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Lifeway Mobility Blog

Portable or Modular Wheelchair Ramps: Which is Right for You?

Posted by John Burfield on 7/5/18 2:29 PM

If you have limited mobility and your home’s entryway has an elevated landing, step or threshold, you’d probably benefit from having an access ramp.  Fortunately, there are many kinds of ramps that can help make your home accessible again. These include threshold ramps, portable folding suitcase ramps, solid surface one-piece ramps and aluminum modular ramps. 

How do you know which of these is right for your situation? Let’s take a closer look.

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Threshold Ramps

Threshold ramps are typically made of anodized aluminum or rubber and are intended for use over raised doorway threshold-rampsthresholds and sliding glass door tracks up to 6 inches in height. 

  • Can be used indoors or outdoors
  • Help to eliminate a tripping hazard for those using a cane or walker and provide a smooth transition for those in a wheelchair or scooter
  • Portable and weigh anywhere from 3 to 49 lbs. based on the model, size, and material
  • Width of a threshold ramp can range from 34 to 48 inches
  • Weight capacity of about 600-750lbs.

 

Portable Suitcase Ramps

Suitcase ramps are made of lightweight aluminum platforms connected by a hinge that can fold and be carried like a suitcase using an attached handle.  This type of ramp comes in singlefold and trifold designs and are ideal for occasional use such as for houseguests or for a short recovery period.  They can also be transported to provide access in various locations and and in and out of certain types of vehicles.

Singlefold

  • 7 lengths ranging from 2 to 8 feet
  • Usable width of 30 inches
  • Weight capacity of 800 lbs.
  • Usually, this type of ramp can safely accommodate a height of 1 to 3 steps based on the length ramp

 

Trifold

  • 5 lengths ranging from 5 to 10 feet
  • Usable width of 30 inches
  • Weight capacity of 800 lbs.
  • Folds 3 times. Some models will separate into two sections for easier transport
  • Can usually accommodate 1 to 4 steps based on length of rampImage result for ez access trifold  Image result for ez access trifold

 

Solid Surface Portable Ramps

Solid surface portable ramps consist of one piece of aluminum and are intended to bridge the gap between suitcase ramps and modular wheelchair ramps.  

  • Available in 8 lengths from 3 to 10 feet
  • Usable width of 36 inches
  • Weight capacity of 850 lbs.
  • Accommodate a rise of 4 to 15 inches
  • Optional handrails are also available for added safety

Modular Aluminum Ramps

A modular ramp system is intended to a be a more permanent access solution than a portable ramp. They are ideal for spanning longer distances and higher rises than portable ramps. Modular ramps are constructed on site and consist of multiple pieces including sections of ramp, landings, handrails, and footings. 

  • 36 inches wide
  • Weight capacity of 850 lbs.
  • They can be installed outdoors or indoors (some people choose to have their ramp installed in a garage to keep it out the elements)
  • Can be assembled in several different configurations to fit most homes including straight, L-shaped, and switchback.
  • Solid or mesh options available
  • Powder coating is available to better match the aesthetics of your home and provide increased weatherproofing. Color options include black, bronze, and tan

 

Things to Consider

When selecting an access ramp, there are several things that you should take into consideration.

  1. Primary user: Is the ramp going to be used by full-time resident of the home or will it be used for an occasional visitor?  If the ramp is for a permanent resident, it may make sense to invest in modular ramp instead of a portable ramp.
  2. Mobility device: If you’re using a power wheelchair or scooter, make sure the ramp you choose is wide enough and has a weight capacity to accommodate your device.
  3. Caregiver assistance: Does a wheelchair user have a caregiver that is able to assist the user with navigating the ramp? If not, a modular ramp system is the safer option.
  4. Slope: ADA guidelines require a 1:12 slope - Every 1 inch of rise requires 12 inches of ramp. This means a 24-inch rise would require a ramp that is 24 feet long. While ADA requirements don’t apply to home ramps, it is wise to make sure that the slope of your ramp is not too steep.  A steep ramp is more difficult for a wheelchair to navigate and can become a safety hazard.

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Topics: Mobility, Product FAQ, Customer Questions, Independent Living, Accessibility Equipment, Wheelchair, Aging-In-Place, ramp