A wheel chair lift can make life much simpler for someone who is disabled or in a wheel chair. Many homeowners who have someone using a wheel chair will install a lift in order to give their loved one full access to their house, while churches, schools and other public buildings install them so they can serve people from all walks of life efficiently. In some cases, a business may even need to install a lift to meet federal guidelines for handicap accessibility. But there are many different makes and models of lifts, each with different features. To make sure you’re investing in the right style of lift for you and your needs, take the time to learn about the different types.
There are three main styles of wheel chair lift on the market today. All of them will safely raise and lower an individual in a wheel chair, but not all offer the same features or range. A vertical platform lift is installed near a stairway, but not on it, and resembles an elevator. It raises and lowers the person in a wheelchair straight up and down and can usually hold at least 500 pounds. Most vertical platform wheel chair lifts can be installed fairly easily in residential homes, although they are sometimes also used for public buildings.
An inclined platform lift is generally the largest and most stable style of lift. It is installed inside the stair railing of a flight of stairs and can be installed indoors or out. These are most commonly seen in public buildings such as government offices and public schools. They are very stable, usually have an extra high capacity weight limit and will last for years. On the down side, they can be expensive and they usually take up a lot of space, so they aren’t practical for smaller homes or narrow hallways, where they can obstruct the flow of traffic.
Portable wheel chair lifts aren’t installed as permanent fixtures. They are usually used for temporary situations, such as raising a disabled person to the upper tier of bleachers at a sporting event, to use when visiting friends or relatives, or when traveling. They can be folded or collapsed for storage or easily wheeled from location to location as needed. Most portable wheel chair lifts are electric; all you need is a power supply to plug it into.
Inclined platform lifts and vertical platform lifts can both be found in electric and hydraulic models. An electric model is easy to use, efficient and needs nothing but a power cord for operation. Hydraulic models, however, tend to give a smoother ride and are self-leveling. They also are quieter, but the cost of a hydraulic system is often prohibitive for a typical family. There are fewer companies that install and service hydraulic models, so if you do need repairs, you may have a problem finding a qualified repairman in your area.