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Wheelchair / Scooter Loading Ramp Calculator

NOTE: Please use this scooter & wheelchair ramp calculator ONLY AS A GUIDE for determining the ramp length you need for your wheelchair or scooter. Refer to your equipment’s (wheelchair or scooter) User Guide for exact recommendations concerning acceptable usage and allowable slope.

Questions to Consider When Buying a Wheelchair Ramp

Where and when will you need a wheelchair ramp?

Before you shop for a wheelchair ramp, think about all the spaces in your home that have steps, raised thresholds or other barriers that you’ll need a ramp to cross. Common areas where ramps are needed include:

  1. Steps leading to front or back entry doors
  2. Steps from your garage into your home
  3. Doors with raised thresholds or lips, such as exterior doors
  4. The threshold between the floor and the shower in your bathroom
  5. Vehicle thresholds, like vans or SUVs

How long does your ramp need to be?

The length of the stairs and the vertical height the ramp needs to ascend will determine the type of ramp you need. Also consult the guidelines in wheelchair or scooter manuals.

How wide does your ramp need to be?

To determine the ramp width you need, consider the following:

  1. How wide is the wheelbase on your wheelchair or scooter? It's important to make sure your chair can safely cross the ramp surface with some margin for safety on either side.
  2. If using a ramp to get in and out of a vehicle, consider the width of the door opening on your vehicle. Depending on the ramp you purchase, you'll need 30 inches or more for a door opening. 

Choosing Your Wheelchair Ramp

Now that you know how to figure out the ramp length and width you need, there are several types of ramps you can consider to meet your needs.

Doorway and Threshold Ramps
Doorway ramps are used to cross a couple of steps. Solid ramps and panel ramps are the two most common types of doorway ramps. Before purchasing a doorway ramp, calculate the length you need. If your required length is longer than standard doorway ramps, consider an exterior access ramp.

Threshold ramps are the most common type of ramp needed inside and outside the home, as raised thresholds, usually ½ inch or 1 inch high, are common at many doors. These ramps are very short, designed to facilitate a very small rise, portable and light. Consider locating threshold ramps permanently at any doors with raised thresholds.

Portable Ramps
Portable ramps are most commonly used to bridge a rise of stairs at a home. These ramps usually fold up like suitcases and can be carried with you, although there are some shorter ramps that are solid surfaces. When purchasing a portable ramp, consider the total weight of the ramp to ensure it can be easily and safely carried.

Automotive Ramps
Vehicle ramps are a type of ramp designed specifically for a vehicle, rather than those ramps that are interchangeable between vehicles and steps or paths. For those with a van or minivan, selecting this type of ramp is best since it offers a better level of security

Modular Ramps

You may need a ramp length beyond what's offered for getting through front and back doors. When this is the case, consider a modular ramp with customizable length.

  1. Aluminum modular ramps are made from durable aluminum and can be bought in sections to create the length and path you need. You can buy straight sections in various lengths as well as platforms on which to make left, right or U-turns. While not as complex as building and installing a custom wood ramp, this is still a job for someone with solid building skills who can ensure the safety and stability of the ramp.
  2. To meet most codes, a level area must be located at the top and the bottom of a ramp. If a porch is not present at the top, a platform should be placed over the steps in front of the door.
  3. A run of over 30 feet must have an intermediate resting platform. This platform may be a straight or turn platform. The resting platform must be at least 60 inches in length and as wide as the ramp that is leading up to it.
  4. Any platform that changes direction must be at least 60 inches by 60 inches. For example, a 90 degree turn in direction requires a 5’ x 5’ turning platform.
  5. Handrails are required on any rise over 6 inches, or ramps that are over 6 feet in length.
  6. Handrails are required on both sides of the ramp, with continuous rails on switchback and angled or square turning platforms.
  7. Handrails are strongly recommended on any ramp.