Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the difference between Vertical Platform Lifts and Incline Platform Lifts?
    • Vertical Platform Lifts (VPL), or Wheelchair Lifts, transport their passengers straight up and down on a platform large enough to safely accommodate a wheelchair. VPLs are available in both permanent and portable configurations, making them an ideal choice for schools, venues, churches, retail or office buildings, as well as any other facility which may have need to transport persons over stairs, walls or other architectural barriers. On the other hand, an Incline Platform Lift (IPL) travels on a railing installed parallel to a barrier. The weight capacity for IPLs is sometimes more restrictive than that of VPLs due to the surrounding structure supporting the railing
  2. What is the difference between wheelchair lifts and elevators?
    • Wheelchair lifts specifically assist persons with disabilities. Wheelchair lifts are smaller than elevators and can be portable or permanent, making them ideal for assisting a diverse community with varying accessibility needs. Comparatively, elevators frequently transport all individuals and cargo within a building or structure. As opposed to the compact construction of wheelchair lifts, elevators require far more space to install and operate.
  3. What is an installation pit?
    • The components used in the operation of platform lifts can be bulky and often require an installation pit to accommodate the lifting mechanism. When necessary, an installation pit is dug out of the floor or ground, typically 3”-6” deep. Otherwise, the lift may sit 3”-6” above the floor, thus requiring an entry ramp. However, there are wheelchair lifts which feature floor level access and effectively do away with the need for both an installation pit as well as an entry ramp. For a list of manufacturers and their products with floor level access, check out our link here.
  4. What is an entry ramp?
    • An entry ramp, or access ramp, is a short inclined pathway a person must go up to enter the lift. An installation pit may do away with a need for an entry ramp. However, some lifts have been designed to allow floor access into the lift while not requiring an installation pit. You can find a list of these manufacturers here.
  5. Why is it important to have a wheelchair lift?
    • By law, a public space must be physically accessible to all individuals under their own ability. If stairs or other architectural obstacles hinder access to any part of your facility, it may be in your best interest to consider installing a wheelchair lift. Likewise, for residential use, if you have difficulty negotiating aspects of your home, such as stairs or porches, a wheelchair lift may be able to help.
  6. I don’t use a wheelchair, do I still need/can I use a wheelchair lift?
    • If you have trouble negotiating stairs, ramps, etc. for any reason, you may still find a wheelchair lift useful.
  7. How much weight is a wheelchair lift capable of carrying?
    • Weight capacity varies depending on manufacturer and model of any lift. In general, a lift’s maximum load ranges between 500 and 750 pounds, though a few are capable of 900 pounds. Check with a manufacturer directly to find a lift that fits your needs best. For a list of manufacturers and some product specifications, see our manufacturers listing and wheelchair lift comparison chart.
  8. Do nonprofit organizations get discounts for purchasing a wheelchair lift?
    • The purchase of a wheelchair lift operates just like any other purchase; all discounts are at the discretion of the seller. However, you can apply for grants to help pay for the lift.
  9. How do I put in a grant proposal for a wheelchair lift?
    • Grant writing involves the correct formatting of precise information in order to justify a purchase. A lift manufacturer or dealer can help with this. Our advice: do your research and choose a lift that is right for you. Then, ask the manufacturer for the information needed for a grant proposal and they should supply you with what you need. For a breakdown of what grant funding is and how to go about writing a proposal, Non-profit guides is a great source for information.
  10. How do I know if I need a wheelchair lift?
    • If you are the owner or operator of a facility such as a school, convention center, concert hall or other public space, look at your patron demographic. How do visitors get around any steps, ramps, stages, or other platforms? Do you host graduations, parties, or weddings on a regular basis? For home applications, do you have difficulty using stairs or getting onto a porch? What type of space restrictions do you have? These are some questions you can ask yourself to decide if you need a wheelchair lift. You can contact a manufacturer to discuss your situation and see if a wheelchair lift is right for you.
  11. Where and when can I use a portable lift?
    • Portable lifts tend to be most used at event-driven venues, such as concert halls or stages. In some jurisdictions, portable models may be used in place of permanent models. Your local building codes dictate where a lift is used, as well as what type of lift (permanent or portable) and any additional requirements placed on the lift. Check with a manufacturer or dealer to see what recommendations they may have for your situation, as well as with your local building code authority to see if a portable lift may be an acceptable solution.
  12. What are the differences between commercial and residential lifts?
    • There are different code requirements separating residential and commercial lifts, as well as design standards, such as enclosures, gates, and other safety features. As such, consult a wheelchair lift product specialist and your local building code authority for information about what is required in your specific situation.
  13. Where and when do I need a permanent lift?
    • In general, main ingress and egress routes that feature an architectural barrier (e.g. stairs) will require a permanent wheelchair lift. In some cases, it may also be acceptable to use a portable model. Consult a manufacturer or your local building code authority to decide what option is best for your situation.
  14. How loud are wheelchair lifts?
    • Noise is a byproduct of the drivetrain’s operation, which varies depending on manufacturer and model. Some common drive systems include: ACME Screw, Ball Screw, and Direct-Plunger Hydraulic. Of the drive systems listed above, hydraulic is the most quiet.