A wheelchair lift helps people with limited mobility move from one level to another, without using the stairs. People using wheelchairs, walkers or crutches all benefit greatly from the use of a wheelchair lift. Lift designs vary greatly: some are enclosed, and take on an appearance similar to an elevator, while others bear a physical resemblance to the front-end of a forklift. Consumers have a choice between portable and permanent wheelchair lift units. Both perform similar functions, but there are striking differences between the two. There are certain factors to consider when comparing portable and permanent vertical wheelchair lifts. Each unit is held to a different safety standard, for one thing, and you'll want to check with the elevator authorities in your locale prior to purchasing a lift to ensure that you have selected the proper model to comply with local law or code.
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.