Wheelchair lifts can vary in price based on the model, the type of installation and the location of the lift. Before getting into the price, it's important to first understand the types of lifts available and the installation location. The cost also depends heavily on the layout of your home or business, what type of stairs you have, and your individual needs. Financing is available in certain situations. Here are some good budgetary tips as you consider price.
What are the 2 types of wheelchair lifts?
A vertical platform lift or VPL: Goes straight up like an elevator and needs a smooth fascia wall on the side where you exit the lift at the top.
An inclined platform lift: Is mounted on a staircase and has a level platform that rides up the stairs at an angle.
Where is the best place for the wheelchair lift?
There is a difference in the price of the lift when the installation is indoors, like in a garage at the entrance to a home, compared to outdoors, like at the exterior main entrance to a home. Here are the key items to remember. Indoor lifts weigh about 700 to 1,000 pounds without the rider. You need a concrete or wood floor that can handle the weight and that is strong enough to hold that much weight. You may need to add electrical, structural or small remodeling modifications for the lift to fit properly. All interior modifications should be well explained and understood before purchasing.
Outside the home, we always recommend a concrete pad at least 4 inches deep be installed for the lift. Lastly, if the lift is more than 5 feet tall, you may need an enclosure which is 3 more walls that surround the lift and prevent people from falling off the lift, which could result in injuries. Commercial wheelchair lifts have a completely different set of safety codes and requirements because they are in a public place.
What safeties and equipment are required?
- Underpan safety: This safety should cover the entire bottom of the lift, so that when you are going down, the wheelchair lift will stop if there is anything underneath the lift. This protects other people, pets, and damage to the lift.
- Top Landing Gate: This is required by code at the top of the lift to protect the top landing and prevent people and wheelchairs/scooters from falling off. This gate typically connects to the lift, so that it is locked when the lift is more than an inch from the top landing.
- Dedicated Electrical Outlet or Battery Power: Safety codes require the use of a dedicated electrical outlet or onboard battery power to insure the lift will be reliable. If you use a shared outlet without battery power, the lift can pop the circuit breaker or fuse when you start the lift up or down. The objective of this safety is to prevent the lift from getting stuck between levels.
- Solid Sides: Although many lifts are made with optional side or just a handrail, safety codes require a solid side so that there are no pinch points that might pinch an arm, finger or toe.
- Solid Floor: Some lower cost lifts have a open mesh design to save money, but safety codes require a solid floor to prevent your wheelchair, walker, cane, or toe from getting stuck.
- Weight Limit: Check your mobility device to insure that you and the device weigh under 750 pounds for a vertical platform lift. Inclined platform lifts and some lower cost Vertical Platform Lifts have weight limits as low as 450 pounds. Double check this so that you purchase what you expect.
How much does a wheelchair lift cost?
A reliable residential wheelchair lift in which the lifting height is less than 53 inches tall is the lowest price and normally starts between $7,900 to $9,000. A taller lift can cost an additional $3,000 to $10,000, maybe more, because of the higher lifting height.
That price should cover the main lift, the 6 safeties discussed above, and additional items that are required for every wheelchair lift. Make sure any lift you are considering has these safeties, and that you are considering the total price. Many websites charge extra for each safety feature as additional items.
How much does it cost to service a wheelchair lift?
If service is required, service calls can range from $225 to $700. We have seen some lower end models only lasting 1-2 years before needing to be replaced. The higher quality wheelchair lifts for homes are built to last 10-20 years and provide reliable use without service calls and charges.
Should you consider a new or used/reconditioned wheelchair lift?
A used or reconditioned lift can save you money if it is reliable. It is rare to find a reconditioned wheelchair lift that will fit all your needs and fit properly, so be careful with buying used. The price should be about $1,000 to 2,000 less than a new unit but won't include the installation and warranty. As you can see, there are many factors to getting the right lift, so we recommend calling a reputable dealer to double check any lift before you buy it used. We have seen too many people try to save money, buy the wrong lift, only to have to start over.
Should I buy off the Internet?
This depends on your threshold for risk. Many of the lifts sold online do not comply with safety codes, and may be prohibited by your local building officials/inspectors. Also, you want to add up all the costs before purchasing the equipment. Some of the internet dealers offer installation but most do not, and the installers are usually handymen that are not trained by the manufacturer or licensed or insured for wheelchair lift or elevator installation. Because a wheelchair lift is a critical piece of equipment you will rely on everyday, you want to be sure you are buying the right equipment, getting a professional installation, and have access to timely service when you need it. We have tried most of the brands available and recommend the Bruno, Savaria, EZ Access, Butler, Harmar or Cambridge wheelchair lifts. Most of the lifts sold over the internet will be off brands that are difficult to find parts for and to service locally.