Nothing keeps me from my beer! Most NORMAL
indoor / outdoor full size top end Powerchairs
can just about cope on reasonably level surfaces in fresh and even Snow.
Up to about 4 inches for most rear drive chairs, and about 3 for mid drive (6
The problem is that they (most
powerchairs) generally use
very skinny 3.00 wide tyres on main drive wheels and
small diameter caster wheels with even narrower tyres, ESPECIALLY bad on 6 wheeler
or mid drive powerchairs where casters are often tiny.
These sink into soft snow (or soft sand / mud) and leave you
beached with the powerchairs bottom resting on the snow. And small casters
sink and plough through the snow rather than ride over it. Then lack of
drive wheel grip, (or power in a great many chairs) means you are screwed and
This is compounded by the fact that most powerchairs have very
little ground clearance generally about 2.5 to 3.5 inches is pretty normal.
Mine has 4 inches+ which is better but still not huge. But it
has big fat tyres that do not sink into the snow since they are about a foot wide
combined! Its called floatation. They exert much less pressure on snow or
sand. And there is a much smaller gap between them.
Most rear drive powerchairs are
slightly better in snow if only due to them having less casters to get stuck when
manoeuvring about. Plus mid-drive (or 6 wheelers) use 4 smaller casters generally
of just 5 and 6 inch diameter.
They are small because they have to be because have so many of them!
Otherwise they would be in
the way and hitting everything around you indoors as they swivel about.
Most production rear drive Powerchairs are
nose heavy however meaning less weight on the important drive wheels (less grip
/ less control) and more
on the front casters which then get stuck or simply head down hill towards the
gutter. My own Powerchair has a very rearward C of G designed that way to
improve control and grip.
So if you do go out in thick snow (over around 3 inches) or on to a sandy beach, most
stock powerchairs will likely get you stuck pretty quickly due to the wheels sinking in and the
powerchair grounding out or just due to lack of power.
There is an additional problem with snow and ice though.
Grip, or Traction.. Stock Powerchair tyres soon
slip if you try to climb a ramp, or even cross a road due to the camber needed
for drainage, if covered in even small amounts of snow.
Certain tyre treads are much worse in snow than others. The
narrow one below is terrible in snow! If your tyres look like that you
better stay indoors in the winter! I use these on my older (oldest) powerchair.
The others have been converted to use the big fat all terrain ones in the other
image further down the page. With NO width penalty as the whole chair was
In soft snow Fat Off Road type tyres (see 2nd images below) will
help prevent the "sinking" from happening. And they grip Snow or
propel you forwards much more reliably. Beaches, or heavy snow are no longer a
problem. And comfort is drastically improved. Of course on pure hard packed
or sheet ice neither tyres will really work! For that you would need
chains or studded tyres. Fortunately this is very rare where I live!
A typical powerchair tyre. Actually this one is
3.50 x 8 (14 .25 inch) AND TUBELESS which is slightly wider than most are, and
much more puncture resistant and stronger construction too... It just
slips and sinks in snow. Leaving you stuck if the snow is more than a few inches deep,
Generally speaking most powerchairs also come
with caster wheels of too small a diameter for any serious snow or beach use
too. (or even SENSIBLE
real world outdoor use) So again its best to limit yourself to no more than a
few inches unless getting stuck doesn't worry you or you have some able bodied
person with you in case of need!
For any semi serious snow or sand
real world outdoor
use you need 10 inch diameter (total) caster wheels
fitted. These are the size I use on my home built chair below. Actually they are
3.00 X 4 mini bike tyres. The rear ones are 145/70 - 6 off road buggy
tubeless tyres. This chair is the one I came back from the pub in with no
Its small (25 inches wide) and short and so very good indoors and in my van etc, but
its also all but un-stoppable in even thick snow. The fatter tyres don't stick
out, so don't get in the way. They offer great floatation on sand or snow or in
world outdoor conditions. The
chair has little weight on the front casters due to rearward C of G so the 3 inch wide
10 inch diameter front tyres don't sink
and just ride over the top of the snow. / sand.
As you can see you
don't HAVE to accept a compromise! It does the job of an off road chair as well
as a good indoor chair with full range and performance.
Here if you are interested.
Choice of wheels! Mmm Which ones today...
The all terrain ones shown fitted below in the next photo.
The other thing you need to watch out for is serious corrosion and damage from
road salt that gets everywhere for about 5 months of the year where I live!
Stock powerchairs are very badly finished (paint, materials,
coatings, etc) and they rapidly disintegrate as you watch... Its amazing how
cheaply they are made and finished.
If you have been out in the wet salty slush covered or wet roads
then its best to thoroughly rinse your powerchair with clean water. I use my
drive in shower (wet room) and give it a good rinse down. Clean water wont hurt
it but corrosive salt water definitely does. Rinse it off! Obviously avoid the control pod and
the Power Module under the seat. Feel free to rinse the batteries and the
motors since they get wet anyway when you are out. If the salt water doesn't
damage them the clean water certainly wont! Just don't go mad.
Again my own home built/re-designed powerchair (above and below)
has EVERY single part powder coated and oven cured, every single last bolt is totally
rustproof polished stainless steel, as are all bearings and bolts are thoroughly copper greased on assembly.
All electrical connections are coated in silicone grease to prevent electrical
issues. So I no longer worry. It just washes clean like new, permanently.
Corrosion and deterioration from salt just does not really happen any more. Ask your chairs
manufacturer why they don't do the same?
This chair also has group 24 batteries, (actually it can TAKE
group 24 Gel batteries but uses Odyssey 1500DT as they perform better! And can
be charged in 1 hour) a low seat height (can be as low as 16 inches,
currently set to 18), and 4 inches plus of ground
clearance (not including the "pin" that locks it into the driving position).
Contrary to what I just read on another "experts" website this
possible! since I managed to build one in a bedroom myself... I drive
tools rather than a desk! The lowest part of this chair is the anti tip
wheels seen in this image.
So, even normal over the counter everyday average powerchairs
with skinny tyres and small caster wheel are actually OK in Snow as long as you
are driving on reasonably flat surfaces, and the snow is fresh, rather than old
compressed and hard (slippery) or sheet ice. Just take care! And avoid ramps,
steep hills, severe road cambers etc. If its any thicker than a few inches then
take an able bodied friend too (and a mobile phone) just in case! Or get
your chairs manufacturer to build you a chair like
Tire (Tyre) pressures?
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