Your Wheelchair and Mobility Scooter Resource
Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
In the home, while building codes and inspections are required, there is generally a much more relaxed attitude towards the use of safety devices, such as wheelchair ramps or porch lifts, but in a commercial environment, there is a much stricter process of ensuring that these sorts of devices not only meet code, but also receive regular maintenance. For this reason, when someone wants to install a commercial wheelchair lift, there are a number of factors that must be considered.
Porch lifts, which is a more colloquial term for vertical platform lifts, are in many ways very similar to an elevator. However, where an elevator requires a great deal of structure, namely the elevator shaft, a vertical platform lift is a single self contained unit. The main advantage of vertical platform lifts over elevators is that they can be placed next to a staircase, providing full access to the area, but with little actual modification to the existing structure of the building.
When considering installing a commercial wheelchair lift, however, the distinction between elevator and wheelchair lift is often a little less clear, as many cities and municipalities classify these devices as elevators, which must meet similar codes and requirements.
So, the first step for any business owner wishing to install a vertical platform lift, should always be to check city or county codes. A good place to start is to call up your local inspector, which is often located in town hall. If they do not know the codes that a wheelchair lift would fall under, they will be able to point you in the right direction. However, it is important to find and read the required code, with reference books often being available at the library.
Making sure the wheelchair lift meets code is important not only for safety and inspection purposes, but also for reducing the risk of a lawsuit or injury. It is important to keep in mind that while in some cases, a vertical platform lift might bring a busi9ness up to code, such as if the business does not meet ADA standards and has no wheelchair ramp, it can also open the business owner up to litigation if there is an injury on the device or a malfunction.
There are several things that a business owner can do to mitigate these risks, such as using a commercially rated wheelchair lift that well exceeds the lifting requirements of the users. In addition to a larger lifting capacity, having a locking mechanism, so the wheelchair lift can only be operated by authorized personal is also very important.
It is also essential that a door is present at the top of the landing, so when the wheelchair lift is moving or at the bottom of the stairs, someone can not fall through the opening. Many commercial wheelchair lifts include a built in door, but it can also be added as an extension of the existing handrail.
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
Wheelchairs are a powerful tool used to help those who have difficulty walking or getting around. There are many types of wheelchairs, including sports wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, and electric wheelchairs. While incredibly useful, one common problem among wheelchair users is accessing areas that have staircases. One option to increase accessibility is to use a vertical platform lift.
Vertical platform lifts are basically small elevators, but unlike a regular elevator, the unit is entirely self contained. Vertical platform lifts, which are also called porch lifts and wheelchair lifts, are placed next to the landing of a staircase and raise vertically to the top of the landing. Depending on the model, some porch lifts can raise up to 12 feet, which is rather high for a front porch.
Vertical platform lifts are similar to stair lifts, in that they are designed to be used by those who have difficulty using the stairs. However, unlike a stair lift, which only provides a chair or small platform to stand on, it is possible to drive a wheelchair directly onto the vertical platform lift. As a result, they can be used with manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and even mobility scooters, with most supporting over 500 pounds of weight.
Installing a wheelchair lift is usually very easy, but it requires a sturdy base that is capable of not only supporting the weight of the wheelchair lift, but also the people using it. The base should be made out of concrete or wood and it is very important to consider drainage as well. Proper drainage will prevent water from pooling up under the wheelchair lift, as well as keeping the area around it free from mud or pooled water. It is also important to consider roof water runoff, so it is important to have gutters installed above the wheelchair lift if it is to be installed under an overhang. Also, care should be taken to remove any limbs that may fall on the wheelchair lift during a storm.
Aside from a sturdy base, the only main requirement is that there is enough room next to the landing to install the wheelchair lift. This is because the platform of the wheelchair lift moves vertically from the ground to the landing and back down again, so it must be able to be placed next to the staircases landing. As a result, wheelchair lifts will often not work on interior staircases. In this case, a special platform stair lift is used, which uses a platform attached to a metal track running the length of the staircase to transport the wheelchair user. However, the exception to this rule is in commercial settings, such as schools and churches, where it is often possible to install the wheelchair lift directly next to the staircase’s landing.
Wheelchair lifts offer a very easy and cost effective way of making the home more accessible to wheelchair users, but many people still prefer to use a ramp. The main advantage of a wheelchair ramp is that it is usually considerably less expensive than a wheelchair lift, especially if you build it out of wood.
Monday, November 23rd, 2009
For wheelchair users, making sure that all areas of a home is accessible is very important, not just to make getting around easy, but also to address safety concerns. In most cases, ensuring a home is wheelchair friendly starts with the front entrance.
Depending on how a home is set up, the front or side door usually presents the first and sometimes only hurdle to a wheelchair user. So, finding a way to safely and cost effectively bridge this gap is very important and largely depends on the type of door in the home.
Most homes have at least one or two steps separating around most entrances, which can present a very big obstacle to those who use wheelchairs.
If there are only a few steps, installing a small ramp is sometimes the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way of ensuring wheelchair access.
Ramps come in a variety of sizes and designs, both made out of wood and metal. Since the length of a wheelchair ramp is directly proportional to the length of the staircase, the lower the staircase, the shorter the ramp.
If the staircase is only a few feet high, it is usually possible to install a very short ramp, which can be removed or repositioned as necessary. Often, folding metal ramps are used, which are also popular for use with larger vans. If the ramp does not fold, then it is usually made as a single piece, much like a large board of plywood, but much stronger and more rigid.
One of the main advantages of using a short semi-permanent ramp is cost, as these tend to be the least expensive to build or purchase. They can also be quickly removed as needed and typically don’t take up all that much space. However, these types of ramps only work on very short stairways.
For larger staircases, a much longer ramp is needed. Depending on space, this sometimes means creating a zig-zag design, rather than a straight ramp. Usually, as a result of how much longer of a ramp you would need for a larger staircase, installing the ramp on the front of the house is a necessity.
Like the smaller ramps, it is possible to go with a metal or wooden design. The wooden design is popular, as the materials to build a wheelchair ramp are not very expensive, so if you know someone who is handy, building your own wheelchair ramp is often the best choice from a monetary standpoint. Metal wheelchair ramps are also available and come in sections, making it a modular wheelchair ramp. The number of sections varies by the height of the steps and installing the ramp is simply a matter of connecting the individual sections.
Wheelchair ramps are popular as they do not require any electricity to use and usually don’t have any moving parts, so there are few points that could fail. In most cases, providing the proper type of wood is used and faulty boards are replaced as needed, a wooden wheelchair ramp will last as long as needed.
However, wheelchair ramps do require that the user is able to move themselves along the ramp and depending on the height of the staircase, they can take up a great deal of yard space.
Wheelchair lifts or, as they are typically referred to in the industry, vertical platform lifts, represent one of the easiest and safest ways of increasing staircase accessibility. For all intensive purposes, a vertical platform lift is simply a self-contained elevator. Unlike the type of elevators you would see inside of a building, wheelchair lifts do not require a large shaft in the home or much modification to the home. Instead, wheelchair lifts need only be placed next to the staircase landing on a strong surface made out of wood or concrete.
To use a wheelchair lift, the user simply drives their wheelchair onto its platform and activates the call buttons. The platform than lowers or rises the distance of the staircase. One of the advantages of a wheelchair lift is that it can be used easily and requires very little effort on the part of the wheelchair user or caretaker. Simply pushing a button is all it takes to make the stairs safer. Wheelchair lifts also do not take up much front yard space.
However, wheelchair lifts represent the most expensive option, costing significantly more than building your own wheelchair ramp.
Friday, October 16th, 2009
Before ordering a vertical platform lift, it is important to ensure that you have a place where it can be installed in your home. These devices work by raising a platform straight up in the air to the top of a staircase, so must be placed directly next to the staircase landing. The placement is important, because when the platform of the wheelchair lift is completely raised, the user can drive their wheelchair directly from the landing onto the platform.
It is usually necessary to remove a section of the handrail from the landing. Some porch lifts offer a door that goes in place of the removed handrail, so it is not possible to drive or fall off the landing when the platform is not present. It is also possible to build your own door.
Wheelchair lifts require a solid base, which will be able to support both the weight of the lift and anyone that is using it. The best sort of base is one made out of concrete, but a wooden base will also suffice. For temporary installations, it is also sometimes possible to mount the wheelchair lift on a few 2 by 4′s, which are buried in the ground. However, this should only be used temporarily, while a concrete or permanent wooden base is being built.
In addition to providing adequate weight support, the platform should also have adequate drainage, so water does not pool under the lift when it rains. This isn’t usually a problem with wooden bases, but is common in concrete bases. If at all possible, a drain should be installed in the concrete base.
Another consideration is the way the water runs off of the roof, as most wheelchair lifts will be installed partially under the roof overhang. This means that gutters should be installed over the porch lift and they should be kept clean, to avoid water runoff.
Falling tree branches could also cause problems, so if there are any branches overhanging where the lift will be installed, they should be removed prior to installing the wheelchair lift.
An electrical outlet must also be located near the wheelchair lift.
Once the prep work is done, the actual installation usually goes very smoothly and quickly. Some wheelchair lifts do not require any assembly at all, but most come in a few pieces. However, even if there is some assembly required, it usually very simple.
After the lift itself has been assembled, it is necessary to move it onto its base. If the base is made out of concrete, it will be necessary to use anchor bolts drilled into the concrete. For wooden bases, it is simply a matter of screwing the bolts into the wood.
Once secured to the base, the wheelchair lift can simply be plugged in and it is ready to go.
Thursday, September 24th, 2009
There are usually some areas with limited wheelchair accessibility that wheelchair users must face when away from home, but there is no reason that any area in your own home should not be wheelchair accessible. Yet, for many this is something that must be faced, with narrow doorways often being a problem.
Another, perhaps even more important obstacle, is the front staircases that adorns most homes. For many wheelchair users, the first step in making their home more wheelchair friendly is to find a way to easily use the front porch.
There are two ways that the front porch is usually made wheelchair accessible, namely by installing a wheelchair ramp or a wheelchair lift.
Wheelchair ramps are very common and are often built out of wood by the homeowner. There are a number of free wheelchair ramp plans, which can provide an easy way to increase accessibility. Going the wooden wheelchair ramp route is often the least expensive option and allows the homeowner to custom fit the wheelchair ramp to their yard.
Another option is to use a prefabricated modular wheelchair ramp system. These systems are made out of metal and come in short sections, which are then securely bolted together. The height of the staircase, as well as how many bends are needed in the ramp, determine how many sections are needed. Many people prefer the shiny metal look of modular wheelchair ramps, which are also more weather resistant than wooden wheelchair ramps. However, they are a great deal more expensive than building your own wooden wheelchair ramp.
One disadvantage of using a wheelchair ramp is that they can take up a great deal of space in the yard. This depends on how high the front porch is, with a higher front porch requiring a longer wheelchair ramp. In areas where there is a very small front yard, this might mean that most of the space will be taken up by the wheelchair ramp.
Wheelchair lifts provide a much more low profile solution and are basically mini-elevators. The technical name for a wheelchair lift is a vertical platform lift, which describes how these devices work. The wheelchair lift is placed next to the landing of the front porch, with a platform rising vertically from the ground to the front porch.
While vertical platform lifts are similar in concept to an elevator, the entire unit is self-contained, so with the exception of providing a sturdy base for the lift, there is little modification to the structure of the home. The base can be made of wood or concrete, with proper drainage being very important. When considering the placement of the wheelchair lift, it is important to take into account how water drains off the roof, because you do not want it draining directly onto the lift, even though wheelchair lifts are weather resistant.
The main advantage of a vertical platform lift, other than the small amount of space it takes up, is that it provides a virtually effortless means of entering the house. The user need only drive their wheelchair onto the platform and push a button, with the lift doing the rest of the work.
From a cost perspective, vertical platform lifts do usually cost considerably more than wooden wheelchair ramps. However, with the high price of modular metal wheelchair ramps, there is not always as large of a price difference between wheelchair lifts and metal wheelchair ramps.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
For those who use electric wheelchairs or other types of mobility vehicles, ensuring that the home is wheelchair friendly is incredibly important. There are many things that can decrease accessibility, such as narrow doors or raised door frames, but of all areas in a home, often the front steps present the largest hurdle.
Since building a wheelchair ramp takes up a lot of the front yard, with the same being true of modular metal wheelchair ramps, which are more expensive, many wheelchair users turn to vertical platform lifts to increase accessibility.
Vertical platform lifts are often called wheelchair lifts or porch lifts, as they are most often seen on the front porch of a home. In many ways, vertical platform lifts are very similar to elevators, however unlike an elevator, a vertical platform lift is a completely self-contained unit. The lifting system, lifting shaft, and lifting platform are basically a single unit, which can simply be placed next to a staircase, typically without having to preform any major modification to the home.
Porch lifts work by raising a metal platform from the ground to the staircase landing. The porch lift is placed directly next to the staircase landing and rises vertically. Most have a base lifting height of about 4 feet, which can then be upgraded as needed.
The shaft of the wheelchair lift is designed with stability and weight capacity in mind. It is not uncommon for a wheelchair lift to support more than 700 pounds, so multiple people can use it at once, or the device can be used to make bringing groceries or furniture into the home.
The platform of most wheelchair lifts is surrounded to prevent rolling off of the lift while it is in motion. Many also include locking gates for the top landing, which can greatly reduce the risk of a fall. These types of safety gates and doors are often a requirement for commercial wheelchair lifts.
As a result of how these devices are used, vertical platform lifts work incredibly well on the front porch of a home, but will not work with many residential indoor staircases. The exception being schools, churches, and other commercial buildings, where vertical platform lifts are often well suited for indoor use. Whether the wheelchair lift can be used indoors depends on if the lift can be placed next to the landing and rise high enough to reach it. Most wheelchair lifts have a maximum lifting height of 12 feet.
Instead, for indoor use, an inclined platform lift is often a better choice to increase wheelchair accessibility. Inclined platform lifts use a metal track that is attached to the wall of the staircase, running its entire distance. A car, which consists of a large platform and is surrounded by a protective gate, moves along the track, carrying a single wheelchair user.
Inclined platform lifts can be pretty large though, so on narrower staircases, they might not work. However, when not in use, the inclined platform lift can be folded, so the staircase can still be used.
Friday, September 18th, 2009
One of the most common dilemmas faced by those who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters is how to safely and easily move these devices into and out of the home. There are several popular options, which include installing a wheelchair ramp or using a vertical platform lift.
Wheelchair ramps are often found in commercial settings made out of poured concrete, but they are also popular in residential settings. For use in homes, the concrete wheelchair lift is not as popular though, with most people using a wooden wheelchair ramp or a modular metal wheelchair ramp.
In the case of wooden ramps, a number of plans are available, which can built by those who are reasonably handy with tools and knowledgeable with woodwork. There are usually a number of local handymen who can be hired to build a wooden wheelchair ramp as well.
It is important to invest in quality treated lumber, which will be able to withstand water and the elements. While a wooden wheelchair ramp is usually less expensive, the lumber and other building supplies can quickly add up.
Modular metal ramps are also popular, as they only need to be fitted together at the home, greatly reducing the installation time and cost. However, a modular metal ramp typically costs a good deal more than it would cost to build a wooden wheelchair ramp. It is more durable though and many like the shiny metal look over the wooden feel offered by a wooden wheelchair ramp.
When deciding what type of ramp to purchase, it is important to consider whether a full ramp is needed or simply a threshold ramp. For very short distances, a threshold ramp can be a very cost effective type of wheelchair ramp, which is basically a metal plank that attaches to the door frame and can usually bridge a few steps. However, a threshold ramp will only work on very short distances.
While wheelchair ramps can be cost effective, they have two major drawbacks. One is the amount of space they take up in the yard. The length of the ramp is directly related to the height of the staircase, so in many cases, a wheelchair ramp will have to be very long, taking up a good deal of real estate on the lawn. Not only can this be a drawback when it comes to how the home looks, but for those with animals or small children, this loss of yard space can greatly affect how the home is used.
The other main drawback is that even though the incline is not very large, you still must move the wheelchair up what is essentially a hill when you use a wheelchair ramp. In the case of some older wheelchair users and those who use manual wheelchairs, this might not be possible. Even if you have someone to push the person up the ramp, it can require a great deal of effort and there are some risks associated with wheelchair ramps.
Another option for those who use mobility vehicles, like wheelchairs and electric scooters, is the vertical platform lift. Vertical platform lifts are also called wheelchair lifts and provide what is essentially a mini-elevator that is installed next to the front steps. A metal platform, of varying size, is provided for the wheelchair user to drive onto. When activated, the platform rises upwards until it is parallel with the front steps.
While in functionality a wheelchair lift is very similar to an elevator, the entire unit is self contained, so there is no need to build an elevator shaft or worry about running any cables. Instead, once the wheelchair lift is assembled, it can simply be placed where it is needed and turned on, instantly bridging the gap between the ground and the front steps.
These devices are also called porch lifts, because they are usually used on the front porch of a home, but they are also popular in schools and other commercial buildings.
Porch lifts include a number of safety settings, with doors available for both the top and bottom of the staircase. This can be important, because to install a porch lift it is usually necessary to remove a section of the handrail at the top of the landing. A door with call button at the top of the landing can serve as a gate, preventing falls when the porch lift is at the bottom of the staircase.
Vertical platform lifts are very popular because they are easy to install and do not take up much space. As a result, they can be used in many areas where a wheelchair ramp would not fit or would take up too much yard space. These wheelchair lifts are also quite powerful, with most supporting around 700 pounds and can span distances of up to 12 feet. In some cases where the porch is very high off the ground, the amount of space required to make a wheelchair ramp would be very excessive, where using a wheelchair lift requires only a few feet.
Due to their weight capacity, wheelchair lifts can also be used as service elevators, making moving heavy objects up the stairs much easier. It is also not uncommon for two people to use the porch lift at once, with one in a wheelchair or mobility scooter and the other behind them.
Wheelchair lifts do, however, cost more than most wheelchair ramps, although this is not always the case with modular metal wheelchair ramps, which can end up being pretty expensive as well.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Wheelchair users, both at home and away, usually have trouble with areas that have stairs. Areas with stairs can be very difficult for those using wheelchairs to access. Around the home, this can greatly decrease accessibility, as most homes have a staircase on the front of the home and may also have one inside. To help increase accessibility at home, many people use vertical platform lifts and inclined platform lifts, both of these devices greatly increase accessibility by allowing a wheelchair user full access to their home.
Vertical platform lifts, which are commonly called wheelchair lifts, are most often used on the front steps of a home. The entire unit is basically an elevator, with a strong lifting motor, elevator shaft, and lifting platform all rolled into one single unit.
A wheelchair lift is placed next to the landing of a staircase. A large metal rectangle or square is provided, which the wheelchair user drives their wheelchair directly onto. The platform then raises vertically to the top of the landing and back down again. Depending on what type of vertical platform lift is used, there are many safety features available. For instance, many include locking doors on the platform, to reduce falls. It is also common for a door to be placed at the top of the landing.
Vertical platform lifts can usually support a minimum of 500 pounds, although this can vary by model, with some supporting more than 700 pounds. Due to their weight capacity, vertical platform lifts can be used by those with manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. It is also often possible for multiple people to use the wheelchair lift at once, providing they do not exceed the weight capacity of the device.
While wheelchair lifts work very well on the front of the house, they do not always work on interior staircases. This is because the lift must be placed next to the landing and then raises the user up to the top of the landing. For many interior staircases, this setup just simply does not work.
To provide interior access to a home with an interior staircase, it is often necessary to use an incline platform lift. Inclined platformed lifts provide a metal track that is attached to the wall of the staircase and runs its entire length. The wheelchair user is carried up the staircase on a platform, which is attached to the metal track.
Inclined platform lifts can be used on most types of staircases, including curved ones. However, they do take up a good deal of space on the staircase. This is because the platform that carries the wheelchair user must be large enough for the person and their wheelchair, while also containing guard rails and an electric motor. So, an incline wheelchair lift may not fit on smaller staircases.
Inclined wheelchair lifts can usually be used by those in manual wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs, as well as people using mobility scooters. An incline platform lift operates very similarly to a stair lift, which is used by seniors who have difficulty using the stairs.
Both vertical platform lifts and inclined platform lifts are very popular in commercial settings, such as schools, churches, and office buildings.
Monday, July 27th, 2009
For someone who relies upon a wheelchair or other type of mobility vehicle, using the stairs can be very difficult, if not impossible. As a result, when away from home it is typically necessary to avoid areas with staircases. However, at home this is often not a practical response, as avoiding the staircase might mean you can not get into or out of your own home. To improve accessibility and make it easier to gain access to their home, many wheelchair users choose to install a wheelchair ramp or a vertical platform lift on their front steps.
In some instances, choosing to install a wheelchair ramp will be the least expensive option to improve accessibility. Many people custom build a wheelchair ramp out of wood or hire a company to do so, which can be very affordable. It is also possible to buy a modular wheelchair ramp kit, which is made of metal and comes in sections. The height of the staircase dictates how many sections are required and when the ramp arrives, the individual sections are joined together.
When there is only one or two steps that must be overcome, a number of threshold wheelchair ramps are available, which are inexpensive and do not require much installation.
While in some cases a wheelchair ramp is less expensive, in the case of modular wheelchair ramps, there is often little difference in the cost of a vertical platform lift. Wheelchair ramps can also take up a lot of space in the yard, with the amount of space dependent on how high the staircase is. Using a wheelchair ramp is also sometimes difficult for those who use manual wheelchairs.
Vertical platform lifts are basically a self contained elevator, which includes an elevator shaft, lifting motor, and lifting platform, all in one unit. Vertical platform lifts, which are often called wheelchair lifts, are installed next to a staircase’s landing and raise vertically between the ground and the landing of the staircase. The user simply maneuvers their wheelchair onto the wheelchair lifts platform and pushes a button, with the wheelchair lift doing the rest.
Most wheelchair lifts have a default lifting height that is around four feet. The device can then usually be upgraded to up to 12 feet, depending on the needs of the user. Most wheelchair lifts support around 500 pounds, with models available that can support over 700 pounds. As long as the lifts weight capacity is not exceeded, multiple people can use the wheelchair lift at once, which can be very useful for caregivers.
Vertical platform lifts require a solid base that is designed to support both the weight of the lift, which is quite heavy, and the weight of the people who will be using the device.
While wheelchair lifts are very easy to use and make using the stairs simple and trouble free, they do typically cost more than a wheelchair ramp, although this is not always the case with modular wheelchair ramps. Most wheelchair ramps cost between $3,500 and $12,000.
Deciding between a wheelchair lift or a wheelchair ramp is an important choice, which should take into account the location where the device is needed, as well as the physical attributes of the person who will be using it.