Figuring out what to look for in a stairlift, or chairlift, can be difficult – especially if time is tight. There are typically four types of lifts for stairs: curved, straight, inside, and outside. Some of the first factors you should consider are:
- Is the stair lift needed inside or outside of the home (or both)? This determines the types of materials needed to manufacture your stairlift.
- What is the shape of your stairs? This means, are they continuously straight, or do they have a landing breaking them up? Do they have a curve or any turns? This will determine the type of rail necessary for your application.
If you have a straight staircase without any landings, chances are a straight stairlift will be best for you. Straight stairlifts, compared to curved stair lifts, usually offer a faster and less expensive installation – and because they are not custom designed, many dealers opt to keep them in stock for quick delivery and install.
Harmar offers five straight stairlift choices:
Each were designed to best fit specific needs based on weight, cushioning, simplicity, and available add-ons or options.
Any staircase with curves, sweeps, or landings will most likely require a curved stairlift. Curved chair lift rails are custom designed to fit your unique staircase and can be fabricated to bend around corners to transport users down hallways. Because they are fabricated for a perfect fit, curved stairlifts are generally more expensive than straight stairlifts and are not held as inventory at a dealership. However, many curved stairlifts can be ordered in multiple colors to best fit your home’s décor.
Harmar’s curved stairlift, the Helix, can be designed to provide stair assistance inside or outside the home.
What Should You Look for in a Stairlift?
No matter the type of stairlift, you should consider the following:
- Ease of use:
- Does the stairlift have a call/send remote in case there are two users in the home, or the chair is not where you need it to be?
- How do you operate the chair lift? Is the toggle or switch located in an easy-to-reach place on the chair/armrests?
- Are there automatic features included? For example, Harmar’s straight stairlifts are compatible with our automatic folding rail, which smoothly raises and lowers when the chair is in use. This eliminates tripping hazards around the lower landing.
- Is the seatbelt easily accessed on the chair and is it easily locked/unlocked?
- Does the chair offer a swivel feature? This swivel enables the user to turn the chair while still in it at the top of the stairs so they can easily exit the lift, facing away from the stairs.
- Does the chair include a folding seat, footrest, and armrests? For ease, safety, and convenience, stairlift chairs should be able to fold at the aforementioned areas for safe storage when not in use and seat entry/exit.
- Does the stairlift include an overspeed brake and obstruction sensors?
- Are there available add-ons and safety features such as:
- Key locks
- Retractable seatbelts (optional on many, standard on Harmar’s SL600 and Helix)
- Automatic folding rail
- Extra rail
- Manual lowering tools
- Weight capacity:
- Depending on who will be using the stairlift and why, this factor can be one of the sole determinants of which lift – or manufacturer you’ll choose. Many lifts can range in capacity up to 300 to 450 lbs.; however, Harmar offers the only stairlift in the market that can accommodate up to 600 lbs.
- If the user is on the cusp of needing a chair with a higher capacity, it’s recommended you choose the lift with the higher range.
- Many dealers and manufacturers offer ranges on the stairlift warranty. This is important to consider when searching for your perfect fit.
Other Stairlift Factors to Consider
When you are ready to commit to a stairlift, we recommend finding a local dealer who you feel is passionate about their work. If choosing a Harmar stairlift, because our lifts do not require grease or lubrication, thus have less of a chance of the rails clogging or needing routing upkeep, there will typically be fewer maintenance visits. However, routine maintenance is recommended, and should an issue arise, it will be much easier for your dealer to reach you and diagnose any problems if they are local to your area.
Interested in learning more?
How Do I Know If I Need a Stairlift
The numerous benefits of stairlifts make them an ideal choice for seniors who need a little help with the steps at home. But how do you know if you should purchase one? Are there signs that let you know you might benefit from a stairlift?
Stairlifts Grants and Funding Opportunities
Government and private grants and other funding opportunities can help such individuals to improve their quality of life. However, searching and applying for funding opportunities can be stressful.
Stairlift Buyers Guide: Straight Stairlift Installation Process
Depending on the length and staircase, straight stairlifts can typically be installed by one or two professional installers, as they are much less involved than many custom curved stairlifts.
Stairlift Buyers Guide: Curved Stairlift Installation Process
Curved stairlifts can be more involved, compared to straight stairlifts, due to their custom design and potentially intricate rails.
Stairlift Options, Models, and Features: Pinnacle, Summit, and Helix
Stairlifts, or sometime called “chair lifts,” can be designed for use indoors or out with either a curved or straight rail, depending on the need and layout of the home.