What Kind of Stair Lift is Right for Me?
Posted on by John Burfield
With so many brands, models, and features to choose from, selecting the right stair lift can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, if you know the right things to look for when shopping for a stair lift, choosing the right one doesn’t have to be a difficult task.
Let’s look at 5 factors that you should consider when selecting the right stair lift for you.
1. Type of Stairs
Is your staircase straight or curved? Indoors or outdoors? Narrow or wide? Is there a landing? These are all important questions when choosing a stair lift.
Straight staircases without a landing and more than 30” wide are the easiest to accommodate and the most budget friendly. A basic straight stair lift will typically start around $3,000 with professional installation and many stair lift providers will have them in stock and ready to install within a few days from when you first call.
Curved staircases or staircases with a landing will usually require a stair lift with a custom-built curved rail in order to provide a smooth ride. The cost for this type of stair lift will typically start around $9,000 with professional installation and can take several weeks for the rail to be fabricated by the manufacturer.
Beware of companies that say they can install a curved rail stair lift at a lower cost or within a few days. This usually means that they are using a modular curved rail that is not custom made and will not provide as smooth of a ride.
If your staircase is outdoors, you’ll need to make sure that the stair lift that you choose is manufactured specifically for outdoor use. An outdoor stair lift is weatherproofed to withstand cold temperatures and wet conditions and will typically start around $5,700 for a straight unit with installation.
2. The Right Fit
When selecting a stair lift, it is important to choose a model that will accommodate your body type. If you are larger than average, you’ll want to consider a model that has a wider seat and footplate and with a higher weight capacity than a standard lift. This will allow for a safer and more comfortable ride. A standard stair lift will likely have a weight capacity of 300 lbs. while a heavy-duty lift will have a capacity up to 400 to 600 lbs.
3. Features and Options
While most stair lifts from reputable manufacturers have standard safety features such as sensors that detect objects on the staircase, swivel seat that allows for easy loading and unloading from lift at the top of the stairs, and flip-up seat, arm and footrests, you’ll want to make sure that the lift you’re considering has these types of features.
Other features or options to consider include:
- Wireless call/send remotes
- Continuous charging strips to ensure unit is charged
- Onboard diagnostics for easy troubleshooting
- Manual or automatic folding rails to keep the bottom of the stairs clear
- 90- or 180-degree parking to keep lift out of the way at the top or bottom of the stairs
4. Reputable Brand and Dealer
With many brands to choose from, you’ll want to make sure that the one you choose is well regarded by customers and industry professionals. It’s wise to check customer and consumer report reviews for both the stair lift brand and dealer while shopping for your lift. Reputable brands are more likely to have comprehensive warranties and local dealers that can service the lifts that they install. Brands including Bruno, Harmar, and Savaria are often considered tops in the industry.
Beware of manufacturers that sell direct to consumers or market do-it-yourself installation. Their pricing may be attractive, but it can be difficult to find service technicians should your lift need maintenance and DIY installation is discouraged by most reputable brands.
For some, budget is the primary factor when choosing a stair lift. If you find that starting prices for a new stair lift from a reputable brand does not fit your budget or if your need is temporary, consider purchasing a refurbished unit or renting a unit. Many licended dealers will offer used models from reputable brands at a lower price point than a new unit. Often these units were part of rental fleets. Typically, you can find refurbished units from highly regarded brands starting around $2,000 with professional installation.
Rental rates and terms will vary based on the provider, but if your need is likely to be 3 months or less, it may make sense to consider leasing a stair lift vs buying one.