Best Stair Lifts - A Complete Guide (With Our Top 5)
October 28, 2020General Retirement
Whether you're just planning for the future, aging in place, have mobility issues, or recovering from an injury, a stairlift is a cost-effective way of making your abode safer and more accessible. A stairlift offers independence and easier access in your home, especially to those with mobility and balance issues.
One of the most important things in human life is maintaining independence. Whether you're young, old, or in middle age, your independence, especially in terms of mobility is of great importance.
Unfortunately, aging or serious injuries can limit your mobility and balance and you may require assistance to move from one place to the other.
Whether you resort to a wheelchair, a walking stick, or a walker, you may want to have a stairlift installed in your home.
A stairlift is, without a doubt, one of the best tools for maintaining your independence after a serious injury or in the face of aging.
It is essentially a battery-powered motorized chair designed for people with mobility and balance issues to allow them to ride comfortably, safely, and conveniently up a flight of stairs.
It does this by gliding up and down a staircase on a rail mounted to the treads of the stairs. A typical stairlift should enable the user to sit, stand, or pivot with little or no assistance.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll take a look at the best stair lifts on the market and help you through the process of buying the best stairlift for you. We'll also discuss everything that you need to know about stair lifts.
Table of contents
What is a Stairlift?
At its core, a stairlift is a simple piece of mobility device that is designed to help individuals with mobility and balance issues move up and down the stairs safely, comfortably, and conveniently. Like most devices, a stairlift has important components, which include a motor, a chair, and of course, a fixed track that the chair will glide along.
How Does a Stairlift Work?
Having a good understanding of the key parts of a stairlift is fundamental if you want to know how they work. So let's get to the details.
Tracks are a crucial part of the stairlift system. For the stairlift to work, a part of the track's surface must be toothed or mounted to the stair treads so that the chair can move on it. Tracks are available in different shapes and sizes to accommodate various homes and needs.
The seat or the stairlift is a key component of the stairlift as it is the component that the user will interact with the most. A seat of a stairlift can vary depending on comfort and mobility needs. It's also designed with wheels or motorized gear at its base to propel it up and down along the stairlift track.
Safety Features and Hardware
Stairlifts do come with various safety features and hardware to make them safer by preventing falls and injuries. They generally come with key locks, an over-speed governor, seatbelts, an emergency braking system, and obstruction detection.
With that in mind, it's now easier to understand how a stairlift works. A stairlift essentially uses a battery-powered rack and pinion drive system to go up and down the stairs at a speed of about 18 feet per minute. The battery should maintain a full charge at all times so that the stairlift can work at all times.
The battery should be able to operate the stairlift for about 20 round trips if there's a power outage. Under such a scenario, you can save battery power by turning off an isolator switch whenever the stairlift is not in use. Of course, you should leave it switched on the rest of the time and only switch it off when there's a power outage. You should also keep in mind that stairlift batteries can last between 1 and 5 years depending on how the stairlift is used and how often the stairlift is left off charge. The fact that these are industrial batteries means that you shouldn't try replacing the batteries yourself. Instead, you should get a professional technician (preferably from an authorized dealer) to change the batteries for you.
Is a Stairlift Right for You?
Before you even start shopping around for the best stairlift, it's appropriate and sensible to ensure that a stairlift is indeed a good option for you. In addition to performing its core duty, which is to comfortably and safely meet your mobility needs, it's crucial to know the involved costs as well as the impacts it will have on your living space.
Here are a few situations that might help you decide whether or not a stairlift is right for you.
Generally speaking, seniors are most associated with stair lifts. As a senior, your mobility and balance will naturally decline as you get older. If anything, seniors are the leading demographics of stairlift users. So whether you're looking to age in place or looking to move to an assisted living facility, a stairlift can be an ideal option if you want to move up and down the stairs.
With a stairlift, aging in place becomes much easier and a real possibility now that today's seniors want to age in place or their homes. The fact that most stairlift models are safe, functional, and ergonomic is essential in helping seniors save the physical energy that they may have otherwise used in navigating the staircases. Again, it's known that seniors are prone to falls that can cause serious injuries and even deaths, so one of the best ways to avoid such issues is by installing a stairlift.
Individuals with Limited Mobility
You certainly do not have to be a senior to need to use a stairlift. A stairlift can be beneficial to just about anyone with limited mobility. It can be of great help to anyone suffering from degenerative injuries, chronic conditions, or even to individuals recovering from surgery. The most important thing is to ensure that you can get in and out of the stairlift safely.
People Living with Permanent Disabilities
People living with permanent disabilities as well as those who use wheelchairs may find it quite challenging to use a stairlift but this boils down to their situations. Of course, a stairlift cannot carry a wheelchair since it's not a platform lift. If you or your loved one is wheelchair-bound, you may have to ensure that the wheelchair is stationed near the top and bottom of the stairs.
You should also be able to move from the stairlift to the wheelchair and back. Needless to say, this can be done with a little help but if the user can move from the wheelchair to the stairlift without help, then the stairlift would be really appropriate for him/her. The best thing to do is to go to a local showroom and see if there's a stairlift that can work perfectly for you.
Even though stair lifts are precisely designed for humans, this doesn't mean that your lovely pet cannot benefit from getting a ride! Your cat or even dog can use the stairlift to travel upstairs or downstairs with you, albeit sitting on a stairlift's footrest.
Some stair lifts are modified with pet-friendly spaces to help your pet hitch a ride. If anything, pets are part of the family and there's no reason why they can enjoy using the stairlift.
Types of Stair Lifts
As you research for the best stairlift for your needs, you'll realize that there are various types of stair lifts, and knowing what they entail would be of help. By knowing the type of stair lifts, you'll know whether or not the stairlift will fit on your staircase. This is certainly why the first step of buying a stairlift is to schedule a free home visit with a stairlift expert to take the measurement of your staircase and get a sense of what you need.
These types of stair lifts are simple and straightforward as they just travel up and down the stairs. The simplicity of their technology and installation makes them more affordable. Straight stair lifts are generally designed for simple and straight-run staircases. They are also the most adaptable stair lifts and can be reused when you decide to move or donate it.
These types of stair lifts are very diverse and can go around bends and glide across various parts of the room. They're more suited for complicated staircases and can be specifically custom made for your staircases.
A modular stairlift rail is designed by piecing together existing sets of rail sections. This type of stairlift is very easy to install but can offer a bumpy ride because the rails are not very tight.
These are stair lifts that are designed to be used in outdoor staircases. This can be the best option if you have an outdoor staircase leading to the garage, garden, and backyard. They're also designed to withstand extreme weather conditions that they might be exposed to.
Typically, such types of stair lifts are made with durable metal rails and sturdy plastic seats that can handle extreme heat and cold. If you're looking to buy an outdoor stairlift, it's essential to ensure that they have a proper key lock system to help you store them safely.
These types of stair lifts can be ideal if you're on a tight budget. In other words, these are used stair lifts that have been carefully removed, fully serviced, and are in good working conditions. They've also undergone a thorough cleaning and inspection process. Refurbished stair lifts are pre-owned and are generally sold at discounted rates.
Even though we are used to having stair lifts in residential places, some commercial buildings might choose to install commercial stair lifts to help visitors and employees who cannot use staircases safely. They're also installed to supplement other types of lifts available in these buildings.
The cost of a stairlift will vary widely depending on the features and types. For example, curved stair lifts will cost a lot more than straight stair lifts or refurbished stair lifts. Other factors that might affect the cost of the stairlift are its length, brand name, manufacturing quality, and many more.
The cost of a standard straight stairlift that doesn't have curves and does not go around bends can cost you between $3,000 and $5,000. The prices may rise to $10,000 or even $15,000 for curved stair lifts that have to negotiate bends and curves.
One of the main reasons why curved stair lifts tend to be more expensive than straight stair lifts is because the installation costs are already included. That being said, installation costs only come to mind if you want to install a straight stairlift or any other type of stairlift other than the curved stairlift.
All in all, the installation costs can vary but are very minimal particularly when compared to the actual costs of buying the stairlift. The common rate of installing a stairlift is $70 per hour and it can take about 4 hours to install a standard straight stairlift. You may have to include the installation costs of an electrical outlet if it's not available. There are also the costs of replacing the batteries with new batteries costing as little as $15.
This is perhaps what you've been eagerly awaiting for so we'll go straight in.
AmeriGlide Stairlift - Most Affordable
Offering one of the largest selections of stair lifts in the United States, AmeriGlide is an American manufacturer and dealer in refurbished stair lifts. This brand is very honest in its pricing and offers one of the most budget-friendly prices in the nation. This brand aims to make stair lifts more affordable to many people and often give buyers the option of installing the stair lifts themselves if they do not need a technician.
One of the most popular stair lifts from AmeriGlide is the Horizon Plus Stairlift. These stair lifts typically come with a key lock system, two remote controls for call and send units, and a digital diagnostic display. There are also newer models that offer a lot more incredible features to enhance your safety and comfort. Better still; most of these stair lifts from AmeriGlide are sold tax-free.
Bruno's Elite Curved Stairlift - Best Space-Saving
Whether your staircases have multiple landings and various changes in directions, Bruno's Elite Curved Stairlift will serve you just right. It might be more expensive than most straight stairlift models but it's known for its innovativeness in saving space without compromising on comfort, safety, and luxury.
This stairlift is designed with ergonomic backrests and armrests that have more cushioning. The best part thing about this model is that the seat, armrests, and footrest can fold to save more space. You get an intuitive wireless remote control as well as several safety features to ensure that the stairlift is convenient at all times. This stairlift comes with a five-year limited warranty and a 400-pound lift capacity.
Handicare 1000 - Best Straight Stairlift
Known for making some of the most innovative stair lifts, Handicare makes it a lot easier for anyone looking for one of the best if not the best straight stairlift on the market. The Handicare 1000 is well-equipped and brings to the fore a weight lift capacity of about 350 pounds, which is just incredible.
Its 15-inch deep profile, fold-up armrests, footrests, and seat are among the best in the industry. It has an excellent safety sensor, which will stop it from moving if it detects anything on its path. The seat height is adjustable to give you the utmost comfort. You have the option of buying a typical stairlift chair or perch chair with the latter allowing you to sit at a more elevated height so that you don't have to squat
This stairlift is an ideal option if you want something that's simple, straightforward, and easy to use. It may set you back around $2,600 but may go to $4,000 with several additional features.
Stannah - Best Outdoor Stairlift
If you're looking for an outdoor stairlift that can allow you to easily and conveniently traverse the outdoors of your home, look no further than Stannah. Whether you want to access your patio, backyard, garage, or driveway, Stannah ensures that you can do this with ease.
This outdoor stairlift is designed with a convenient footrest, armrest, and seat that are all designed to withstand any harsh weather conditions. These components are also narrow so that they do not eat much of your outdoor space. That's not all; they have a removable key to enhance security and are designed to operate in temperatures ranging from -14 degrees to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Most parts of this stairlift are waterproof, which allows it to endure the harshest of winter and rainy conditions.
This stairlift comes with a weight capacity lift of about 300 pounds and will cost you around $4,000 for it.
Harmar Stairlift - The Most Efficient Stairlift
With a weight lift capacity of about 600 pounds, Harmar Stairlift is unquestionably one of the most efficient models, especially for larger people. The company itself guarantees fast delivery, friendly customer service, supportive customer care throughout the nation, and more importantly, top-quality manufacturing.
This stairlift is very convenient, comfortable, and one of the most efficient in the industry. You won't have to worry about mechanical defects that need constant repairs and maintenance. If anything, no model in the industry can pride itself on having such an enormous weight lift capacity. This stairlift is also designed with one of the best motors and a battery capacity that nearly doubles the rest.
About THE AUTHOR
With multiple family members currently in senior living facilities, David is in the trenches every week, learning the ins and outs of nursing homes, assisted living, memory care, and general senior living.Read more about David Bolton
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We love planning for retirement. It's somewhat of a hobby, and we want to share what we've learned with you. Over the years we've found the best ways to live, how to travel, take on new hobbies and give back. Happiness in retirement is the main goal, and having the right information allows us (and you) to achieve that.