StairliftNot only is a good stairlift an expensive purchase, you’ll also expect to use it for many years to come; so the one you buy needs to last the course. Unfortunately, choosing what stairlift to buy can be rather confusing.

Before you buy, you need to know what makes a top rated stairlift, what manufacturers make the best stairlifts, and what are the types of stairlifts that are available.

Over the last few years the home stairlift- also known as stairway lift, stairway elevator, stair glide, chair lift, and stair chair – has become ever more popular. A stairlift is a safe means of traveling up and down floors for those who either find it impossible to do so unaided, or who find it too tiring. Although they can be expensive to install, their cost is considerably cheaper than selling up and moving to a single storey house, not to mention the emotional and psychological disruption a house move involves.

So what is the price of a stairlift?

If your stairs are straight then you can expect to pay anywhere between £1,000 to £5,000 for straight stairlifts. For custom-built curved stairlifts you’ll usually pay from £4,000 to over £15,000, depending on the complexity of installation. (Stairlift prices are expensive but they’re still cheaper than moving house or care assistance.)

How do stairlifts work?

There are primarily four types of stairlift drives available on the market today: cable, chain, worm or screw, and rack & pinion drives. Rack & pinion drive is the most widely used for residential stair lifts today – it’s advisable to only buy this type. Some lifts have a visible gear rack, usually in the middle of the track but lifts with a hidden gear rack are more popular.

Stairlift manufacturers predominantly use aluminum for straight stairlifts. A combination of steel and aluminum is used for curved versions.

Many electric stairlifts are now battery powered. The main advantage of battery power is that the stairlift can still be operated during power outages.

When a sales person comes to your house it’s a good idea to have a family member or friend with you so that he or she can ask questions as well.

A sales person should make a thorough assessment of staircase dimensions and the needs of the user, including the ability to get on and off the stairlift. A written quotation should be provided for the entire cost of the stairlift. Make sure that the quote includes installation.

Do not be pressurised into a sale before talking to other companies. There should be no obligation to buy with any assessment.

What about stairlift service and reliability?

A stairlift consists of cable, motor and many moving parts, all of which will suffer wear and tear. When you buy your stairlift it is vital that the company provides first rate after sales care. Look for businesses that offer 24-hour service with live representatives – phoning a real person rather than leaving a recorded message or sending an email to a website is quicker and you will generally get better service.

Buying Second-Hand

For many people, buying a new stairlift can simply be too expensive. We recommend this option only when you are looking at a straight stair lift (and even then only if you feel capable of organising quite a large DIY project.). Curved lifts are tailor-made for a property so transplanting them elsewhere is fraught with dangers such as fitting, service agreements and re-programming costs – none of which are for the faint of heart.

Look Out

There is a growing, and worrying, trend for home stair lifts to be sold without any installation. The buyer is told that self-installation is easy and can be done by anyone with basic DIY skills. However, AMEA (Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) strongly advise against self-installation of a home stair lift. A reputable stairliftsupplier will insist on doing the installation.

You should also look at as many makes of stair lifts and talk to at least 3 different dealerships. Talking to a dealer is important; don’t buy from a dealer on the internet if they don’t also have a phone number – if you have any problems later, chances are you won’t get any answers back by email. If you can, go in person to a stairliftshowroom and try out the chairs yourself. Try to go with a relative of friend.

Good News

The good news is that competition between stairlift manufacturers in the U.K. is very keen (most of the worlds big names are U.K. companies) so this in turn means that modern units are extremely reliable and there are some good prices available to cash buyers.