THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN SELECTING A WHEEL ARE:
SIZE OF THE WHEEL HEAD.
At least 14" is usually desired, but not required for small pots.
SIZE OF THE MOTOR.
This determines the maximum amount of clay you can center. Professionals look for wheels that can center at least 50 lbs of clay. It usually takes years of practice before you can center this much clay. (Note: different wheel manufacturers spec their motors differently, so the horsepower and pounds of clay isn't directly comparable between them. For example, some specify peak horsepower and others average horsepower. Wheels with larger motors stay cooler and you power doesn't degrade as you use the wheel.)
If you throw or trim clockwise, this allows the wheel to spin the opposite direction with the flip of a switch. People who learned to throw in Asia, or people in the US who are left handed often throw clockwise instead of counterclockwise.
DRILLED HOLES FOR BATS.
This allow you to use bat pins to attach bats, so you can easily remove them and start throwing on another one. All wheels we sell come drilled.
Some wheels give you work area to put your tools, water bucket, etc. Unless you are going to build your own platform some type of work surface is required.
There are various types, one of which may appeal to you more than another.
Most wheels make noise, and the lower end wheels make more. The Whisper wheels are virtually quiet.
ELECTRIC VS KICK WHEEL.
Some people prefer the quiet zen-like character of a kick wheel. Just remember these weigh 300 pounds and are difficult to move around.
Some wheels are lightweight or even fit on a tabletop which makes it easier if you are moving it between locations, doing demonstrations, and are well suited for smaller children.
BUDGET VS STANDARD VS PROFESSIONAL.
The Budget wheels work fine but will be louder, not as smooth, not as powerful. All the Standard and Professional wheels will satisfy almost any potter and can be expected to last a lifetime.
The highest price does not necessarily mean the best wheel. Look for a balance of features that are in your price range, and you can expect all these wheels to last a long time!