How To Choose The Right Chair Stair Lift: 4 Differences To Ponder

Posted on: 28 July 2015


If you or a loved one has trouble climbing the stairs, you may have thought about investing in a chair stair lift. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults. In fact, almost a third of those 65 and older will fall this year. When it comes to mobility assistance, this equipment can be highly beneficial in preventing accidents, making your life simpler, and possibly preventing you from being forced to move into a different home or a facility. When deciding on the best type of chair stair lift, here are four main differences to consider in order to help you narrow down your selection.

Indoor vs. Outdoor 

Many people purchase stair lifts because they need help getting to the second floor of their home. But there are instances in which some need an outdoor lift, maybe to get up the porch stairs, or to a second floor apartment or condo. In these cases, you'll want to look specifically for an outdoor stair lift. They are different from the indoor lifts in that some of their parts are specially sealed and designed to withstand the elements. They should also come with a cover to protect the seat, and might contain warming elements so the user is comfortable when first sitting down.

Curved vs. Straight

Before making your purchase, you should have a professional come to your home and help you decide between a straight or curved stair lift.

But this is essentially what it comes down to.

If your stairs go straight to the stop without turning any corners, more than likely a straight stair chair lift will be all you need. One little trick you can do is to place a small piece of wood at the bottom of your stairs. If that piece of wood is not able to travel all the way up to the top without stopping, you'll probably be advised to invest in a curved lift. There could be other factors at play, too, such as a straight staircase with a one-step landing that isn't directly in front of the stairs. This situation might warrant a curved lift as well.

In situations where there is a landing partway up, right before the staircase turns, some consumers will ask for two straight stair lifts as opposed to one curved in order to save money, but this isn't always recommended. The user would have to switch chairs at the midpoint landing. And depending on the mobility of the consumer, this could be dangerous, as there may not be adequate room for two chairs or another person like a caregiver who's there to assist.

Battery Powered vs. Electric

Stair lifts come either battery powered or electric. One obvious benefit to a battery powered stair lift is the fact that it will still be functional in the event of a power outage. Some manufacturers claim that the battery operated lifts are quieter and smoother than the electric ones, but that can be subjective, only determined by the user. Once the power goes out, the user can still make about 8-10 trips up and down the steps. 

The disadvantage to battery units is that they should stay plugged in when not in use in order to maintain a charge. Batteries generally need to be replaced about once a year, but this will vary depending on how often it's used. Replacing them can be tricky, so you may want to rely on a professional to assist with that process.

Electric stair lifts work well as long as there is power, and they tend to cost less than the battery powered lifts. The general consensus is that unless you live in an area with frequent power outages, the electric lift is likely best for you.

Standard vs. Heavy Duty

The size of the user will affect what type of chair you get as well. A standard lift has a seat that's 20-22 inches in width and will generally hold up to 350 pounds, whereas a heavy duty is geared towards those who weigh 350-600 pounds. The seat is wider at 23-25 inches in order to accommodate the larger size. However, keep in mind that a heavy duty lift will need a stair case that is at least 36 inches in width.