Stairlifts can increase
your mobility


Stairlifts move people from one floor to another, usually in a seat that runs on a rail along a staircase. These machines can greatly increase mobility for the elderly, injured, or disabled who wouldn?t otherwise be able to use stairs. Lifts are either battery-powered or driven by mains electricity. Even those that run on mains power have backup batteries for power outages.

Types of Stairlifts

Kinds - What are the different types of stairlifts?

There are four kinds of stairlifts:

  • Inline: Inline or straight lifts are the simplest to install and operate, and they are the least expensive option. This type of lift is for staircases that go only in a straight line. If your stairs curve, but only at the very top, then the installer can use an inline lift and a small platform at the top instead of fully curving the rails. You must select whether the charging station will be located at the top or bottom of the stairs and the lift returns to the charging station after use.

  • Curved: Curved lifts can navigate most staircase bends. They are more expensive than inline lifts, and each bend can double the cost. Whereas an inline stairlift price might be 2,000 pounds, a lift for a grand, curving staircase with no straight sections might be 12,000 pounds or more. There are limits on the curving of the rails, however. It's not possible to install one on a spiral staircase, for example.

  • Standing: Standing lifts can be either inline or curved. They are designed for extremely narrow staircases, for people who cannot bend their knees to sit effectively, or both. Obviously, such lifts, even though equipped with handrails and small standing platforms, are not for people who suffer from vertigo or get dizzy easily. There must also be enough headroom to accommodate your full height.

  • Through-the-floor: Through-the-floor lifts forgo the staircase altogether. They are built like a commercial lift in miniature for only one person. Through-the-floor lifts may be either seated or standing, and the installers would create a hole in the upper floor through which the lift would pass. Obviously, these are the most expensive kind of lifts and require not only a team of builders but also the necessary permits. Having such a lift might mean getting the necessary insurance coverage for your home.

Aside from through-the-floor lifts, all of these stairlifts come in both indoor and outdoor versions. Outdoor stairlifts are fashioned from weather-proof materials to protect the riders and the equipment.

Can stairlifts be fitted to any stairs?

No, staircases that are too narrow won't support a lift simply because the lift seat and drive assembly together are wider than the staircase itself. Also, even if the staircase is just wide enough to accommodate a lift, there is the issue of other people in the household needing to use the stairs. These lifts travel at roughly 6 meters per minute, which is the greatest allowable speed by law. In addition to a family queue at the staircase every time you need to use the lift, you must consider an exit plan in case of an emergency. Additionally, stairlifts cannot be used on stairs with too many curves, such as spiral staircases.


How much do stairlifts cost?

Stairlifts can be expensive. New, they usually cost between 2,000 and 7,000 pounds. The complexity of your staircase will impact price. There are used options available, and you can also get a stairlift rental. Renting has its own issues, largely because removing the lift to turn it back in will leave markings on the staircase where it was connected.

When is the right time to get a stairlift?

The short answer is whenever someone is no longer able to ascend or descend stairs safely. Even if the person is not classified as disabled, they could benefit from a stairlift. Stairways are often narrow and twisted, especially in older homes. Navigating them with a cane or arthritis can be difficult, particularly if the stairs are wooden and not covered with carpet.

Even if you have full mobility, you might have a weak heart which means you can't climb stairs without becoming winded. People with hip or knee replacements, even if they don't have issues on flat surfaces, could have trouble on stairs. Those who are obese may need a stairlift, but most companies have weight limitations on their lifts. A few can accommodate people up to about 30 stone in weight.

Remember, someone using a stairlift has to have at least some mobility to be able to mount and dismount the seat and to attach the safety features themselves. People who are in wheelchairs must choose a lift that can accommodate a wheelchair, and they must also count the weight of the wheelchair when considering which lift to buy. Lift riders must also be able to work the controls and balance on a footrest if they are not in a wheelchair.

Buying a lift should be done with an eye toward the future and not just your current needs. You might not be able to climb the stairs because of a knee injury, for example, but will be fine in a few months. During that time, it might be a good idea to spend more time on the lower floor of your home.

Similarly, if your condition is only going to get worse, such as with multiple sclerosis or similar health concerns, you might not retain the necessary mobility to use the lift in the future. In these situations, devising an alternate solution would make more sense.

Getting started

Who should you speak to before buying a lift?

In all cases, you should contact a doctor to assess your condition, prior to spending the money and time to install a stairlift. The doctor will consult with other medical professionals, such as occupational therapists, nurses, and physiotherapists before recommending a particular lift. The NHS will usually send someone to assess the suitability of the property itself as well.