The world of inclined platform lifts in a commercial accessibility setting is riddled with failed attempts by companies trying to penetrate the Canadian market.
We are pleased to announce that we will be attending the Calgary Renovation Show this weekend. We will be right by the front entrance in booth number 149, so come on by and find out how you can make your home accessible. We have a wide variety of accessibility solutions that include everything from stair lifts to home elevators.
The show dates are:
Friday January 13th – noon – 9pm
Saturday January 14th 10am-9pm
Sunday January 15th 10am -6pm
The show is down at the BMO Center and we have a few pairs of tickets to give away. If you would like free tickets please email Andrew to get the details
While the primary purpose of an custom built accessibility lifts should be to provide reliable wheelchair access, this doesn’t necessarily mean the device needs to look like a piece of medical equipment. We recently completed a project for a client that required secondary wheelchair access up to the 3rd floor of an office building. There are a variety of products that would satisfy this need but this client had some very specific criteria. Due to the fact the accessibility lift needed to be located in an atrium full of glass and plants it was important to preserve the look of the space. The client required:
- A pit-less application – they wanted to avoided cutting up the existing concrete
- No machine room – the available space did not allow for this
- A full height car complete with a ceiling – they wanted to duplicate the feel of a regular passenger elevator
- Travel speed of 37′ per minute (maximum allowable by code) – The lift needed to travel over 23′
- Bi-folding doors – so that they did not swing into the hallway at the second and 3rd levels
- An aesthetically pleasing hoistway and lift – It needed to look like it belonged in the space
RAM CTL ACCESSIBILITY LIFTS
The first 5 points could be easily achieved by using the RAM CTL (commercial traction lift), as this would all be included in the standard product offering. To achieve the desired look we needed to get creative so we did the following custom work:
- Had Greywolf projects build a custom glass and wood hoistway finished as per the clients specifications
- Added a glass wall to the elevator car
- Provided stainless steel doors at the landing entrances
- Upgraded the lift with stainless steel trim inside the elevator car
- Clad the lift wall panels with a custom laminate
Accessible Home Solutions
Some days are problematic and quite frankly can be difficult, but not yesterday – yesterday was a joy. We were fortunate to be able to team up with the good folks at Hearts & Hammers to make a home wheelchair accessible for a Calgary family. Our scope of work was relatively simple, as we were asked to provide a porch lift to gain access to the home. This basic porch lift installation was completed in about an hour, but this in no way depicts the effort and time put in by the Hearts & Hammers construction crew. Weeks before, this dedicated group of contractors did some pretty extraordinary modifications to the home. They completed a bathroom renovation to make the space wheelchair accessible, replaced the carpet with laminate flooring, and widened several doorways. They also did all the site preparation to accommodate the new RAM Trus-T-Lift™ we installed
If you would like more information on Hearts & Hammers or would like to make a donation please visit their website
Portable Wheelchair lift
We recently delivered a portable wheelchair lift to the Air Force Museum Society of Alberta. This product was the perfect solution as they had several locations which required temporary wheelchair lift access. This portable wheelchair lift easily rolls to each display and allows everyone to view all the amazing features of the museum .
The RAM portable wheelchair lift is utilized when necessary, then stored away until another accessibility need arises. This was a far more cost effective solution than installing a stationary lift at each display. It also gives the museum the flexibility to move or add new attractions at a later date.
This wheelchair accessibility lift is not intended to replace a permanent lift, and must be stored away from the place of access when not in use. The Portable Trus-T-Lift™ in not required to be inspected by AEDARSA (Alberta Elevating Devices Amusement Rides Safety Association) due to its portable and temporary nature. Please note that portable wheelchair lifts are not intended to replace or alleviate the need for a permanent installation. Chances are if you are required by code to make a space accessible you will need to go the permanent lift route.
The small footprint allows for easy storage and manoeuvrability . The dimensions can be viewed at the following Portable lift sample drawing.
We recently completed an installation at the Prairie Moon Inn and Suites located in Consort Alberta. The contractor was looking at retrofitting a wheelchair accessibility lift into the existing building. We had limited space so there was no excess square footage available for a machine room, nor did the contractor want to chip away the concrete slab to create a pit. The end user needed a durable drive mechanism that could handle lots of use, as it would be the only elevating device in the hotel.Fortunately we had the ideal product for this situation. We utilized the RAM CTL, which requires no machine room or pit. The secret to this wheelchair accessibility lift is its compact traction counter weight drive, that fits right in the hoist-way. This system has passed the test of time and is 50% more energy efficient than comparable hydraulic wheelchair lifts. We were able to provide a lift platform of close to 21 square feet, and a 1000lb capacity, so guests would feel comfortable when riding in this lift. The interior car finish featured raised car panels (standard offering) with a stainless steel reveal.
I think humans by nature have a fear of being trapped in an elevator and therefore I usually don’t get through a sales meeting without one of the two following questions being asked:
- What do I do if the elevator gets stuck?
- What happens if the power goes out?
Both questions are valid and fortunately, we have a variety of solutions that can ease these fears.
I would start by saying that one thing you can do to guarantee piece of mind is having your elevator properly maintained by a factory trained technician. The second thing would be to ensure there is a phone in your elevator so you can call for help if necessary.
Ok, now back to the easing your fears about getting stuck in that elevator. The following are standard and optional features that can allow for a safe evacuation from your elevator.
Manual lowering (or raising)
All devices that I am aware of have some form of manual lowering. Hydraulic units typically will have a button in the machine room that will open up a hydraulic valve and lower you at a regulated rate. Fluid is released from the cylinder, back into the reservoir. Of course, this means you can only be lowered and never raised, even if you need to get out at the upper level which is merely inches away. Traction counter weight and ACME Screw drives utilize a gear reduced crank that allows you to be moved in both an upward and downward direction. The obvious benefit here is, in the event of a flood or fire you may not necessary want to be evacuated to the lowest level as the exit to your home may be on levels 2, 3 or 4.
Emergency Battery lowering
Battery lowering is useful in the event of a power failure where your major concern is simply being able to exit the elevator. As the name indicates the elevator will only continue to operate in the downward position. The intention is to have you safely evacuate the device at the lowest level.
Battery Backup (or DC operation)
This term is sometimes confused with Emergency battery lowering. A vendor may tell you “all our units have battery back-up” but they may be referring to the ability to lower only via an emergency battery system (see above). Battery backup or DC operation means that there is a battery system in place that allows the elevator to function when the power is out. A true battery operated system will allow the user to have uninterrupted use in the event of a power failure. The device will travel both up and down, and be able to complete 30-40 cycles while the mains power is out. This system can function using a variety of methods, but a unit like the RAM Crystal or Stratus switches between AC and DC power depending on the remaining charge in the batteries. This option gives you true piece of mind if you are reliant on your elevator due to an accessibility need.
The interlocks on residential elevators and lifts will have a tool that allows you to open the door(from the outside) regardless if the lock is energized or where the car is located. I would, however, caution you to never crawl out of a device that is between floors unless it is absolutely necessary (life or death situation) . Your first line of defence is to always call your elevator provider as soon as you experience an issue.
I would like to close by saying that getting trapped in your home elevator or lift is extremely rare. In my 18 years of experience and hundreds of elevator installations, I can count only a handful of entrapments that required a technician to rescue an individual.
The number one question we get when discussing an exterior lift is “how well does it work in the winter?”. Although we have been fortunate in Alberta so far this year , we know all too well that freezing temperatures are never too far off the horizon. So the question regarding cold weather operation is very valid.
The TrusT utilizes a reliable ACME screw drive. Unlike hydraulic drives, there is no hydraulic fluid to thicken when the temperature gets cold.
Some outdoor porch lifts are simply painted, but all Trus-T-Lift™s are finished with a durable powder coating that ensures the finish will stand up to the elements
Zero Load Start
This is a feature that is unique to the Trus-T-Lift™ that allows the motor to run prior to picking up the user. This feature minimizes the strain on the device giving the motor a chance to “warm up” and therefore it doesn’t experience the stress of start- up while under load. The result is fewer problems with breakers or fuses blowing under extreme conditions.
Keeping things simple has allowed this wheelchair lift to be a reliable accessibility solution when the temperatures drop. There are no hoses, valves, PC boards, pumps, or complex controllers associated with this drive .
Made in Alberta
Beyond any pride you may experience from buying local, it’s good to know that your outdoor lift is made for people, by people who live in the same environment as you. The Trus-T-Lift™ has been manufactured for close to 30 years in Edmonton, where they know a thing or two about winter conditions.
Our Unenclosed Wheelchair Lifts are ideal when you need access to a stage, raised lobby or any rise under 2500mm (98″) , an unenclosed vertical platform lift (VPL) may be the ideal solution. These elevating devices can save you on construction cost simply because as the name indicates they are “unenclosed”, and do not require a hoistway to be built. They do not need a pit and usually, come with a fold down ramp to create easy access to the lift platform. These lifts when installed commercially must adhere to the B-355 code and be inspected by AEDARSA (Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association).
If you are thinking about wheelchair access for your place of worship, school, community centre or any public building there, are a few items to remember when considering an unenclosed VPL for accessibility.
The following items should be noted and discussed with your accessibility lift consultant:
- Any lift penetrating a floor can not be unenclosed and must have a hoistway constructed complete with a lower door.
Lifts with a rise of more than 600mm(23.5″) require an upper landing gate or full height door with an interlock
- These lifts will require an under platform sensor to remove the crushing or pinching hazard
- The running clearance (if partially enclosed) can be no less than 51mm(2″) and no more than 102mm (4″)
- The fascia wall where the lift runs must be level, plum, and smooth
- Typical capacities of these units are restricted to 750 lbs with a maximum of 1 wheelchair user and an attendant
- All B-355 code compliant lifts (enclosed and unenclosed) are required to operate under constant pressure
- Depending on the application you may want to restrict access by making the unit keyed. A provision will have to be made so the public can call an attendant if the device is keyed.
- For higher rises, you may want to consider a platform gate that travels with the lift for safety
- A rough footprint of a standard platform will be approximately 4′ wide by 5′ long. A sample drawing can be found here
- Your lift will require an initial inspection, maintenance and an annual inspection
- There will be items not provided by the lift contractor such as emergency lighting , GFCI receptacle, and electrical disconnect
Over the years I have provided a multitude of these units to create wheelchair access in public buildings. Unenclosed vertical platform accessibility lifts offer a simple and cost-effective solution for your barrier free needs.
For more information on commercial accessibility lifts, including larger enclosed lifts that penetrate the floor, please click here
For information on residential lifts, please click here
Planning for a Residential Elevator
People install a residential elevator in new home construction for many reasons. Some folks implement an elevator into their design for luxury, others out of necessity, but the vast majority of people I see do it so they may age in place. It is very important to do your research and understand your options. As the saying goes “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”. This statement certainly applies to your aging in place elevator. There are several factors you must consider to ensure that your home elevator will meet both your needs today, and in the future.
The first thing to consider is car or platform size. I have heard numerous times ” we don’t need the elevator to fit a wheelchair” , my answer is always “we hope for the best but plan for the worst” If you are going to the expense of adding an elevator to your home, we need to consider wheelchair accessibility. My experience working with home medical companies tells me that we need a minimum platform size of 34″ x 54″. Many standard platforms are 48″ long, please try to resist going with the smallest platform available.
Next we must decide on the aforementioned gates, elevator doors or light screens. As you travel in your home elevator we need to ensure that you cannot come into contact with the hoistway that houses the device. While all mechanisms will accomplish this, they vary in ease of use, aesthetics, and cost. An automatic elevator door is probably the most aesthetically pleasing and is very easy to use (it automatically opens and closes) but it is by far the most costly option. Next in the cost category would be an accordion gate. You won’t break the bank by adding gates to your residential elevator car, but they don’t have a great reputation when it comes to looks or ease of use – especially for wheelchair users. The final and most cost effective option would be a light curtain. This “virtual gate” ensures that if any object comes into contact with the residential elevator hoistway the elevator instantly stops. They operate using a series of light beams that shoot across the entrance way, if the beam is “broken” the elevator ceases to operate until the obstruction is removed and a floor is selected. From a wheelchair users perspective or anyone with limited mobility not having to reach back and close a gate eases the use of your home elevator.
The best way to ensure all these points are considered is to consult a professional. Many elevator companies will offer no cost or obligation consultations. They should be able to address your needs and answer your questions prior to you paying a deposit or making a commitment. Don’t base your elevator design from the back of a brochure, or from a generic drawing. Remember, site specific drawings will ensure that your elevator will meet both your needs today and allow you to age in place.
For more information on a residential elevator call us today.