As a wheelchair user, you may find it difficult to gain access to your own home. Any time that you have steps to ascend, there is a chance that you will fall or stumble and hurt yourself. Even if you do climb them without issue, it's still a tiring process that you have to undergo every time you enter and leave your home.
A wheelchair ramp or platform lift could help you with this. Designed with wheelchair users in mind, these mobility solutions are perfect for individuals who lack the dexterity or assistance required to repeatedly ascend and descend stairs.
In this guide, we'll put wheelchair lifts alongside vertical platform lifts and see which is the better option for you or your loved one.
Benefits of a Wheelchair Ramp
A wheelchair ramp is a long platform supported on either side by handrails. The price ranges from around $1,000 to $3,000 and will depend on the quality and the length. You will need approximately 1 foot of ramp for every inch of rise, as that allows for a very gradual rise and makes it easier for the user to get up and down.
Ramps are modular. They are made from sheets of aluminum that create a stable platform that has just a little bit of give. They can go in a straight line or have a sharp turn, which is created by installing a flat platform (also made from aluminum) that separates two sloping segments.
Although ramps are an accessible and affordable solution that can be made to fit many different yards and homes, they have their limitations. For instance, if you don't have a lot of space, they may be out of the question. The ramp will also need to be code compliant.
If you have a lot of room around the front of your house, you can speak with an expert about your installation options. They usually know straight away whether a ramp can be installed or not, and they should be able to provide you with a rough guideline and price.
Benefits of a Wheelchair Lift
Also known as an outdoor elevator or vertical lift, a wheelchair lift is a more expensive option. However, it isn't all that tricky to install, works with homes of many sizes, and has a very compact design. It is designed to help the user ascend and descend the staircase outside of their home, and unlike a ramp, it requires height and not length.
The simplicity and compact nature of these platforms, along with increasingly competitive pricing, has made outdoor elevators one of the most popular residential mobility modifications.
Vertical lifts are installed around the porch area and typically scale up to 14 feet in height, which should be more than enough for most residential properties. They are positioned so that the top is flush with the porch area, negating the need for the user to scale a final step or climb over a ledge.
Outdoor elevators are much less of an eyesore and may even add value to your home, which is unlikely to happen with a wheelchair ramp.
Wheelchair Lifts or Ramps: Which is Best?
A wheelchair ramp is definitely the most cost-effective option of the two. The price difference is quite substantial and if you're working with a limited budget, it could be a deal-breaker. However, the same could be said for individuals who don't have the freedom of a large front yard or a lot of space.
In such cases, wheelchair ramps or even stairlifts are the best option. They can be installed with relative ease and while they are more expensive, you can find some good deals if you shop around, get multiple quotes, and make it clear that you're looking for the most economical option.
Whether you have a few small steps and several feet of space or a sizeable staircase and a massive front yard, it's worth looking into both wheelchair lifts and wheelchair ramps, as well as stairlifts. They are all accessible, safe, and offer great value for money.
Regardless of which you choose, rest assured that you will get the assistance that you need as you enter and exit the home and installation is relatively quick and painless.