What Are The Dimensions of a Wheelchair?

Wheelchairs are assistive devices to help people with mobility issues move around without struggle. 

While wheelchairs might look similar, they all have different specifications for particular uses. Therefore, the dimensions of a wheelchair are to be considered anytime a user is looking for one. 

These measurements not only guide buyers but they help educate others about wheelchairs. If you are a fan of discovery, you need more to learn about the dimensions of wheelchairs. 

All the dimensions information you have always been curious about will be covered here. Take a look to see the different measurements that differentiate wheelchairs.

Manual Wheelchair Dimensions

Many people use manual wheelchairs for mobility purposes. These steel frame items have varying dimensions depending on the user’s needs. A standard wheelchair can fit various user specifications.

The average manual wheelchair is 42 inches (107 cm) long when measured from front to back. The width can be anywhere from 24-26 inches (61-66 cm) and the height from 36 inches (91 cm).

Power Wheelchair Dimensions

Power wheelchairs are bigger than manual wheelchairs considering the added features and components. However, these wheelchairs are also heavier and may have up to six wheels. Traditional powered wheelchairs are around 23.5 to 27.5 inches (23.5 to 70 cm) wide.

Travel wheelchairs, on the other hand, can be as small as 22 inches (56 cm) wide.

Powered wheelchairs tend to be around 42 inches (107 cm) for those with four wheels and small batteries. Wheelchairs with six wheels are about 50 inches (127 cm) long. The height also differs, considering the varying seat and backrest heights. The average seat height for a powered wheelchair is between 18-25 inches (46-64 cm), depending on the size of the wheels.

A standard powered/electric wheelchair is 45 inches (114 cm) high when measured from the ground to the top of the headrest. Considering these wheelchairs can be elevated up to 33 inches (84 cm), the entire vehicle will be roughly 60 inches high.

Wheelchair Dimensions

1. Wheelchair Length

Knowing the full dimensions of a wheelchair is critical for determining the correct size wheelchair. The overall wheelchair length is measured from the back of the rear wheels to the tip of the footrests.

A standard wheelchair is 42 inches (107 cm) long with an extra 6 inches (15 cm) in front of the toes since the footrest only supports the heels. The width between the footrests is 18 inches (46 cm).

2. Wheelchair Width

The wheelchair width differs from the seat width because the seat is only a fraction of the total width. The total width of the chair covers the measurements from outside the wheels.

On average, the standard wheelchair will be 26 inches (66 cm) wide when the dimensions of the seat and wheels are included.

3. Seat Width

The seat width is one of the most crucial measurements and can range anywhere from 16-20 inches (41-51 cm). For Bariatric wheelchairs, the width measurements can go up to 30 inches (76.2 cm).

Lastly, pediatric wheelchairs could be as small as 14 inches (36 cm). The width dimensions ensure the stability of the user in a sitting position. The seat width should also be 1-2 inches (3-5 cm) wider than the user’s hip.

4. Seat Depth

After the width, the wheelchair seat depth is important to consider. It is the measurements from the back to the front of the wheelchair. The ideal seat depth should be measured from the back of the knee to the back of the hip.

Wheelchair depths contribute to comfort and biomechanics for better mobility. The standard wheelchair depth is 16 inches (40.64 cm).

5. Seat Height

Once you are done with the bottom section of the seat, the next measurement to consider is the seat height. The cushion should be included when measuring the height of a wheelchair seat. Wheelchair seat heights play a big role in providing support and distributing weight all over the chair.

The height of a wheelchair seat should be measured from the floor to the seat. Standard wheelchairs are 18 inches (46 cm) high.

6. Backrest Height

Wheelchair backrest heights differ because people struggling with posture complications have different needs. A low backrest provides room for self-propelling and arm movement.

The backrest height is measured from the bottom of the seat to the collarbone of the user. The dimensions may not differ for reclining or higher backrests.

7. Handle Height

Behind the wheelchair backrest, you find the handle. This handle makes it easy for an attendant to guide the user. Unfortunately, the handle’s height also determines the attendant’s height.

In some instances, the handles could be adjustable for better operation. The standard wheelchair handle height is 36 inches (91 cm).

8. Armrests

The armrest measurements are always overlooked despite being pivotal in determining the perfect wheelchair sizes. Armrests can be desk length or full length; the former allows access to tables and desks and the latter for additional support.

The armrest height from the seat is around 10 inches (25 cm), while the overall height from the ground is 30 inches (76 cm).

9. Wheel Diameter

The size of the rear wheels impact performance of the wheelchair. The size may also determine the rear seat to floor height; the bigger the wheels, the higher the potential rear seat to floor height. In addition, a bigger wheel diameter improves maneuverability and accessibility in different terrains.

On average, the rear wheel diameter for manual wheelchairs ranges from 20-26 inches (51-66 cm). The 24-inch (61-cm) wheel size is the most common. Powered wheelchairs have smaller wheels averaging diameters of 18 inches (46 cm).

The front wheelchair wheels also play a crucial role in supporting and steering the wheelchair. These wheels are rather smaller than the rear wheelchair for efficiency. A standard wheelchair front wheel is 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch (3 cm) wide.

10. Folded Wheelchair Dimensions

Most manual wheelchairs are foldable for easy transportation on vehicles. The standard wheelchair will be around 11 inches (28 cm) wide when folded. This is the width of the wheelchair measured from tire to tire.

Examples of Wheelchair Dimensions

16-Inch Wheelchair

  • Seat dimensions: 16 in x 16 in (40.64 cm x 40.64 cm)
  • Width: 24.4 in (62 cm)
  • Height: 36.22 in (92 cm)
  • Length: 45.28 in (115 cm)

18-Inch Wheelchair

  • Seat dimensions: 18 in x 16 in (46 cm x 40.64 cm)
  • Width: 26.38 in (67 cm)
  • Height: 36.22 in (92 cm)
  • Length: 42.52 in (108 cm)

20-Inch Wheelchair

  • Seat dimensions: 20 in x 16 in (51 cm x 40.64 cm)
  • Width: 28.35 in (72 cm)
  • Height: 36.22 in (92 cm)
  • Length: 54.52 in (138 cm)

22-Inch Wheelchair

  • Seat dimensions: 22 in x 18 in (56 cm x 46 cm)
  • Width: 30.71 in (78 cm)
  • Height: 36.61 in (93 cm)
  • Length: 46.46 in (118 cm)

24-Inch Wheelchair

  • Seat dimensions: 24 in x 18 in (61 cm x 46 cm)
  • Width: 32.68 in (83 cm)
  • Height: 36.61 in (93 cm)
  • Length: 46.46 in (118 cm)

Can a 30-Inch Door Allow Wheelchair Passage?

Standard wheelchairs are 25 to 36 inches (64-91 cm) wide, while power wheelchairs are about 23 inches (58 cm) from outside the tires. Therefore, door openings should be at least 32 inches (81 cm) wide to allow a wheelchair through. Standard wheelchairs can therefore pass through 30-inch (76 cm) doors considering residential and commercial buildings have doorways that are 30-32 inches (76-81 cm) wide.

By understanding the dimensions of wheelchair parts, you can easily figure out the best size for yourself or a loved one. It might even help if you are a designer looking to design a new wheelchair.

As you can see, wheelchairs tend to be the same size to prevent mobility complications and to fit in standard doorways. However, with the increased use of electric/power wheelchairs, brands are adding new features to make their specific wheelchairs bigger.