Stair chair lifts are giving people back their mobility and their home. But deciding on what is the best stair lift for your needs isn't that easy. Not all residential models offer the same features and the price variation between brands can be enormous. What follows are stairlift ratings of the most popular brands.
Summit Stair Lift
The Summit stair lift is for those on a limited budget. It has been designed to offer basic functionality that is reliable. The Summit is still powered by AC mains electricity. Just about every manufacturer uses DC 24 volt rechargeable batteries. Battery powered stair chair lifts are better because they offer smoother starts and stops, are easy to install as there's no wiring, are safer than mains and the lift can still be operated during power outages. The Summit also uses an outmoded cable system to pull the carriage along the track. The cable used in them by Summit is aircraft cable and is rated at 4,200 lbs, so there is no danger of breakage.
The Summit does come with basic safety control. The footrest has a sensor that will immediately stop the chair should it encounter any object on the stairs. You also get a seatbelt. What you won't get with a Summit stair lift are sensors on the actual carriage itself, so an object on the track will not stop the chair. The control panels are not wireless either, they are wall mounted.
The Summit chair lift is a product that will transport the user up and down the stairs - though not in any great style. It is a workhorse and has been proven to be reliable with surprising little maintenance even though it employs old technology.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Acorn Stair Lift
Acorn stair lifts, like Summit, can only be used on a straight staircase. Unlike a Summit lift, the Acorn is a more sophisticated machine. The Acorn Superglide stair lift is a battery powered rack and pinion system. This is the industry norm. The rechargeable battery pack gives a smooth start and stop and the rack and pinion drive ensures a smooth ride overall. The Acorn comes with two wireless remote controls with send/call functionality. There is also a mechanical joystick to control the stair chair lift - the toggle overrides the remote controls.
You can also buy the Acorn Superglide outdoor stair lift. Interestingly, Acorn also makes a perch stair lift for those who find sitting uncomfortable or impossible. The Acorn Perch can also be used on narrower staircases. The Superglide Perch by Acorn comes with a 'wander lead' control which can be positioned to allow maximum comfort and ease of operation.
The Acorn stair lift would suit the requirements of the majority and is an excellent one.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Bruno Stair Lift
Few manufacturers make curved stair lifts. This is because they lack the expertise. Bruno is a company that does have this expertise. Bruno is ISO-9001 certified, which is the most stringent and widely recognized quality standards in the world.
Bruno makes not just one straight stairlift but four; 3 home stair and 1 outdoor lift. Each home from Bruno offers a heap of features that come as standard. The Electra-Ride Elite is its top model. It comes with 5 surfaces fitted with safety sensors, on both the footrest and carriage. It has an overspeed safety brake, retractable seat belts, and wireless remote controls and it can carry up to 400lbs. The seat height can be adjusted from 19" to 24 1/2" and the footrest can be adjusted too to give maximum comfort. The rail protrudes 5" from the skirting - the industry norm is about 8".
The Bruno Electra-Ride III Curved Rail can be installed on just about any staircase, no matter how much it curves. It can carry up to 350 lbs and an optional wrap-around "park" position is designed to save room and make using it that much easier.
The Bruno stair lift is one of the best on the market and remains very popular.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Stannah Stair Lift
Stannah is a UK stair lift manufacturer that now ships to over 40 countries. In my opinion this is the best stair lift you can buy. They recently released the Stannah 120 with Solia and Solus models. The stair chair lifts were designed in partnership with one of Europe's leading design agencies and it shows. The Solus has a real contemporary look while the Solia appeals to the more traditional user. Not only do these lifts look good but they are probably the most technically advanced on the market. They can be used on stairs with an inclination of 52 degrees - just about everyone else in the industry can only manage 45 degrees. Also, they have developed a unique and innovative twin rack system for the track. Not only does it look stylish but it only protrudes the skirting by 3.7" making a Stannah ideal for steep or narrow staircases.
The other features that come with it can match and out do anything else on the market. For instance, the Stannah chair lift can be supplied with a motorized swivel chair - fantastic for those will severe mobility problems. No other manufacturer offers this.
The Stannah stair chair lift is the Rolls Royce of the industry.
Rating: I'd like to give it 5 out of 5 but nothing is perfect, so I'll settle for 4.99 out of 5.