Posts Tagged "vertical platform lifts"

9Nov

Commercial accessibility lifts, and their limitations under the B-355 code

by Andrew @ Uppercut

Commercial accessibility lifts are a cost  effective solution when it comes to making public buildings accessible. Vertical platform lifts or VPL’s can eliminate barriers for wheelchair users or those faced with mobility issues. Their relatively small footprint and minimal contractual requirement make them ideal for existing public buildings where accessibility is a concern. They do however have their limitations under the B-355 code, which they are inspected.

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Enclosed lift

The first consideration is platform size. Public accessibility lifts are mandated to have a platform that is no greater the 21 square feet. A typical “large” wheelchair lift would have a 48″x 60″platform. This size of platform is big enough to accommodate a wheelchair user doing a 90-degree turn. A more common size would be in the range of 34″ x 54″ where the user enters and exits on the same side, or travels through the platform and exits on the opposite side.

Next, we must look at the  travel restrictions that are imposed within the code. Enclosed  B-355 accessibility lifts can travel no more than 7000mm or 23.1 feet. Unenclosed wheelchair lifts can travel up to 2500mm or 98.25″. Enclosed units will require a hoistway constructed around the device with a door at the lower landings and the minimum of  a gate at the uppermost landing. Unenclosed units travelling more than 500mm (19.65″) will require a gate or a door at the upper landing. It should be noted that any lift penetrating a floor will be required to be an enclosed vertical platform lift needing a hoist-way constructed.

The weight capacity  of wheelchair accessibility lifts varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most unenclosed vertical platform lifts have a capacity of either 550lbs or 750lbs. Enclosed units usually have a capacity  somewhere between 750lbs – 1400lbs.

 

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Unenclosed lift

 

 

Perhaps the biggest drawback of public accessibility lifts is the requirement for them to operate using constant pressure. This simply means you must hold the button for the device to operate. This is partially due to the fact the lift platform has no gate or sliding elevator door.

As universal accessibility for all members of society  is now considered the norm , the popularity of these barrier free lifts has increased. You can find barrier-free accessibility lifts  in most schools, community centres and places of worship.

 

For more information on commercial accessibility lifts please contact us for a free consultation

 

 

 

 

 

15Apr

What’s the difference between a residential elevator and a residential vertical platform lift

by Andrew @ Uppercut

The short answer is vertical platform lifts are typically installed due to an immediate accessibility requirement, while elevators are usually incorporated for luxury or ageing in place purposes. Of course, there are always exceptions, so it is important to understand the limitations  and features of each device.

Trus-T-Lift™ enclosed – Vertical platform lift

Trus-T-Lift™ enclosed – Vertical platform lift

Code

While residential elevators and lifts are not inspected in Alberta, there are governing codes that exist. Elevators fall under the B-44 code while accessibility lifts are built to meet the B-613 code. Ultimately it is these codes that provide the distinction between the products.

Constant pressure or automatic operation

Elevators utilize automatic operation, while a lift will require that you hold the button for the device to function. Holding the button or constant pressure operation limits your risk for pinching or shearing hazards. I go into more detail below.

Elevator car or lift platform

An elevator will always have an enclosed car usually complete with a ceiling. Your entrances will have either a light curtain, accordion gate or a sliding elevator door. This is due to the above mentioned automatic operation. A lift, on the other hand, will have an “open platform” so the hoistway around you is exposed, thus the requirement for constant pressure operation.

 

 

Speed 

Lifts will have an operating speed of 8ft/min – 18ft/min. An elevator usually functions between 20ft/min – 40ft/min.

Capacity

Crystal – Residential Elevator

Crystal – Residential Elevator

Capacity usually isn’t a factor as platform sizes are limited, but lifts will start at 550lbs (most are 750lbs) and elevators will range from 800lbs – 1400lbs.

Flexibility and features

While I have installed  some pretty fancy lifts in my time, most of the  upgrades people look for are usually only offered with an elevator purchase. These can include, automatic homing, hands-free phone systems, and custom interior finishes. We can usually make an elevator fit into the desired space while a lift is more of a “cookie cutter” design.

Cost

For the purpose of comparison let’s use a 2 stop with 10′ of travel, and entrances on the same side. A lift will cost you approximately $13,000.00 and an elevator will land around the $17,000.00 mark.

This obviously is general information and is based on specific product offerings, but should give you the tools to differentiate between an elevator and a lift.

Drawings and the corresponding site preparation for these devices can be found here

More information on residential elevators can be found here

More information on residential lifts can be found here

 

 

16Mar

Commercial Accessibility Lifts – Understanding the Code and Approval Procedure

by Andrew @ Uppercut
Lift

Enclosed Lift in a glass hoist-way

 

 

Commercial accessibility lifts are governed by the B-355 code. If a lift is being installed in a public application make sure that your lift provider specifies that the product is B-355 code compliant. All public lifts are required to be registered with the Alberta Elevating Devices Amusement Rides Safety Association (AEDARSA). After a lift is registered, and the engineered stamped drawings are reviewed, AEDARSA then issues a Certificate of Construction. Now your lift provider may proceed with the installation of your elevating device. After the installation is complete AEDARSA will need to be booked  for the initial inspection.

 

 

 

 

To recap the procedure is:

Trus-T-Lift™ with platform gate

Unenclosed Lift with platform gate

  1. Generate engineered drawings (lift provider)
  2. Registration of the lift with AEDARSA (lift provider)
  3. Review of the drawings  (AEDARSA)
  4. Issue certificate of construction (AEDARSA)
  5. Installation (lift provider)
  6. Inspection (AEDARSA)

Now that we understand the procedure it is important to know some of the code restrictions as they pertain to vertical platform lifts.

Travel

Enclosed B355 devices  are limited to a total travel of 7000mm or about 23 feet, while unenclosed lifts may  travel up to 2500mm or 98.25 inches. It`s important to note that unenclosed platforms may not penetrate a floor. Travel is defined as the floor to floor measurement. This typically limits accessibility lifts to 3 story buildings.

Platform size

The platform or lift car is limited to 21 square feet. If the platform is configured in a straight through application a 34x 54 inch (12.75 square foot) car size is often acceptable. If the site dictates adjacent access or a 90 degree turn, we recommend a larger platform to make the turn easier for the wheelchair user.

Constant Pressure

This is one of the major restrictions of the code. Public accessibility lifts are required to operate using constant pressure. This means you must hold the button in order for the lift to operate.

Commercial accessibility lifts

Enclosed lift with full height car

Capacity

Depending on the manufacturer, your vertical platform lift may have a 550, 750, 800, or 1000lb capacity. Some manufacturers make lifts than can accommodate up to  1400lb, but it should be questioned as to why you want this higher capacity, as there are limitations on platform size.  They may be  designed to accommodate an individual user in a wheelchair, or allow for an attendant as well. Your lift provider should make sure the platform size and capacity meet your specific needs while still satisfying code.

Hoist-way Construction

This work would typically be completed by a third party (not the lift supplier). Each lift will have specific criteria regarding the contractual requirements but it can be broken down into Enclosed and Unenclosed applications. The following documents explain the contractual requirements for each elevating device.

VPL Enclosed requirements for public applications

VPL Unenclosed requirements for public applications

For more information on commercial accessibility lifts click here

 

 

 

 

 

11Mar

Residential Lifts – What is a Porch Lift?

by Andrew @ Uppercut

Residential Lifts – What is a Porch Lift?

My career into the world of elevators and lifts started out as a technician, primarily installing and repairing residential lifts such as porch lifts. In my 17 years I have I have sold, repaired and maintained a multitude of different devices. I have leaned what products stand the test of time, and which ones fall short. The following is a list of things you should consider before you purchase a porch lift.

                                                                      Drive Mechanism

reslifts_5

 

There are really only two choices in Alberta , ACME  Screw drive or hydraulic. Both mechanisms are safe and incorporate the required safety redundancies, but there is a big difference when it comes to how they function in the cold weather. When hydraulic fluid gets cold it thickens, which can cause the porch lift to operate slower, or not function at all . For this reason (along with an increased costs) I would typically never offer a hydraulic unit in an outdoor application.

Features like a Zero Load Start will lessen the strain on your porch lift during the  initial start up. This offering allows the motor to cycle prior to picking up the load and lessens the chance of blowing  the house breaker. Having a device with a direct drive (no gearbox) will also aid in your lifts functionality during the cold weather.

 

 

Platform Size

Most manufacturers make several platform sizes so it is important that your quote specifies the

Trus-T-Lift™ unenclosed – Porch Lift

Trus-T-Lift™ unenclosed – Porch Lift

size that will meet your needs. While a 48″ long platform may meet a portion of the populations requirements, I recommend a platform the is 54″ long. This longer platform will be able to accommodate most wheelchair users and an attendant if necessary. Widths are pretty much standardized in the industry with a typical size being between 34″-36″. If your porch lift needs to be configured to have adjacent access or a 90 degree turn, it is important to have a platform size of 40″ wide x 54″ long. This will ensure that the individual using the device can make the turn with ease.

Solid or Steel Mesh Platforms

If you choose a porch lift with a solid (non-see though) platform you will be required to purchase a device with an under-pan sensor. This sensor is necessary to ensure that you will not crush objects that you can not see under the platform when moving in a downward direction. The good news about under-pan sensors is that they work. The bad news is they can be temperamental  and cause the lift not to run. I remember one of my first service calls; I was dispatched to a lift that had gone up but would not come back down. Upon examination I had discovered that the under-pan had dropped down as it is intended to do, but the plunger switches that monitor the pan were frozen in the engaged position. The lift “thought” there was an obstruction, and therefore would not operate in the downward direction. For this reason I prefer lifts that have steel mesh platforms where the user can see any obstructions below the lift. I find it to be a simpler solution to this safety concern. The mesh also allows the rain and snow to fall through the platform, lessening the chance for ice build up and platform warping.

                                                                                                   Controls

Upper landing gate

Upper landing gate

Due to code restrictions, residential lifts such as porch lifts or vertical platform lifts are required to operate under constant pressure. This means you have to hold the button for the lift to run. For this reason it is recommended that the buttons on the device are both large enough and easy to access. You want a control that does not protrude into the platform area like a joystick, as these are easily bent or broken if a  wheelchair user drives into it. You also need  a controller that is weather resistant will not become stuck. I prefer a “paddle style”  control with soft touch operation.

Site Preparation

This is the work required so that  your residential lifts provider can install your device safely. All porch lifts need some form of foundation for the device to be mounted to. This can be accomplished with a variety of methods but the most common would be concrete sidewalk blocks or a poured concrete pad. Next we need to ensure that there is no risk of a pinching hazard, so we ask that a sheer plate is added the deck side of the lift. Finally we need to minimize the risk of someone falling off the deck area if the lift is in the down position. An upper landing gate will need to  be constructed to meet this safety requirement. Another option would be to have your lift provider include a porch lift gate for an additional cost. For applications where the lift is directly in from of a door (like in a garage) we need to monitor the door with an interlock to ensure that the door will not open if the lift is not at that level.

More information on porch lifts and residential lifts can be found here

A complete list of contractual requirements can be found here —–> Porch Lift Contractor Requirements

A summery of this document can be found here ——>Porch lift features

You may qualify for the Residential Access Modification Program (RAMP) . Click here to download the application