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What are wheelchair ramps?

We would imagine that wheelchair ramps are pretty self-explanatory. These days, it’s not uncommon at all to see public buildings with flat, or ascending surfaces that enable wheelchair users to easily enter and exit the facilities. In fact, it would be surprising to find a public building without a wheelchair ramp. And, naturally, many wheelchair ramps adorn the homes of individuals who have mobility issues that require them to use wheelchairs.

What are porch lifts?

Porch lifts, however, are also popular add-ons to the homes of wheelchair users. And many of them consider porch lifts to be more viable accessibility options. Also known as wheelchair lifts, and vertical platform lifts (or VPLs), porch lifts are mechanical platforms that ascend a few feet off of the ground. They enable wheelchair users to enter and exit the platform vertically rather than using ramps (or to be taken up or down a short flight of steps).

As the name “porch lifts” suggests, these accessibility products are often installed by outdoor porches to help those with mobility issues to safely enter and exit the exterior or attached garage doors of their homes. Such lifts can also be installed indoors, if necessary.

But which of the two accessibility options is considered better? Are there advantages of using porch lifts over wheelchair ramps? Or are wheelchair ramps the better choice?

The space-saving solution

At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we would argue that there are a number of advantages of porch lifts over wheelchair ramps. Perhaps, the most obvious, is that porch lifts generally take up less space and can be easily installed nearby to a preferred entrance to the home. If a deck or porch is not already built and it is not feasible to construct one outside, then another place to install a VPL would be in the garage. That way, it would be sheltered for the user. A wheelchair ramp, on the other hand, generally takes up too much space to be constructed by either the front or back doors of a home or inside a garage.

But not all solutions to accessibility are black and white!  If the total rise is just one or two steps (i.e. up to 15″), then a ramp might be the best solution.  For shorter rises, a constructed ramp can be less expensive.

The safer solution

Many believe that porch lifts are safer bets as well. Wheelchair ramps are just as susceptible, as any other surface, to being slippery, thanks to precipitation. This is especially true for wooden ramps that have endured a lot of rain or snow. Porch lifts, on the other hand, are engineered to withstand all types of weather conditions. Facing the extremes of hot and dry temperatures and blistering cold ones, porch lifts have proven to be the most durable of accessibility products.

Porch lifts also come with a long list of safety features. They include safety gates that can be added to auto lock when they are not at either the top or bottom of the travel. These gates ensure that wheelchairs stay on the platforms while they are in motion. Platforms are designed to be slip resistant, as well. Users also have full control over the up and down control buttons. If the user or his/her caregiver releases the button, the VPL stops.

In addition to requiring a lot more room for installations when they are over two or three steps, wheelchair ramps are considered less safe because of their slopes. The rule of thumb for ramps is that for every inch of rise, there should be one foot of length. Therefore, for a three step staircase, a typical 7.5″ rise would equate to 22.5″ rise or a 22 foot ramp that’s huge! As well, for every 10 feet of length, there should be a 5 foot flat surface that’s 5 more feet of length.

At Advantage Home Health Solutions, we strongly believe that accessibility issues should never prevent people from leading happy, fulfilling lives. Porch lifts provide reliable and economical choices for those seeking accessibility products that will help them enter and exit their homes with ease. In many cases, porch lifts fill the void when the installation of a wheelchair ramp isn’t feasible.

On MaineSeniorGuide.com, Deborah McLean writes that VPLs are even the better accessibility options for public buildings. “Some public buildings already have elevators installed, but they still opt to install vertical wheelchair lifts for this special need,” she informs, “Also, many older buildings have cramped areas that do not have spaces to accommodate ramps. That is why they prefer to have vertical platform lifts installed rather than the space consuming ramps.”

If you have any questions about the porch lifts that Advantage Home Health Solutions has to offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us to ask them. Give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact Us page!