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What’s the Difference Between a Stair Lift and Lift Chair?

Posted on by John Burfield

People with limited mobility can benefit from many different types of mobility aids and accessibility equipment. Mobility issues can be caused by injury, aging and illness or progressive diseases like arthritis. Products ranging from walkers and wheelchairs to ramps and vertical platform lifts can accomplish the same goals in different ways.

With all these different types of products to assist with mobility and activities of daily living (ADLs), it’s easy to get confused about which products do what, especially when they have similar-sounding names.

For instance, take stair lifts. This product, also known as a chair lift or stair glide, is often confused with lifts chairs. While these products both benefit people with limited mobility and have a similar sounding name, they accomplish two different things. Let’s take a closer look.

Stair Lifts

What is a stair lift?

55847108750__0BBF39C1-D3E9-443D-AD23-A586BF12E53FA stair lift is a motorized chair that travels along a rail that is securely bolted to your steps. The purpose of a stair lift is to help those that are having trouble climbing their stairs access the upper or lower level of their home or outdoor space. Stair lifts come in several different categories including straight rail, curved rail, indoor, and outdoor.

This product is great for those who have difficulty climbing their stairs but can still stand and bear weight. However, they can also benefit wheelchair users that have adequate upper body strength to assist in a transfer from the wheelchair to lift.

A stair lift runs on two 12-volt batteries that are continuously charged by a standard wall outlet. The battery power means that a lift will run even in a power outage. Standard options include an offset swivel seat, two wireless call/send remotes, and a foldable seat, arm, and footrests to allow for foot traffic on the stairs.

How much does a stair lift cost?

A basic straight rail stair lift will typically cost between $2,200 - $5,000 based on the model and options you choose. Many providers will also offer refurbished or used stair lifts along with rental options that can save you more money.

An outdoor unit and curved rail stair lift will cost significantly more than a basic straight stair lift. The typical starting price for an outdoor unit is $5,700 and the typical starting cost for a curved unit is $9,000. The increased cost is due to the need for weatherproofing outdoor lifts and the fabrication of a custom rail for curved lifts to fit the exact measurements of your stairs.

Learn more about stair lift pricing.

How long does it take to install a stair lift?

Installing a stair lift does not require any modifications be done to the home and once the lift you choose is in stock, the installation of a straight stair lift should only take a few hours and a curved lift should only take a day.

Who sells stair lifts?

Stair lifts are often sold by dealers that specialize in home access equipment such as wheelchair ramps, vertical platform lifts and accessible showers and walk-in bathtubs. Some stair lift manufacturers will sell directly to the consumer. You can also find stair lifts sold in Home Medical Equipment (HME) stores. However, unlike most of the products sold by medical equipment stores, stair lifts are not typically covered by insurance or Medicare.

Most stair lift manufacturers discourage do-it-yourself installation and recommend that you find a reputable provider that specializes in home access.

Lift Chairs

What is a lift chair?

Heritage LC-358 Line 3-Position A lift chair, may look like the standard recliner that you can find in dens and family rooms across America, but it is actually a piece of medical equipment. This type of recliner has an internal lifting system powered by a standard electrical wall outlet. The lifting mechanism elevates the chair forward to assist a person with limited mobility or balance issues from a sit-to-stand position and vice versa.

Like a normal recliner, lift chairs come in different styles and sizes including 2 or 3 position chairs, and in variety of upholstery materials, widths, and heights. Options including heating and massage therapy features are also available, so lift chairs can be found to suit almost anyone’s style and therapeutic needs.

How much does a lift chair cost?

Lift chairs vary in cost based on the make, model, and features that you choose. A low-end chair will typically start at around $300 up to $2,000 for a deluxe high-end chair. The average cost for a quality lift chair will probably be around $600 to $800.

Who sells lift chairs?

Lift chairs are considered a piece of medical equipment and will often be covered by insurance or Medicare with a doctor’s order. Because of this, lift chairs can be found in most HME showrooms across the country. Many furniture stores will also carry lift chairs and they are readily available over the internet as well. However, since lift chairs come in many varieties, it is wise to visit a showroom and try out different chairs to determine which type will best fit your needs.

For some helpful lift chair buying tips, read this article from Caregiver.com.

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