How Do Platform Lifts Work


Platform lifts are lifts specially designed for wheelchair users. It consists of a platform that moves up and down to help give wheelchair users greater convenience in moving between different levels in a building.

Moving around is a hassle for wheelchair users, and climbing stairs without assistance is nothing but a nightmare. For people with difficulty moving around, platform lifts are a great solution to giving greater freedom and independence to wheelchair users when moving around.

Types Of Platform Lifts

Step Lifts

Step lifts are usually installed beside or near steps. This allows wheelchair users to access higher levels while keeping the stairs clear for able bodied users.

Incline Stair Lift

The incline stair lift consists of a platform installed to the diagonal railing of a staircase. It can be installed on regular stairs and curved stairs.

Enclosed Platform Lifts

Enclosed platform lifts look similar to regular enclosed lifts in building. The difference between the two are that enclosed platform lifts are designed specially for wheelchair users. For example, enclosed platform liftsusually only have capacity for one wheelchair user and move at a slower speed and lower height.

How Do Platform Lifts Work

Platform lifts are usually made and work with three main platform lift drive systems. Each system has their own advantages and disadvantages. More modern platform lifts are operated electronically where a signal is sent to a central processing unit which then initiates the motors to move the platform up and down.

Hydraulic Drive System

In this system, the platform is attached to a hydraulic ram. The pump pushes hydraulic fluid from the central reservoir into the hydraulic ram, causing the platform to move. The pressure from the hydraulic fluid extends the ram and lifts the platform. When lowering the lift, the reverse occurs.

This mechanism typically requires space and hydraulic fluid can give off an odour in warmer weather.

Screw And Nut Drive System

This system uses a steep screw pole that runs the length of the shaft. A motor drives a nut attached to the screw. As the nut is turned, the lift moves up or down depending on the direction that the nut is turned in. 

This system is susceptible to wear and tear and thus needs to be lubricated regularly.

Encapsulated Chain Drive System

Lifts with an encapsulated chain drive system will have a chain that is encased in a highly durable polyurethane plastic casing. This durable casing is put in place to safely guide the chain and ensure it does not slip. A motor and gearbox in the system turns a driveshaft that is attached to the chain. The rotating action of the driveshaft causes the chain to be pulled or pushed, enabling the platform to move up and down.

The type of system that a platform lift uses is largely dependent on the type of platform lift that it is.