Stairlift Rack and Pinion vs. Cable

There are several types of stairlifts on the market today, with rack and pinion being the most common and arguably the best. At the same time, other stairlifts have their benefits, and if you own one of these and you're considering a purchase, you may have wondered about the differences.

How does rack and pinion compare to cable drive and other types of stairlifts? Which of these is best, where can you find them, and how do they work?

Let's discuss the most popular types of stairlift and answer some of those questions.

Rack and Pinion Stairlifts

You may have heard the term "rack and pinion" being used in reference to the steering in a car. It refers to a system in which a circular gear (known as a pinion) moves over a flat or linear gear (known as a rack). Also known as a "gear and teeth" setup, it allows for steady and stable movement. 

While these mechanisms can be dangerous to curious little hands and paws, most modern stairlifts hide them.

The mechanism drives the chair up and down the track and is often battery-powered. The battery will need to be recharged regularly to ensure that it doesn’t fail at crucial moments, but the charging process is very simple.

Rack and pinion is considered to be one of the most effective methods. It doesn't drain too much power and doesn't require a great deal of maintenance, although the user will need to follow some basic home care tips to ensure that the stairlift remains operational for many years to come.

Cable Drive Stairlifts

Although many manufacturers seem to have moved away from cable-driven systems, others have remained in the industry and have focused on ways to make it better. 

Ameriglide is one such manufacturer. It features a state-of-the-art cable mechanism that never needs lubrication and doesn't move or rub against itself. 

Traditionally, cable stairlifts are a little less reliable than rack and pinion stairlifts, offering a less fluid motion and creating more problems. However, the Ameriglide stairlift doesn't seem to suffer from these issues and it benefits from a super-strong cable that can drag thousands of pounds along the track.

Many rack and pinion stairlifts have a capacity of just 300 lbs. while the elite options extend to 400 lbs. It's usually more than enough for the average user, but heavy users may benefit more from the cable drive option. There are no weight capacity issues with the cable system and it may also last a lot longer.