500+ lb. weight capacity. Folds easily between uses. Varying ramp lengths available. Platform is 30 in. wide; accommodates most wheelchairs. Nonslip tape covers surface. Critical seams welded, not just riveted.
Protruding hinges can be a tripping hazard for walkers. Incline angle may be too steep for some users.
Includes a carrying handle and travel bag for independent use. Very portable and lightweight. Works well with low-angle thresholds. 600 lb. weight capacity. Perforated slots for improved water drainage.
Ramp dimensions not ideal for all wheelchair types or threshold angles. Carrying handle hard to access when ramp is in use.
Easy to align and easy to store between uses. Lightweight aluminum construction. 330 lb. weight capacity per ramp. Telescoping design for longer stairs or steeper curbs. Nonskid grip.
Stability and sturdiness under load are common concerns. Heavier than expected, may be too challenging for some users to set up.
Can be installed permanently in threshold. Easy to modify if necessary. Sturdy rubber construction. Shipped flat, no curling. Fits many threshold rises perfectly. ADA compliant.
Doesn't work well on uneven floors. Some thresholds still have gaps.
Higher price point, but very durable construction. Can be installed for permanent use. Accommodates different wheel types and widths. Bottom of ramp self-adjusts. Sections disconnect for easier transport.
Lip edges are very sharp, challenging to transport safely. Heavier than expected, not ideal for independent use.
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Following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, equal access to many public buildings became much more common. Popular destinations such as restaurants, government offices, and hospitals now offer curb cuts, permanent wheelchair ramps, and automatic doors. However, there are still times when these accommodations simply aren’t available. That’s when a portable wheelchair ramp enters the picture.
A wheelchair ramp provides a safe way for wheelchair or scooter users to negotiate a steep curb, high threshold, or steps. Once the wheelchair ramp is in place and secured, the user or an assistant can easily push the wheelchair over the obstacle. Most portable wheelchair ramps are designed to fold or bend for easy storage and are usually light enough for one person to operate.
Finding the ideal wheelchair ramp can be a matter of trial and error, however, so we’ve created this shopping guide to help you find the model that will fit your specific needs. If you’re in the market for a wheelchair ramp, please consider our shortlist of contenders above. If you’d like more detailed insights, please read our shopper’s guide below.
There are a number of different wheelchair ramp designs produced by different manufacturers, but they all accomplish the same goal: allowing users to safely negotiate an incline over an obstacle. When shopping for a new wheelchair ramp, you will likely discover one of these common designs:
Threshold ramp: This is usually a single piece, rarely more than two feet in total length, with a typical rise of three or four inches. As the name implies, a threshold ramp is often deployed in front of a doorway or curb with a high threshold. Sometimes a second ramp is required to make the transition even safer.
Modular ramp: When the length of a ramp must be increased or reduced, a modular ramp allows you to add or remove individual sections. These sections fit each other in different configurations and are usually ADA compliant in terms of length versus rise. Storage space may be a major consideration with modular ramps.
“Suitcase” ramp: These ramps are popular choices because they fold for transport and can accommodate many different sizes of wheelchairs. The suitcase ramp features a central hinge and handles and usually has a generous weight capacity. It can be used on a semipermanent basis, but it’s more often carried by an assistant on trips to inaccessible locations.
Telescoping ramp: Much like a modular ramp, the length of a telescoping ramp can be easily adjusted. All the segments nest together when the ramp is collapsed for storage. A telescoping ramp offers the most versatility, but its total weight capacity may be less than some users require.
Because wheelchair ramps are often exposed to the elements, the choice of material is important. Rust can easily compromise the integrity of the ramp, so most manufacturers avoid using untreated steel. Instead, modern wheelchair ramps are constructed from lightweight aluminum, fiberglass, or rubber. Some models may contain a combination of these materials or additional steel for improved strength.
Aluminum is the most common material used to construct wheelchair ramps, primarily because it’s strong enough to hold 1,000 pounds but still lightweight enough for one assistant to transport. It also resists the effects of weather.
Fiberglass is also a good choice when it comes to weather exposure and storage, but total weight capacity can be an issue.
Rubber is often used for smaller threshold-style ramps. It offers excellent traction, but larger ramps must be reinforced with aluminum or steel.
A fully loaded electric wheelchair with an adult passenger can easily weigh 600 pounds or more. If the ramp is to be used for other purposes, such as transporting freight or heavy cargo, the weight capacity might need to exceed 1,000 pounds. Manufacturers should provide the model’s weight capacity somewhere in the packaging or owner’s manual. A well-constructed wheelchair ramp should not sag or bend under a standard load. A rating of 600 pounds should be considered a minimum for an average non-motorized wheelchair and adult passenger.
One important consideration when choosing a wheelchair ramp is portability. Ideally, one able-bodied assistant should be able to set up, dismantle, and store a temporary ramp without help. Assistants should consider their own preferences and physical limitations when selecting a wheelchair ramp. The strongest ramp won’t be of much benefit if it can’t be set up and dismantled with ease.
Modular ramps can be assembled in sections, but storage can be a challenge.
Suitcase ramps offer special handles that help balance the weight during transportation and setup, but these ramps can be bulky.
The most common construction material for portable wheelchair ramps is aluminum, followed by fiberglass, and steel. Rubber is a common material for threshold ramps.
All wheelchair ramps should include some form of anti-slip protection, regardless of design.
Embossing: Some threshold ramps accomplish this through an embossed or raised pattern in the platform itself. These stamped grids provide a fair amount of grip for wheelchair users, but they can still be slippery when wet.
Non-slip tape: Longer ramps often employ strips of nonslip tape to improve traction. These adhesive strips use embedded sand or metallic grit to provide a rough surface for walkers or tires. These pieces may need to be replaced periodically to maintain their effectiveness.
Non-slip paint: Higher-end wheelchair ramps also use a special nonslip paint to provide additional traction over the entire surface. This paint incorporates metallic grit to provide a slip-resistant layer of protection, but the coating can wear down after years of heavy use.
In addition to nonslip coatings, most wheelchair ramps also provide secure connections between the sections to prevent sliding, tipping over, and other types of accidents. Assistants should familiarize themselves with all the safety features and test for stability before allowing wheelchair users to access the ramp for the first time.
Modular: Each section of a modular ramp is bolted together securely to prevent separation.
Suitcase: These ramps must be locked into their open position before use. The edges of the ramps are often angled to provide a more stable grip during operation.
The total weight capacity of top-end wheelchair ramps can be over 2,000 pounds.
The retail price of a wheelchair ramp largely depends on design and size, not construction material or safety features. A $50 aluminum threshold ramp and a $500 aluminum entry ramp are both engineered to support 600 or more pounds, but each addresses different issues.
Entry-level wheelchair ramps that cost under $75 tend to be designed for thresholds, not stairs or extended street curb access. They are usually less than two feet in length, with a total rise of three or four inches. Some inexpensive models may not be able to support a heavy electric wheelchair and passenger, so it pays to read the manufacturer’s specifications before purchasing. If a home has multiple wheelchair access issues, buying several inexpensive ramps is a good way to go.
The mid-range price point of $75 to $250 offers the most variety among wheelchair ramp models. Construction materials often include aluminum, galvanized steel, fiberglass, and rubber. Telescoping or modular ramps can be found, often with lengths of seven feet or more. Portable folding suitcase models are also more common in this price range. Weight capacity often reaches 1,000 pounds or more.
Many wheelchair ramps designed for semi-permanent or permanent use, costing over $250, include handrails and other safety features not offered in mid-range models. Higher-end ramps can also be used with other pieces of equipment, such as lawn mowers, food carts, hand trucks, and bicycles. Improved engineering allows loads of 1,500 pounds or more. Traction and drainage are also noticeably better with these wheelchair ramps.
Portable suitcase ramps that weigh as little as 20 pounds can still have an 800-pound capacity.
Inspect your portable wheelchair ramp between uses. Look for any signs of cracking, bending, or other metal fatigue. Worn-out non-slip tape should be replaced.
Have an able-bodied assistant visit an unfamiliar destination first to determine if a portable wheelchair ramp will be required. Some locations are more ADA compliant than others.
Avoid attaching large backpacks or walkers to the back of the wheelchair when using a wheelchair ramp on an incline. The imbalance could cause the wheelchair to tip backward.
Consider the wheelchair user’s upper body strength when setting up a wheelchair ramp. If the angle is too steep, they may require assistance.
Practice with the ramp. Wheelchair users often need to practice their technique for climbing and descending a wheelchair ramp. Assistants should provide close supervision if the user is unfamiliar with the ramp’s angle.
While the five contenders on our shortlist have earned our highest praise, there are other wheelchair ramps we also consider worthy of consideration. The Hromee Aluminum Folding Mobility Ramp is a very manageable two feet in length, with a 600-pound weight capacity, nonslip painted surface, and protective rails. For those who need a ramp with additional length, the seven-foot-long aluminum Titan Ramps Multifold Ramp has a wide nonslip surface, a 600-pound capacity, and an angled lip for more secure installation. This model may be better suited for wheelchairs and scooters than walkers. In terms of versatility, it would be hard to beat the affordable OxGord Curb Ramp. This compact, one-piece ramp has a 1,000-pound weight capacity and can be used for a number of wheeled devices, such as wheelchairs, scooters, food carts, hand trucks, and wheelbarrows.
Q. Can I use a portable wheelchair ramp as a permanent ramp for my wheelchair-bound wife?
A. It’s complicated. Physically, most portable wheelchair ramps can withstand months of exposure to the elements or the stress of daily usage. However, there may be legal or safety issues to consider. A temporary wheelchair ramp may not be ADA compliant, which can put users at risk. Your best bet is to use a portable wheelchair ramp as a temporary stopgap until a more permanent ADA-compliant ramp can be installed.
Q. My dad now uses a wheelchair, and I want to invite him to my house for family holidays. What is the best portable wheelchair ramp model for occasional use?
A. A folding suitcase wheelchair ramp may be your best bet when there are a number of unknown factors, such as total weight and wheelchair design. These ramps are easy to store, easy to set up, and have a generous weight capacity.
Q. The front door of my restaurant has a high threshold. Is there something I can provide for my customers with mobility issues?
A. Commercial buildings generally must comply with ADA guidelines, including curb cuts, handrails, and ramps. However, you can also add your own threshold ramp to make the transition even easier for wheelchair-bound customers.
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