How to Convert a Manual Wheelchair Into an Electric

If you’re a wheelchair user or a carer for someone who uses a wheelchair, this question may have crossed your mind. Ever needed to go uphill, get across some rough terrain, or just felt tired? Having an electric wheelchair could certainly solve those problems. No doubt you know that electric wheelchairs are far from cheap! So is there a way to take your current manual wheelchair and convert it into an electric one? The answer is yes! And it may be far less complicated than you think.

How to make a manual wheelchair electric

You don’t have to be Tony Stark to convert your manual wheelchair into an electric one! In fact, there’s no real ‘building’ or complex assembling required. Really, the way to convert a wheelchair from manual to electric is by use of attachments. There are two kinds of attachments for wheelchairs; there are handcycles and power packs. Handcycles attach to the front of a manual wheelchair, and power packs attach to the back of manual wheelchairs. These manual wheelchair attachments provide an extra burst of propulsion and essentially are a set of batteries that attach onto a manual wheelchair.

For wheelchair users, converting a manual wheelchair into an electric one through adding an attachment can make life easier. Things like rough terrains, slopes, ramps and hills all become less of a problem. But these also have immense benefits for carers of wheelchair users. A report from Carers UK actually showed that 83% of carers claimed that caring for someone with a disability has a negative effect on their physical health. 36% were specifically afflicted by back pain. So power packs and handcycles for manual wheelchairs can benefit both carers and wheelchair users.

Benefits of converting a manual wheelchair into an electric

  • Power packs are generally under the £1k mark which is far cheaper than buying an electric wheelchair.
  • Attachments can be taken off very easily, maintaining the folding features of your manual wheelchair if it has any. This means you can continue taking your wheelchair in cars etc without the power pack affecting mobility.
  • The manual wheelchair attachments are relatively easy to add on, there’s little hassle involved.
  • Unless stated otherwise, most of these wheelchair attachments should fit onto any manual wheelchair.
  • Some attachments come with reverse switches so you can go backwards as well as forwards.

Overall best handcycle wheelchair attachment

General information

The GJHW 36V 400W handcycle attachment has made it to the top of the list for handcycle attachments. The batter can be taken off easily for charging purposes. Further, it charges quickly. This handcycle attachment can make your manual wheelchair reach top speeds of more than 20km/h. The driving mileage you can get out of it per charge is about 30km for the 36V 15AH battery it comes with. The handcycle attachment comes with an LCD display. This is great because it shows you the battery power, the mileage, the time, speed and gear. It even gives a report and error check of the components. The front handle can be folded, making it easy to store and less obstructive.

The front handle of the wheelchair attachment is fully adjustable, making it suitable for wheelchair users of different heights and body sizes. To use, make sure that the power link is the correct one, that the battery has sufficient current and that the power switch is turned on. The handcycle has 12″ air tyres and a motor of 400W. The batteries weigh 5.4 kg, and the handcycle without the batteries weighs 14kg. Altogether the handcycle is a little heavy. It doesn’t reverse and has a British plug. To fully recharge the batteries, it takes from 5 to 6 hours.


  • The handcycle is fully adjustable, making it suitable for people of different heights and sizes.
  • The LCD is really useful and provides a lot of handy info while you’re using the handcycle for the wheelchair.
  • It can attach to both manual wheelchairs and sports wheelchairs to convert them into an electric one temporarily.
  • The front handle can be folded, which makes it super easy to store and equally as easy to transport.
  • The attachment can be put on and removed with ease.


  • The handcycle and batteries are fairly heavy, making it slightly difficult to move and add on your own.

Best runner-up handcycle wheelchair attachment

General information

The KENNOE electric handcycle for manual wheelchairs is a close runner up. It transforms your manual wheelchair into a powerful machine that can help to increase your mobility. Its design is well suited for arm comfort while using it, and there aren’t many complex moving parts that might confuse you when putting it together. The braking has been improved and is now even more stable. This one does have a reverse feature, and the LCD display shows this along with three speeds.

The maximum speed is 15 mph and has a wide-angle foot area to provide enough space for users. The handles on this handcycle are also adjustable, making it suitable for people of all sizes. The KENNOE handcycle is easy to remove and put on, restoring the wheelchair to manual or quickly converting it to an electric.

Extra information

The handcycle frame is made of an aluminium alloy and the whole handcycle weighs around 18kg in total. The tyres are 12″ and comes with a smart charger for the batteries. It has 3-speed levels, the first has a limit of 12km/h. The second and third levels have a limit of 16km/h and 20km/h respectively. It also goes backwards as well and has a backwards speed limit of 6km/h. Its motor has 350W. Further, the breaks are a dual disc hand brake, which is very safe. Also, the handcycle comes with an LED light with a horn to increase comfort, practicality and mobility on your manual wheelchair. Moreover, the KENNOE comes with a one year warranty. It can run for about an hour and a half per charge.


  • The handcycle will fit almost any manual wheelchair and convert it into an electric. It can attach to a manual wheelchair tube with dimensions between 18mm and 33mm.
  • It comes with an LED light at the front for added visibility.
  • The KENNOE handcycle can also reverse with speeds of up to 6km/h.
  • The handcycle comes with a horn as an added safety feature.


  • The whole thing is a bit heavy.
  • It doesn’t have a freewheel feature to conserve battery or for when the power dies, so you have to be very aware of how much charge you’ve got left.

For more information on handcycles and how they work, check out this video

Overall best wheelchair power pack

General information

This TGA duo wheel power pack is a really great model. This power pack fits almost all manual wheelchairs and is super quick and easy to attach onto the back of the wheelchair. This power pack helps with things like hills and rough terrains because it adds a strong thrust to your wheelchair. Power packs are smaller than handcycles, and so you can easily store it in a bag and take it with you. However, power packs are generally not as powerful as the handcycles. This power pack is one of the more powerful ones, and it reaches speeds of up to 4 mph. This power pack has a 10-mile range in between charges and is designed and made in the UK.

The TGA duo wheel power pack has a motor power of 12V and weighs 14.5kg. However, the batteries on their own weigh 6.9kg. The wheels are 8″ and the maximum user weight is 114.5kg or 18 stone. The charger the power pack comes with simply plugs into the battery, and you can do this at the end of the day so the power pack is ready to take with you on the following day. Further, it comes with a hand control, which allows you to access a reverse control.


  • The power pack is light enough to take virtually anywhere, and you can take in a car, train, plane etc.
  • It has a reverse control that you access with a switch on the hand control.
  • The powerpack fits almost any wheelchair.
  • It doesn’t affect your wheelchair’s ability to fold (if you have a folding one) because it can be taken off in seconds and carried apart.


  • It’s fast for a power pack, reaching speeds of up to 6km/h, but this is quite slow in comparison to the handcycles which reach speeds of 20km/h.

Best runner-up wheelchair power pack

General information

The DRIVE dual-wheel power stroll is certainly a close runner up to the TGA. This power pack is also easy to use and attach to your manual wheelchair to convert it into an electric one. It can fit onto most manual wheelchairs with seat widths ranging between 14″ and 20″, and it can also be fitted onto narrow track manual wheelchairs. Its total weight, similar to the TGA, is 14kg and can take user weights of up to 115kg. This power pack comes with a handset fitted with a variable speed dial and direction button. Also, the fabric battery pack is removable. The highest speed the DRIVE power pack reaches is 3 mph, and its maximum range is 10 miles. Without the battery pack, this power stroll weighs less than 8kg, making it easy to transport. Further, it has 8″ non-marking tyres.


  • Light-weight and easy to transport and carry around.
  • Removable fabric battery pack.
  • The tyres are non-marking.


  • It’s not as fast as the TGA power pack, and only reaches speeds of 3 mph.
  • The handset is not so much of a handset, as it attaches to the arms used to push a wheelchair, meaning the wheelchair user won’t be able to control it.

For more information on how to use and attach power packs, check out this video

If you’ve decided that the best option for you is to buy an electric wheelchair, check out our reviews on which electric wheelchair is best, and what’s the best folding electric wheelchair? Got a used wheelchair and don’t know what to do with it? Find out where to sell used electric wheelchairs. For more information on how electric wheelchairs work, check out our blog!