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Commercial vs Residential Vertical Platform Lift (VPL)

Posted on by John Burfield

While commercial and residential vertical platform wheelchair lifts look similar, there are differences between the two that make commercial units suitable for use in schools, churches, theaters, restaurants, and other public buildings.

A commercial vertical platform lift (VPL) will meet certain standards outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code 18.1, Section 2, which covers vertical platform lifts “installed in locations other than in or at a private residence”.

For example, commercial wheelchair lifts are required to have:

  • Lighted control panels
  • 42-inch side walls
  • Shorter height restrictions for unenclosed units, typically up to 5 feet
  • A lifting capacity of 8 times its rated capacity
  • More complex internal electronic circuitry that allows for options such as an ADA compliant telephone kit
  • A third-party stamp certifying the unit is acceptable for commercial applications

In addition to these code requirements, commercial VPLs typically offer more enclosure and security options than residential VPLs. For example, Bruno offers the VPL-3300B series of commercial VPLs which includes three models with various enclosure options.

  • Enclosed model: Features a full-size plexiglass door and side panels and can travel up to 14 feet
  • 3-Gate (Toe Guard) model: Features a lower enclosure system that provides a full barrier at the lower landing. This limits access under the lift for added safety. This lift can travel up to 53 inches or about 4 ½ feet.
  • Shaftway/Hoistway model: The VPL is placed in a shaft similar to a residential elevator with doors and gates and can travel up to 14 feet. These shafts are built by a 3rd party provider and not the manufacturer.

Bruno fully enclosed commercial vertical platform lift woman in wheelchair exiting Bruno commercial wheelchair lift

Final Thoughts

While it may be hard to tell the difference between a commercial and residential VPL, it is important to make sure yours is commercial grade if you are using it in a public space. If you still have questions about which type of commercial vertical platform lift will meet your needs, a qualified accessibility provider will be able to help. Many providers offer free consultations and will make sure you’re ADA and code compliant when installing a commercial lift.

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