A Lift For Life: What To Look Out For When Choosing A Residential Wheelchair Lift

Posted on: 23 August 2016

Stairs are a perennial obstacle for wheelchair users, whether at home or in public places, and in today's highly competitive property markets, choosing to live in only single-storey homes is not always a viable option. As such, more and more wheelchair users are opting to have lifts installed in their home properties. However, if you are in the market for a wheelchair lift, take care; not every lift will be right for your needs, and you may find yourself with a lift that is too bulky for your home or too weak to lift heavier wheelchairs and users. Keep the following things in mind when shopping around to ensure that your new lift is ideal for your needs:

How much weight can the lift handle?

One common mistake made by wheelchair users is taking into account their own weight while forgetting about the weight of their wheelchair. While compact, folding wheelchairs may only weigh a few pounds, the motorised wheelchairs used by more profoundly disabled people can be surprisingly bulky and heavy. 

As such, you should always ensure that your lift can handle both your own weight and that of your wheelchair. If you require part or full-time home care, you may also want a lift that can carry the weight of both you and your carer simultaneously. As a general rule, vertical platform lifts can carry more weight than similarly-sized incline lifts, so people who require high weight limits might wish to go to the extra expensive of having an enclosed vertical lift installed.

How much space will your lift take up?

Most residential lifts take much much less space than commercial wheelchair lifts, due to the smaller confines they are expected to operate in. However, choosing a smaller wheelchair lift generally means choosing a weaker one, so make sure to balance your strength and space needs effectively. If you require the strength of a vertical platform lift in a confined space, consider choosing a limited use, limited application (LU/LA) lift; these lifts resemble an ordinary commercial lift in form and function, but are much smaller and are designed to carry a single, wheelchair-bound occupant.

Should your lift be located indoors or outdoors?

If you are able to obtain the relevant planning permissions, you may be able to install a vertical lift shaft attached to the outside of your home, with sealed doorways that allow you to traverse the different storeys of your home without ever going outdoors. Choosing one of these outdoor lifts can be an effective way to sidestep space concerns and can significantly reduce the amount of noise your lift generates while in use. However, the lift shaft enclosure will be constantly exposed to the elements, so you should take care to look out for signs of rust and corrosion caused by rainwater as well as any leaks which may occur.