inclined platform lift

Guide to Wheelchair Lifts: Basic Understanding

Guide to Wheelchair Lifts: Basic Understanding

Now that we have completed our discussion on Ramps, the different types of ramps (permanent and temporary/portable) as well as the most recommended purchasing options, we are going to move on to wheelchair lifts.

As I have mentioned previously in our initial discussion about ramps, a ramp is not always the best option for eliminating stair use. Sometimes, a wheelchair lift can prove to be easier, more efficient, more practical and often even cheaper than a ramp.

In our discussion here, we will discuss the different types of outdoor wheelchair lifts and all you might need to know about them. In a following discussion we will go through the recommended purchasing options.

Let’s jump right in!


Wheelchair Lifts

A wheelchair lift is basically a simplified elevator. It consists of a platform which, controlled by a motor, rides up and down a track to take the wheelchair from one level landing to another. Similar to ramps, wheelchair lifts can be used for both home entrances and vehicles to assist a wheelchair user in getting from one level to another. For example, from the walkway/driveway to the front porch or from the vehicle to the ground.

Following we will go though the various types of lifts to help you learn their differences and thereby make an informed decision for yourself or your loved ones.

There is one type of motorized lift which cannot be used for wheelchairs, but is another alternative to a ramp, and that is the outdoor stairlift. We will discuss this one first and then go through the wheelchair lifts.

Outdoor stairlifts

outdoor stairliftOutdoor stair lifts run similar to traditional indoor stairlifts. They consist of a seat attached to a track/rail which is installed along the stairwell and rides along the incline of the stairs taking the user from one level landing to another. The outdoor option does the same job as the indoor one, but simply provides additional weather protection options.

Outdoor stairlifts require the user to transfer from their wheelchair to the seat on the lift in order to rise from one level to another. The reason that I specify this is that this therefore may not be the most practical option for someone who is dependent on their wheelchair and requires assistance to transfer in and out of it.

Additionally, keeping the future in mind, even if someone is currently able to transfer to and from the chairs independently, you may want to consider a platform lift in the occasion that the condition may not be the same over time increasing the dependence on the wheelchair in which case a platform lift would be then be needed. As always though, we try to initially consider modifications which can adapt with us in the case of a change in physical condition. Therefore, it is essential to look at all types of lifts from the get-go in order to plan ahead and save ourselves from possible stress later on.

Now we’ll dive right in to the types of lifts.


Vertical platform lifts/Porch Lift

vertical platfrom lift

A vertical platform lift is a lift which rides vertically upward from one level landing to another. The lift consists of a platform that is attached to a vertical “wall” with a rail which takes the platform up and down between landings.


Inclined platform lifts

inclined platform lift

An inclined platform lift moves up stairs similar to a traditional stair lift, except the user rides in their wheelchair on a platform instead of transferring to a seat. The track/rail which guides the inclined platform lift is attached to the stairwell and rides along the incline of the stairs taking the user from one level landing to another.


Each situation should be evaluated independently to determine which lift makes the most sense.

Before we conclude, something important to keep in mind are the building codes and permits which must be researched prior to installing a lift. The lift company should have this information for your area and the areas they service. Your job is to ask!


That’s that for Guide to Wheelchair Lifts: Basic Understanding but stay tuned for our following discussions on pricing and specific products!

Contact us with comments or questions.

We’ll keep you POSTED!

To safe and happy homes,



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