Going up and down the stairs can be a hard task for many different people that suffer from arthritis, are older, suffer from a muscular disease, or are in a wheelchair. For these individuals it may not be safe or even possible to go up and down the stairs. This can be extremely frustrating because there is a whole section of your house that can not be used. There are several mobility related stair lift products on the market today that can help a mobility challenged person conquer the stairs. The most common solution is to install either a vertical platform lift or a stair lift.
A vertical platform lift is similar to a mini-elevator. It installs on the side of the stairs and travels vertically up and down. Vertical platform lifts consist of a platform that varies in size, depending on the model, with a set of handrails or walls attached to the platform. Vertical platform lifts are often referred to as wheelchair lifts. This is because they are made so that a wheelchair, power chair, or mobility scooter can be driven onto the platform. Vertical platform lifts are also used to access areas of different elevations such as a stage or bleachers. A vertical platform lift can only be installed on certain types of stairs. In order to function properly, the vertical platform lift must be able to vertically raise the platform the distance of the steps and access the top landing vertically. This is as opposed to accessing it across horizontal distance of the actual steps. A vertical platform lift is ideal for an outside porch, because most landings on porches have two exposed sides that a vertical platform can use.
A stair lift is also an aid to help people that cannot climb the stairs on their own, but it works differently than a vertical platform lift. Where a vertical platform lift raises the individual vertically in the air, a stair lift is much more similar to an escalator. A stair lift raises a chair or small platform along a track that is bolted to the steps. Residential stair lifts are generally not designed to carry wheelchairs or other mobility vehicles up the stairs. They do, however, have available baskets to help carry belongings up the stairs and they also have a high weight capacity, similar to vertical platform lifts. Stair lifts can be installed inside or outside and no matter how your stair case is designed, there is probably a stair lift that will be able to attach to it. They also are generally less expensive than vertical platform lifts.
Deciding on whether to get a vertical platform lift or a stair lift will depend on several factors. If you need to be able to transport your wheelchair or other mobility vehicle while you are on it than probably a vertical platform lift will be best for you. If you do not need stair lift your mobility vehicle and depending on the type of stairs you have then a stair lift may be the best choice.