The Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer is designed to boost your comfort at all times, but it’s especially built to move and turn more easily in narrow spaces. This makes it the best electric wheelchair for anyone searching for a mobility device that gives them higher levels of maneuverability, both indoors and outside.
Founded in 1987 in Taiwan, and now headquartered in Florida, Merits Health Products manufactures both electric and manual mobility devices, and places great emphasis on comfort and versatility, both of which are amply demonstrated by the P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer.
On paper, this power wheelchair has an impressive set of features, but does it have what it takes to meet your specific mobility requirements? Here we look at the Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer price, design, features and user reviews to help you answer that question.
Depending on what type of mobility aid you require, you may also be interested in our guide to the best mobility scooters. For more comfortable and empowered living at home, also take a look at our guides to the best walk-in tubs and the best stairlifts.
Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer: Price
Most retailers are currently offering the Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer at a fraction of the recommended retail price – $2,769 instead of $6,549, but this is something we see often with mobility aids. For example, the Porto Mobility Ranger Quattro Power Wheelchair is listed for nearly a third of its RRP.
The build quality of the Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer is of a premium level, and it offers flexibility that many other motorized wheelchairs don't. Perhaps we might expect a slightly better drive range if we were forking out $6,549, but for the lower price it's acceptable.
Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that while batteries are included here, you could end up spending a few hundred extra dollars if you start adding in all the optional extras. Some retailers offer the Merits P312 Compact on finance – Preferred Health Choice, for example, runs a scheme whereby you'll pay $202.30 per month – but we always advise checking the fine print on such schemes to ensure it’s the right approach for you.
Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer: Design
One of the first considerations when choosing a power wheelchair is whether or not you want a foldable device. The Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer doesn't fold, so you won't be able to stow it away in the trunk of your car in between use. Instead, this is designed for more permanent use.
This heavy-duty wheelchair is flexible in other ways, though: dual drive configuration enables users to switch from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive simply by pulling a lever and spinning the seat 180 degrees. The controller automatically recognizes which way the seat is facing, so the only thing left to do is raise or lower the front/rear footplates and you're good to go.
The word 'Compact' in the title belies the fact that this power chair is actually rather roomy, designed with an 18-inch-wide seat and capable of supporting a maximum weight load of 300lbs. The seat's high back and headrest should contribute to a very comfortable ride, while its low height of 18 inches is a purposeful design to help the wheelchair feel more stable, especially when traversing slopes.
Elsewhere, the chair has been designed with full-length flip-up arm rests. The meagre two inches of ground clearance is a tad disappointing, especially when compared to something like the ForceMech Voyager R2, which offers 3.5 inches of ground clearance. On the whole, though, the Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer is a robust and comfortable power chair.
Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer: Features
In terms of performance, the P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer sits somewhere in the middle ground. It moves along nicely at a top speed of 5mph, which is faster than many power wheelchairs, including the Voyager R2, but it isn’t on a par with the Porto Mobility offering (7mph). And 18 miles of range off a single charge is fairly reasonable.
One of the best features of the Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer is its exceptional turning circle – the P312 turns on a radius of just 19.6 inches, helping it to become incredibly agile when navigating narrow walkways and corridors. As a comparison, the Porto Mobility device has a turning radius of 39 inches.
The P312 Compact comes with a power seat elevator that enables you to raise yourself by five inches – ideal for when you need to reach something on a high shelf. It also features adjustable seat inclination, an intelligent braking system, and foam-filled tires that will never puncture.
Rounding off the impressive spec is a PG VR2 controller, which gives you control over the Merits P312 Compact's speed, movement and seat elevation. There's even a horn for when you need to tell other path users that you're coming through.
Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer: User reviews
There are plenty of Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer user reviews to leaf through, from some of the biggest mobility device retailers in America. Over at Electric Wheelchair USA, one 5-star user review stated: ‘This powerchair has been working very well since purchase. Nice chair with long battery life. Also comfortable seating. Easy to assemble. The customer service was great, I even got a call to confirm shipping.’
Another 5 out of 5 stars user review explained how the Merits P312 Compact, ‘is very well built and definitely of high quality. Pretty easy to assemble. Very stable and my grandfather definitely prefers this to a three- or four-wheel scooter. Easier to get around in tight places. Also, turns on a dime, can completely rotate with little effort or space needed so very good for tight places.’
Mobility Scooters Direct also has Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer user reviews, with another 5-star customer write-up explaining how they, ‘upgraded from the Merits P320 Power Wheelchair to this one after 3 years and it was a great choice. This power chair lifts up to a good height making it easier to reach items on a countertop or sitting with family at a high table. I like the Merits line because they produce quality power wheelchairs at an affordable price.’
Should you buy the Merits P312 Compact Dualer?
If you don’t need a folding chair, there's a lot to recommend about the Merits P312 Compact FWD/RWD Dualer. Built to be versatile, stable, comfortable and competitive in terms of performance, many existing customers say that it’s good value for money. That’s especially true when you consider the big discounts some retailers are offering on this mobility device.
Yes it would have been good to have more ground clearance, and the incline rating of 12 degrees is also disappointing when compared with other similarly priced devices. But the positives of this motorized wheelchair easily outweigh the negatives.
Looking for more health content? If you have a medical condition, you may find our guide to the best medical alert bracelets useful, as these can be engraved with your medical details for first responders to see in the event of an emergency. You may also like our round-ups of the best medical alert systems and fall detection devices.