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Lift vs. Ramp: Which Is Better for Your Wheelchair Van?

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ramp vs. lift in handicap accessible van

Side ramp on a accessible vehicle operated by MTA of NY
Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York via cc

A lot of calculations and decisions go into crafting the best accessible van for your needs. If you require special access, you’re probably debating between a lift or a ramp for your wheelchair. Each option has its benefits, so to help you decide on lift vs. ramp, here is what the experts say.

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Wheelchair ramps

Installing a wheelchair ramp sounds simple, but it actually takes extra vehicle modification. The floor has to be lowered to give the ramp a lower angle of ascent and to give you more headroom. So don’t assume that the ramp is the “cheap” option.

You have a lot more options to choose from when installing a wheelchair ramp. Do you go with the standard power-operated ramp or a manual, spring-loaded ramp? Does the ramp fold up or recede underneath the floor when stored? Do you want it located at the back of the van or for side entry?

The biggest benefits of a ramp system are its lightweight mass and its lesser need for maintenance. They’re able to be installed in vehicles other than vans and are more versatile.

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Wheelchair lifts

Wheelchair lifts are heavy and bulky yet offer more convenient access than rolling out a long ramp would. These single-person elevators allow you to get into and out of a van where a ramp couldn’t. You can also choose from a variety of types based on how they’re operated and shaped. They can use electricity or hydraulics, for instance, and can be a platform that swings out or folds up. How it stores and lifts also varies based on the type.

The biggest problem with a wheelchair lift is that it’s taxing on the van and takes a lot of work to upkeep due to its many mechanical components.
Talk to your van conversion specialist to help you decide which option fits your needs better.

Source: Rollx Vans