Buying a Stair Lift
Posted on by John Burfield
You may have seen television commercials or advertisements for stair lifts and thought that you or a loved one would benefit from having one installed in the home. While these advertisements may demonstrate the benefits of a stair lift, they don’t prepare you for what to expect during the buying and installation process. Fortunately, this process can be trouble-free if you know what to expect.
Before You Call
When considering a stair lift installation, it is wise to research local home access providers online or receive a recommendation from a third party such as a friend, local agency on aging, health care provider or even a stair lift manufacturer. Look for positive online reviews and customer satisfaction ratings along with credentials such as Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist or Certified Environmental Access Consultant. This means that the provider will have training in accessibility services to go along with their experience.
Once you have contacted a qualified provider, they will schedule an in-home evaluation at which time they will take measurements of your staircase. If it is a straight staircase, this consists of 6 to 7 measurements using a tape measure.
The measurement for a curved staircase is slightly more complicated and typically involves using a photo system that will provide the manufacturer with precise measurements that will allow them to create a custom-made rail. They will also look to see if an electrical outlet is located within six feet of the top or bottom of the staircase.
During the evaluation, the consultant should also discuss various stair lift models, features, and your budget. After the evaluation, the consultant should provide you with a written proposal. For a straight rail stair lift, this will likely be available within 1-2 days and sometimes on-site. Curved rail stair lifts will sometimes take longer if measurements need be sent to the manufacturer.
During the in-home assessment, the consultant may also look for other problem areas such as the entryway of the home and bathroom and suggest solutions.
While prices will vary based on staircase layout and the make and model of the stair lift, here are some typical starting costs and price ranges.
- A refurbished or used stair lift typically starts at around $2,200 with installation. Many providers also have rental options if your needs are temporary.
- A new straight rail indoor stair lift will typically start at $3,300 with installation and $5,500 for an outdoor unit.
- A curved rail stair lift with a custom-built rail will typically be in the $9,000 to $16,000 price range.
Many providers will also offer rental units for temporary needs. To learn more about whether a new, used, or rental lift is right for your situation, check out this blog post.
Lead time for a straight rail stair lift is typically ranges from 1 or 2 days and up to a week depending on the provider. The installation of a straight rail lift should only take a few hours. If an electrical outlet needs to be an installed, this can add extra time to the installation.
Lead time for a curved rail stair lift can take 2 to 4 weeks since specifications need to be sent to the manufacturer for custom rail fabrication. The installation should take up to 1 day to complete depending on the layout.
Straight stairlift rails are bolted to every third or fourth step, so installation should not damage walls or railings. When a stair lift is removed, minimal patchwork is needed to repair the stairs.
Occasionally, a stair lift may require service such as a replacement of a battery or malfunctioning part. Batteries typically last 1 to 3 years with heavy use and 3 to 5 years with light use. You should make sure to discuss manufacturer and dealer warranty details and service plan options with your provider.
The key to ensure a hassle-free stair lift purchase and installation is to find a qualified and reputable provider. When researching providers look for dealers that have factory training and all required state licenses. Also remember that while you may be able to purchase a stair lift online for less money, do-it-yourself installation is NOT recommended by most quality stair lift manufacturers.