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Lifeway Mobility Blog

Wheelchair Ramp or Vertical Platform Lift: Which is Right for You?

Posted by John Burfield on 4/23/18 12:55 PM

If you have limited mobility and require the use of a mobility aid such as a wheelchair, scooter, or walker, you’d likely benefit from having a ramp or vertical platform wheelchair lift (VPL) installed in your home.

While most people are familiar with residential ramps, a VPL in a home setting is less common. However, you may have seen them in public spaces such as restaurants and churches.

RES-VPL-with-female-modelA VPL is basically a mini elevator that consists of an approximate 3’ by 4’ platform, with 2 sidewalls, an automatic self-lowering folding ramp, and a gate at the top that can lift 750 lbs. up to 14 feet. They are sometimes referred to as porch lifts since they are often found connected to a porch, stoop, or deck.

Starting price for a VPL that rises between 4’ to 6’ is typically about $6,500 with installation. However, final cost depends on the amount of prep work (concrete pads, deck renovation, etc.), lifting height, and the lift make and model. While ramps are sometimes the more cost-effective solution (a 10-foot aluminum modular ramp with handrails starts at $2,000), there are situations where they simply won’t work.

Ideally, a ramp should have a 1:12 slope ratio or one foot of length for every inch of rise. If you have limited space, which is the case with many urban homes, you may not have enough room to construct a ramp that is the proper slope. For example, a ramp built to accommodate a rise of four feet would need to be 48 feet long. This is a situation where a VPL would be the right solution.

 

Wheelchair lifts can handle harsh outdoor climates, but many people will have them installed in their garage. This keeps the individual and their caregiver out of the elements and takes up less space than a ramp, allowing for more storage in the garage.

VPL in Garage

The compact size of a VPL makes them ideal for people that have limited space. However, even if you have the space required for a code compliant wheelchair ramp, a VPL may be the better choice for your lifestyle.

VPLs are safe and easy to use and can be more aesthetically pleasing than a large ramp system. Larger ramps will also have a price tag that is more comparable to a VPL. If the rise to step is 32” or higher, it may actually be more cost-effective to install a VPL.

While ramps will be the right solution for many people with limited mobility, the advantages of a vertical platform lift are making them a popular choice in homes across America.

Do you still have questions about which is right for you?  Most reputable home access professionals will provide a free in-home consultation.

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