Wheelchair Ramps Versus Lifts For Entering A Home

Posted on: 9 September 2015

Most homes don't have their doors at ground level, making it hard for people in wheelchairs to enter the home. Two of the main options for making this possible are to add a ramp or a vertical lift to bring the person into the wheelchair up to the level of the door. Each method has its pros and cons.

Space Considerations

Vertical wheelchair lifts take up a relatively small amount of space, typically using an area about five feet by five feet. Because the slope of a ramp shouldn't be more than one foot of height for every 12 feet of length and the ramp needs to have a flat platform at the top and bottom, ramps can take up quite a lot of space, especially if the doorway is a few feet above ground level. This is why elevators and stair lifts are typically used inside homes with more than one floor instead of ramps.

Effort Required

Using a vertical lift takes hardly any effort of the part of the person in the wheelchair. They just need to open the door, roll onto the platform, shut the door, push a button and enjoy the ride. However, it can take a significant amount of effort for someone in a non-motorized wheelchair to move themselves up a long ramp or one that has a relatively steep slope. If a ramp doesn't have some sort of textured surface, it can be hard to keep a wheelchair from rolling back down the ramp, especially if the ramp is wet due to rain or snow. Also, if the slope is too steep there's a risk the wheelchair could tip over backwards.


It's possible to build your own ramp if the distance required isn't that much and you're relatively handy, which can save on the cost of the ramp. However, people typically spend between $400 and $3,800 on wheelchair ramps, depending on the materials used and the length of the ramp. Wheelchair lifts can be a significant expense, typically costing between $3,000 and $15,000, but you can save money by purchasing a used lift instead of a new one. 

Risk of Breakdown

Ramps are simple structures and don't have much risk of breaking, although wooden ramps may rot if not well taken care of and aluminum ramps could bend or wobble if the weight of the wheelchair is too heavy. Wheelchair lifts, on the other hand, have more parts and electrical components, which can make them more likely to breakdown, especially as they get older. However, these lifts usually come with a warranty that covers necessary repairs for a number of years.

To learn more, contact a company like Accessible Solutions