To buy and install a stair lift has become a popular choice for many handicapped or disabled people or for those who just find if difficult or tiring to walk up and down stairs. But deciding to buy one is the easy part; deciding on what is the best stair lift to buy is the hard part.
Prices vary greatly but don't make the mistake of buying the cheapest you can find. You should buy one that uses modern technology, has the features you want and comes with a good warranty.
But what to look for when buying a stair chair lift?
First, you should make sure that it uses modern technology and design. You should really only buy one that uses a rack and pinion system to pull the chair and it should also be powered by DC 24 volt rechargeable batteries. Older versions used a cable to pull the chair up and down the track. However, a cable system doesn't give the user the smoothest ride and you have the issue of the moving cable that is continuously being wound in and out as the chair travels along the track; a moving cable will suffer wear and tear and will need replacing at a future date.
Also, older lifts used mains AC electricity. This means that it needs an electrician to carry out the wiring. Modern stair chair lifts are powered by rechargeable batteries. This not only makes installation much easier but it's also safer as there is no possibility of someone being electrocuted when using the chair.
Most manufacturers of stair lifts like Bruno and Acorn make rack and pinion battery powered stair chair lifts. Summit stair lifts continue to make cable and mains powered unit.
The arms should lift up to allow easy access to the chair. The seat and foot rest should also be foldable so that when not in use, there is ample room for others to use the stairs.
Just about all models come with safety belts. But you should decide whether you want retractable inertia seat beats or 3-point fixed shoulder belts - not all stair lift suppliers fit these types.
Make sure the unit you buy comes with two wireless call/send remote controls.
As well as remote controls you need to decide on what other controls you need. Controls are usually fitted on the armrest and should always override the remote control. The most common types of controls are pressure rocker switches (the user must keep it pushed down when using) and a joystick. You must decide on what control type best suits your requirements.
Pay close attention as to what safety systems come as standard. There should be at least a footrest sensor to stop the chair if an obstacle is encountered on the stairs. Bruno stair lifts come with 5 sensor surfaces on the footrest and carriage, so that any obstacle encountered on either the stairs or the track will stop the chair.
A stair chair lift should come with governors to slow the carriage from travelling over a certain speed or will stop it completely if anything breaks.
What weight will the stair chair need to carry? Most, like the Acorn Superglide Stair Lift, can carry a maximum of 300 lbs whereas the Bruno Electra-Ride Stair Lift can carry 350 lbs.
You should check out the seat and determine if it can be adjusted (along with the footrest) so you feel comfortable when using it.
Finally, find out what warranties the supplier provides. Also, what after sales service is provided? Ideally you should find a dealer that provide 24/7 telephone support.
Installing a stair chair lift can greatly improve one's quality of life. But installing one that doesn't best serve you can be detrimental to your quality of life. Take your time when choosing a unit and carry out as much research as you can before buying.