There is a growing trend for customers to buy a home stair lift and to install it themselves. This trend is encouraged by many dealers who sell residential stair lifts - especially via the internet - as they imply that installation is child's play, will save the customer money and is what most customers want anyway. However many organizations are concerned about self-installation of stair chair lifts.
The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has warned that many disabled people are putting their lives at risk by DIY installation of home stair lifts. BHTA director general Ray Hodgkinson thinks DIY stairlifts are "an accident waiting to happen".
Many disabled people are on low incomes and believe that they will save money by installing a stair chair lift by themselves. But they are warned that they might be saving money in the short term but they will pay in the long term.
David Jenkins, a product safety advisor for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents backs this advice. He says: "The implications of getting it wrong would not only be financial."There could be serious injury or even death."
In the US this concern has been expressed by the AMEA (Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer's Association). The AMEA states that no individual can know whether they have properly installed a home stair lift unless they have received expert training. The average consumer will also be unaware of conformance requirements with both local and national codes; in many localities, the codes referenced are the ASME A17.1, the A18.1, and the NFPA70 (National Electrical Code). Finally, the AMEA, points out that the customer could be breaking the law. If the stair chair lift requires any wiring to the mains supply, many states prohibit this unless it is carried out by a qualified technician.
Stair lifts may look simple but they are complex machines using the latest technology; only someone with the required training can confidently install one.
Another reason why many dealers prefer customers to self install a home stair lift is because there is no come back if things go wrong. The dealer can always throw up his hands and put the blame solely on incorrect installation. Many customers are negating many warranties when they install a stair lift by themselves.
The elderly and the disabled are often seen as easy victims - especially by internet traders. A good tip is to only deal with suppliers who insist that they carry out the installation. This, not only shows that the supplier cares about his customers' safety, it will also protect the customer in the long term should anything go wrong with the stair lift.
Buying a home stair lift is expensive. But a stair lift can usually be fitted in a matter of a few hours by an experienced installer; therefore the cost of installation, compared to the overall cost, is quite small.