Items such as your budget and who will drive the vehicle are two of the many aspects to consider when purchasing or converting a mobility vehicle, but the way you, or the person you’re in care of, will enter the vehicle is one of the most important aspects to consider. You must keep in mind certain wheelchair ramp van considerations before making the final selection.
When faced with limited mobility, accessibility is crucial and wheelchair ramps are a necessity to guarantee it. There’s no such thing as a “one-size fits all” ramp. Different types of ramps are used to accommodate different types of wheelchairs and scooters. In the case of a wheelchair ramp van, specifics such as where you park your vehicle and who’s usually accompanying the person in a wheelchair when driving around town must be considered.
Before you make your final purchase decision, compare the most common conversions to know what you need to consider for your wheelchair ramp van.
Side-Entry vs Rear-Entry Wheelchair Ramp Vans
Amongst one of the most important wheelchair ramp van considerations is the choice between side-entry and rear-entry vans. Whatever choice is made will affect aspects such as the ability to seat other passengers inside the van, parking options and wheelchair seating positions.
Side-entry wheelchair ramp vans allow the user to enter and exit the vehicle safely onto the curbside, away from traffic. This type of wheelchair ramp van allows the wheelchair user to drive the vehicle or sit in the front passenger seat, while giving extra room for maneuverability and maintaining the vehicle’s cargo storage space.
A rear-entry wheelchair ramp van can be parked almost anywhere, because aside from parallel parking, no extra room is needed to deploy the ramp. Since these type of wheelchair ramp vans don’t need to have the inside floor modified because the wheelchair user rides in a channel installed in the middle of the floor, it offers plenty of ground clearance and is easier and less expensive to convert.
Manual vs Power Wheelchair Ramp Vans
While power wheelchair ramps and doors are the most convenient, manual conversions are easier to install and come at more affordable prices.
A power conversion will usually come with a kneeling feature designed to reduce the angle or steepness of the ramp, so the floor of the vehicle on the side of the ramp lowers due to compression in its suspension. Manual ramps, however, are much simpler to acquire and don’t come with as many components, which makes them a more affordable choice.
Consider that manual ramps limit the wheelchair user to always travel alongside a companion, since their presence will be needed to raise and lower the ramp easily. Power ramps, on the other hand, can be operated through a key fob remote control, so caretakers can avoid repetitive transfers.
In-Floor vs Fold-Up Wheelchair Ramps:
Another common wheelchair ramp van conversion to choose from is in-floor or fold-up ramps. These are the most common conversions for these types of vehicles. Fold-up ramps are made to fold in half and be stowed upright next to the side passenger door whereas in-floor ramps slide into a pocket underneath the vehicle’s floor.
If you prefer the ramp to be out of the way of the passenger entrance, you want an in-floor ramp because these present a higher ramp angle than the fold-up ramps. However, fold-up ramps are usually cheaper and easier to maintain.
Now that you’re aware of what to consider for your wheelchair ramp van, you’ll be able to make a better, more informed decision and ensure that your purchase or conversion is the perfect fit for your specific needs.