If you or a member of your family uses a wheelchair, you might be considering having a wheelchair lift fitted into your mobility van. There are a number of considerations to be made when choosing a suitable wheelchair lift. Here's a helpful guide to help you make the right choice.
The first thing to consider is how you want to be able to access your van, as this will determine the design of wheelchair lift you will be able to have. Entry options include:
- through the side passenger doors
- through the rear cargo doors
This choice and the design of lift you can have will be influenced by the combined weight of the user and their wheelchair.
Single/sliding arm wheelchair lifts
Single/sliding arm wheelchair lifts are constructed with one arm in a fixed position or one fixed and one sliding arm. As such, they are only suitable for use with side entry vehicles.
This design reduces the lifting capacity of the device, meaning that they are not suitable for very heavy users.
An advantage of this design is that it does enable the lift to be moved when not in use so that a non-wheelchair user can gain access to the van. Single/sliding arm lifts also enable you to move or tilt the front passenger seat.
Single arm lifts generally take up less room inside the van and leave the passenger entry area open, but this does make them less practical for larger users with large wheelchairs.
Dual-arm wheelchair lifts
Dual-arm wheelchair lifts tend to be designed with larger, heavier wheelchair users in mind and have a greater lifting capacity. This is because the lifts have two arms to distribute and support the weight, whilst providing stability. One drawback of dual-arm designs is that they take up more room inside the van, effectively blocking the side entrance and restricting the movement of the front passenger seat.
For these reasons, dual-arm wheelchair lifts are best-suited to rear entry vans.
Under-vehicle mounted or internally mounted wheelchair lifts
You can choose to have your lift mounted under your van or inside it.
Internally mounted lifts tend to be less expensive and are more easily accessible for service or maintenance purposes. However, they can block or restrict the movement of the front passenger seat and take up space inside the van.
UVLs (under-vehicle lifts) do tend to be more pricey to buy, but because they are fitted underneath the van, you'll have more room inside and the entrance will be left clear. UVLs generally have a higher weight capacity, making them well-suited for heavier users with larger chairs.
UVLs are housed inside special protective casings to protect them from damage by the elements, but this can make maintenance access tricky.
As you can see, there's plenty of food for thought when considering buying a wheelchair lift for your mobility fan. For more information and to discuss your particular requirements, it's a good idea to have a chat with your local supplier.