Power vs. Manual Wheelchair Ramps: Which is Right for You?

Gentleman in wheelchair exits accessible van next to Certified Mobility Consultant

Shopping for a wheelchair accessible vehicle is about more than just finding a way to get from Point A to Point B. Ultimately, you want to select a vehicle that is built for your unique needs and will provide reliable transportation. That’s why our Certified Mobility Consultants take the time to thoroughly understand your situation to recommend the right solution. Through our free Needs Analysis, we learn as much as we can about you in order to find the best mobility solution to fit your physical capabilities, lifestyle and travel needs.

Beyond just selecting a make/model, our team will work with you to find an ideal conversion for your needs. Part of that decision involves determining whether a power ramp or manual ramp will work best for you. In short, a power ramp is operated by an electrical system at the touch of a button, requiring minimal effort from whoever is operating the ramp. A manual ramp, on the other hand, needs to be raised and lowered by hand.

Which Type of Wheelchair Ramp is Right for You?

Because each driver or passenger has their own one-of-a-kind needs and travel preferences, let’s go through the pros and cons of these styles of ramps to help guide your decision.

Pros of Operating a Power Ramp:
  • Power ramps require minimal effort by the operator and are often raised/lowered at the touch of a button through a key fob or button located on the vehicle itself.
  • Wheelchair users who drive their own vehicle can deploy the ramp and enter/exit their van independently.VMI Honda Odyssey Summit™ Power Fold-Out Ramp
  • Most conversions with a power ramp are built with a kneeling system. The van will lower as the ramp deploys, leaving the slope of the ramp less steep and making it easier for the wheelchair user to enter/exit the vehicle.
  • Power ramps are available as either an in-floor ramp where the ramp is stored in the floor of the vehicle or as a fold-out ramp that rests upright along the inside of the closed sliding door.
    • In-Floor Ramp: These ramps are more visually appealing, as they slide into the floor of the van, out of sight. If you have a larger power chair and need to capitalize on interior space, an in-floor ramp may be ideal for you.
    • Fold-Out Ramp: Because of their height, these cost-effective ramps have the advantage when deploying onto a sidewalk or curb. They can also be physically pushed out into position if need be.
Cons of Operating a Power Ramp:
  • In the event your power ramp does not deploy properly, the ramp will need to be operated manually.
  • These ramps are typically more expensive than a manual ramp because of the convenience they offer and the additional parts required to deploy the equipment.
  • Because they utilize an electrical system to operate, power ramps may require additional maintenance if they break down.
Pros of Operating a Manual Ramp:
  • Manual ramps are a cost-effective choice compared to a power ramp.BraunAbility®Chrysler Pacifica Manual Rear-Entry Conversion
  • Although the ramp needs to be raised/lowered manually, they are typically lightweight and can often be lifted with one hand.
  • These ramps usually require less maintenance since they do not involve any electrical systems to operate.
  • Manual ramps are also available in both the in-floor or fold-out style.
Cons of Operating a Manual Ramp:
  • Manual ramps are not ideal for wheelchair users unless they are traveling with a companion who can raise the ramp once the wheelchair user is inside the vehicle.
  • Conversions with a manual ramp typically do not come with a kneeling system, creating a steeper slope for the wheelchair user compared to a power ramp.

Our Team is Here for You

We know the process of finding the right wheelchair accessible vehicle can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time purchasing this type of vehicle. Our Certified Mobility Consultants are here to help you at any point on your mobility journey, whether you’re just starting out or have questions along the way. Click here to contact us and schedule your free Needs Analysis today!

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