Free delivery on orders over £40, only £3.95 under £40

Ability Superstore Blog

Welcome to our blog, your one-stop resource for news, features and resources for living life to the fullest. View our articles on the latest mobility products and features with disability bloggers.

Our Ultimate Buying Guide for Wheelchairs - 2024

Posted by Francis Whitehead on May 16, 2024

Ability Superstore's Ultimate Buying Guide for Wheelchairs

Mobility aids such as wheelchairs are an investment that can give you a boost to your wellbeing and help you to live independently, but the question ‘How do I buy a wheelchair?’ is a question that frequently circles round shopper’s heads.

With so many factors to consider before making a purchase, that’s why we’ve made our Ultimate Buying Guide for Wheelchairs.

How to Buy a Wheelchair

Wheelchairs are readily available at all good reputable mobility aid retailers, such as the one you’re on right now! But before you decide on which one you need or want, consider:

  • Your own body weight and size
  • Your challenges you have with your mobility
  • How often you’ll need to use it
  • Features you think your wheelchair should have
  • If you will propel it yourself or have someone else to push you
  • The size of wheelchair you’ll need
  • If you need to use it indoors, outdoors, or both
  • Your budget

As far as your budget is concerned, if you live in the UK you can get help from government-mandated Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA). If you have a disability or a long-term illness, you will also be entitled to VAT relief on any eligible products.

Findings from the House of Commons Research Briefing indicate that 16.0 million people in the UK had a disability in the 2021/22 financial year. This represents 24% of the total population.

Our wheelchairs range from £150 to £2,000, so there are plenty of options to oversee.

If your disability means you have to use your wheelchair all the time, most people get their wheelchairs from the NHS wheelchair referral service. However, if you only need to use a wheelchair for part of the time, it is probable that you will need to purchase a wheelchair yourself.

Many ranges of wheelchairs such as the Days Escape Lite vary in width from 15 inches to 20 inches, and are available in Standard, Wide and Narrow sizes. Their wide range of colour options and affordable price make them a very popular option for first-time buyers.

Some wheelchairs are specially designed for people who have complex requirements or users who have to spend long periods of time in the chair, and may have other specialist medical applications. For example, this Days Reclining Self-Propelled Wheelchair has a fully reclining backrest, considerately designed to redistribute pressure to alleviate and prevent pressure sores.

If you are looking for a chair for specialist needs, do speak to your OT, doctor or social services who will be able to assess and recommend a type of chair that will be most suitable.

Different Types of Wheelchairs

It’s important to know about the different types of wheelchairs before you make your purchase. These different types are each better suited to a range of individuals with their own needs.

Manual Wheelchairs

Man using a self propelled wheelchair

Self-propelled wheelchairs and attendant propelled wheelchairs are often referred to as manual wheelchairs. These are mostly suited for people who require a wheelchair most or all of the time for mobility and walking is possible but only for short periods of time.

If you have adequate upper body strength and intend to propel yourself in the chair, a self-propelled wheelchair (the ones with the bigger rear wheels) would be best suited to you. The large back wheels each have an outer “push-rim” which allow you to control and turn the chair.

Wheelchairs are mobility aids that are used frequently indoors and out, so it’s good to know that products such as the S2 vary from 16 to 22 inches in width, and are robust and reliably built, supporting up to 133 kg (21 stone).

If you’re unable to propel yourself, an attendant controlled wheelchair would be the better option. These have smaller rear wheels which are easy to manoeuvre for the person pushing.  A self-propelled wheelchair can offer more independence as you are in control, however, manual wheelchairs and transit chairs are ideal for anyone who has supported living from a carer and needs assistance while getting about.

Wheelchairs with fixed arms and leg rests are also available for that peace of mind for carers, as well as transport wheelchairs for travel.

Electric Wheelchairs/Powerchairs

Man using a powerchair

An electric wheelchair, or powerchair, is ideal if you don’t have the strength or stamina for a self-propelled chair but do not wish to rely on being pushed in a manual or transit chair.

Usually the case on electric wheelchairs, a joystick mounted on one of the armrests is the method of ‘drive control’.

They are also suitable for longer journeys. You can opt between indoor use, outdoor use, or both. If you have a manual wheelchair, but sometimes require the boost of a powerchair - a powerstroller is an affordable add-on to a standard wheelchair that allows you to remote control it, propelling itself.

As it does not require anyone to push it for you, the powerchair is the ultimate mobility aid for independent living.


When using a wheelchair, it’s important to make your home as wheelchair-friendly as possible. Ramps make entering and exiting your home or car an accessible task. You may consider installing a permanent ramp, but for most wheelchair users, portable ramps are a popular option.

We stock ramps that are easy to bring with you, including ramps that fold into bags, ramps that fold into a suitcase, and ramps that can be placed over doorways.

We also stock ramps that provide easy access to cars.


Once you have made your decision to buy a wheelchair, it’s important to consider some accessories that will make using it all the more easy and comfortable for you. Accessories are important for wheelchair users as they offer storage solutions, safety and protection.

For example, wheelchair gloves are popular with users of self-propelled wheelchairs, as it makes gripping the outer rim of the wheels a more comfortable experience.

For when you’re out and about, many storage solutions exist for wheelchairs, with many different types of wheelchair bags providing efficient ways to keep everything you need with you.

Ways to keep warm such as wheelchair cosies are also very popular, with the fleece lining providing insulation.

For extended periods of using a wheelchair, users may find a support cushion useful for ensuring more comfortable journeys.

Once you understand the options that are available, it is easier to make a decision on which wheelchair will be best suited for you. Always make sure that your chosen chair meets all the requirements so the user sits with the correct posture in the chair and it can be used in the way it is needed, whether self-propelling, attendant controlled or electronically assisted.  Proper posture and correct fitting in a wheelchair is important for even distribution or pressure, maintaining comfort, reducing stress on the body and improves manoeuvrability.

How to ensure proper posture and fitting for a wheelchair

Stabilise the pelvis

Ensure the wheelchair seat supports the pelvis. Make sure the depth of the seat allows you to sit all the way back, with your weight spread evenly through buttocks and thighs. A seat with the correct width will stop your pelvis sliding and altering your spine position.

Support the spine

Your spine has 3 natural curves, like an ‘S’, which is the most stable position for your back. Sit upright, bring the shoulders back and ensure there is no slumping or leaning to ensure these curves are fully supported.

Ensuring the back height and width of the chair are suitable support for the user is essential, cushions and further posture support may need to be added if a good posture position is unable to be maintained.

Centralise the head

Your head should sit upright and in the middle, with your chin slightly tucked and with enough stability to be able to look in different directions. If this position cannot be maintained, head and neck supports may be needed to avoid any long term damage or discomfort to the neck and head.

Support your feet and arms

Ensure the armrests are at the correct height to support your arms, keep your shoulders level while maintaining the natural curve of your neck. As your feet support some of your weight, insufficient support can pull your body out of alignment and cause discomfort and bad posture.

Check the footplates are at the correct height which should place your hips and knees at right angles and ensure that your weight is evenly distributed. Feet too far out will tilt the pelvis and cause slouching whereas too far back and they will tilt the pelvis the other way and alter the natural curves of your back.

A correct fitting wheelchair can make all the difference when it comes to using them. It’s important to maintain good posture, especially when sitting for extended periods as it will stop any long term damage occurring and prevent discomfort, allowing you to receive the independence and efficiency you need from your wheelchair.

Ensuring Longevity of Your Wheelchair

When properly maintained, wheelchairs on average last around 5 to 10 years. This depends on a number of factors, such as the materials used in its construction, how often it’s used, where it’s used and how well it’s cared for.

That’s why we advise to store your wheelchair in a dry, clean environment to prevent it from rusting, as well as regularly cleaning your wheelchair and adjusting the brakes as required.

How Do I Clean My Wheelchair?

To start, wash your hands with antibacterial soap or hand sanitiser.  Then, soap up and wring out two wash cloths or flannels (or use antibacterial wipes).

Wipe down every surface of the chair, including the frame, foot covers, arm supports, push handles and especially the chair cushion. To clean the wheel rims, push your wheelchair with one hand for about 6 metres, and run the cloth over the rims with the over hand while it’s moving to ensure even coverage.

Finally, go over these steps with a dry cloth to prevent rust.

A clean wheelchair is essential to maintaining both the longevity of the wheelchair, and the personal hygiene of the user.


Woman pushing elderly woman on wheelchair

So, before you buy a wheelchair, make sure you take all these factors into consideration, and make sure it’s the mobility aid best suited to your needs.

Everything you’ve seen here is available here on our website, and if you have any questions about any products featured please feel free to get in touch. We will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction! With our team of experts, you can be sure to receive trustworthy and professional guidance.

Kate Makin, OT

Kate Makin, Ability Superstore's Occupational Therapist

Kate Makin qualified as an occupational therapist (OT) in 2001 with a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT).

As a registered occupational therapist (OT), Kate is a science degree-based, health and social care professional, taking a “whole person” approach to both physical and mental health and wellbeing. This enables individuals, of all ages, to achieve their full potential and lead as independent life as possible.

For Kate’s registration with the Health and Care Professions Council, click here.

Throughout her career, Kate has worked in many different clinical settings, in both the public and private sector. Kate has been running her own independent occupational therapist business since 2009. She is passionate about disability aids and adaptations, with a specialist interest in postural management and seating.

As Ability Superstore’s resident OT, Kate is on hand to offer professional advice and answer any queries.