Stairlifts are a life-saver when you have someone in your home with mobility issues. This person could be elderly, overweight, injured, or sick, but regardless of your exact circumstances stairlifts help mobily challenged people live a normal life.
The tricky part is that stairlifts come in different designs. Some are curved, some are straight, and some are built for outdoor use. Additionally, different stairlifts have different features and visual designs.
This article breaks down the different types of stairlifts and the features that you should look out for.
What are Stairlifts?
Stairlifts are lifts that take one up or down a flight of stairs. Unlike elevator lifts, stairlifts are designed to carry one person at a time, and therefore come in the form of a chair that is attached to rails installed on a staircase.
As such, a stairlift has two basic parts; a secure chair where the passenger sits and a track that is attached on one side of the staircase. A motorized gear moves the seat along the track up and down the flight of stairs. The stairlift is controlled by a remote which has a “call and send” button to direct the stairlift. This makes it possible to control the stairlift from any part of the house.
Types of Stairlifts
This is the most common type of stairlift. As the name suggests, straight lifts are designed to go up or down a straight flight of stairs. The typical length of a straight stairlift is about 13-14 inches, which is also the length of a typical staircase.
A house with a very high roof may have particularly long staircases. In this case, one would need to spend extra money on a custom-built stairlift. On average, a straight stairlift costs $1,500-$5,000.
Curved stairlifts are intended for staircases that are not straight. They may bend, curve, turn, or have extra landings, and they tend to cost more than straight stairlifts because they have to be custom made. Curved stairlifts may cost as much as $12,000 depending on the extra features that are added to the stairlift.
Outdoor stairlifts, as the name suggests, are intended for outdoor use on porches, patios, or decks. They can be either straight or curved.
Because they are out in the open, they have to be engineered to function in the weather. This means having weatherproof covers to protect the lift from damage from sun rays, rainfall, wind, snow, or any other potentially damaging weather element. They must also be particularly sturdy and durable.
Features of a Stairlift
Any stairlift type may include the following features.
Folding Seat & Footrest
A folding seat and footrest will fold back close to the wall to avoid taking up too much space when the stairlift is not in use. Some models will come with motorized seats and footrests that will automatically fold when the lift is not being used.
Most modern stairlifts have a swivel seat that allows the passenger to safely exit from the stairlift without bending. When the stairlift gets to its destination the swivel seat turns, allowing the passenger to get out with ease.
Swivel seats might also have adjustable height, armrests, and extra padding to make them more comfortable.
Seat Belt and Safety Sensors
Seat belts are a necessity in a stairlift seat, as they help to keep the passenger from falling off the seat as the lift moves.
Safety sensors detect objects that are on the stairs within the stairlift’s path. When an object is detected, the stairlift switches direction to prevent an accident.
A remote control may be used to direct the direction of the stairlift, and is especially convenient when two people in a house need a stairlift. For example, if one person goes downstairs while the other person is still upstairs, the person who is upstairs may use the remote control to tell the lift to return to them.