual wheelchair might not include the wheels or leg rests.
Average weight: 20 to 60 pounds
The average wheelchair has a weight capacity of around 250 pounds. Bariatric wheelchairs - also called heavy-duty wheelchairs - are designed to carry users up to 800 pounds or more.
As you can imagine, the heavy-duty properties of bariatric wheelchairs can add significantly to the weight. Again, footrests and other features may not be included in given bariatric wheelchair weights.
Average weight: 42 to 70 pounds for manual versions, 200 to 350 pounds for electric wheelchairs
For people who spend all day in their wheelchairs, the ability to recline up to 180° can make a big difference in their quality of life. Whether it’s an inability to sit up for long periods, the need to recline occasionally, or the desire to nap without needing to be transferred to a bed, reclining wheelchairs have many uses.
The hydraulics systems required to make a wheelchair recline can add a fair amount of weight to a chair, though, so they tend to weigh more than the average transport or manual wheelchair.
Average weight: 50 to 70 pounds
Tilt in Space Wheelchairs
Similar to reclining wheelchairs, tilt in space wheelchairs angle the user back so they aren’t sitting straight up. Unlike reclining wheelchairs, tilt in space chairs keep a user’s knees fixed at a 90° angle rather than raising the feet and going flat. These wheelchairs usually tilt back up to 55°.
Average weight: 30 to 80 pounds
One of the latest innovations in the world of wheelchairs, standing wheelchairs allow users to be completely vertical. Standing wheelchairs have a number of benefits, including better blood circulation, improved digestion, reduced muscle shrinkage, and a greater sense of independence.
Standing wheelchairs are available in manual and electric versions. Manual wheelchairs will weigh less than electric standing wheelchairs but may be more difficult to use.
Average weight: 56 to 110+ pounds
For users who want to maintain a strong sense of independence but who don’t have a lot of upper body strength, motorized wheelchairs can be the perfect option. Unfortunately, the batteries tend to add a significant amount of weight.
When you’re looking at the weight of an electric wheelchair, pay attention to whether or not the batteries are included in the total weight - they often aren’t.
Average weight: 50 to 250 pounds
As you can see, each type of wheelchair has its own pros, cons, and average weights. Hopefully, we’ve given you enough information to figure out which wheelchair type is best for your needs.