Porchlift Specification Information
When choosing a model of porch lift of vertical platform lift the first option which has to be decided on is the lifting height. Any lift can be set up to stop at pretty much any height up to the maximum lifting height or travel of the lift chosen.
Maximum travel of porch lifts are usually between 24" and 144" with the standard usually being around 48". There are usually extra charges for travels of more than 48" which are added to the base prices usually quoted. Portable vertical platform lifts are restricted in travel to 72" but this will vary from model to model.
Porch Lift Platform Size*
Once lifting height or travel has been determined the next option which needs to be considered is the platform size. Platform sizes are usually between 30" and 36" wide by 48" to 60" long and will vary from model to model.
Where as the platform must be wider than the user's wheelchair it doesn't necessarily need to be longer. While it's preferable for the wheelchair to be completely within the dimensions of the platform, in cases where space is an issue some users will allow their footrests to extend over the end of the platform.
Porch Lift Weight Capacity*
Lift capacity is the amount of weight a porch lift will lift. Most lifts will lift between 500 lbs. and 750 lbs. and again will vary from lift to lift. A user who weighs 300 lbs. and uses a 40 lb. wheelchair can easily get by with a lift which has a 500 lb. capacity but if they have a condition which is progressive and there is a possibility of having to use a power chair in the future they may want to consider a lift with a higher capacity.
Porch Lift Mechanism
There are two common mechanisms for lifting vertical platform lift platforms. Screw drives and Hydraulic drives.
Screw drives use a long threaded rod which rotates forcing a worm gear, which is attached to the lift platform, to travel up and down the threaded rod. The screw drive is simple in design and inexpensive to purchase but is limited in lifting height and not compatible with battery back up systems.
Hydraulic drives incorporate a hydraulic ram which when extended causes a pair of steel cables to raise the lift platform. Each system has it's own benefit. The hydraulic drive system is a more complicated design and more expensive to purchase but the maximum lifting height is much higher than a screw drive and will operate on battery power in the event of a power failure.
Porch Lift Safety Pan
All free standing un-enclosed porch and vertical platform lifts require a safety pan of some sort under the platform. The function of these safety pans is to stop the lift from lowering if the platform comes in contact with a child, pet, toy or debris. These safety pans are very sensitive when properly installed and will not allow the lift to crush anything under the platform.
The downside of these safety pans is they will also stop if snow gets under the platform and users in areas where snow is an issue should leave the platform on the ground when not in use.
*Note: In situation where several dealers are quoting an installation it's imperative that the travel, platform size and lift capacity are sufficient. I've seen several cases where the dealer with the lowest quote was quoting a product which wasn't functional for the user.