What Is a Porch Lift?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A porch lift is a platform lift designed for residential use by wheelchair users and other people with mobility impairments. This accessibility device can make it easier to enter and exit a home, move between floors, and access environments like porches that may be cut off by stairs. It can be used as an alternative to a ramp. Costs vary, depending on the product, and consumers should think about issues like how high the lift needs to go and weight when selecting a product.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

These products are designed to work outdoors. With a weatherproof casing to resist rain and temperature extremes, they can be used in hot, snowy, and wet climates. A variety of paint finishes are available to help lifts blend in with structures.

To use a porch lift, someone rolls or steps onto the platform, closes a security gate, and operates controls located inside the lift. At the top, another gate can open to allow the user to roll or step out. It may also be possible to operate a porch lift remotely, which can be useful in emergency situations.

Ramps tend to be less expensive to install for quick accessibility, but they are not always an option. In order to achieve a grade comfortable enough for people to use, the ramp may need to be long. It might not fit in the given space, or could be visually jarring. A porch lift can make an alternative, as it is much more compact. Lifts can also be used by other members of a household for activities like bringing up heavy loads of groceries.

Rental lifts may be available for temporary use. Otherwise, new and used porch lift products can be found through a variety of suppliers. People preparing to buy a porch lift should think about the distance it needs to cover, as some have relatively limited height ranges. Another consideration is weight, particularly with power chairs, which can be extremely heavy. The weight rating of the porch lift should exceed the anticipated weight of the user to make sure it will function correctly.

Power sources can include batteries and household power. If a porch lift provides the only means of exiting a structure in an emergency, using battery power or having a battery backup unit can be advised. This ensures that people will be able to evacuate even if the power goes out or if there is a problem with the power supply.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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