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Stair Lift FAQs: Choose the Best Stairlift

A stair lift is the perfect solution if you are having trouble getting up and down the stairs, but want to remain in your home as you age. At Lifeway Mobility, stair lifts are our specialty! These FAQs are compiled from the most common questions we've heard from our customers throughout the years.

If you are just starting the process of researching stair lifts, we recommend asking questions about the product, installation, and service/ The more knowledge you gain, the more prepared you will be to determine whether or not it is the best solution for you or your loved one. Also, it helps us make the best possible recommendation to help you, or your loved ones safely navigate the stairs at home.

What is a stair lift?

A stair lift is a motorized chair that travels along a rail that is mounted on a straight or curved staircase. It operates on battery power and uses a rack-pinion drive system to provide a safe and easy way to get up and down the stairs for those with limited mobility. A stair lift is also commonly referred to as a chair lift, stair chair lift, stairway lift, or stair glide. No modifications are required to the structure of the home for installation.

How is a stair lift powered?

A stair lift is a battery powered chair that glides along a rail system that is mounted to the treads of a staircase. Stair lifts are battery-powered for maximum safety and come equipped with a charger that plugs into a 110 volt outlet. The lift being battery powered means that it will work even during a power outage.

The lift will charge when not in use at the top and bottom landing of a staircase. If you choose a Bruno straight stair lift, the lift will charge regardless of it's location on the staircase as it has a charging strip that runs through the entire rail. 

Who needs a stair lift?

Each person is different, but when the stairs become a struggle, or you feel unsafe, it’s a smart idea to look into a solution that can make the stairs safer to use, such as a stair lift.  Better to be safe than sorry as a fall on the stairs can lead to a serious injury.

Can I buy a stair lift if my stairs have curves or turns?

Yes, there are specific stairway lift models that are designed to fit staircases that have curves, turns, or intermediate landings. These types of models have rails that are custom designed to fit the exact design of your own staircase.

How does a stair lift work?

A stair lift is a product that is very easy to operate for most people! A person can ride up or down the stairs by holding a button down or pushing a switch that is located on the armrest of the chair. As the user holds down the standard rocker switch or optional toggle switch, the chair lift smoothly travels up or down the stairs.

Learn more

How do you get on and off the chair safely?

A safe entry and exit are at the top of our priorities for every customer. The seat at the top will swivel onto the landing, or an optional rail overrun can be used to get on and off safely. At the bottom landing, the chair is always on the floor-level for a safe exit and entry.

How to Safely Get onto a Stair Lift | Tech Tips | Lifeway Mobility from Lifeway Mobility on Vimeo.

What is the weight limit on a stair lift?

The weight capacity for our Bruno Elan stair lift is 300 lbs, and our Bruno Elite model carries up to 400 lbs. The heavy-duty model that we sell, which is the Harmar Pinnacle SL 600 HD, can carry up to 600 lbs. 

How much space is required to have a stairlift installed on stairs?

Our stair lifts run on a rail that can be installed within 5" of the wall, leaving ample space in the stairway. When not in use, the stair lift’s arms, seat, and footrest can be flipped up so they do not obstruct the stairs. When the seat is folded up, it is 12" from the wall, railing, doorjamb, or other obstruction.

Can a stair lift be fitted to any stairs? How wide do the stairs have to be?

Yes, in almost all cases the lift will fit on a staircase. Most staircases throughout the areas serve meet the minimum required width for a staircase, which is 32".

Our experts can help you determine if there is an issue at all with the width of the staircase during a home evaluation. Please contact us to schedule your FREE home evaluation today!

How far does the rail stick out past the bottom stair?

The rail of a straight stair lift sticks out approximately 16 inches and a curved rail will stick out approximately 20 inches.

This is because the track has to go all the way to the floor for a safe and easy exit. If this is an issue for your home, a manual or power-folding track can be added. (See video below.)

Can I try a stair lift before I buy one?

Yes, and we encourage you to do so! Our showrooms are equipped with fully operational equipment that we sell and install, including stair lifts. At your local showroom, you can test ride a lift before deciding to buy one. Many of our customers have found the showroom to be extremely helpful because it allows you to do an in-person comparison of different stair lifts. Pictures and videos are great, but there’s nothing like being able to see and test out the actual product. You will be able to confirm whether or not this is the right solution for your needs and situation.

We have stairlift showrooms in the following locations

Call (860) 292-1111 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Drop-ins are also welcome, and after-hours appointments in the evenings and on Saturdays are available.

What is the best stair lift?

We carry a few different straight and curved stair lifts models, but most often recommend Bruno's lifts because of their lift quality, vertical rail design, warranty coverage, and large volume of positive customer reviews.

If we find that a Bruno lift is not the best due to particular needs, such as a weight capacity above 400 lb, or an extra steep staircase, then we will recommend a model from another manufacturer.

To help you determine the best lift for your particular needs and situation, please contact us to schedule a FREE in-home evaluation.  Our stair lift experts will match the appropriate stair lift for the person(s) that will be using it, by taking into account the user’s mobility, weight, and height.

We also encourage you to check out our stairlift comparison chart, which compares some of the top straight and curved stairlifts in the industry. This will help you get a better sense of which stairlift would be best for you.

5 Tips to Help You Choose the Best Stairlift

How quickly can a stairlift be installed after it is purchased?

Depending on your Lifeway location's stair lift inventory, we can install your straight stair lift as quickly as the next day, in some cases even the same day. For curved or custom stair lifts, installation can be finished in 2-4 weeks. Our curved lifts are engineered to fit your stairway precisely; they are not modular in design as others are in the market. This ensures a smooth ride that outlasts other lifts.

How long does it take for a stair lift to be installed?

On average, it usually takes 3-6 hours for a stair lift to be fully installed and ready to use. The time of installation will depend on whether it’s a straight or curved stair lift. After the lift is installed, our technicians will take the time to help you learn how to safely operate the lift.

The time it takes to have a stair lift ready to be installed can vary greatly. Straight stair lifts can sometimes be within a day or two after the unit is purchased, depending on inventory. Curved stair lifts take several weeks though as a custom rail needs to be made so it cant fit the exact specifications of your staircase.

Can a stair lift be installed outside? If so, will it be protected from the outdoor elements?

Yes, there are models that can be built on a straight or curved outdoor staircase. Outdoor stair lift models are just like indoor models. The only difference is that the outdoor models are built to withstand the outdoor elements.

Can I install a stair lift myself?

Technically, you can install a lift yourself, but we highly recommend against doing so. It's an expensive investment and should be installed by professionals who specialize in installing them to prevent safety and operating issues.

The stairs lifts that Lifeway Mobility sells can only be installed by our own technicians. We have our own certified and factory trained technicians that install hundreds of lifts a year to ensure they are safe, secure, and don’t void warranty.

Lifeway technicians are also licensed, which is actually a requirement in many states for the installation of a lift in a residential space. 

Is my wall strong enough to support a stair lift?

Stair lifts are installed on rails mounted to the treads of the stairs and do not need a wall for support, which also means they will not damage the walls.

What is the stair lift attached to when installed? Will it ruin or damage my walls?

A common misconception about stair lifts is that they are attached to the walls. However, when installed they are actually attached to the treads of the stairs, not the wall. There are no structural changes are needed for a stair lift to be installed in your home.

Do you have to remove the stair railing when you install a stair lift?

In most cases, the railing does not need to be removed for a stairlift to be installed.

How much does a stair lift cost?

Stair lift costs vary depending on the type of staircase, condition of the user and use of the chair (indoor or outdoor). Typically, the price of straight stair lifts ranges between $2,200-$5,000 (new or used stair lift). There are also monthly payment options available starting at $49.50/month, for those who qualify.

Curved stair lifts are custom made to fit your stairway, so prices will vary, but the starting cost for the most basic custom curved rail lift is $9,500. 

For more information, see our guide on stair lift pricing. For an exact quote, please call us at (860) 292-1111.

Are stair lifts covered by Medicare or Health Insurance?

No. Unfortunately, Medicare & most standard health insurance plans do not cover the cost of a stair lift because they do not consider it to be durable medical equipment. Stair lifts are considered as a home modification, which are not covered in the Medicare guidelines.

This may change in the future, but for now, this is how Medicare stands on the issue.

Find alternative funding sources

Can I rent a stair lift?

Yes, Lifeway does offer rental stair lift options. A rental is also a great choice when it is unknown how long the lift is going to be needed. For example, if your parent just had knee surgery, a doctor may advise that they do not use the stairs for a few months. While it may just be a few months of recovery, it could turn out be an extended period of time that the stairs are unsafe to use.  If it is decided that the rental is needed for the long haul, there is a rent-to-own purchase option.

To learn more about how our stair lift rental program works please feel free to call us at (860) 292-1111 or visit our rental stair lifts page.

Are your stair lifts made in the USA?

Yes, Lifeway Mobility sells and installs Bruno stair lifts which are manufactured in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Is there a stair lift warranty?

Yes, below are some details regarding the warranties offered on the Bruno stairlifts that we sell and install:

  • Indoor straight stair lifts have a 2-year warranty on parts & batteries and a limited lifetime warranty on the major components.
  • Indoor curved stair lifts and all outdoor stair lifts have a 2-year warranty on parts & batteries and a 5-year warranty on major components.

For indoor curved stair lifts and all outdoor stair lifts, Lifeway Mobility also provides an additional warranty on the motor—lifetime coverage for the original owner at no additional expense.

In addition, we offer a 1-year labor warranty on all new stair lifts that we sell and install. If your stairlift needs service, please just reach out by phone or contact us on our website!

Warranty information provided above is applicable to new stair lifts only. Please contact us to learn about our used stair lift warranties.

Why is ISO9000 important to consumers?

ISO 9000 is a set of international standards on quality management and quality assurance developed to help companies effectively document the quality system elements to be implemented to maintain an efficient quality system. The Bruno stair lift is the only ISO9000 manufactured unit on the market. The product was manufactured using strict quality standards.

What are the electrical requirements?

A common household 110-volt outlet is all that is needed. 

Learn more about the electricity usage required for a stair lift

If it storms and the power goes out, will my lift still work?

Yes, because the lifts are all battery-operated. The lift will be able to provide you with ample trips up/down the stairs after the power goes out.

What kind of batteries are in a stair lift?

Our stair lifts use two 12V batteries, which ensure dependable performance even in a power outage.

How long do stair lift batteries last?

How long the batteries in your stair lift last depends on many variables, including the weight of the user, the frequency of usage, and the incline of the stairs. As a general guideline, batteries usually need to be replaced after 1-3 years with heavy use, and 3-5 years with light use.

Does a stair lift require servicing? How often? How much does it cost?

Yes, at times stair lifts do require servicing, such as battery replacement or repair of a malfunctioning part. It's hard to answer "how often" because it depends on how much the lift is used on a daily basis.

Preventive maintenance will help minimize unexpected repair calls. Lifeway provides a free first-year service and battery replacement, and also offers preventive maintenance programs for purchase.

What is the most common thing to go wrong with a stair lift?

Mechanical issues are the most common problems with stair lifts. If you experience a mechanical problem with your stair lift, it can usually be fixed with a minor adjustment by one of our technicians. The second most common issue is battery replacement.

Can a stair lift be removed?

Yes, stair lifts can be uninstalled within a couple of hours if they are no longer needed.

Can I sell a stair lift back to you when I no longer need it? How much will I get for it?

If you have one of our straight stair lift models, you may sell it back to us when you no longer need it. We will properly remove the unit, and pay you an amount that is determined by a number of factors, including use, condition, and age.

Is there a lot of work required to install a stair lift?

The installation of a stair lift is often a quick and cost-effective solution. If you choose a local dealer such as Lifeway to install your stair lift, you can expect it to take a 2-3 hours for a straight rail stair lift and 3-5 hours for a curved rail stair lift. The removal of the lift, when it is no longer needed, is much quicker.

Is financing available for stair lifts?

Yes, Lifeway Mobility offers finance options for new straight rail stair lifts for those who qualify. Visit our page on affordability to learn more about financing and other payment options that can make a stairlift more affordable.

What are some stair lift alternatives?

While the answer to this question depends on the needs and ability of the person, the simple answer is there are a few different alternatives to consider. The indoor alternatives are:

If you are looking for an alternative to an outdoor stair lift so that you can safely get in and out of your home, a porch lift or wheelchair ramp are likely going to be your top two options.

To better determine which solution is best for your needs and situation, we recommend you contact us to schedule a FREE home evaluation or visit a Lifeway Mobility showroom. Once we learn about your specific needs and the size/shape of the staircase, then we can help you learn what the best options are.

How do I choose the right stair lift?

The first step in finding the right stair lift is to consider the mobility needs of the person in need of the stair lift.

Next, you'll need to identify if the staircase that you or your loved one has is straight, or if it has curves, turns or landing. Knowing the configuration of your staircase will allow you to identify which type of stairlift you'll need -- straight (straight staircases) or curved stairlift (almost all other types of staircases in most cases)

After you've identified the type of stair lift you'll need based on your staircase, we recommend you do some research so that you have a basic understanding of how stair lifts operate and learn about the main controls and features.

We then recommend you reach out to a local dealer like Lifeway Mobility to schedule a FREE in-home evaluation to learn what type of stairlift is best recommended and how much it will cost. Before making a final decision, consider visiting a showroom to ensure you are able to safely operate a lift and determine if you want to add an upgrade option or two.

Visit our stair lift guide to learn more about stair lifts and how to purchase one

What’s the difference between a stair lift and a wheelchair lift or VPL-Vertical platform lift?

A stair lift is a device with a chair attached to some kind of rail allowing transport of a person sitting on the chair.  A vertical platform lift (VPL) or wheelchair lift, is an elevator-like platform used to transport a person in a wheelchair or scooter vertically to a raised desk or porch or between floor levels like a traditional elevator.  A VPL can only traverse up and down and not side to side. Both solutions help improve access and independence at home, but a VPL is more for someone in a wheelchair that cannot safely transfer or pivot without assistance.

Will family members still be able to walk up & down the stairs after a stairlift is installed?

Yes, stair lifts are installed within 5-8" from the wall (depending on the model selected), which leaves enough space for friends or family to be able to get up and down the stairs by foot. 

The chair's seat, footrest, and armrests fold out of up and out of the way at the top and bottom landings to maximize space on the staircase when the lift is not in use.

Do stairlifts require maintenance and how much will it cost?

Stair lift maintenance is a very important topic to discuss before you buy a stair lift.  All stair lifts require basic maintenance to keep the unit clean of any dust, debris and other items which may impede smooth operation.  When you buy a stairlift, you'll want to make sure that the company you buy it from offers service after install the lift and that the service is provided by their technicians. 

While it's not required, the manufacturer recommends a yearly maintenance which should cover a routine multi point inspection.  This should include cleaning of the unit and rail, reapplying lubricants, tightening and realigning the unit, and of course checking the battery.

The cost of a service visit can vary depending on where you live, but the standard price typically falls between $150-$300 (not including cost of parts needed).

Can I replace a stairlift battery myself?

This is not recommended.  Not only will you have to have specific tools and batteries required for the task, but you will also need to be careful not to short out the motherboard of the unit.  The motherboard is the brain in the unit and is very easy to burn simply by touching the wrong parts.  The cost of a new motherboard far exceeds the cost of the batteries.  A motherboard can cost up to $1,250 while batteries cost between $50 to $85 each.


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