A Look at Vehicle Wheelchair Lifts

One of the most difficult aspects for many users of electric wheelchairs is figuring out how to safely and easily transport their mobility vehicle.

Often times, portable models are available, but most portable electric wheelchairs are lacking in features and functionality, in an effort to reduce weight. As a result, even though portable power chairs are often much easier to transport, they commonly lack the range, speed, and comfort that is offered by a full sized power chair. Fortunately, vehicle wheelchair lifts provide a easy and reliable way to transport most electric wheelchairs.

Hitch Mounted Wheelchair Lifts

The Hitch Mounted Wheelchair Lift is the easiest type of wheelchair lift to install or remove. All it requires is a square hitch installed on the vehicle. Most vehicle wheelchair lifts require at least a Class II hitch and to get the full weight capacity of the lift, a Class III hitch.

To install a hitch mounted wheelchair lift, it is simply slid into the square hitch and secured with a pin. For electrical models without their own battery pack, most can simply be plugged into the vehicles trailer light plug.

There are actually several different types of hitch mounted wheelchair lifts available, but most use an electrical lifting platform, which lowers to the ground and allows the wheelchair to be driven onto. The platform is then raised and the power chair secured. Some include an automatic lockdown arm, which holds the wheelchair in place as the wheelchair lift rises. Other require that the user strap down the power chair.

There are also tilting models available that use no power at all, which are popular for lighter electric wheelchairs.

The major advantage of a hitch mounted wheelchair lift is that it can be installed in only a few minutes without any modification to the vehicle. Subsequently, it can be removed just as easily.

Crane Wheelchair Lifts

Crane Wheelchair Lifts operate similar to a crane on a construction site. A harness is attached to the wheelchair, which is then hoisted off of the ground and moved into the vehicle by the crane lift. Often, crane lifts are installed into the trunk of a car or other area with minimal space. In these cases, the seat of the wheelchair will typically have to be removed before raising the wheelchair off of the ground.

There are also hitch mounted crane lifts available, which are especially popular on trucks, as they can quickly and easily move a wheelchair into the bed of a pickup truck and do not require any permanent installation.

When investing in a crane wheelchair lift, it is a good idea to go with one that has powered rotation. Powered rotation means that the cranes boom can be operated with a remote control, so swinging the wheelchair into the vehicle does not require any more effort than pushing a button.

Internal Wheelchair Lifts

Internal wheelchair lifts are very popular and use an electric platform to extend a platform from the vehicle. The wheelchair is driven onto the platform, which then lifts the wheelchair and stores it inside of the vehicle.

Internal wheelchair lifts are probably most recognized as van lifts, which are installed in the passenger compartment of a van, after a row of seats has been removed. However, they can also be installed into the trunk of an SUV or Van.

One of the major advantages of using an internal wheelchair lift is that the wheelchair is stored inside the vehicle, away from the elements. Of course, this comes at the cost of lost space. For those who drive themselves around, a van wheelchair lift can make transferring into and out of the drive seat much easier though.

Internal wheelchair lifts require a more permanent installation than other types of wheelchair lifts.

Vehicle Mobility Scooter Lifts

For mobility scooter users, vehicle scooter carriers are available that are similar to those described above. In fact, there are a number of universal vehicle wheelchair lifts that can be used with both electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters. However, there are also some that will only work with wheelchairs or scooters. For mobility scooter users, it is important to know how many wheels the mobility scooter has, either three or four, as this is one of the most important factors when determining if a wheelchair lift will work with a mobility scooter.