When someone in the home begins to struggle with mobility, stair lifts are one piece of equipment that can help ensure that elderly or disabled individuals maintain their independence. With more and more elderly individuals preferring to age in place, stair lifts may become an increasingly popular option for people living in homes with multiple levels. In this guide, we will explain some of the key attributes that people should look for when evaluating stair lifts, the factors affecting cost, and some of the best companies to consider, including these three:
|Best For||Best Overall||Best for Seniors||Best Design|
Understanding Stair Lifts
As the Baby Boomer generation ages into their 60s and 70s, more and more Americans are considering the possibility of aging in place. Approximately 90% of seniors would prefer to stay in their homes as they age, a living arrangement that offers a number of benefits to seniors’ life satisfaction and health. But advanced age also brings additional concerns about safety and mobility, so many homes require updates or special equipment that permits residents to remain in place, live independently, and make full use of their homes.
One such piece of equipment for people living in multi-story residences is a stair lift (sometimes referred to as a chair lift for stairs, stair lift elevator, or stair elevator). Stair lifts are electric devices that transport users from one floor of a residence to another when they are otherwise limited in their ability to use stairs. In addition to being useful for elderly users, these devices are also an important support for those with certain disabilities or other mobility issues. In this section, we will dive into what stair lifts are, how they work, and how to know whether a stair lift is right for your home.
What Is a Stair Lift?
Stair lifts are essentially motorized chairs that are mounted along a staircase, allowing users to travel up or down a floor without needing to use the steps of the staircase. Stair lifts can be customized to the dimensions and shape of many different staircases, allowing them to be used in different building layouts. This arrangement is safer than a ramp, because the stair lift can be installed over greater distances and steeper slopes, and less expensive to install than other alternatives like home elevators.
The stair lift has several basic component parts:
- Track/rail – The track is the part of the stair lift that guides the user’s movement between floors. The track or rail usually includes cables or a gear system that moves the chair to its destination.
- Motor – The motor powers the movement of the chair along the track. Typically motors are powered by batteries or electric systems and can be turned on or off with some sort of control on the chair or otherwise connected to the system.
- Chair – Sometimes called a carriage, the chair is the part of the stair lift that holds the user while moving from one point to another. As the part of the stair lift that users interact with most directly, chairs themselves have different designs and features to maximize comfort, safety, or ease of use for users.
While all stair lifts will have some combination of these components, each component offers different options, with designs or additional features that can affect the cost, safety, reliability, or ease of use of the stair lift system.
What Are the Different Types of Stair Lifts?
Different stair lift types are available to accommodate the design or layout of the structure where the lift is installed and particular needs that a user might have. Generally, the key factor distinguishing the types of stair lifts is the design of the staircase where the lift is being installed. Some stairs may have a simple design that makes installation easy, but others may require a more complicated installation that is specifically tailored to the staircase.
Below are the most common types of stair lifts:
- Straight stair lifts – Straight stair lifts are probably the most common variety, and as the name suggests, these lifts can be installed on a perfectly straight staircase with the track following along the path of the stairs. Because the design and installation are more straightforward, these stair lifts tend to be less expensive. However, there may still be some installation challenges that require further customization, particularly on narrow staircases.
- Curved stair lifts – Curved stair lifts have rails that are shaped to follow along the path of curved, L-shaped, winder, and other stair layouts that do not travel in a straight line. Curved stair lifts are more complicated to design and install than straight stair lifts because they must be modified to account for particular features of the staircase like landings or the location of curves/angles along the chair lifts path. This also tends to make them more expensive.
- Outdoor stair lifts – An outdoor stair lift is one that is installed on any outdoor staircase, such as those at front or back entrances, to a garage, or for a porch, deck, or patio. Outdoor stair lifts can be straight or curved, depending on the particular staircase layout. While outdoor stair lifts essentially operate the same as their indoor counterparts, these designs typically have features to improve security (e.g. key locks) and prevent damage from exposure to the elements (e.g. seat covers, weather-resistant materials, and finishes).
In addition to differences based on the staircase design, some stair lifts are distinguished based on the carriage type. While stair lifts with a seated chair are most common, people shopping for stair lifts may also encounter the following:
- Standing stair lifts – Standing stair lifts are meant for those who have difficulty both with climbing stairs and sitting/standing due to issues with flexibility or mobility. These lifts are designed with elevated seats or other features that allow users to stand or lean while using the lift rather than needing to sit and stand to use.
- Platform stair lifts – These stair lifts have a platform rather than a seat, along with a door or guardrails to help hold users in place. These designs may be preferable for users with wheelchairs or walkers who may struggle to transfer themselves in and out of a chair.
Can Stair Lifts Be Fitted to Any Stairs?
One concern that many homeowners may have when considering whether to buy a stair lift is whether the lift can be installed to fit the design of the stairs in their homes. If the home does not have straight staircases with typical widths and slopes, homeowners may believe that they will not be able to find a stair lift that works for their residence. While it is true that such situations can make the design and installation of a stair lift more complicated, improved manufacturing and installation techniques have made it possible to accommodate a wide variety of staircase layouts.
One of the most common issues is with staircases that have curves, angles, platforms, or other features that require more than a simple straight stair lift. There are several ways to address this problem. On the simpler end, staircases that just have a 90 or 180 degree turn with a platform in the middle can use straight stair lifts for each segment. While transferring from one lift to another can be inconvenient, it does allow for a fairly straightforward solution. However, it is also possible to mold rails to have curves or turns that will track the layout of a staircase. Even spiral staircases with tight turns can have stair lift tracks custom-fitted.
Another frequent concern is staircases that have unusual slopes and widths or limited space at the landings, all of which may be more common in older homes especially. However, stair lifts can be angled to fit a variety of slopes, including very steep angles. For narrow stairs, many stair lift manufacturers offer more compact carriages or deeper seats that make it possible to fit a lift even with less room. And some models also have foldable or retractable components to save room and eliminate tripping hazards at the landings.
While it is possible to fit a stair lift to most staircases, there may be instances where a more complex customization or installation may be beyond a homeowner’s budget or even beyond the capabilities of stair lift providers in their area. Potential buyers should consult with an expert to determine whether a stair lift makes sense for their home.
When to Consider Buying a Stair Lift
Understandably, many buyers may wonder whether a stair lift makes sense for their home and the person or people who will rely on the stair lift. Choosing a stair lift or other similar accommodation may be one smaller component of much larger family decisions about where and how elderly or disabled individuals should live. And between installation costs and ongoing maintenance, a stair lift can represent a significant financial commitment as well. Ultimately, purchasing a stair lift will be a personal or family choice, but some common factors may weigh into the thought process.
First and foremost, a potential stair lift buyer should consider the current and future mobility needs of whoever will be occupying the home. For elderly individuals who still have relatively good mobility, a stair lift may not be a necessity, and continued use of stairs as normal may actually help promote continued strength, mobility, and independence. But if a resident currently has medical or age-based conditions that make it difficult to use stairs or is likely to develop them, a stair lift may be more worthwhile.
Potential buyers should also evaluate stair lifts as an investment or financial commitment. A custom-fitted stair lift can cost upwards of $10,000, which may be too expensive for many buyers without other financial assistance, but a simple straight stair lift installation may be reasonable. Buyers should shop around for quotes from stair lift providers, but they should also consider the cost and convenience of other alternatives, like moving to a single-level home, relocating rooms in the home, or other tools like a stair walker or home elevator.
Like many other investments in the home, it is also worth thinking about how long the stair lift user is likely to remain in the home and benefit from it. Stair lifts (especially custom installations) can be difficult to resell and may not be an appealing feature if the home is sold, so it might not make sense financially to buy one for only a short period of use. However, some dealers offer rentals of new or preowned stair lifts that may make more sense as a temporary solution.
The Pros & Cons of Stair Lifts
Stair lifts can be a significant and costly home upgrade, but they can also provide a number of important benefits for users’ health and wellbeing. It is important for stair lift users to weigh the merits by consulting with stair lift installation experts, health providers, and families or caretakers to think through different perspectives on whether to purchase a stair lift. However, stair lifts have some commonly identified benefits and drawbacks, which will be covered in more depth below.
Pros: Benefits of Stair Lifts
- Safety and peace of mind – Stair lifts have a good track record of preventing falls and other accidents on stairs for elderly or limited-mobility users. In addition to preventing the sorts of accidents that might occur without a stair lift, safety features like seatbelts, obstruction sensors, and swivel seats help prevent injuries while using a lift or getting on and off. Stair lifts’ safety can put family members’ minds at ease when they do not live with their senior or disabled relatives.
- Independence and mobility – The ability to safely remain in and have full use of the home can contribute to users’ self esteem and sense of independence. Installing a chair lift is less disruptive to a user’s life and routine than moving to a new home or an assisted living facility.
- Simple installation – While designing and installing a stair lift for a curved, angled, or other unusually shaped staircase can be an involved process, stair lift installations in general are fairly simple because they are just mounted along the existing staircase. For the most basic installations of a straight stair lift, it might only take a few days to obtain the necessary components and as little as a few hours to install the device. When compared to stair elevators, a traditional home elevator might take several months to design and install.
Cons: Drawbacks of Stair Lifts
- Promotes dependence – Some critics of chair lifts for seniors suggest that individuals who still have reasonably good mobility benefit from the strength-building and exercise that can be obtained through regular use of the stairs (or with an alternative like half-steps or a stair walker). At the other end of the spectrum, users who are wheelchair-bound may find an alternative like a home elevator more preferable. Weight limits, space, and the difficulty of transferring seats may make a stair lift less viable for those with more severely restricted mobility.
- Cost of installation and maintenance – While stair lifts are more favorable in cost compared to expensive alternatives like a home elevator, even the simplest installations will likely cost purchasers several thousand dollars. Many installers also have relatively short warranty periods, so the ongoing expense of maintaining or repairing can add up as well.
- Resale and home value – Stair lifts lose much of their value when sold, and for a custom-designed curved installation, finding a buyer is extremely difficult if not impossible. This can create a loss for homeowners who choose to remove their stair lift later on. Stair lifts also do not significantly improve—and in some cases may actually detract—from a home’s value if the owner decides to sell. Most households do not have a need for a stair lift, so a prospective home buyer may prefer other homes or negotiate around the stair lift’s removal.
What to Look for When Comparing Stair Lifts
While most stair lifts function in fundamentally the same way, there are many factors to consider and compare when trying to find the best model for an individual’s home and preferences. And picking a model from a reliable company with the right specifications is only part of the challenge: installation and ongoing maintenance can also factor into the decision. Below we will lay out some key points to keep in mind when shopping for a stair lift.
Type of Stair Lift
As described above, there are several different types of stair lifts on the market, including straight indoor lifts, curved indoor lifts, and outdoor lifts. Determining which of these types of stair lifts you will need for your home is an important starting place in the shopping process because it will affect many of the costs and features available to you.
It should be relatively easy to determine what type of stair lift you will need based on the size, layout, and location of stairs in your home, but some perspective from a professional may be valuable as well in certain situations. For example, an L-shaped staircase with a platform may be suitable for a curved installation, but it could require multiple straight stair lifts. Alternatively, an expert may be able to help you decide between a standing stair lift or one with a special seat to fit a very narrow set of stairs.
Stair Lift Features
Beyond the type of stair lift, potential stair lift buyers can consider a variety of features that impact the comfort, safety, and reliability of their stair lift installation. Some of the features that shoppers may want to compare include:
- Track/Rail – In addition to the shape or layout of a stair lift’s track, there are some other differences worth noting. In terms of the rail’s construction, different manufacturers or models may use different materials, with steel and aluminum being most common. The mechanism to move the chair may also be slightly different, with models using cables, chains, or a rack and pinion system. Additional features like folding or retractable rails can keep the ends of a rail out of walkways, eliminating a potential tripping hazard.
- Motor and power source – Stair lift motors are most frequently battery-powered or electric-powered. In a battery model, the system is powered by rechargeable batteries. While the system does require an electrical hookup to charge the batteries, this means that the stair lift will work for a limited time even if power is unavailable. Electric models plug into a wall outlet and receive power from the home, and while these models are usually somewhat more affordable, they will not work in event of a power outage.
- Safety – Stair lift designers have developed a number of features that impact the safety of the unit. Seatbelts or some other restraint, like harnesses, are one of the most common features in this category. Sensors to detect obstructions on the stairs, controls to monitor speed, and key lock systems to prevent unauthorized use are also among the features that help ensure users’ safety.
- Weight capacity – Heavier users may also want to consider the weight capacity when comparing stair elevators. Most stair lifts have a limit between 250 and 300 lbs., but this can vary by model and manufacturer, with some stair lifts being able to hold 400 lbs. or more.
- Chair/carriage – The element of the chair lift system with the most features and customizability is the chair or carriage. Stair lift buyers can frequently choose between sitting, standing, or platform lifts, customize the design with choice of finishes or upholstery, and add features like armrests, footrests, or slightly reclined seats for comfort and safety. Other features like seat boosts and swivel seats can help users get in and out of their chairs, while collapsible seats allow users to save space when the stair lift is not in use.
Choosing the right stair lift for the home and the customer’s needs is only one step in the shopping process. Once a customer has settled on their preferred model and features, the equipment will need to be installed properly. In some cases, simple stair lift setups can be installed as a DIY project to save money, but for more complicated installations like a curved stair lift or an outdoor stair lift, it is usually best to have a professional install the equipment.
Most dealers will be able to offer installation services along with the stair lift. In general, straight stair lifts are usually simple projects that should not require more than a few hours of work, while curved and outdoor lifts are more complicated and may require multiple days to install properly. Sellers may also vary on how the installation process affects the total cost. Some estimates may include installation costs, while others might not.
Another consideration is whether installation will require any additional work to the home. Some stair lift installations may need electrical work (e.g. wiring) or minor construction (e.g. work on walls or the staircase) for the staircase to be installed safely and properly. These costs may be separate from the installation costs of the stair lift.
Like any mechanical equipment, stair lifts will inevitably need service, repairs, or replacement parts through no fault of the owner. Because users depend on their stair lifts to get around, a broken stair lift can be a major inconvenience and even a potential safety hazard for a senior or disabled owner. This makes it important for stair lift customers to seek out a product with a strong warranty that allows for issues to be resolved quickly and at minimal or no cost to the user.
When evaluating a warranty, the important components to look for are what the warranty covers and the length of the warranty. Warranties may cover the cost of replacement parts like the motor or rail or the labor cost to diagnose and repair an issue, but preferably the warranty will include both. It is important to review the warranty policy to understand exactly what costs are eligible and under what circumstances. In terms of length, a 12-month warranty is a fairly common term and should be the bare minimum for coverage. However, some stair lift providers offer coverage for multiple years or even for life. Customers should look for a longer warranty to ensure maximum coverage.
Stair lifts are installed in part to support the safety and wellbeing of users who are elderly or have limited mobility, so it is important to purchase stair lifts from companies who offer a safe, reliable product. But stair lifts are a fairly rare purchase, so shoppers may not have a good sense of which companies have a strong reputation for delivering a quality product.
One way to gather this information is to consult online customer reviews. Other people’s direct experiences with particular manufacturers or products can be very instructive for prospective buyers, and some websites compile customer ratings and other input to make this easy to find. Another excellent source of information on companies’ reputations is the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau is an organization that rates businesses on an A+ to F scale based on their trustworthiness, responsiveness to customer concerns, and select other factors. All of the companies listed in this guide have strong reputations among their customers.
Stair Lift Prices & Installation Costs
The price of a stair lift in your home can vary substantially based on a number of factors. With the variety of designs and features available, along with the need to custom-fit and install certain models depending on your home’s layout, the best way to get accurate information about pricing is to speak with a dealer about your needs and preferences. However, this section of our guide will provide some information about the factors that contribute to stair lifts’ cost to give you a sense of what you might expect to pay.
How Much Does a Stair Lift Cost?
Stair lifts can be a fairly pricey purchase for the home, but in many cases they are also a worthwhile investment compared to some of the alternatives. The costs of installing a more expensive piece of equipment like a home elevator, relocating to a new single-level home, or moving to an assisted living facility can all easily exceed the financial costs of a stair lift installation. And even setting aside costs, these alternatives may not be as desirable as staying in a familiar, comfortable place.
While prices vary, the cost of a stair lift will generally start at around $2,000 for a simple, straight installation with few additional features. Most straight lifts can increase in cost up to around $5,000 with additional features and customization, and some high end models may approach $10,000. Outdoor lifts can start between $3,000 and $5,000 but will vary substantially based on the complexity of installation. For curved stair lifts with a custom design, prices will usually be upwards of $10,000, but base prices may be slightly lower.
Average Cost of a Stair Lift by Brand
Below is a sampling of what some leading stair lift companies advertise as their prices for typical or base-level models. Keep in mind that actual prices may be higher depending on the model chosen and installation costs.
|Brand||Straight Model||Curved Model||Outdoor|
How Much Do Stair Lifts Cost to Install?
The cost of stair lift equipment is just one component of the overall cost of a stair lift. One of the other significant expenses is installation. Companies may or may not include installation costs when offering a quote, but buyers should seek out this information because it can represent a significant chunk of what they end up paying.
Most estimates place the installation costs of a stair lift at between $1,000 and $5,000. As with the stair lift itself, these costs can vary based on the type of lift being installed: indoor straight stair lifts are relatively simple and may only require a few hours of labor, but a curved or outdoor lift may be more complicated to assemble and install.
Shoppers should also be aware that installation may require additional work on the home from a contractor or electrician to make sure that stair lifts can be installed properly and safely. This can also add to the final cost, but the amount is dependent on what work needs to be done in the home.
Factors That Affect the Price of Stair Lifts
The range of costs for a stair lift is fairly wide, and consumers’ choices for a potential stair lift installation will look different on a $3,000 budget versus a $15,000 budget. But every shopper wants to find a good value, so it is important to understand what factors contribute to the cost. Here are some of the key factors to keep in mind.
Most of the variation in a stair lift’s cost will come from features of the product itself. Below are some of the key components that affect a stair lift’s price:
- Type of stair lift – As covered previously in the guide, one of the major differences between stair lift prices is the type of stair lift being purchased. As a rule, straight stair lifts cost the least, curved stair lifts cost the most, and outdoor lifts fall somewhere in between (but can change depending on their own straight or curved layout). These differences have to do with the cost of designing, customizing, and assembling more complicated chair lift installations.
- Add-on features and customization – Most manufacturers offer a simple base model, but additional features are available to better match the stair lift to the user’s needs and preferences. Some common features that may increase the cost of a stair lift include narrower profiles, higher weight limits, folding/retractable segments, custom finishes or upholstery, and comfort features like armrests and footrests.
- New vs. pre-owned vs. rented – One way that homeowners may be able to see savings on the cost of a stair lift is to seek out a pre-owned or rented lift rather than a new one, which will tend to be more expensive. Pre-owned stair lifts can usually be purchased for a smaller portion of what a new lift would cost without a major drop-off in condition or quality. For installations that may not be needed long-term (e.g. for a temporary living arrangement or injury), paying costs to rent rather than own may be less expensive overall. It is worth noting, however, that pre-owned and rented stair lifts are typically only available in straight versions and often don’t come with warranties.
As mentioned earlier, most estimates place the cost of installing a stair lift at between $1,000 and $5,000. While an experienced installer will be able to give you the most accurate figure for your home, you can generally expect short, straight stair lift installations to be less costly, while a curved staircase or stairs that have an unusual width or slope will be on the more expensive side. You should also consult with an installer to find out if you will need additional work like carpentry, electric, or masonry to ensure that your stair lift can be installed properly.
Medicare Coverage and Financing Assistance
One common question that many stair lift shoppers have is whether the Medicare program, which provides public health insurance for residents 65 and over, will cover the cost of purchasing and installing stair lifts for seniors. Medicare offers assistance for some forms of medical equipment, but unfortunately, in most cases, stair lifts for the eldery do not qualify.
One potential exception is if you have Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage program, which relies on private health insurers to provide Medicare benefits. Within the last few years, the federal government updated regulations in a way that may allow Medicare Advantage programs to offer supplemental health benefits that help individuals manage chronic illness. Some experts believe this will make it possible to fund stair lifts with Medicare Advantage.
While Medicare is not an option for many, other forms of assistance may be available for stair lift shoppers. Depending on the state, Medicaid or state assistive technology programs may provide reimbursement or low-cost loans that help reduce the costs.
Finally, stair lift companies themselves may offer installment financing programs to help manage the cost of a stair lift. While shoppers will still bear the full cost of a stair lift, these installments can spread out the cost of the equipment and installation over time to avoid a major expense upfront.
The Best Stair Lift Companies
Stannah (Best Stair Lift Company Overall)
Stannah has been around for more than 150 years, with its stair lift product line dating back to the 1970s. This makes Stannah one of the oldest and most experienced companies in the stair lift market, boasting more than 750,000 stair lifts installed and a well-regarded selection of straight, curved, and outdoor stair lifts for seniors.
- Fast and simple installation included in price
- Excellent warranty and repair service
- Strong track record and company reputation
- Base prices tend to be higher than competing brands
- Intensive quote process
Like most other stair lift companies, Stannah’s selection includes straight, curved, and outdoor stair lifts. Stannah has three straight product lines (Starla, Siena, and Siena One), three curved products (Starla, Siena, and Sadler), and one outdoor product. The most popular of these lines are the Siena, which is the more basic model with fewer options for customization, and the Starla line, which has more additional features and cosmetic options. Some of the additional features available include custom seats and upholstery, key locks, landing controls, folding seats and armrests, retractable rails, and a standing stair lift in the form of the Sadler model.
Stannah’s pricing tends to be higher than that for many competitors; however, they do usually include installation. Straight stair lifts start at around $3,400, outdoor stair lifts begin at around $5,000, and curved stair lifts cost around $8,500 on the low end. However, interested shoppers will need to contact Stannah for a customized quote to get accurate pricing information for their stair lift. The quote involves a Stannah representative coming to the home to evaluate the stairs, discuss the user’s mobility needs, and explain the differences between Stannah’s various products.
One advantage of Stannah is its easy, straightforward installation process. Stannah advertises that its average installation takes only 4 hours, and installation is scheduled as soon as you order a stair lift, so you can get your new equipment set up quickly and with minimal disruption to the home. Stannah stair lift installers also give the home’s residents a demonstration to ensure they understand how the lift works.
Stannah also has a strong warranty offering for customers buying directly from the company rather than a dealer. Stannah offers a lifetime warranty covering parts and labor for the motor, gearbox, and rail and a limited warranty for two years on all other stair lift components. Warranty holders also have access to a priority call-out service for service and repairs, drawing on a network of technicians nationwide. These features give buyers the assurance that they will be able to have most issues resolved quickly and easily.
With its focus on quality customer service for installation and maintenance, it should be little surprise that Stannah also has a strong reputation with customers. Stannah is a Better Business Bureau-accredited business with an A+ rating, suggesting that the company meets rigorous standards for fairness and transparency in its interactions with customers.
While Stannah does have higher prices than many competitors, they deliver excellent value with customizable features, installation, excellent warranty and service, and reliability. These factors make Stannah our choice as the Best Overall Stair Lift.
Harmar (Best Stair Lift for Seniors)
Harmar is a one-stop shop for accessibility and mobility equipment, with chair lifts for stairs, vehicle lifts, platform lifts, ramps, and other equipment available to support independent living. Its stair lifts are noteworthy for their safety features and reliability, making them an excellent choice for eldery users..
- Varied product types to meet different needs and preferences
- Excellent safety features standard on most models
- Great reputation with customers
- Warranty terms on some products not very strong
- Little pricing information available online
Harmar offers four different straight stair lifts (SL 600, SL 300, SL 600 HD, SL 350 AC), one curved product, the CSL 500, and one outdoor stair lift, the SL 350 OD. Among the straight stair lifts, the SL 300 is the most economical option, with a compact design and fairly limited need for maintenance; the SL 350 AC relies on AC power rather than being battery operable; and the SL 600 and SL 600 HD lines offer the most customizability and highest quality features. Weight capacity ranges from 250 to 350 lbs. on most models, with the SL 600 HD able to accommodate up to 600 lbs. Harmar’s options across weight capacity, power sources, and features make for a strong lineup of products.
All of Harmar’s products have excellent features for ensuring users’ safety. All of the products include obstruction sensors, pressure sensors, brakes, and cutoff switches that can automatically or manually stop the stair lift in case of an issue. Harmar also has automatic retractable rails on some models that eliminate tripping hazards in the home and key locks to prevent unauthorized use.
Harmar does not list pricing information online, so you will need to speak directly to a representative from the company to learn what each product might cost you. That said, customers can expect the starting cost of a straight Harmar stair lift to be around $2,500, an outdoor stair lift to be $3,500, and a curved stair lift to be between $10,000 and $12,000. These prices tend to be in line with if not a little better than many competitors.
Harmar’s warranty varies by the product selected. Some of the different warranties include a parts warranty for three years (SL 350 AC and SL 350 OD), two to three years on parts and 10 years on the gear rack (SL 300 and SL 600 HD), and limited lifetime coverage (CSL 500 and SL 600). Because of these differences across model types, it will be worth reviewing the specific terms of each with a dealer or sales representative before proceeding.
Finally, Harmar boasts a strong customer reputation. With 24 years in business, Harmar has a good track record for stair lifts and other mobility products, and the Better Business Bureau gives Harmar an A+ for its interactions with customers.
Shoppers’ experiences with Harmar are likely to depend on the model they choose due to the variety of products and how that affects other factors like pricing and warranty. However, one strong and consistent attribute of all Harmar’s stair lifts is an array of features to make each stair lift safe in the home, whether it is in use or not. This makes Harmar our pick as the Best Chair Lift for Seniors and the Best for Safety Features.
Handicare (Best Design)
Handicare is a well-regarded, leading provider of stair lifts and other accessibility and mobility solutions worldwide. With a variety of stair lift types and other mobility products, Handicare is a trusted company for ensuring that elderly individuals and others with more limited mobility have the ability to maximize the use of their homes.
- Highly customizable design features
- Fairly strong product warranties
- Strong reputation with customers
- Lower maximum weight capacity than some other companies
- Offers less transparent pricing than certain competitors
Handicare’s product line includes three straight stair lifts (the 1000, 1100, and Xclusive), two curved stair lifts (2000 and Freecurve), and two outdoor stair lifts (1000 and 2000). The Freecurve curved model is a particularly notable design, using a single tube rail that allows for the stair lift to be fitted onto particularly tight curves. All Handicare stair lifts have swivel seats, safety sensors, battery power, and weight capacities between 250 and 440 lbs. Each of these models also has additional features available to customize the product to the user’s preferences and conditions within the home.
One area where Handicare distinguishes itself is design. Handicare offers more aesthetic and design options than most other stair lift providers. Many of the products have customized seat types (including standing seats), multiple upholstery types and color choices, and options to adjust seat height, width, and depth. Handicare’s innovative designs also include sleek rails (some of which can be color-matched) that make their products a more visually appealing addition to the home.
Handicare does not list pricing information by model on its website, but their straight stair lifts range from $2,500 to $5,000 and their curved stair lifts cost between $8,000 and $15,000 on average. When you reach out to Handicare, you can schedule a free in-home consultation to evaluate your needs and learn more about the benefits of each particular Handicare product.
Handicare installation is in line with typical practices for the industry. Handicare estimates that a straight stair lift installation will take around 4 hours, with curved installations taking about 6 hours on average. Handicare’s stair lifts mount directly to the stairs, which minimizes mess and disruption in the home during installation. Installers will explain how to operate the stair lift and leave behind a user manual and customer service contact information.
When compared to other companies, Handicare offers strong warranty protection. Original purchasers are warranted that lifts will be free of defects in materials and workmanship for two years from date of purchase and that the motor and gearbox will be free of defects for 10 years, which Handicare estimates to be the life of its products. For outdoor stair lifts, the warranty only extends to five years.
In terms of reputation, Handicare has a stellar record. The Better Business Bureau recently accredited Handicare and currently rates it as an A+ business, and most customer and third-party reviews also rate Handicare’s products highly.
Handicare is an excellent option overall, with a good variety of products and features, strong warranty, and good reputation. But one of Handicare’s unique benefits is that they understand that stair lifts should have visual appeal in the home as well as functional benefits. Their quality designs and customizable choices for seat style and materials make Handicare our recommendation as the Best-Designed Stair Lifts.
AmeriGlide (Most Affordable Stair Lift)
AmeriGlide is one of the market’s leading providers of accessibility and mobility equipment for the home. For more than 15 years, AmeriGlide has distinguished itself by offering a variety of high-quality products at competitive prices.
- Impressive product variety
- Transparent pricing with models at many different price points
- Allows some models to be self-installed for further savings
- High costs for customization and shipping on curved models
- Warranty not as strong as some competitors’
AmeriGlide offers a total of 12 different stair lift models, with seven different varieties of indoor straight stair lifts, three curved models, and two outdoor models. This includes both battery-powered and AC electric-powered lifts with a variety of drive trains. Most of the models can accommodate up to 350 lbs. (with the Harmar Pinnacle holding up to 600 lbs.) with minimum seat widths ranging from 17.7 in. to 24 in. Additional features include swivel seats, flip-up seats, flip-up armrests, safety sensors, and key locks, depending on the specific model.
In addition to its strong selection of stair lifts, AmeriGlide also offers platform lifts and home elevators, along with other products to improve accessibility and mobility in the home including scooters, walk-in tubs, and bath and pool lifts. This makes AmeriGlide a convenient option for comparing different alternatives and complementary equipment to maximize use of the home.
AmeriGlide has transparent pricing information available on its website. Among its selection of straight stair lifts, AmeriGlide’s most affordable model, the Horizon Plus, starts at $1,894, and its most expensive, the UP Stairlift, starts at $8,995. Curved models start at $8,614 for the Platinum Curved Stairlift and can go up to $10,131 for the Rave Curved HD Stair Lift. And for outdoor lifts, AmeriGlide offers the $2,850 Horizon Plus outdoor model and the $3,695 Outdoor Deluxe. However, shipping is not included in these base prices, and on the curved models, this cost will usually be at least $3,000. AmeriGlide also guarantees the lowest price for its products: if a shopper finds a lower price for a particular model/configuration elsewhere, AmeriGlide will match the price and offer an additional 10% discount. AmeriGlide also has pre-owned equipment available and offers financing to spread out the cost of a purchase.
One appealing feature of AmeriGlide’s selection is that certain models can be self-installed. Only straight stair lifts fall under this category, but for those who need a straight lift, this can help save on the overall cost of obtaining and installing the equipment. Unfortunately, however, AmeriGlide’s pricing does not include basic installation on those models that cannot be self-installed, so shoppers should expect to pay more for certain models when those costs are factored in.
AmeriGlide stair lifts come with a limited warranty for both new and used stair lifts. The warranty on a new model covers defects in materials and workmanship for 30 days on batteries, two years on component parts, and five years for the drivetrain. For a used stair lift, the warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship for three years on the drivetrain and one year on all other components. It is important to note that these warranties do not cover labor costs.
AmeriGlide is a strong choice overall, with enough options among its product lines to meet a variety of needs. This also means that AmeriGlide offers products at a variety of price points, and the availability of pre-owned equipment and the option to self-install on some models can produce even more savings. These qualities make AmeriGlide our choice as the Best Stair Lift Company for Affordability.
Bruno (Best Chair Lift for Narrow Stairs)
Bruno is one of the top-selling stair lift providers in the country. The Wisconsin-based company engineers and manufactures all its products in the U.S. and has served the accessibility and mobility market for 35 years.
- Simple and straightforward product options
- High-quality design and manufacturing processes, including vertical rails
- Fast installation
- Custom manufacturing makes curved stair lifts more expensive
- Warranty not available for pre-owned models
Bruno has a simple but strong product line, offering straight and curved stair lifts for indoor or outdoor settings in two models: the more budget-friendly Elan and the premium-quality Elite. Elan models are Bruno’s better-selling line, with a more affordable price point and a weight capacity up to 300 lbs. The Elite line can hold users up to 400 lbs. and also offers features like additional colors and adjustable seat width and footrest heights. However, both lines include options for features including swivel seats, powered and manual folding rails, and folding footrests.
Bruno sets itself apart from the competition with some key differences in design and manufacture. One example is that Bruno’s stair lifts use a vertical rail rather than a horizontal rail common in many other stair lifts. This has several advantages. Functionally, a vertical rail has a narrower footprint and can be installed closer to the wall, which saves space on the staircase. The vertical orientation also does a better job of keeping dirt, grease, and other potential obstructions out of the equipment, which is better for the life of the stair lift, and also allows for a sleek appearance. Another plus for Bruno is that their curved stair lifts are custom-manufactured rather than modular, which ensures a perfect fit designed specifically for the owner’s home.
Shoppers can request a quote from Bruno for specific pricing information. However, Bruno’s website states that Elan straight stair lift models start at around $3,500, while curved models can be between $10,000 and $12,000. It is worth noting that Bruno’s custom-manufactured curved stair lifts will tend to be more expensive than stair lifts from other companies with modular products, but shoppers may decide that the improvements in product quality are worth the additional cost.
Installation with Bruno is a fast and simple process. Straight stair lift installations can take as little as 2–3 hours, while curved installations take around 4–5 hours, and installers will help explain how to use the equipment before they leave the home. Installation is not included in Bruno’s base prices, so customers should be prepared for additional costs.
Bruno’s warranty offers lifetime coverage for the motor, gearbox, and rail for the original owner, along with a two-year warranty on other components and 30 days of coverage for manufacturing defects. One downside of Bruno’s warranty is that coverage is not available for pre-owned equipment, so shoppers will need to buy new to receive the benefits of Bruno’s warranty.
Bruno is one of the market leaders in terms of units sold, and it also carries a strong reputation with good customer reviews. Bruno is also a Better Business Bureau-accredited company carrying an A+ rating for its fair dealings with customers.
Bruno offers a variety of strong features that make it an appealing choice, including its stellar reputation, quality manufacturing processes, and fast installation. However, Bruno is our pick as the Best Stair Lift for Narrow Stairs because of its vertical rail design that helps reduce the footprint of the stair lift.
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