The question “How do I choose between rear or side entry ramps,” is almost always at the top of the list. There is plenty of debate on the topic so we’re happy you landed here to learn more. The truth is, while the ramp position is important, often the decision is made based on your transportation needs. Let’s throw out some factors that can help guide your decision.
Does the rider operate their chair independently or does the user require a caregiver? Regardless of side, ramps require some practice getting in or out. Some users report feeling more comfortable with a side-entry as it allows the chair ride to enter & exit facing forward, where a rear-entry requires the user to back out of the vehicle. But with the aid of a caregiver, in and out in a rear entry can be just as easy.
Do you want to drive or ride in the front row? Then a side-entry with removable front seats is best suited for you. If the rider prefers to sit between family and friends, then a rear entry where the chair is fixed in the center position is ideal.
It’s not a guarantee but rear-entry conversions tend to be more cost-effective than a side-entry as they keep more of the original vehicle chassis intact.
Parking can be a big factor depending on where you live. Will the vehicle be used for city driving? A rear-entry ramp can be helpful to use in parking garages or for packed shopping centers where handicap designated parking can be limited. A side-entry ramp requires a large amount of ramp clearance on the side of the vehicle to deploy. Will it be parked in a garage or driveway? How the vehicle will be entered when parked can really be a deciding factor.
Most important of all, how wide, heavy, or tall is the chair or rider? There are endless combinations of these factors that can affect which ramp best works. Taller riders tend to fair better in side-entry conversions whereas wider chairs have more width options with a rear ramp.
In the end, try all of the options available to you. Bring the family, maybe a suitcase or two, and see what works for the whole family. If given the option, park it in your garage, driveway, or test it in your favorite parking lot. Remove the front seats, fold down the rear seats, ride the chair in & out over and over until you feel happy and comfortable. That is how to find the best rear or side option for you.