Installing a wheelchair platform lift, residential elevator, or stair lift in your home enables access to all levels of the residence and provides greater independence. Yet, retrofitting an existing home or building can be a challenge.
You must carefully evaluate your specific needs, space requirements, cost investment, structural configuration, expense, and safety issues before making a decision. The following summarizes each option to help you as you begin your research.
A wheelchair elevator, or custom home elevator, is a smaller version of a commercial elevator you would find in an office building or retail facility. It offers greater accessibility than a platform lift or star lift -- and is the easiest to operate for the user.
It also is the most expensive of available retrofit options. Your home must be modified to accommodate construction of a host way or shaft in which to install and operate the elevator.
An incline-style lift is designed help the wheelchair user up stairs and multiple levels without the need to transfer. However, it can be challenging to retrofit and requires a wide, straight-run stair with a long lower landing.
In addition, a continuous wall must be available along the stairway and bottom landing to support the structural side rail. Some wheelchair platform lift models are designed to compact and fold when not in use to leave the stairway unobstructed.
Stair lifts are the easiest to install and most economical to retrofit in your home. However, they do require the ability to transfer from the wheelchair onto the stair lift seat or platform to go up and down stairs.
When deciding which type of equipment to install in your home, always consult with your doctor, occupational therapist or other healthcare provider.
Be sure the lift or elevator you choose meets all safety and building code requirements - and is manufactured and installed by a reputable company. In addition, ask about warranties and servicing before making a final purchase decision.
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