June 2016

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Which are best – electric beds, manual beds or semi-electric beds?

It can be a challenge to know what the best type of hospital bed to buy is for someone who has mobility issues. There are many choose from and all of them come with a range of different types of mattresses and features.

What is the best kind of bed for the needs of someone with reduced mobility? What are the pros and cons of manual beds, semi-electric beds, and electric beds?

The Bed Frame

All types of manual beds, semi-electric beds, and electric beds come with different types of frames. The type of frame will affect the durability of the bed.

So, if it will be used for someone who will spend most of their time in bed (i.e. 16 hours or more), then you need a full electric bed with a grid, full deck or slat base. However, if it will be used by someone for a shorter time, for example, just at night time, then a manual or semi-electric bed would be fine.

Manual Beds

Manual beds are adjusted manually by hand cranks which raise and lower certain sections of the bed. Usually, manual beds are cheaper than semi-electric or full electric beds. However, if you need to make regular adjustments throughout the day, then a manual bed isn't the best option. Manual beds are good for someone who doesn't need to be repositioned frequently.


  • Cheaper than semi-electric and electric beds
  • Can be adjusted by hand to the same positions as electric beds


  • Can be physically taxing to adjust positions

Semi-Electric Beds

The head and foot position of semi-electric beds can be adjusted by an electric motor, however, the bed height has to be adjusted by hand. This can be a good option for someone who needs frequent repositioning. If you don't have to adjust the bed height often, then a semi-electric bed is a good option.


  • Cheaper than full electric beds
  • Easy to adjust the head and foot positions


  • Strength is needed for bed height adjustment

Full Electric Beds

The difference between full electric beds and semi-electric beds is that the height can also be adjusted by an electric motor. This is useful for someone who has to spend a lot of time in bed and who needs the bed height adjusted to get in and out of bed.


  • Everything is fully electric
  • Easy for caregivers to provide care


  • More expensive than manual or semi-electric beds

Attribution link: By Mercurywoodrose (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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