May 21, 2024

Powered and Manual Hospital Beds: Choosing the Right Option

Hospital beds are a crucial part of inpatient medical care. They are designed to provide patients with both comfort and support during recovery or treatment. There are two main types of hospital beds – powered beds and manual beds. Each have their own unique benefits for patients and caregivers. In this article, we will explore the key differences between powered and manual hospital beds.

Powered Beds

Powered hospital beds, also called electric beds, use an electrical system to adjust positions and heights. Some of the main features of powered beds include:

Head and Foot Adjustments

Powered beds allow caregivers and patients to easily raise or lower the head and foot sections of the bed through remote controls or touchpad panels. This makes it simpler to prop patients up into sitting or reclining positions. The head can be raised up to 70-90 degrees while the foot end can be elevated around 30-45 degrees. Patients find these adjustable positions more comfortable for activities like reading, eating meals, or watching TV from bed. It reduces strain on caregivers who don’t have to manually crank or push heavy levers.

Height Adjustment

In addition to adjustable bed positions, powered hospital beds can raise and lower the entire bed surface using an electrical lifting system. The height can typically be varied from 16-40 inches depending on the model. This height adjustment allows caregivers to easily move the bed to a suitable working level for tasks like checking vitals, delivering meals, or assisting patients in and out of bed. It reduces back strain compared to manually cranking the height with leverage systems. Patients also find it simpler to get in and out of powered beds at an ergonomic height.

Other Features

Beyond basic positioning and height adjustment, some premium powered beds include additional safety, monitoring and convenience features. Side rails can often be controlled up or down electrically. Beds may have scale integration to weigh patients. More advanced models have therapy surfaces that alternately inflate and deflate to prevent bed sores. Some powered beds can even monitor a patient’s heart rate, respiration and oxygen levels through integrated sensors. Preset profiles allow common position routines to be programmed for easy access.

Manual Beds

Manual or crank-operated hospital beds require physical effort to adjust positions and heights through hand cranks and lever systems. Some characteristics of manual beds include:

Adjusting Positions

To raise or lower the head or foot sections of a manual bed, caregivers must locate and operate large steel levers or hand cranks on the side of the bed. This involves exerting force and repetitive motions to ratchet the cranks and manually adjust positions incrementally. Since the movement cannot be finely controlled or operated from a distance like powered beds, it places more strain on caregivers and is less adjustable for patients who want minor tweaks to their position.

Changing Heights

Similarly, height adjustments on manual beds are achieved through cranking heavy levers or pumps located at the foot end of the bed. Multiple pumps or cranks may need to be operated simultaneously, requiring more physical exertion from caregivers compared to the simple button-push or touchscreen controls of powered beds. Heights may only be adjustable in 6 inch increments which is less precise.

Lower Upfront Cost

The main advantage of manual hospital beds is their significantly lower upfront purchase price compared to high-tech powered beds. Basic manual beds can cost a few hundred dollars while powered beds range from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on features. For medical facilities with tighter budgets, manual beds provide an affordable option. However, their long term costs may be higher due to greater staff injuries from heavy lifting and repetitive motions over time.


Both powered and manual hospital beds serve important functions in modern medical facilities. For patient comfort, safety and precise adjustments, powered beds are preferable but represent a higher initial investment. Manual beds remain a budget-friendly solution although they impart more physical demands on caregivers. Considering long term costs like staff injuries, the total ownership expenses of powered beds may actually be lower in many situations. Facilities must weigh their priorities and financial capabilities to determine the best option.


  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it