Deciding Between Wheelchair Lift or a Wheelchair Ramp

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.

Wheelchair Ramps

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.

Wheelchair Lifts

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.