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Platform Lifts

For many people, the platform lift makes life easier on a daily basis. These lifts are designed to aid disabled individuals in getting in and out of vans. However, while platform lifts create flexibility and freedom, there are definite considerations before you buy. Just as an example, wiring can be complicated.

The two top factors when buying a platform lift is safety and function. In addition to these factors, you also need to think about the ability to use the lift, wheelchair size, lift location, other uses for the van, individuals size, and cost. To help you make the best decision, we have done the homework for you.

You will find that there are four primary types of wheelchair lifts. First, there is the under the vehicle model, rotary, hoist, and then the platform lift. All of these options have definite advantages and disadvantages, which we will outline for you below. Remember, you want a lift that will be easy to use and make your life more convenient.

Under Vehicle Lift

This lift hides under the van and when activated, a platform emerges, rising to the level of the floor for easy in and out access. The person in the wheelchair can then operate the controls once on the platform. The one downfall to this option is that when the lift is not being used, the door is blocked. However, manufacturers are coming out with newer models to help correct this problem.


This type of lift is sometimes called a Swing Arm. With this option, a platform is supported by a vertical post that shifts outside the van and then moves to the ground. The person in the wheelchair simply rolls onto the platform while still inside the van. Then, the platform is raised just a few inches at which time it rotates on the post, taking the person and wheelchair outside the van. While this lift works well, some people do have problems in operating it since it takes up quite a bit of floor space.


The hoist lift is very different in that there is no platform. The design actually has a swing arm, which swings away from the vans side door, lowering the wheelchair that is strapped on. Once on the ground, the individual can attach the arm of the hoist onto the wheelchair.


Finally, there is the platform lift, also known as the folding platform or folding lift. Regardless, this type of lift resides in an upright position when not being used, although newer models are now being made to mount on the outside of the van. This lift is the most common and the oldest type used. While it has withstood the test of time, there are drawbacks to consider. For instance, one drawback is that when not being used, the vans door is blocked.

No matter what type of lift you choose for your van, remember that new models are being designed and marketed all the time. The goal with most manufacturers is to keep the lifts safe but make them easier to operate and less expensive. Just make sure that whether you buy an automatic or semiautomatic lift, a professional installs the switch. You will also have your choice of a push button, remote control, and other activation switches.

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