After reaching a certain age, some tasks can become too difficult, painful, or stressful. No matter how much you enjoy your Saturday morning trips to the farmer’s market, the joint pain you experience in the following days just isn’t worth it.
While situations like this become a reality for many people every day, mobility issues shouldn’t prevent you from being independent and living the active life you envisioned for yourself when you dreamt of retirement. With the right scooter, you can eliminate the need for a traditional wheelchair and operate completely independently as if you were walking on your own.
But what exactly is the correct scooter for you?
Mobility assistance looks different for each person. Some people may only experience mobility limitations when traveling outside, on uneven ground, or for significant distances, while others may need more assistance around the house. Luckily, there are a variety of scooter options designed specifically for indoor or outdoor use.
Selecting the appropriate features for your scooter will ensure your daily routine won’t require any change and will help you maintain the lifestyle you want to lead.
Let’s take a look at the most important factors that determine if you would fare better with an indoor or outdoor scooter.
Main Features to Consider
Wheels: Number, Size, and Type
Navigating indoor and outdoor settings will require different features from your wheels. Three-wheel scooters are typically better around tight corners, whereas four-wheel scooters will have a wider turning radius. Three wheel scooters are generally easier to steer through narrow hallways, doorways, and corners. This is because a single wheel at the front of the vehicle means a single point of contact with the ground - and a smaller turning radius.
However, a four-wheel scooter will be more stable, especially when traveling over rougher outdoor terrains such as gravel roads or bumpy sidewalks.
Similarly, the bigger your tires, the more easily your scooter will be able to cover uneven ground as well. Larger wheels provide more consistent traction with the ground beneath them and are less susceptible to slipping or losing traction on inclined surfaces. The width of the wheel also plays a role: wider wheels provide even more traction but also make the footprint of the scooter wider.
Lastly, wheel type can also make a big difference in your travels. Pneumatic tires are filled with air, which allows for better shock absorption but also comes with the risk of going flat if a proper PSI isn’t maintained. Solid tires require less maintenance but are heavier, and riders can feel more bumps beneath them on uneven ground. Honeycomb tires contain a mix of air pockets and solid rubber, which also improves tire resiliency. However, these tires are pricier and somewhat difficult to find.
Motor Strength: Speed and Distance
When looking closely at the details of any scooter you’re considering, you’ll notice that the motor type is described by how many watts of power it’s capable of producing. Naturally, a higher-power motor will be better for moving quickly but might be unnecessary for casual or indoor use. Some outdoor scooters can go as fast as 13 mph while others top out at 3-5 mph. When selecting your scooter, pay attention to the Top Speed to ensure it doesn’t go too fast (or slow) for your needs.
Battery Type and Power
Your scooter’s battery type will influence the device’s weight. Generally, lithium-ion batteries weigh less than sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. If you never plan on loading your scooter into a car or carrying it anywhere, battery weight might not be important to you. But if the opposite is true, your back will thank you one day for selecting a lighter-weight scooter.
NOTE: For a more detailed look at battery options, check out our detailed guide about mobility scooter batteries.
In terms of power, you’ll want to make sure your battery is compatible with the distances you plan to travel. If you intend to use your scooter outdoors, chances are you’ll be traveling much greater distances than you would indoors. You don’t want a battery that will die on you when you’re in the middle of your day. Lithium-ion batteries have an overall longer battery life, but for individual trips, pay attention to whether your scooter has a gel or AGM battery. Gel batteries will run for longer at a steady pace, whereas AGM batteries will exert more power over a shorter period of time.
Outdoor scooters tend to be designed to go faster than indoor scooters. For example, the eWheels EW-46 4 wheel scooter can reach up to 13 miles per hour, whereas a three-wheel scooter like the Merits Yoga Foldable scooter will max out at four miles per hour. While more speed sounds like it should always be a good thing, a scooter that goes 13 miles per hour would wreak havoc indoors.
There are a handful of models that simply won’t work indoors due to size (Afikim comes to mind), but most scooters will work for both settings.
In fact, unless the scooter model you’re browsing has a canopy or extremely wide stance, chances are high that it will work just fine indoors.
If you feel overwhelmed by all of the differences between these two scooter types, simply refer to the product descriptions and specs. These will highlight which setting the scooter would work best in. And remember, if you need any assistance talking through your options, you can always reach us via phone at (800) 903-0946.