How does a stair lift work?
It is important to note that stairlifts mount directly into your staircase, not the wall.  This makes them extra sturdy, while also ensuring that they are compatible  [Best Stairlift] with nearly any staircase, regardless of whether it has walls or banisters on either side.  The chair runs along a railing, which is attached to your staircase with a mount on every few steps, depending on how steep your staircase is.  Your stairlift will need to be plugged in – it requires a standard wall outlet, the same as you would plug a lamp into, within 6 feet of the top or bottom of the staircase (depending on the model).

What if I lose power?
Most stairlifts are equipped with a backup battery – if you live in an area that is prone to power outages, be sure to request a unit with a backup battery!  Depending on the model of stair lift, the battery may charge anywhere along the rail, or in a designated position at the top or bottom.  As long as the chair is in the proper position, the unit will charge anytime it is not in use.  In the case of a power outage, a fully charged unit will continue to run for anywhere from 40-60 round trips (that’s up AND down the stairs) before needing to be charged again.

My staircase is complicated – will a stair lift fit?
For the large majority of households, the answer is yes! There are two main types of stairlifts: straight rail, and custom curved rail.  The straight rail variations are perfect for stairs that don’t have any turns, curves, or landings along the way.  

My staircase is outside… are they weather-proof?
Yes!  There are outdoor versions of both straight and custom stairlifts available.  The outdoor units are weatherproof, and typically come with a seat cover so you don’t have to worry about the seat getting wet or dirty when not in use.  They are specifically made to withstand UV light, rain, and even freezing temperatures.  Outdoor stairlifts are typically a little more expensive than their indoor counterparts. They are great options when you don’t have the space required for a ramp.

What is the weight capacity?
Most standard units have a weight capacity around 300 lbs.  However, there are many options available with weight capacities between 400 and 600 lbs.  If the end user is close to or above 300 lbs, or if the user plans on carrying heavy items like groceries with them on the stair lift, be sure to ask about units with higher weight capacities.  In addition to a higher weight capacity, the heavy duty lifts often come with wider seats to ensure a comfortable ride.

Will the stairlift get in the way when I try to walk up the stairs?
Stairlifts typically only take up about one to two feet of space on the staircase, depending on the make and model.  When not in use, the seat bottom, arm rests, and foot rest can all be folded up to create even more space for others to use the stairs.  Stairlifts also come with a call / send button that can be used to send the chair to a more convenient location at the top or bottom of the stairs when not in use.

My staircase is narrow – will the stairlift fit?
Modern homes are built with staircases that are plenty wide for stairlifts.  However, if you have an older home, you may have a particularly narrow staircase.  In these cases, the required width is determined based on the height of the individual who will be using the stairlift.  To determine how much space you need, have the user sit in a standard kitchen chair and measure the distance from his back to his knees, then add about 12″ – this will tell you how much space is required to ensure that his knees are not hitting the wall while on the stairlift.

Will my insurance / Medicare pay for it?
Unfortunately, insurance and Medicare typically do not pay for stairlifts.  However, many states do offer Medicaid waivers that will pay for stairlifts for qualifying individuals.  For veterans, many VA facilities can provide either partial or full funding for the cost of home improvements related to accessibility.  Additionally, if your doctor writes you a prescription for a stair lift, many states allow the seller to waive sales tax which can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Stair Lift FAQ