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Updated for November, 2019

Stairlifts: Your Everything Guide

Everything to Consider Before Purchasing a Stairlift in 2019

One of the best tools for maintaining independence in the face of aging is a stairlift—a device that enables those with mobility or balance issues to ride comfortably and conveniently up a flight of stairs. A stairlift can mean the difference between staying safe and giving up your home completely. Our step-by-step stairlift buyer’s guide will walk you through the options and issues involved in buying a stairlift in 2019 and getting it installed in your home.

What are Stairlifts and How Do They Work?

At its heart, a stairlift is really a simple device. Almost all stairlifts on the market today have two main components: a track with part of its surface toothed or textured, and a chair with a motorized gear or wheels at its base that propels itself up and down by moving along the textured surface. But once you get past these fundamentals, you’re still left with a huge range of options. Let’s dig deeper into all the different parts and features of a stairlift.

1. Stairlift Tracks

Tracks are an integral part of the stairlift system. Their size and shape will affect the overall cost and ease of use. Different types of tracks are available to accommodate specific home and mobility needs.

Types of Tracks
Beyond Track Shape

2. Stairlift Seats

The seat of a stairlift should be one of the most important considerations, since it is the component a user will interact with the most. Depending on comfort and mobility needs, the seat can be customized to swivel, collapse, include armrests and footrests, and more.

Chair Speed & Drive
Types of Seats

3. Safety Features & Hardware

A stairlift’s safety features are crucial to preventing falls and injury. Most stairlift models will come with seatbelts, key locks, and obstruction detection. Furthermore, the different hardware used can affect a stairlift’s capacity and user controls for safety.

Types of Safety Features
Controls, Weight Capacity & Power

4. Stairlift Warranties

A good stairlift warranty will ensure you’re getting the most for your money. It should also help ensure your safety through proper maintenance. Most stairlifts have a 3-5 year warranty, though it can also be extended.

Length of Stairlift Warranties
What’s Covered
Who’s Responsible

1
2
3
4
What comes standard What to
look for
Rare,
but useful
Tracks
  • Metal material
  • Space-conscious design
  • Hinged tracks
  • Automated folding tracks
  • Sliding tracks
Seats
  • Battery power
  • 20 FPM speed
  • Armrests and footrests
  • Color and upholstery choices
  • Swivel seat
  • Collapsible seat
  • Powered seat features and footrests
Safety
  • Seatbelts
  • Key locks
  • Obstruction detection
  • Easy-grip seatbelts
  • Full torso harnesses
Hardware
  • Chair-based controls
  • 300 lb capacity
  • Calling systems
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Handheld remote calling systems
  • 400+ lb capacity
1
2
3
4

1. Stairlift Tracks

Tracks are an integral part of the stairlift system. Their size and shape will affect the overall cost and ease of use. Different types of tracks are available to accommodate specific home and mobility needs.

Types of Tracks
Beyond Track Shape

2. Stairlift Seats

The seat of a stairlift should be one of the most important considerations, since it is the component a user will interact with the most. Depending on comfort and mobility needs, the seat can be customized to swivel, collapse, include armrests and footrests, and more.

Chair Speed & Drive
Types of Seats

3. Safety Features & Hardware

A stairlift’s safety features are crucial to preventing falls and injury. Most stairlift models will come with seatbelts, key locks, and obstruction detection. Furthermore, the different hardware used can affect a stairlift’s capacity and user controls for safety.

Types of Safety Features
Controls, Weight Capacity & Power

4. Stairlift Warranties

A good stairlift warranty will ensure you’re getting the most for your money. It should also help ensure your safety through proper maintenance. Most stairlifts have a 3-5 year warranty, though it can also be extended.

Length of Stairlift Warranties
What’s Covered
Who’s Responsible

What comes standard What to
look for
Rare,
but useful
Tracks
  • Metal material
  • Space-conscious design
  • Hinged tracks
  • Automated folding tracks
  • Sliding tracks
Seats
  • Battery power
  • 20 FPM speed
  • Armrests and footrests
  • Color and upholstery choices
  • Swivel seat
  • Collapsible seat
  • Powered seat features and footrests
Safety
  • Seatbelts
  • Key locks
  • Obstruction detection
  • Easy-grip seatbelts
  • Full torso harnesses
Hardware
  • Chair-based controls
  • 300 lb capacity
  • Calling systems
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Handheld remote calling systems
  • 400+ lb capacity
Tracks
Standard Features
  • Metal material
  • Space-conscious design
What To Look For
  • Hinged tracks
  • Automated folding tracks
Rare, But Useful
  • Sliding tracks

Stairlift Tracks

Stairlift tracks will help determine the overall cost of your device and where it can be placed in your home. The most common types of tracks are straight, curved, and outdoor. Straight stairlifts allow the user to move easily up and down the stairs, while curved tracks are specifically designed for stairs where the user needs to move easily over bends or up onto a landing. The materials used in the tracks will also come into play, especially if you need a stairlift outdoors that can withstand daily changes in weather. Ultimately, the tracks you choose should fit your home as well as your own mobility needs.

Straight Tracks

cost:

The biggest divide among stairlifts involves the shape of the tracks they run on. By far, the easiest type of stairlift to install—and the least expensive type—is the straight stairlift. These are often mass produced, or at least made out of easily assembled components, and some companies are fine with consumers who want to measure, select, and install their straight stairlifts themselves. Even for companies that like to be in charge of the entire process, straight stairlifts remain the most economical option, and they also tend to be the quickest and least disruptive type of stairlift to install.

Curved Tracks

cost:

These tend to be quite a bit more expensive than straight stairlifts, but they’re often needed: Any stairway that bends or has a landing is going to require a stairlift with a curved track. And because each staircase is unique, curved stairlifts require more precise measurement, usually by a professional with a good working knowledge of the types of track their company can provide. They tend to be slightly more disruptive in terms of installation—though, depending on the company, they’re still not that much more disruptive than straight stairlifts—and also more expensive. A curved stairlift can run from 2 to 7 times as much as a straight model, depending on what’s required to fit the staircase involved.

Outdoor Tracks

cost:

These can be either straight or curved, though most manufacturers offer only straight outdoor lifts. They differ from indoor stairlifts chiefly by being made of weatherproof materials. In fact, some manufacturers offer outdoor/indoor models that, with a few optional modifications, can work in both environments, because in all other respects, the controls, motor, seat, and tracks of outdoor models are basically the same as any other stairlift.

Beyond Track Shape

Apart from straight or curved, there are some other choices you may have to make about the track as you shop for a stairlift:

Configuration

One small difference among chairlift models is the track configuration. Most straight stairlifts have what could be called a horizontal track, with a toothed surface in the middle and recessed slots on either side for the wheels that keep the chair on the track. Some straight stairlifts, on the other hand, have a vertical system, which is essentially the same configuration turned ninety degrees—an approach that has the advantage of taking up less space on the stairs.

Most curved stairlifts rely on two rails to support and guide the chair with a toothed track behind one of those rails for the chair to drive itself along.

Folding Tracks

Folding tracks (sometimes referred to as folding rails) have sections at the ends that can be folded up manually or that fold up automatically in order to keep the ends of the track out of people’s way. If your staircase abuts a doorway or hallway, you may need folding tracks so that the stairlift won’t present a tripping hazard.

Most curved stairlifts rely on two rails to support and guide the chair with a toothed track behind one of those rails for the chair to drive itself along.

Sliding Tracks

Sliding tracks accomplish the same thing: these types of tracks are installed with a mechanism that moves the tracks themselves while the chair is in motion, allowing the whole assembly to move out of traffic without having to be folded.

Buyer’s Tip

One thing to keep in mind as you shop: most straight stairlifts come with limits on track length and a set range of inclines that it will work on. Be sure you know those limits—and whether or not your staircase fits within them—before you buy.

Seats
Standard Features
  • Battery power
  • 20 FPM speed
  • Armrests and footrests
What To Look For
  • Color and upholstery choices
  • Swivel seat
  • Collapsible seat
Rare, But Useful
  • Powered seat features and footrests

Stairlift Seats

The seat is the heart of the stairlift. While some parts of the track may be automated, the chair is generally what propels the rider up and down the staircase. It’s also the component that the user interacts with the most. So there are a number of important considerations here as well, from the type and color of upholstery to the weight of the potential rider. Before we start, though, it’s important to note what doesn’t—and shouldn’t—change from seat to seat.

Stair Lift

Chair Speed

If you’re looking for a Porsche-type ride from one floor to another, you probably won’t get it from your stairlift. Government regulations have set the standard speed for a stairlift at roughly 20 feet per minute, so depending on how long your staircase is, you can probably count on getting from one floor to another in a minute or so.

Type of Drive

Almost all stairlifts work through the same mechanism, which is a motor in the chair drives the chair up a toothed track. Sometimes this gear system is a rack-and-pinion system (that is, a circular gear that rotates to move the chair), and sometimes this gear system is a worm gear (that is, a cylindrical gear that spirals up and down the track). There’s no clear difference in quality or durability between them, however.

Types of Seats

Beyond these safety features, most seats offer options and features you should know about and look for if you’re interested. This begins with seat design. You’ll often be able to choose the seat color, type of upholstery, and other aesthetic aspects of the seat in order to ensure that the stairlift matches the decor in your home (some brands offer a choice of color for their tracks as well, so be sure to ask about this).

Beyond design, here are some important considerations as you shop for a stairlift:

Swivel Seats

Many stairlift models offer a seat that swivels at the start and finish of the track, allowing the user to get out of the chair with their feet planted on an even surface rather than the stairs they’ve just come up.

Angled Seats

A few stairlifts seats are designed to tilt back slightly when the rider sits down in order to let the rider feel more secure.

Armrests & Footrests

Almost all stairlift models also come with armrests and footrests to ensure the safety of the rider. And a few stairlift chairs have lighted footrests to make it easier and safer to secure the rider’s feet.

Collapsable Seats

Many stairlift chairs will fold up when not in use, as will their footrests and armrests. This is a crucial feature, so be sure to ask about it: it reduces the amount of space occupied by the stairlift and reduces its potential as a tripping hazard.

Motorized Features

Everything about a seat can be motorized, but here are some of the most useful things not to have to do by hand:

  • Powered swivel seat–some seats will automatically turn the chair toward a landing or top step
  • Powered footrest—in order to prevent people from having to stoop to collapse the footrest, some models of stairlift can fold up the footrest at the press of a button
  • Seat boost—some stairlift models have motorized seats in order to assist in bringing the rider to a standing position after their ride is over

Standing Stairlifts

A few models of stairlift are designed so that people who have difficulty sitting can stand on the lift. If you do have problems with your knees, be sure to look out for these types of lifts as you shop.

Safety
Standard Features
  • Seatbelts
What To Look For
  • Key locks
  • Obstruction detection
  • Easy-grip seatbelts
Rare, But Useful
  • Full torso harnesses

Safety Features

A crucial set of features on any stairlift helps ensure the user’s safety, and it’s important to make sure that the stairlift you choose has them.

Seatbelts

Stairlifts are required to have some kind of passenger restraint, so seatbelts shouldn’t be a surprise. Some seats, however, feature easy-to-use seatbelts for those with arthritis or other problems. And for those who have trouble sitting upright, some stairlifts come with optional harnesses for a more secure restraint.

Obstruction Detection

Most stairlift models also feature electronic sensors that detect objects on the stairs and will stop the chair rather than risk damage to the lift or injury to the rider by ploughing through it. Some will also detect it if the rider leaves the chair while it’s in motion.

Keylocks

Most stairlifts will also have a key that, if removed, will prevent the stairlift from operating, preventing unauthorized use or use by children or others who might need supervision.

Hardware
Standard Features
  • Chair-based controls
  • 300 lb. capacity
What To Look For
  • Calling systems
  • Easy-to-use controls
Rare, But Useful
  • Handheld remote calling systems
  • 400+ lb. capacity

Hardware

After the seat, there are a few more choices you may have to make, or at least be aware of as you compare stairlift models.

Controls

For safety’s sake, most models of stairlift require constant pressure on the controls—something that’s usually managed via a joystick that the rider can hold steady no matter how strong they are and despite impediments like arthritis. You should look closely at other controls, too—such as levers or buttons that collapse the footrest or seat—to make sure that you can operate them easily as well.

Weight Capacity

The standard carrying capacity for a stairlift is 300 pounds, but some models can carry more, with most manufacturers offering at least one model that can carry 450 pounds. If capacity is a concern for you, be sure to look for these types of models.

Calling Mechanism

Another standard, but not universal, feature among stairlifts is a calling mechanism that will bring the chair to the level where it’s needed. Some stairlifts have the calling mechanism installed in the wall near the end of the track, and some work through handheld remote-calling mechanisms. If you have a preference, be sure to keep this in mind as you shop.

Power

Most stairlifts get their power from a battery in the chair that recharges at a docking station at one end of the lift. Getting the recharging mechanism connected to the house’s electrical system is part of the installation process (and one reason to use a professional), but on most models the rechargeable batteries allow the chair to travel free of an electrical connection while in use. This also means that the chair will continue to operate during a power outage—but note that this only holds true as long as the battery remains charged.

Pricing

The price of a stairlift can vary widely, and this mostly has to do with the fact that curved stairlifts tend to cost so much more than straight ones. If you’re comparing straight stairlifts or curved stairlifts separately, there’s less variation, though there are still differences depending on the length of the stairs, the complexity of the design, manufacturing quality, brand name, and other factors. For a standard unit that goes over no landings and does not negotiate curves, a straight stairlift runs between $3,000 and $5,000 total. For a stairlift that must round a curve or turn on a landing, the price may rise to anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.

How much does it cost to get a stairlift installed?

By and large, separate installation costs are only a consideration for straight stairlifts, whether indoor or outdoor. One of the reasons curved stairlifts tend to be so much more expensive is that, since installation is usually taken care of by the dealer or manufacturer, the installation cost is rolled into the cost of the lift. There are some exceptions, but extra installation costs tend to be an issue only for straight stairlifts.

Fortunately, installation costs are usually minimal compared to the actual cost of the equipment. Some lifts can be installed by the homeowner, and for homeowners who don’t want to do it themselves, $70 per hour is a common rate for labor to install the lift mechanism and the lift, and installation usually takes around 4 hours. As we noted above, a power source will be necessary for the lift to function. If an electrical outlet is not available in the proper location, one will need to be installed by an electrician. Installation of an electrical outlet can cost anywhere from $200 to $750, depending on the circumstances. Contact an electrician to find out more.

Most manufacturers and dealers provide a free initial visit in order to discuss their product and make sure they offer a product that will fit the staircase in question. But some manufacturers and dealers will charge for this initial session. So don’t assume that the first visit is free.

Finally, one additional expense related to lifts is the cost of replacing the lift batteries, which will eventually lose their ability to hold charge. New batteries typically cost around $15.

Used and Refurbished Stairlifts

Some manufacturers (and some dealers) offer used lifts, and some manufacturers offer factory refurbished models (that is, used or damaged stairlifts that have been fixed or renovated and offered for resale). These used and refurbished lifts can save homeowners a considerable amount of money: refurbished straight stairlifts can cost as little as $1,000.

Renting a Stairlift vs. Buying

In some cases, homeowners who will only need a stairlift for a limited time can can rent a lift rather than buy one. This can be far less expensive, though rental stairlifts still generally come at the cost of an installation fee, a monthly service fee, and a de-installation fee, with some rental stairlift companies also taking a refundable deposit. Typically, the people who benefit most from stairlift rental services are people who do not plan to be living in their home for much longer as well as people who are suffering from a temporary injury. For anyone living with a long-term disability and anyone who plans to live in his or her home for the foreseeable future, however, buying makes a lot more sense than renting.

Indoor Straight Track Indoor Curved Track Outdoor Straight Track Indoor Straight Track
New $2000-$5000 $10,000 and up $3500-$6500 $12,000 and up
Rental $200-$500/month Only Available New Only Available New Only Available New
Pre-Owned $1500-$5000 Only Available New Only Available New Only Available New

Paying for a Stairlift

A stairlift can be a lifesaver for someone who wants to stay in their home despite mobility issues, but it’s still a significant investment. Here’s a look at various potential ways to pay for a lift.

Does Medicare Cover Stairlifts?

As a general rule, Medicare coverage will not pay for a stairlift. Under newly formulated rules for Medicare Advantage plans, however, there is a possibility that these plans could begin to help seniors with what’s known as “daily maintenance” expenses, a category which very likely include stairlift expenses. Manufacturers and dealers will have the latest details on this change, so if you’re on a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to ask your dealer or manufacturer about this type of coverage.

In some cases, Medicare proper will pay for a portion of a stairlift, if the lift chair has an automated seat boost. Usually these chairs are more expensive, however, and many people who are shopping for a stairlift on a budget cannot afford this type of chair anyway, even if a portion of it is reimbursed by Medicare.

Does Medicaid Cover Stairlifts?

Medicaid coverages can vary by state, but many elderly people can get stairlifts in their home if it is medically necessary for aging in place. States that do provide stairlifts for people will do so through a program called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). HCBS waivers can be used to cover the cost of installation and purchase of the unit. In addition to waivers from HCBS, stairlifts can also be acquired through regular Medicaid, but regular Medicaid may not pay for the full cost.

Warranty

There are as many different warranties on stairlifts as there are manufacturers, but the best warranties will cover as much of the lift for as long as possible. Here are aspects of the warranty you should check, ideally before purchase.

Length of the Warranty

In the stairlift industry, the standard length of a warranty is about 3-5 years, though many companies guarantee their lifts for longer. Note, too, that a few companies offer extended warranties (for a price) and a couple offer service contracts to help the owner keep the lift running smoothly for as long as possible.

What’s Covered

Usually not every part of the chair gets the same coverage. Some companies, for example, offer a lifetime warranty on the lift mechanism while only guaranteeing other parts of the lift for a few years. Be sure to check the fine print on the warranty so you know what the manufacturer or dealer guarantees.

Who’s Responsible

Some manufacturers guarantee their product regardless of who sells or installs it; some allow dealers to offer their own warranties. Before you purchase your lift, check to make sure you know who’s going to guarantee it.

Assuming your stairlift does come with a warranty, it’s important to know what is in the warranty to ensure that you do not accidentally void it. Some maintenance habits and installation practices can void a warranty, so if your lift is being installed in your staircase by a third party or by someone in your family, have them read the warranty before they begin.

Where to Buy a Stairlift

One of the most confusing aspects of stairlifts may simply be the process of buying. For most manufacturers, getting a stairlift in your home is much more complex than simply ordering it online. This is largely because a stairlift track needs to be built especially for a particular home or particular set of stairs, and most manufacturers prefer that they take care of all steps of the process, even the initial measurement and survey of the site where the stairlift will be installed.

Elderly Man Using A Stair Lift

Buying a Stairlift Online

This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t find stairlifts online, or that every company insists on taking care of every step of the process. Some manufacturers, most prominently Ameriglide, encourage customers to take their own measurements when purchasing a stairlift, and leave it up to the customer whether to do their own installation or rely on a professional, which frees the customer up to order their stairlift online. Note, too, that some of the most prominent manufacturers—and many local dealers—encourage potential customers to contact them through their websites.

Buying from Retailers and Dealers

Some brands of stairlift are available at retailers, though these tend to be specialty retailers who focus on assistive devices like wheelchairs, scooters, and similar devices. Many manufacturers also rely on these retailers to serve as dealers of their brands of stairlifts. Dealers tend to be trained by the manufacturer in the measuring and installation of stairlifts, and will often be the point person for sales and maintenance as well. You can initiate contact with these providers by visiting them, but also by calling or by going through their websites.

Buying from the Manufacturer

Many stairlift manufacturers sell their stairlifts directly; this is even true of some companies that also sell online or through retailers. Manufacturers usually ask customers to contact them online, and will then either set up a phone conversation or move directly to sending a representative to the home. Whether they’re an employee or a contractor, this representative is likely to be factory-trained and highly experienced in installing the manufacturer’s product.

The Buying Process

Unless you’re buying a lift designed for the homeowner to install him or herself, the process of buying and installing a lift is likely to have roughly the same shape, and will follow these steps:

1. Initial Contact

To start the process, you’ll want to reach out to a manufacturer or dealer. These days, most manufacturers invite customers to contact them via their website, where you provide some basic information about the stairlift you’re looking for, and they’ll contact you to set up a visit from a representative. Many dealers take a similar approach. Most manufacturers and dealers also welcome phone calls from interested customers.

2. Preliminary Visit

If you’re buying a more expensive straight stairlift or a curved stairlift, the manufacturer or dealer will very likely want to send a representative to your home to discuss your needs, and recommend a particular model or configuration that will work best for you.

3. Measurement

Either at this first visit or at a later time, the representative or a technician will likely measure the site where you want a lift installed. Some companies do this using photographs; others simply use a measuring tape. Regardless, this step is essential to ensure that you get the right model, and to give a solid estimate of how much the stairlift will cost.

4. Recommendation

At the end of the process of surveying the site, the technician or representative will then discuss with the homeowner what model of stairlift they recommend, and go over any options or choices the buyer needs to decide on.

For many potential buyers, the second step—having a representative come into their home—seems like too big a step to take before they’ve fully made up their mind about whether or not to even get a stairlift. That’s understandable, but it’s also unfortunate. Stairlifts can make such a positive difference in a senior’s life that fear of a hard sell shouldn’t stop someone who needs one from starting the process. In order to approach this visit with confidence, do your research first. Even a hard sell won’t bother someone armed with as much information as possible, and with their preferences and needs firmly in mind

Top Stairlift Companies

That said, let’s have a look at some of the top stairlift companies in the United States.

Where to buy How to install Indoor models offered Outdoor models offered Rentals & resales Warranty
Acorn Free home survey by affiliated technician; contact through website Technician installs One curved, one straight model One straight model Will connect owners interested in selling with potential buyers 12 months, covers all parts and labor; also offers extended warranties
Ameriglide Retailers, online DIY for straight lifts, professional installation included in cost of curved lifts Three straight, one curved model Two straight models Offers used and factory refurbished 5 year warranty on drive train, 2 years on parts for all new lifts
Bruno Factory-trained dealers; contact through website Dealers install Two straight, one curved model One straight, one curved model Not offered through company Limited lifetime on indoor straight lifts; 5 years on all other models
Handicare Authorized dealers; contact through website Dealers install Four straight, two curved models Two straight models Dealers offer rentals and used models Lifetime warranty on motors and gearboxes of indoor straight lifts and most curved models; 5 years on all other models
Harmar Factory-trained dealers; dealer locator on website Dealers install Two curved, one straight model One straight model Not offered through company 2 or 3 years on parts, depending on model, 10 years on gear rack for all models
Stannah Affiliated technicians and dealers Technician or dealer installs Three straight and curved models One straight model Rentals offered through participating dealers Stannah offers 10 years on motor, gearbox, and rail; warranty comes with priority access to technical support and service. Dealer warranties may differ.

Acorn-Stairlifts

Acorn 130 Stairlift

acorn stairlifts review

Acorn Stairlifts

Acorn describes itself as the world’s leading stairlift company, and the company stands out for its turnkey approach to stairlift sales and installation. Acorn starts with a visit from one of their network of stairlift surveyors and engineers across the country. This free one-hour survey gives the engineer a chance to photograph and measure the customer’s stairway, demonstrate samples of the stairlift equipment, and provide a detailed quote.

Rapid Track Modular Rail System

When it comes to installation, Acorn also stands out for its Rapid Track modular rail system, which allows its engineers to install even a complex curved stairlift in a matter of hours with far less mess and disruption. Thanks also to this modular approach, Acorn is able to keep pre-prepared standard components in stock, allowing the company to offer next-day installation service in some parts of the country. Acorn also produces two other models of stairlift, one for straight staircases and one for straight flights of stairs outdoors; these can be installed just as quickly.

Acorn also provides fairly robust post-installation services. Before the customer uses their stairlift, the engineer will do a final check and provide a brief training on the use and maintenance of their Acorn product, and the company offers a 12-month warranty that covers parts and labor. Acorn also offers extended warranties and annual service agreements to help customers keep their stairlifts operating for the long haul. And for households who find themselves no longer needing their Acorn lift, the company provides a reseller service to connect lift owners with people looking for reduced-price stairlifts.

Word on the street is that, when the price of installation is included, Acorn lifts tend to cost more than their competitors. But for Acorn’s many satisfied customers, the added price is worth it for the peace of mind that comes from having a quality, professionally installed stairlift that they can rely on to access every area of their home.

Why buy an Acorn lift?
  • Strong record of customer satisfaction
  • Offers a reseller service to customers who no longer need their lifts
  • Rapid Track system makes installation of even curved stairlifts far less disruptive and time-intensive
  • Offers extended warranties and annual service agreements

AmeriGlide Stairlifts review

Ameriglide

Based in Raleigh, NC, Ameriglide is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of mobility devices for the home. Unlike their competitors, Ameriglide sells many of their stairlifts over the internet, and the company relies on a sales and installation approach that encourages customers to take their own measurements and install their own stairlifts. In fact, most Ameriglide stairlifts are designed for DIY installation even if the homeowners don’t have mechanical or construction experience. For those in the market for a straight indoor or outdoor stairlift, Ameriglide specifically recommends that they measure and set up the stairlift themselves to save money.

Ameriglide’s consumers aren’t all on their own, however. For those wanting to know more about their options, the company has over 20 retail locations across the country. And for more complex installations—such as for the company’s curved stairlift model—they include professional measurement and installation in the price. The company can refer customers with straight stairlifts to these installation professionals as well, if desired. And while Ameriglide only offers four different models—two indoor straight lifts, an indoor curved, and an outdoor straight—the company offers plenty of variation in each model, with a range of options available that will ensure that the chair meets all the customer’s mobility needs.

In addition, Ameriglide offers used and factory refurbished lifts at a considerable discount, and for all sales, the company offers reasonable warranties (new lifts come with a five-year warranty on the drive train and a two year warranty on parts). For easy-to-install, economical stairlifts, It’s hard to beat Ameriglide.

Why buy an Ameriglide lift?
  • Retails many of its lifts over the internet
  • Straight stairlift models designed for DIY installation
  • Lower installation cost keeps the price tag low
  • Offers used and factory refurbished lifts at a considerable discount

bruno stairlifts review

Bruno

Wisconsin-based Bruno manufactures a full range of independent living aids, and the family-owned company prides itself on sourcing the majority of its stairlift components from American suppliers. For both its straight and curved stairlifts, Bruno relies on its network of factory-trained dealers to assess the customer’s needs and perform the installation; Bruno does not offer its models for sale outside of this network.

Bruno stairlifts distinguish themselves by their vertical drive rail, which is designed to minimize the space needed to run their lifts, and the company was the first in North America to offer battery-operated lifts that would continue to function in case of a power outage. Bruno’s range of stairlift models cover all the standard categories—straight and curved, indoor and outdoor—but all models also offer essential options like automated fold out rails, powered swivel seats, and powered footrests to make operating their stairlifts even easier.

While you can occasionally find used Bruno stairlifts for sale online, the company doesn’t officially offer any for sale, nor do they offer a rental program. They do, however, offer one of the strongest warranties in the industry, with limited lifetime warranties on their indoor straight stairlifts, and a limited five-year warranty on Bruno indoor curved lifts and outdoor lifts. With a solid record of customer satisfaction, a variety of lifts to choose from, and warranties that beat most others in the industry, Bruno could be your source for a quality stairlift.

Why buy a Bruno lift?
  • Highly satisfied customers in online reviews
  • Lifetime warranty on some models the best in the industry
  • Vertical drive rail frees up more space on the staircase
  • Offers a curved outdoor stairlift model

handicare stairlifts review

Handicare

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Handicare is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of all sorts of mobility equipment, and it offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor stairlifts. Its approach to selling and installing stairlifts is very hands-on: the company insists on sending out representatives to customers’ homes to provide a full-blown initial consultation. This visit includes a needs assessment and site assessment and a professional measurement of the staircase and a computerized 3D rendering of how the stairlift will actually look in the home.

Handicare offers eight different models of indoor and outdoor stairlifts, with its higher-end models offering a wide variety of options like powered seats, hinged tracks, and so forth. The company also offers a unique outdoor/indoor stairlift model, a curved stairlift that can take some of the tightest corners in the industry, and a single-rail curved stairlift that has a minimal impact on the staircases where it’s installed.

Even while offering a range of models at a range of price points, Handicare, like many of its competitors, also offers used stairlifts at a reduced price, and runs programs that allow homeowners to rent stairlifts when they’re only needed temporarily. And for all of its stairlifts, Handicare offers one of the best warranties in the industry, with a lifetime warranty on the motors and gearboxes of their straight stairlifts, and a five-year warranty on their curved models. In short, Handicare offers affordable quality and also stands behind its product.

Why buy an Handicare lift?
  • Initial consultation includes a needs assessment and 3D modeling of how the lift would look in place.
  • Seats can be bought with a full range of power options
  • Offers used stairlifts at a reduced price
  • Also runs a rental program

harmar stairlifts review

Harmar

An American company, founded in 1998 and based in Sarasota, FL, Harmar takes a full-service approach to the sale and installation of lifts. It sells its lifts solely through factory-trained dealers, and the company insists that all customers contact their local dealers in order to start the lift installation process.

Harmar offers six different stairlift models, including a compact economical offering, a higher-powered offering for users weighing more than the industry standard 300 pounds, an outdoor lift, and and indoor lift. The company prides itself on its quick installation times – its pre-fabricated modular track parts make installation of even a curved stairlift far easier and less disruptive to the household.

Finally, Harmar offers a solid warranty, with a 2- or 3-year warranty on stairlift parts, depending on the model, and a 10-year warranty on the gear rack for all models. And while Harmar doesn’t offer used or factory refurbished lifts, or provide a rental program, its dedication to service, support, and quality installation make them worth checking out if you’re worried about mobility in the home.

Why buy a Harmar lift?
  • Initial consultation includes a needs assessment and 3D modeling of how the lift would look in place.
  • Seats can be bought with a full range of power options
  • Offers used stairlifts at a reduced price
  • Also runs a rental program

stannah stairlift reviews

Stannah

Founded in Britain over 150 years ago, Stannah is a leading international maker of stairlifts and other mobility devices, and they have a network of dealers and partners that allow them to offer Stannah lifts across the US. Like most of its competitors in the stairlift industry, Stannah is heavily involved in the sale and installation of their lifts, relying on dealers to measure the staircase and send those measurements back to the factory, and then to put the lift in place.

Stannah offers three models of indoor lifts, each of which distinguishes itself by its features and design. All three models are available for both straight and curved staircases, and vary in terms of price, customizability, and appearance. One important distinction of Stannah curved stairlifts is that each individual track is custom built in a Stannah factory, meaning that these lifts are truly tailored to the requirements and indoor environment of the individual homeowner. Stannah offers an outdoor stairlift as well, though this is available only in a straight model.

For those with concerns about affordability, Stannah, like a few other stairlift manufacturers, runs a rental program: notably, renters enjoy consistent maintenance on their stairlifts as well as all the other features that come with a Stannah lift. Finally, Stannah offers one of the best warranties in the industry, a warranty which covers all critical components for a ten-year period, replacement and service of any parts that fail within that time, and a dedicated customer service line for those whose lifts are still under warranty. With attractively designed, competitively priced lifts and an outstanding dedication to customer service, Stannah stands out in the stairlift industry.

Why buy an Stannah lift?
  • Offers one the strongest warranties in the industry, guaranteeing its lifts for 10 years
  • Attractively designed chairs can come with a full range of power features
  • Each curved track is custom built based on precise measurement of the staircase by an expert installer
  • Runs a rental program for those who only need a lift temporarily

Stairlift Maintenance

Stairlifts are used on a daily basis, and like any piece of machinery, they need maintenance. If you’re new to stairlift ownership and are not sure how to take care of your machine, you can find a lot of this information in your owner’s manual. But here’s a sampling of the types of DIY maintenance you might be in for if you install a stairlift in your home.

Clean the Chair with a Cloth

Stairlift owners should use a dry microfiber cloth to clean the seat and controls on a regular basis to prevent dirt and oil buildup.

Tighten Nuts and Bolts

Check your chair periodically for loose screws, nuts and bolts. Make adjustments as necessary, but be careful not to over-tighten. Over tightening can lead to stripped screws.

Clean the Track and Rails

The tracks on your stairlift help the chair move up and down, and keep the machine functioning properly. If the track becomes dirty, cleaning can become difficult. Use a rag to wipe off any dirt from the rail. Push a small corner of the rag into the rail and then run the rag up and down the rail with a screwdriver to help.

In some cases, your stairlift tracks may benefit from a light spray of lubricant. Use only lubricants that are specifically mentioned in your owner’s manual. Failure to follow the advice and suggestions in the manual can cause the warranty to be voided. Remember, too, that if you find maintenance to be a chore, some manufacturers offer maintenance contracts to do the work for you.

A Final Word

There are many ways to go about getting a lift chair in your home. Doing product research, investigating funding, and working with a qualified stairlift installer can help you get the right product to meet your needs. Whether you’re a senior or disabled person or are suffering from a recent injury, a stairlift can help you stay mobile and safe in your own home.