Staircase before stair life installed

How to Choose the Perfect Stair Lift

The right stair lift can make a world of difference.

Mobility is a gift that many of us take for granted. We rely quite a bit on our mobility to keep us functional and active. So, when moving becomes harder, it can be very frustrating, limiting, and sometimes discouraging.

There are lots of ways to improve mobility both in and outside the home. However, stairs are a uniquely daunting challenge. Because of the high possibility for injury, many caregivers may be anxious about allowing loved ones to use stairs alone. This is especially true if there is a history of falls or other injury.

As the population of senior citizens in the US grows over time, there is a much greater demand for mobility devices. Luckily, that means that they are perhaps more accessible now than ever.

In general, stairs are hard to avoid, especially in the home. A great solution for this problem is to introduce a stair lift into the equation. They may seem completely out of budget upon first glance, but they can actually be a cost-effective option. Stair lifts can be customized to fit the unique needs and design of almost any setting, and they have a lot of potential pros to consider.

Of course, no piece of technology or equipment comes freely. There are some expenses to consider beyond just the price of the stair lift itself. To help you understand whether or not a stair lift is a good fit, we’ve created a comprehensive outline of the why’s, the how’s, and the what’s of choosing a great product.

Here is your 2020 Stair Lift buyer’s guide.

What is a Stair Lift? How Do They Work?

You might have a lot of questions if you’re not familiar with stair lifts and their technology. There are also a lot of financial factors to consider. You might wonder “how much does it cost to install a chair lift for stairs?” or “can I install a stair lift on stairs with a landing?” among other questions. Fortunately, there are simple answers to all of these and more.

A stair lift is a motorized chair that can travel up and down a rail that’s secured to a staircase. The user can sit in the chair and, with the press of a button, ride up or down any stairs. Different stair lifts may focus on different struggles. For example, users with joint issues may prefer a highly placed chair that doesn’t force you to bend over or squat to use.

Stair lifts are a pretty accessible option, partially because they are so customizable. You can probably find a lift that fits your stairs without any need for home renovation or serious major expenses. Oftentimes the most drastic change needed to be made to a home is adding a power source for the lift.

Although stair lifts typically require a wall outlet, they primarily run on batteries. This means that a stair chair lift will still operate even during a power outage. That makes the chair a safe and reliable option even for those who live on their own.

What features should I focus on?

Different stair lift models can boast all kinds of different features and additions, but which ones are the most important to consider? What characteristics are best for different health concerns or individual challenges?

The answers to these questions depend on, in part, the individual. Some users might prefer a larger chair, for instance, while others may prefer one that’s more compact. Some may struggle with setting up a foldable model by themselves. Be sure to understand the functions of any model you consider buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions to the retailer or seller you’re planning to work with!

Here are some key features that are generally good ideas to look for:

  • A swiveling chair: allows the user to safely and easily get on and off the chair at the top/bottom of the staircase
  • Safety features (seatbelt, for example)
  • Appropriate dimensions (height, width, weight capacity, etc.)
  • Communication methods (call buttons, for example) – this may be especially important if the individual using the lift lives alone, or if they are especially high-risk 
  • Security features – this will help prevent unauthorized use and might be more pressing for outdoor stair lifts

Why invest in a stair lift?

There are many reasons you may consider adding a stair chair lift to your home, facility, etc., including:

  • Safety – This reason may be the most obvious. Moving up and down stairs can be a real challenge, especially people who are limited by physical disability or pain. Attempting to use stairs may carry the risk of accidental injury or worsening of pain. Those who have experienced the aftermath of a fall likely understand how easy accidents may happen – on stairs. It could be as simple as a misstep or tripping. Common stair-related injuries include broken bones, sprains, and bruises, all of which may be more severe in older individuals. With all of these things in mind, it’s easy to understand how stairs may be a source of anxiety for not just those who struggle to use them, but also those who care for them.
  • Comfort – Stair lift devices may potentially help avoid pain or physical trauma triggered by using stairways the conventional way. Those whose mobility is dependent on external aides, like wheelchairs or walkers, may feel the use of a stair lift to be the easiest way to navigate floors of their home.
  • Ease of Movement and Independence – Struggling with stairs can be debilitating both mentally and physically. Dealing with a loss of independence is a difficult challenge for many people. It also means a lot more dependence on caregivers. Devices like stair lifts provide the unique opportunity to grant a level of independence that may have been lost. Not only is this more convenient, but it can also be incredibly empowering and meaningful for everyone involved.
  • Ability to Stay at Home – Many individuals prefer to be cared for in the comfort of their own home rather than pursuing assisted living. The familiarity and happiness that comes with the ability to move freely around and enjoy one’s home can’t be understated. It may also be a more approachable option financially for those who have limited options for support.

If you believe someone you care for could benefit from a stair lift, it is likely a worthy investment.

Where Can I Buy a Stair Lift?

If you decide to invest in a stair chair lift, you might be unsure when you begin to shop around. There are a variety of options both at in-person stores and online. Later in our guide, we will outline specific examples and things to consider.

If you’d like to physically interact with different stair lift elevators, you might prefer to visit a store in-person. However, looking online can be an easier way to directly compare prices and models of all kinds. In-person stores may also offer information about pricing, services, and installation on their websites.

Being informed may simplify your search and save you a lot of hassle!

What Should I Look for When Buying a Stair Lift?

There are several factors you may want to keep in mind when browsing through and considering buying a stair lift. Aside from the most obvious, like cost, you might also think about the potential longevity of a product, its comfort level, or even product reviews from other customers.

It pays to be an informed consumer. The market is full of different brands, especially if you choose to use the internet to browse. Try listing out some features you’d like to look for, as well as a rough price range.

If you are looking in store or in person, you also might consider speaking with a staff member who can make recommendations based on your situation. You might also be able to touch or test out the product to get a better idea of how it looks, feels, and operates. Don’t be afraid to take your time when trying to make a decision. A stair lift can be a considerable investment, and it’s one that you’d like to last as long as it’s needed.

How Much Does a Stair Chair lift Cost?

The price of a stair chair lift depends on a lot of factors. Luckily, that means you have a lot of options.

The average cost of a stair lift and stair lift installation is around $5000. To understand how to break this price down, consider this example:

  • $4000 spent on the lift itself
  • $1000 toward installation, transportation, warranty, and other fees 

You will always have to consider installation costs regardless of what stairlift elevator you decide to purchase. Installation costs are often included in the quote given to you buy a seller. That means that what you pay includes the cost of the lift as well as the cost of having it professionally installed.

Always be sure to speak to the seller you’re thinking of buying from for a specific consultation. This will help you understand not just the price of your lift, but also any other associated financial details.

Pre-owned stair lifts, which we discuss in more depth a bit later, can help you save anywhere from a couple hundred dollars up to a thousand dollars. Although, of course, they may have some wear-and-tear from previous owners.

Custom stair elevators or stair lifts that climb more than one basic flight of steps may carry a heftier price tag. Generally, custom stair lifts are those that are fitted to curved stairs (and are referred to as curved stair lifts). Curved stair lifts can cost over double what straight stair lifts (straight lifts that just go straight up and down a typical flight of stairs) cost. The average price of a curved stair lift is usually over $8000-9000, while the average straight stair lift is usually around $2500-$4000. 

Some types of stair lifts, like those that navigate outdoor stairs, may also have a different cost associated with them. Outdoor stairlifts are typically made of more durable, weather-proofed material. They usually cost around $4000-5000, which is only slightly more than an average indoor stair lift. Specific stair lift prices depend on the model and type of model in question. Later on, we break down some average prices for different leading brands of stair lifts, but it is always a good idea to contact sellers for specific quotes to have the best idea of what cost will look like for you.

If these prices sound hefty, consider renting a stair lift, or buying a pre-owned stair lift, which you can learn more about below.

Figure out what your budget is before going into the browsing and shopping phase of picking out your stair lift. Stair lift costs can vary, and everyone’s situation is different. You can receive quotes from businesses if you need an idea of what prices will look like for you. Rather than trying to stretch your budget to find lifts, it may be more beneficial to find a lift that fits into your established budget.

What Are My Options?

You may now be wondering “what is the best chair lift for stairs?” The truth is that there are a lot of options on the market, and they’re not all created equal. In addition to stair lifts, other mobility devices like wheelchair stair lifts (which raise a wheelchair from one level to another) exist to help make life easier. Wheelchair lifts tend to cost around $4000-5000, so they are another similarly priced option to assist with movement inside the home. Still, stair lifts are generally considered a worthy investment because they are typically used multiple times a day for years.

First, let’s explore the potential give and take of choosing pre-owned stair lifts. Used stair lifts can still be a great option, but there are some factors you may want to consider.

Pre-Owned Stair Lifts Pros and Cons

Pros:

Pre-owned models are usually cheaper than brand new ones. The exact amount you save will depend on the store or brand, but you can generally expect to save anywhere from $500-1000 on the price of the lift itself

The average cost of lifts from different brands are available in the brand breakdown in our guide. However, a good general estimate for the price of a new lift is around $2500-4500.

A good estimated cost for a used lift is around $2000.

Used models still may include benefits like warranty

Used stair chair lifts are often still in great condition when buying from a reputable seller

Cons:

  • Used stair chair lifts or stair elevators may not be in the same mint condition as a new stair lift
  • Some types of stair chair lifts, usually curved, may need to be specifically measured and fitted to a given space or home, and thus a used option might not be possible.
  • You will likely be limited to only a few models or brands. 
    • Some brands sell pre-owned models directly from their own website, but sometimes a selection of pre-owned lifts can be purchased from other third-party retailers as well. 

Can I rent a stair lift?

It’s absolutely possible to rent a stair lift! Rental stair lifts are a great solution for those who are looking for a more short-term option. Perhaps a temporary injury requires the assistance of a stair lift, but the individual is expected to fully recover and regain mobility over time. Whatever the case may be, renting is an option to consider.

Your options are likely going to be more limited if you rent rather than buy, and there is no guarantee that all stores or sellers will offer rental programs. Don’t worry – it’s not very hard to find those who do, especially with the help of the internet. 

How much does it cost to rent a stair lift?

  • Fees are usually around $400-700 for installation and around $200-400 for uninstallation
  • A deposit typically must be made when ordering a rental; sometimes this deposit will be refunded assuming there is no damage to the device. The deposit price is usually a couple hundred dollars ($200+) but will depend on your individual circumstances
  • Rent cost. Instead of paying upfront for a lift, you will be making spaced out payments (likely on a monthly basis) for a given period of time. The cost of rent is usually under $500 a month, but the exact make and model of your lift will alter this price.

Some sellers also offer rent-to-buy programs. If you enter a rental agreement with the seller and decide you’d like to add your lift to your home permanently, you can choose to purchase (pay the remaining balance) your lift. Details about these offers should be discussed with your retailer to understand specifics.

A helpful place to start is to know what businesses and competitors provide which services at which costs. Let’s break down some of the most popular stair lift brands to understand them better.

Acorn Stairlifts

  • Indoor and outdoor stairlift options available
  • Pricing varies – consultations and quotes are available to get an estimate of price range
  • Curved stairlifts available, usually for a higher price tag
  • Fits to stairs, not to wall – lower risk of any potential damage or alternations done to wall
  • Free quotes and consultations given upon request

A leader in the business of producing and selling stair chair lifts and other mobility products, Acorn is a great option for indoor, outdoor, or curved stairs. A variety of individual models and options are available for viewing online, and the business is accessible both in and outside of the United States.

Acorn Stairlifts offers a comprehensive list of all of their services and information on their website here.

AmeriGlide

  • Indoor and outdoor stairlift options available
  • Curved stair lifts available
  • Pricing range: low (approx. $1000-2000 for straight stair lifts, $8000 for curved)
  • Offers certified used options
  • They also offer other mobility devices like elevators, lift chairs, and vertical platform lifts
  • You can choose monthly payment plans for purchases; prices listed online, no need for an in-person consultation

AmeriGlide is a very cost-effective option for mobility devices of all kinds, but notably for their stair chair lifts. Their website features a good number of different models with a set, listed price. They offer self-installable options, which eliminates the need for an additional installation fee if your budget is tight and you have the means to install yourself. You can also browse through pre-owned models that are in excellent condition if you’re looking to save even more money.

For more information or to browse products, view AmeriGlide’s website here.

Handicare

  • Indoor and outdoor stairlift options available
  • Curved options available
  • Pricing range: medium (approx. $2500-4000 for straight stair lifts, $7000 for curved)
  • Includes a lifetime warranty with products
  • Free quotes/estimates available upon request
  • Offers other mobility devices for the bedroom, bathroom, and more

Handicare is another leader in mobility devices, and for good reason: they offer a variety of devices for all rooms of the house, and their website features several different models of straight and curved stair lifts. They offer folding seats that help ensure that the device is out of the way when not in use, making them a good option for those who share homes with others who don’t need to use the lift. Outdoor models are available for both straight and curved staircases and feature weatherproof materials.

Visit Handicare’s website to view products and find contact information.

Harmar

  • Indoor and outdoor stairlift options available
  • Curved options available
  • Pricing range: (approx. medium $2000-3000 for straight stair lifts, curved varies)
  • Lifts for both the home and for vehicles are available
  • Website features a comprehensive comparison and breakdown of the features of each model
  • Features narrow and foldable options as well as swivel seats
  • Quotes available upon request

Harmar is a leader in mobility devices of all kind, including wheelchairs, scooters, and stair lifts / stairlift elevators. They do offer devices that help navigate users in and out of vehicles, so they may be an option to consider for future purchases even if their stair chair lifts are out of your price range. Their website is easy to navigate and contains a lot of information about each individual model of lift they offer, which makes comparison shopping easy. Though they don’t list specific prices on their website, they are generally a fairly affordable option, and users can request quotes and more specific information on the brand’s website.

For more details, visit Harmar’s website here.

Stannah

  • Indoor and outdoor stairlift options available
  • Curved options availble
  • Pricing range: high (approx. $3000-6000 for straight stair lifts, $12,000-15,000 for curved)
  • Website features a stair survey (a free questionnaire) to help you figure out which lift would be best for your situation
  • Reliable safety features
  • Easy controls
  • Outdoor models feature key lock for additional security

Stannah has been around for over a century now, and they’ve been providing much-needed assistance and mobility devices across different countries for decades. Their models tend to be on the pricier end of the spectrum, but they still provide free quotes to help you understand what price might look like for you. Rentals are also available if committing to a purchase is out of your reach.

To see models, information, and learn how to move forward with Stannah, visit their website here.

Conclusion

Finding the right stair lift for you is no easy task. The market is full of different options with different prices. And it’s a serious investment that you likely don’t want to take lightly. However, if you take the time to visit your different options, speak with sellers, and consider if it’s a good solution for you, you will be well equipped to navigate the buying process. Stair chair lifts are undoubtedly a great problem-solver. They allow those who need them to live at home without sacrificing basic independence and mobility throughout their home.

If you decide to go through with purchasing a stair lift, and have found a maker and model that fits with what you’re looking for, you’ll likely be making a purchase that could last a lifetime. It’s also possible to re-sell used stair lifts back to sellers or to businesses, so long as they are in good workable condition, later on in the future if you move or no longer need your lift. Used stairlifts are also an option that you should be sure not to forget – sometimes they can help you save quite a bit!

Also worth noting and remembering is the additional cost of installation. Some models are self-installable and don’t require the assistance of an installation team, so you may look for these products if you’re worried that installation may break your budget. However, the majority of lifts and especially those that are custom fitted will require professional installation. These prices may vary, and you may want to keep it in mind as you get quotes and consultations from sellers.

Overall, a stair lift or a stair elevator is a worthy investment if you or someone you care for needs it. It’s impossible to put a price on the little things that make us feel like us, and being able to move freely is one of them. Think carefully about your options as you make your decision, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s a decision you likely won’t forget, and you now have the tools to confidently navigate the shopping process and find your perfect stair lift.

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