Very Impressed with the VELA Chair
We want to share a very thorough review of the VELA Tango 700E Chair. It has just been reviewed by Isobel and the British lifestyle blog “Access Your Life”.
Access Your Life provides a voice and actionable advice for navigating the challenges of living with a disability in an often inaccessible world. Their mission goes beyond mere advocacy; they aim to simplify the complex journey many face when seeking reliable equipment reviews, devoid of commercial pitches.
By Isobel Jones
Isobel Jones is a Case Manager at Access Your Life. She helps people discover the best mobility equipment for them to live their lives to the fullest.
Reason For Using the VELA Chair
I was interested in the VELA Chair particularly for use in the kitchen, as tasks such as cooking and unstacking the dishwasher are things I really struggle with due to the amount of pottering involved, to the point I am not typically able to manage them. The VELA Chair appealed to me because it is designed to offer support while being foot-propelled and has an electric lift feature, meaning it seemed like a good solution for me in the kitchen on paper as it could help me reach the top cupboards seated, so I wanted to explore further.
I tried a VELA Chair for Independence 700E.
Packaging & Delivery
Chris from VELA Chairs delivered the demo unit to my house and gave me a full guided tour of all the chair’s features. Chris was brilliant and hugely knowledgeable. 10/10.
Using the VELA Chair
I started by using the chair at my desk like a standard office chair. It is highly adjustable and can be set up exactly how you want. The levers were easily reachable and easy to control such that it was easy to finetune my position, something I find difficult to do when using my normal chair. This also meant that I could easily adjust my position throughout the day, changing the bucket of the seat every so often to keep myself comfortable, which in turn helped my back pain and allowed me to sit for longer.
The electronic lift feature meant that I could adjust my height easily throughout the day, sometimes having my feet on the floor and other times with my legs dangling. Again, this was easy to do, which helped keep me comfortable using the chair for longer. I was worried the chair’s footprint would be too large, but it was no larger than a standard 5-wheeled office chair and easily fit under my desk.
The chair doesn’t rotate quite like a standard office chair and is typically fixed in position. You can change the fixed position in 90° chunks, but it never freely swings around like my normal chair, which I missed when using the chair at my desk, as quickly reaching things to the side was more difficult. However, the lack of rotation made the chair much more stable when using it in the kitchen later, so I can see why this choice was made.
In the kitchen
The chair really came into its own when I took it downstairs to use in the kitchen. It is quite heavy, meaning it was no easy feat to get it down the stairs and not something you could do regularly but, once in the kitchen, the VELA Chair gave me a lot of freedom. It was easy to foot propel on laminate flooring, though you need to wear something with a bit of grip on your feet, such as shoes or slipper socks to ensure you have enough traction to move the chair. The 4-wheel design makes it easy to travel in your desired direction, unlike regular 5-wheeled chairs and stools that are much harder to control. The centre of gravity is low, meaning it is, and feels, secure, so you don’t worry about tipping over or being unbalanced. It was brilliant to have a chair for the kitchen that offered me the full support I'm looking for, which helped me stay comfortable for longer periods.
When stationary, you are meant to apply to the brake every time for stability though I often found myself forgetting. It didn’t matter too much if I was just sitting still, but the brake feature was useful when reaching forward into a cupboard or standing up out of the chair as it stops the chair from rolling away from you and helps keep you steady.
You can also use the chair as a perching stool if desired, as the seat can angle forward to allow this, and the lift feature can allow you to set the height correctly to perch. I can confirm that this works and is easy to set up, but this isn’t something I tried out long-term as I don’t find perching comfortable.
The best feature of the chair I found was the lift feature. It went low enough that I could easily reach into low cupboards without having to crouch (something my body pretty much refuses to do) and high enough that I was at a comfortable height to work on the countertops. I wish it had gone a bit higher so that I could have reached the top cupboards a little more easily, but I spoke with Chris about this, and he said that this is perfectly possible, and your desired height range would be discussed during the assessment before you place an order. The lift feature also helped reduce my knee pain as I could raise the chair to its maximum before standing up, which meant my sit-to-stand was not as far. Applying the brake also allows you to push down on a solid/sturdy base to help you get up.
Using this chair allowed me to cook dinner for my family for the first time in three years – cooking is a big independence skill I struggle with simply due to the amount of standing and pottering it involves. This chair made it suddenly seem like cooking might be something I could manage with the right technology. This was the most life-changing aspect of the chair for me. I was worried about using the chair when carrying a pan of boiling water to the sink but found this wasn’t an issue. The chair is stable and secure, meaning I could trust it to go where I needed to.
The VELA Chair also helped me with other tasks such as hanging up the washing and emptying the dishwasher. The lift feature means you can easily hang washing on both the bottom and top of the rack without overly stooping or reaching outside of normal ranges (see photos above). The feature is also helpful for unstacking the dishwasher as again, it stops you bending over so far and helps keep you steady. It is much easier to control than the 5 wheeled stool I use normally, which meant I no longer crashed around the kitchen and was instead moving much more intentionally.
The biggest downside of the chair is the price, it’s very expensive there’s no denying. There is funding available through Access To Work, Disabled Students’ Allowance and some other schemes, but if you are buying out of pocket, they aren’t cheap.
Conclusion & Recommendation
Overall, I was very impressed with this chair. It is a good office chair that is very easy to adjust, but where it really shines is in the kitchen. It allowed me to cook a full meal for the first time in years and I was very sad to give it (and the independence it gave me) back at the end of the trial. If you struggle to potter around the kitchen as much as you need to, bend or reach high places, or are unsteady on your feet and want the extra support, I highly recommend looking at the VELA Chair.