What Is a Stair Lift?
At its most basic definition, a stair lift is a chair on a rail that runs up a staircase, enabling an older adult to travel between floors of a home safely.
There are a number of different types of stair lifts, in addition to add-ons and configuration, but the premise is the same across the board. Let’s take a look at the different types of stair lifts on the market today.
Straight Rail Stair Lifts
A straight rail stair lift is the most common type of stair lift on the market because it’s designed for the types of stairs most common in homes. With a straight rail stair lift, the rail is attached to the treads of the stairs by legs and are spaced approximately a foot apart. One thing to keep in mind with straight rail stair lifts is that the railing doesn’t rely on wall installation, so there isn’t any risk to the structure of the home when they’re installed. There are a number of seat and power options with straight rail stair lifts, which I’ll cover more later on.
Curved Rail Stair Lifts
It’s a common misconception that a stair lift needs to be built on a straight line. With a curved rail stair lift, the rail is mapped to the unique curvature of a staircase; as a result, however, the planning and installation process can be a bit more expensive since it requires more unique customization and a potentially longer rail. The important thing to remember is that there is likely a stair lift option available even for curved or otherwise atypical staircases.
Wheelchair or Platform Stair Lifts
While not the most common in residential homes, due to the amount of space they require, wheelchair or platform stair lifts take the standard seat-style stair lift but add enough room for a wheelchair to be carried up stairs. These stair lifts can necessitate more power than traditional curved or straight rail stair lifts as well, and are therefore most common in commercial buildings, hospitals, or assisted living facilities and nursing homes. They can also be significantly more costly, compared to more common residential stair lifts.
Outdoor Stair Lifts
An outdoor stair lift can take the form of any of the other stair lift types we just mentioned. They can be installed to accommodate wheelchairs, curved staircases, or simply go up a straight staircase. The main difference is that outdoor stair lifts require weather-proofing measures to shield the power supply (as well as the chair surface or platform) from the elements. Once again, outdoor stair lifts come with a higher price tag for these considerations, and as a result are not often seen in residential properties.