Understanding Power Wheelchair Motors: Two Pole or Four Pole


One of the common questions we are asked about power wheelchairs is what is better, two pole or four pole motors? Like many of the ‘what is better questions’, there is no easy answer as it depends on what the wheelchair is going to be used for and the individual needs of the user.

A power wheelchair has two motors, with each motor operating a drive wheel on either side of the power wheelchair. The motors draw down power from the batteries and then move the drive wheels.

The number of poles refers to the number of electromagnets or brushes that the motor has, so a two pole motor has two sets of magnets and brushes and a four pole motor has four sets of magnets and brushes within the motor. This means that power from the batteries will enter the motor in two locations on a two pole motor and four locations on a four pole motor.

Now that we have a basic idea of the physical differences between two pole and four pole motors, what does it mean for wheelchair use? Because a two pole motor has fewer brushes and magnets and draws less power from the batteries than a four pole motor, it drives more smoothly at low speeds making them ideal for indoor use and moderate outdoor use. Because two pole motors draw less power than a four pole motor, they won’t drain the batteries as fast. For this reason, you’ll often see two pole motors used in your most popular everyday indoor/outdoor power wheelchairs, as they are great for indoors but can also handle quite a bit of outdoor driving.

A four pole motor offers more torque than a two pole motor, so is much better at handling uneven terrain and wheelchairs with higher weight capacities. Because a four pole motor draws more power from the batteries, a four pole motor will drain the batteries faster than a two pole motor. A four pole motor also doesn’t operate as smoothly at lower speeds. GTK offer several power wheelchairs with four pole motors, including the Magic Mobilty range, and the Permobil M5 and F5. These power wheelchairs are designed to handle varied outdoor terrain, hence why they come with four pole motors.

When making the choice between wheelchair motors, the most important thing is to consider how and where the wheelchair will be used. For many people, a two pole motor will meet their needs but for others a four pole motor might be required. One of our service technicians often uses a car analogy to describe the difference between motors; for many people, a good sedan car will get the job done and meet their needs. For others, they need a four wheel drive to be able to travel to where they need to go.

Our experts at GTK can help you work out what wheelchair will suit your needs best. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you.


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