A wheelchair lift helps people with limited mobility move from one level to another, without using the stairs. It is the perfect tool for people who need wheelchairs, walkers, or mobility scooters to get around their home. Lift designs vary greatly: some are partially enclosed, similar to elevator, while others offer a more open design that will still safely secure you in place. Consumers can also choose between portable and permanent wheelchair lift units. Both perform similar functions, with one distinct functional difference: portable lifts can be easily moved to several different locations allowing for maximum accessibility. Before you make your final purchase, there are several other practical considerations to take into account.
Manufacturers recommend using portable wheelchair lifts to accommodate temporary needs. Churches and outdoor stages are a few of the locations that benefit from the flexibility of a portable wheelchair lift. Permanently-installed platform wheelchair lift units help to make retailers, educational facilities and residential properties wheelchair- and scooter-accessible.
Space is another important issue when comparing portable and permanent vertical wheelchair lifts. Accessibility experts indicate that permanent lifts need the following space allotments:
- 4.5 feet of width.
- 8 feet of length.
- 3.5 to 4 feet of additional space in front of the lift to facilitate wheelchair alignment.
- At least 7 feet of vertical headroom space.
Portable wheelchair lifts offer greater spacing flexibility. Many models allow users to adjust maximum height levels. Portable units also tend to be slimmer, with many units measuring a mere 34 inches in width.
Property foundation issues must be addressed before a permanent wheelchair lift can be installed. The lifts weigh between 1600 pounds and 1 ton when occupied. Lift installation experts require that buildings have 4 inches of concrete padding and steel re-bar for additional structural reinforcement before placing a permanent unit. Portable units weigh considerably less by comparison, and are designed for fast set-up and breakdown.
Staff productivity is affected very differently by permanent wheelchair lifts and their portable counterparts. Nothing else needs to be done once a permanent unit has been installed by professionally certified technicians. Portable units, however, must be assembled, then taken apart and stored by multiple individuals each time the unit is used.
Consumers looking to satisfy building codes should note that permanent lifts are compliant with standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). If you are concerned with ensuring code compliance, a permanent platform wheelchair lift is typically your best option.