Wheelchair lifts are self-contained lifts where the drive and control systems are located within the lift tower or cab assembly. They are generally used for low-rise applications to decks or porches but can be used for vertical travel of 12 feet.
Wheelchair lifts are a great way to help people with disabilities, injuries, or the elderly in and out of their homes. They come in many different styles and sizes, but all have one thing in common: they allow for easier, safer mobility. Wheelchair lifts can be installed indoors with a hoistway, and some models allow for open installations and outdoors unenclosed to a deck or landing.
There are three main types of wheelchair lifts for homes:
Similar to a residential elevator, wheelchair lifts carry people between floors in their homes but are made more for practical purposes and can be an affordable alternative to an elevator. Wheelchair lifts are often overlooked in the planning process of home lift installations, even though they are a great option for those with mobility issues or anyone who needs convenient access between two levels.
While a wheelchair lift is more practical in appearance, they offer very reliable service and are specifically designed to fit most standard wheelchair models. This lift manufactured by Savaria is the hydraulic model V-1504 shown in a 2-stop hoistway with a 3′ x 4′ platform built into the interior of a home.
Wheelchair lifts can be ideal for several reasons:
- The weight capacity for this type of lift is usually 500 -750 lbs.
- They are ideal to carry heavier battery-operated wheelchairs.
- Provide wheelchair access to 2 levels and in some cases 3 levels.
- Standard platform size of 36″ x 48″. Optional platform sizes are available.
- Two drive systems including hydraulic lift and screw drives.
- Usually, savings are associated with the construction cost of elevators.
- Easier to service and lower maintenance cost.
- Does not require a machine room.
- Can be installed with a 3″ pit or ramp on the first floor.
- The open-style platform feels spacious.
- Only uses a standard household 110-volt outlet.
- Some models offer battery backup operation in both directions.
Wheelchair lift applications
Wheelchair lifts installed in the interior of homes are also available with factory-made enclosures or can be placed within a hoistway that meets local codes. Most platform lifts are built to meet the ASME A18.1 standard. The vertical wheelchair lift shown here serves 2-stops in a hoistway. All mechanical components are built within the lift tower for convenient servicing and do not require a separate machine room.
Operating a wheelchair lift
The controls on a wheelchair lift are easy to use and can even be customized. Most will include constant pressure or push-and-hold style buttons for the directional controls, and an emergency stop button with an audible signal when activated. The platform grab bar is also helpful while entering and exiting the lift.
Open style lift for wheelchairs
There might be site conditions where it’s preferable to use an open-style model for faster and easier installation. The lift shown here is suitable for an indoor installation with two landings. The weight capacity for this model is 550 pounds and is designed for standard manual wheelchairs.
Price of a wheelchair lift
The cost of a wheelchair lift will depend on the size and type of lift installed in your home. Wheelchair lifts can cost anywhere from $4000 to over $30,000 depending on what type you need. A lift that provides access to a porch or deck with 4 -6 feet of vertical travel will usually cost $4000 -$6000 whereas a lift that needs access to a second floor will cost $20,000 -$30,000.
One of the great features of wheelchair lifts is the versatility of how they can be installed. The lifts can be fitted with stainless steel and tempered glass enclosures for a high-end look and feel. Wheelchair lifts are also available in a wide variety of colors and can be custom painted at the factory. The options allow you to get creative for those who want to customize the look of a wheelchair lift to blend into a home.
Enclosed wheelchair elevators
Wheelchair lifts are also available with clear enclosures made from acrylic panels and aluminum frames for open installations. The aluminum and acrylic panels are a great option for higher travel distances.
Outdoor wheelchair lifts
Outdoor wheelchair lifts are available in two main types: enclosed for higher travel distances and unenclosed for lower travel to around 6′. A wheelchair lift for outdoor use can be used in all seasons and should be covered with an awning if possible.
Lift installed in the garage
Another great option is to place the lift in the garage with a small landing built in front of the door. Wheelchair access will also be protected from the elements and you’ll already have the perfect concrete base to place the lift on. In an ideal scenario, you’d be able to pull into the garage with a wheelchair-accessible van and then transfer into the lift and then into your home, barrier-free with ease.