Residential platform lifts are residential solutions for helping wheelchair users access different levels of their homes with ease. There are two basic types of residential platform lifts: vertical platform lifts and inclined platform lifts.
About Residential Platform Lifts
These devices are becoming necessary in homes where seniors reside. More and more of them are starting to choose to age in place, and that means redesigning and remodeling their homes to accommodate the needs that come along with decreased mobility.
The top brands in the mobility space offer different designs for residential platform lifts. These lifts are slightly similar to commercial elevators but are designed for residential use. They help seniors access the porch, garage, and other previously inaccessible rooms in their homes while giving them a sense of freedom and independence.
Residential platform lifts can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be designed for indoor or outdoor use and can be tailor-made to suit one’s individual needs.
Incline Platform Lifts
Inclined platform lifts are a type of residential platform lift that combine features of a vertical platform lift with those of a stairlift in that they can move up and down a staircase. They provide transportation for wheelchairs and bring the user up and down with ease.
Incline platform lifts move along a rail system mounted alongside the stairs. They are ideal for homes where vertical platform lifts may not fit very easily and are a great choice for wheelchair users who live in multi-floor homes.
Apart from wheelchairs, they can also accommodate other lightweight mobility devices, groceries, and other light objects. This makes them more convenient than stairlifts.
Inclined Platform Lift Features to Consider
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when shopping for an inclined platform lift.
Inclined platform lifts can be designed to suit different staircases and rail types. They are available for use with standard straight rails as well as curved rails and can be customized to fit the length of your staircase.
Inclined platform lifts require access to a power source. Most times a standard 110v outlet will do the job, and when there is a power failure the inclined platform lift will continue to move for a given period of time. That depends on the model, though, as some models will do up-to 30 cycles after a power outage, for example.
The Type of Platform
Inclined platform lifts will have different sized platforms to fit your mobility device. Most platforms can be easily folded against the wall when not in use. Some IPLs will have straight pass-through platforms, while others will have side exit 90-degree ramps.
Most new models of IPLs come with fold-down seats for standing users. The seat can be folded up or down to accommodate a wheelchair when needed, and different seats have different weight limits.
Vertical Platform Lifts
Vertical platform lifts are designed to ferry wheelchairs and power chairs up and down raised porches, decks, and other elevated areas of a home. Consequently, they are also referred to as porch lifts.
Vertical platform lifts provide seamless transportation to raised surfaces. They also offer an excellent alternative to wheelchair ramps when space is limited, and they come in handy when the vertical distance is greater than a few feet and a ramp cannot be used. Unlike ramps, vertical platform lifts can have a height of between a few inches and 14 feet.
Unlike inclined platform lifts, VPLs travel on a straight vertical plane, meaning that they cannot be fitted alongside a pre-existing staircase. As such, they usually require some remodeling before they can be installed. Space has to be created to accommodate the lift and powerhouse, but once installed they raise the value of the home significantly.
Different Types of Vertical Platform Lifts
Indoor Vertical Platform lifts
Indoor vertical platform lifts are usually installed inside a garage or any other strategically placed room with space. VPLs are especially useful when the space available is not big enough for a ramp.
Outdoor Vertical Platform Lifts
Outdoor vertical platform lifts are usually installed in an outdoor store or garage. They provide easy access to a raised porch or deck and perform a different role from an inclined platform lift, even though the two are very similar.
Vertical Platform Lifts Vs. Inclined Platform Lifts
Both vertical and inclined platform lifts are designed for transporting wheelchair users. While a vertical platform lift travels vertically to a deck or porch, an inclined platform lift travels along the plane of an existing staircase.
The Most Important Features for Any Residential Platform Lift
When it comes to weight limit, a vertical platform lift will be able to carry more weight than an inclined platform lift. Most VPLs will have a weight limit of 500-750 lbs. Because IPLs are fitted on a pre-existing staircase, they are likely to have a smaller weight limit.
Incline Height and Design
Inclined platform lifts are ideal when you need to move your wheelchair up or down a wide-set straight or curved staircase. Vertical platform lifts, though, are more useful when dealing with a steeper incline and/or staircase.
The type of wheelchair or power chair that you have will also help you determine the kind of residential platform lift that will work best for you. Its design, size, and features all come into play.
Rent or Buy?
Most companies that offer mobility solutions will offer a renting option for residential platform lifts. Before deciding on whether to rent or buy, first assess your needs and budget.
Renting offers a quick fix when you have financial constraints, but it can be expensive in the long run if you are using the platform lift for an extended period of time. In any case, remember that permanently installing a residential platform lift in your home will automatically increase the value of your home.