Understanding Wheelchair Lift Functions and Options

Pros: The standard dual post vertical platform lift is generally the most affordable option when it comes to platform lifts. They also have a higher weight rating than a single post lift and provide a more stable lifting experience. Standard dual post lifts allow for independent operation and come in a variety of sizes to meet your mobility needs.

Cons: There are a couple of downfalls to the standard dual post lifts. Some models block the entry to the vehicle where they are installed making accessibility for others a problem. These lifts can also prevent the front seat passenger from moving the seat back or reclining.


Under Vehicle Wheelchair Lift

The under-vehicle wheelchair lift stores in a watertight compartment under the vehicle when not in use. When it deploys, the inclined wheelchair lift platform comes forward allowing the wheelchair to roll up and down. When not in use, the under-vehicle lift stows back under the vehicle.

Pros: The under-vehicle lifts allow full unrestricted access to the interior of the van. The lift platform won’t block the driver’s visibility. Occupants can easily enter and exit the vehicle when the lift is not in use. The front passenger can recline or adjust the seat as necessary. The lift has two arms, keeping the stability and strength of the dual post lifts without taking up space inside the van.

Cons: This portable wheelchair lift is exclusively designed for side entry modifications. If you are looking for a rear entry lift, this one won’t work. The cost is slightly more for an under-vehicle lift compared to a standard dual post lift.


Single Post Split Platform Lift

A single post, split platform lift has just one hydraulic arm. The single arm deploys the platform allowing easy access to the vehicle. The platform stows in the vehicle by folding or splitting apart. When used in side-entry vehicles, mobility specialists mount the arm towards the rear of the van rather than behind the passenger seat.

Pros: With a single arm mounted on the backside of the doors, front seat passengers aren’t restricted from moving or reclining. The folding platform allows other vehicle occupants to enter and exit the van easily. The line of sight for the driver is less restricted with a split platform as it doesn’t block the windows, and thus, the view.

Cons: A single arm doesn’t provide the same stability as a dual post lift thus it has a lower weight limit. The interior aesthetics of the van will still be altered slightly, and cargo space is reduced when the lift is stowed.


Dual Post Split Platform Lift

A dual post, split platform lift is similar to the single post, the split platform only it has two hydraulic arms. The two arms deploy the platform for easy entry into and exit from the vehicle. When the lift is in the stowed position, the platform gets folded or splits in half to swivel into its storage area.

Pros: The split platform feature of this lift provides hidden storage thus giving the driver better visibility. For styles that split in half, access in and out of the vehicle for other occupants also gets easier. Added visibility, stability, and weight capacity are advantages over standard dual post lifts.

Cons: The dual post-split platform lift positions the second arm just behind the front passenger seat. The arm position restricts seat movement and reclining ability for the front passenger. Styles that fold down from the top to the bottom make access for other passengers difficult.


A Single Arm Wheelchair Lift

The single arm lifts don’t use any kind of platform or hydraulics. These are electrically powered lifts, with webbed straps, that secure the chair at the proper angle before ascending into or descending out of the vehicle. Webbing acts like a harness for the wheelchair, setting the chair at a safely reclined angle for balance when in transition.

Pros: The arm stows inside the vehicle but doesn’t obstruct the driver’s visibility out of the windows. Single arm lifts require less space to deploy since the arm sets the wheelchair down on the ground and releases it. The lift is quiet and easy to install often only taking a few hours for vehicle modification.

Cons: The weight limit on the single arm lift is not as high as its dual post platform cousin. Riders must be able to remain in an upright position and have at least one inch of head clearance in the vehicle. Wheelchairs cannot exceed 39 ½ inches in order to safely use single arm lifts.


BraunAbility Wheelchair Lifts

BraunAbility offers several styles of lifts. The BraunAbility wheelchair lifts range from commercially used to private mobility. R&J Mobility is a certified dealer and installer or BraunAbility lifts. They have several different options for lifts, and all models are NHTSA compliant.

Private Mobility Lifts

BraunAbility offers a line of private mobility lifts for consumer use. They come in a variety of styles including the under-vehicle lift.

Some of the BraunAbility power lift models include:

  • Century Series: Designed for vans, these lifts feature an 8-inch automatic roll stop feature, 42-inch lift height, and a 750-pound weight capacity. Several other features make the century series great economical lifts.
  • Millennium Series: Provides optional side entry making it more usable in tight parking spaces. It is available for rear or side entry vehicles and comes in three different platform sizes. It has a 750-pound weight capacity.
  • Under Vehicle Lift (UVL): Stored under the van, with a load capacity of 750 pounds, and features a longer platform without having to adjust the original door to the van. This allows for better mobility regardless of wheelchair size.
Commercial Mobility Lifts

BraunAbility also offers a line of lifts for commercial use in addition to their personal vehicle conversion options. Commercial mobility lifts are used in public transportation vehicles. These lifts meet higher weight ratings and ground to vehicle height specifications.

A few of the commercial mobility lifts from BraunAbility include:

  • Century 2: Offers six different models to pick from depending on the size of platform, weight capacity (800 or 1000 pounds), lift height (up to 54 inches), and pump placement you want. It is an economically priced dual post lift.
  • Vista 2: A stackable split platform lift that doesn’t block the driver’s view. It has an 800-pound capacity and lift height of 48 inches.
  • Millennium 2: Strong, stable platform with eight versions to choose from. They feature a hydraulically operated roll stop, 48-inch lift height, and 800-pound weight capacity.
  • Under Vehicle Lift (UVL): Available in several different models to use with existing step set up or with a lift door. It’s a fully automatic lift that stores in a watertight compartment, and provides a quiet, rattle-free ride.
Ricon Lifts

Ricon lifts from Vantage Mobility International (VMI) offer both residential and commercial lifts. Ricon lifts are NHTSA and ADA compliant in split platform models designed for private passenger use. Optional material upgrades tare titanium, making the lift stronger and more durable; this is available at an additional cost.

Private mobility lift options by Ricon include:

  • KlearVue K-Series: A split platform lift that folds down from top to bottom. Its unique design allows drivers and passengers to see out the window without obstruction. The titanium upgrade has a weight capacity of 1000 pounds while the classic version holds up to 800 pounds.
  • Clearway Wheelchair Lift: A hydraulic dual post-split platform that is fully automated. The platform will split in half allowing easy access to the vehicle for occupants by pressing a button.
  • Reliant Wheelchair Lift: A standard dual post platform lift featuring a solid steel frame for lasting durability. Ricon equips the Reliant Lift with patented Sto-Loc technology, which locks the ramp into place when stowed, making the ride quieter.
  • Uni-Lite Wheelchair Lift: A durable aluminum alloy electric wheelchair lift, making it lightweight but built to hold up to 600 pounds.

Ricon also offers commercial mobility lifts and upgrades. They have several patented ride and safety features to make getting around easier.

Ricon commercial lift options include:

  • Titanium S-Series and K-Series: Titanium upgrades increase the weight limit to 1000 pounds. They also come with the patented Sto-Loc technology, Interlock Occupant Restraint for safety, and quiet ride/anti-vibration bumpers.
  • KlearVue K-Series: Used in either private or commercial settings. These lifts are great in commercial settings as their design allows for an unrestricted view for the driver, eliminating the blind spot some lifts create.
  • Classic S-Series and K-Series: Economically priced, lighter weight models, equipped with the Sto-Loc system, and Interlock Occupant Restraint for safety and a quiet ride supporting up to 800 pounds.
Handicaps, Inc. Mobility Lifts

Handicaps, Inc. manufactures a wheelchair lift, called the SuperArm, available in three style options. A disabled person developed the SuperArm Lift to address some of the downfalls of traditional platform lifts.

The SuperArm Van Lift #2000 is a single arm lift that uses one-inch wide mountain climber type webbing straps. The straps lift the wheelchair and occupant comfortably and safely into the vehicle. The arm is fully electric powered, doesn’t restrict the driver’s view, and has a weight capacity of 600 pounds. This lift requires less landing space than traditional platform lifts.


RV and Motorcoach Lifts

Ricon manufactures three different styles of lifts for motorcoaches. The Ricon motorcoach lifts are built to be compact and easy to use.

Three lifts by Ricon designed specifically for motorcoaches are:

  • Mirage F10X Wheelchair Lifts: A low-profile lift that takes less than one cubic meter of space allowing for maximum cargo space and easy loading and unloading of luggage. The F10X mounts at mid-coach which makes loading and unloading more efficient.
  • Mirage F9T Wheelchair Lifts: An underfloor mounted lift that leaves the doorway clear when its stowed.  Like the F10X, it has a 660-pound load capacity. Stainless steel and aluminum materials make it durable
  • BayLift Wheelchair Lift: Made of stainless steel and is designed for easy maintenance. It is built to be space-efficient, taking up only 18 inches when stored. This lift has a 600-pound weight rating.
Handicaps, Inc.

Handicaps, Inc. produces two wheelchair lifts for RV use. These are similar to the SuperArm #2000 built for van modifications. They use a single arm and special webbed straps that lift the wheelchair and occupant inside.

Two popular RV SuperArm Lifts from Handicaps, Inc. include:

  • SuperArm Motorhome Lift #124: Allows a wheelchair and occupant to be lifted into a vehicle with a floor to ground height of up to 33 inches.
  • SuperArm Basement Model Motorhome Lift #129: Extends the reach of the 124, allowing wheelchairs to be lifted from a height of 33 to 52 inches.

Differences Between Occupied and Unoccupied Lifts

Unoccupied lifts are another category of wheelchair accessibility lifts. An unoccupied lift hoists the wheelchair to a set location to stow for the ride without a passenger in the seat. Some unoccupied lifts mount into pickup truck beds, on vehicle roofs and backends, and inside the vehicle.

If stowing the wheelchair or mobility scooter, the person with disabilities first gets into the vehicle. Then a person assisting can use the lift. These lifts are great options for people who have wheelchairs or scooters that are not entirely restricted. They must be ambulatory to some degree to get in and out of the seat and car. Transfer seats are also an option to aid this process. Unoccupied lifts usually have a second person assist with loading and stowing the wheelchair or scooter.  


BraunAbility Chair Topper

The BraunAbility Chair Topper looks similar to a mounted storage unit on the top of a car. It is a mobile wheelchair carrier that takes the folded wheelchair and stores it for easy travel without obscuring visibility. While it looks like it would require someone to place the wheelchair on the roof-mounted unit, everything is fully automated.

A customized wheelchair is engaged to fold by a hand-held control. Within 30 seconds, the unit completes its cycle to either stow or deploy the wheelchair. Installation happens on the left or right side of the car for either a driver or passenger convenience.  


Bruno Independent Living Aids

The Bruno Independent Living Aid help you take the 400-pound wheelchair without worrying about how you will get it up and off the platform. A hand control system gives drivers and passengers complete automation. Drive the wheelchair onto the platform and press a button to raise it.

Bruno has 11 models that mount to the back of the vehicle. Options are customized based on the vehicle and wheelchair compatibility.


Harmar Mobility

Hamar Mobility lifts install to the back of a car, truck or SUV. They are ideally suited for powered wheelchairs or mobility scooters, giving many seniors or partially disabled individuals the ability to operate personal vehicles without extensive modifications. This provides mobility options when arriving at various locations.

Weight capacities vary on the models chosen. A small compact car may be better suited for a lighter scooter with a lower-capacity lift, while a SUV with tow capacity power is the best option for heavy duty power wheelchairs. These options may partially obstruct the vision of drivers through the rearview mirror and back windows.


Coach Lift

Coach Lift designs a specialized RV conversion modification, the RV Handicapped Lift solution. This lift only aids a person into the RV or Motorhome; it does not lift a wheelchair. For people who have difficulty climbing stairs but enjoy being on the road and hitting RV campgrounds, this lift is a great option which are mounted through indoor and outdoor methods. Mounting options depend on the width of the door opening.  

To use this lift solution, sit in the seat and push a button on the control pad. The seat moves vertically on the mounted tube. Once the seat is at the desired level, rotate the seat to get off the lift. If the RV doesn’t have an insertable floor to cover the stair opening, you will need to get one to ensure safety when getting off the seat.

The RV Lift allows easy access to the RV lifestyle for those with limited mobility. It’s easy to install and doesn’t require special fitting or modifications to the RV door. The seat can be removed easily for travel between locations. The RV Lift is an ideal solution for those not limited to wheelchairs but needing extra assistance getting in and out of the RV.


BraunAbility Wheelchair Lifts

BraunAbility lifts are sturdy, platform style lifts. The same lifts used in vans can be used in an RV conversion. Depending on the lift selected, an accessible door may need to be installed on the RV. When selecting a BraunAbility lift, a specialist at R&J Mobility can help you decide the best lift and location to place it.

Finding the Right Lift

Having a disability shouldn’t limit your mobility or freedom. Vertical platform wheelchair lifts come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles to meet your needs. With the ability to enter and exit a vehicle, on your own or with a little assistance, you will be able to come and go as you please.

R&J Mobility serves the West Coast from Washington to California with certified mobility specialists at your disposal who can help you find the right mobility lift. Our Mobility experts guide you to the right wheelchair and scooter lifts based on your travel needs, your vehicle and mobility requirements.

At R&J Mobility Service, we offer unoccupied wheelchair and scooter lifts by some of the industry’s top manufacturers:

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