Along with the rise in popularity and technology, sheer number of choices in the category has risen dramatically as well to the point where it's now a wise move to run a personal needs assessment before making a purchase to ensure that needs are being met in the most cost effective manner possible.
One of the first assessments has to be the physical condition and capabilities of the potential buyer. Physical limitations are the first determinant of whether a 3 wheel or a 4 wheel mobility scooter will provide the optimal solution for the buyer.
Another assessment is the type of use that the electric mobility scooter will be predominantly designated for. Issues such as the types of terrain the scooter will be driven on, the distance the scooter will be driven, and whether there are hills would be important factors in the decision process.
The following are a few considerations for the 3 and four wheel mobility scooters:
The 3 wheel scooter:
1) Portability – The 3 wheel mobility scooters can be broken down for transport in the trunk of a car. If the predominant uses of the scooter are going to be at locations some distance from home, portability will be a consideration.
2) Generally flat terrain – These are fine on flat and smooth terrain but become more problematic on uneven or rough terrain.
3) Shopping – These are great for shopping due to their tight turning radius.
4) Lower length of time in use – Built for lighter duty than 4 wheel scooters, the run times on 3 wheel scooters are more limited.
5) No balance issues - 3 wheel scooters are generally stable but if balance is an issue, a 4 wheel scooter might be the better choice.
Considerations for the 4 wheel scooter:
1) Use locations are relatively close to home – If this is the case, a 4 wheel scooter can be driven to its area of use due to its longer battery life and hill climbing capability. If a 4 wheel scooter requires transport, it will have to be done via a lift or a trailer.
2) Outdoor use – With two wheels up front, the 4 wheel scooters have a much wider turning radius which can make indoor use inconvenient.
3) Weight of the rider – Once a rider's weight goes over 300 pounds, a heavy duty 4 wheel scooter becomes the best (and only) option.
These are just a few of the considerations to take into account when contemplating the purchase of a mobility scooter. Other considerations, such as the length of time a rider can sit comfortably, can actually rule out scooters altogether if back support is required after a short period of time. In that type of situation, an electric wheelchair can serve as a much better option. With all the variables to be considered, consulting a professional for a full needs assessment is normally the best way to determine the best personal mobility option for each individual.