7 Important Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Stairlift

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Tue Oct 04 2022.

7 Important Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Stairlift

If you or someone who you care for has limited mobility, climbing up and down stairs can be a real challenge. When combined with balance issues and/or underlying health problems, moving between floors may even increase your risk of accidents, like a slip and fall. 

You can’t prevent injuries entirely, but taking steps to make your home safer can provide peace of mind. Case in point: the stairlift. A custom stairlift can increase your independence and improve your quality of life. But what should you consider when buying one?

To get some more information about stairlifts and stairlift installation, we reached out to Shane and Jim Campbell. Jim is the CEO and Shane is the business development manager at Options HME. The company is based in Highland, Illinois, and has more than 15 years of experience installing stairlifts (indoor, outdoor, straight, and curved) from multiple manufacturers. 

Below, we highlight 7 important things to consider BEFORE purchasing a stairlift.

Factors To Consider When Purchasing a Stairlift

Before you contact a company about stairlift installation, there are several important factors to consider, including:

1) You or your care recipient’s physical abilities

“Using a stairlift requires some level of mobility,” Jim Campbell said. “At minimum, a user needs to be able to sit in the stairlift and exit it once they’ve reached the other end of the stairs. For a wheelchair user, this will require moving from the wheelchair to the stairlift seat and then back to the wheelchair. As a result, having assistance greatly increases the usability of a stairlift.”

2) Cost

There are many different types of stairlifts and stairlift add-ons, so it’s important to shop around.

“Compare the cost against your alternative options,” Shane Campbell said. “While the upfront cost may seem significant, it’s often considerably less expensive than moving or investing in nursing home care. Additionally, many dealers offer payment installments or financing options to reduce the financial burden.”

To get a feel for the various options available, request a quote from at least three companies. Then, you can compare and contrast.

3) Timeframe

How long do you plan on using the stairlift? 

“If you hope to continue living in your home for many more years, buying a stairlift might be a good long-term solution,” Jim Campbell said. “However, if you view the stairlift as a temporary solution and plan on downsizing in the future, you might be better off finding a dealer that offers stairlift rentals.” 

That way, if you end up moving into an assisted living facility or a smaller home, you won’t be out of the cost of installation.

4) Weight capacity

The stairlift that you install needs to be strong enough to support the weight of your entire body.

“Stairlifts have a specific weight capacity,” said Shane Campbell. “For most stairlift models, this is in the 300-350 pound range. But there are models capable of carrying up to 600 pounds. We recommend choosing a model that has at least 50 pounds of extra capacity.”

If you or your care recipient are bariatric, it’s crucial to take weight into account. A stairlift without the proper weight rating may increase the risk of accidents and injuries.

5) The dimensions of your stairway

No two stairways have the exact same design or number of steps.

Still, “27 inches wide is about as narrow as a stairway can be and still have a stairlift installed, Jim Campbell said. 

“This ensures there’s enough room for the user's knees when seated. Pro tip: Remember to take the handrails into consideration when taking the initial measurements.”

6) Add-ons and Features

 Stairlifts are like cars and computers in that you can add on various features to customize them. Options HME suggests considering four add-ons, in particular, including:

Folding rails. “These arm rails fold out of the way, so they don’t extend past the end of the stairs, eliminating potential tripping hazards,” Shane Campbell said.

Key locks. A key lock prevents children and/or other unauthorized users from accessing the stairlift.

Power seat swivel. This feature is particularly beneficial for wheelchair users. It rotates the seat on the stairlift with the push of a button. 

Power folding footrest. The power folding footrest makes trips up or down the stairs even more comfortable. One press of a button folds the foot rest up or down.

7) Research the stairlift manufacturer and installer

Last but certainly not least, take the time to find and research a reputable stairlift company.

“Unfortunately, there are some companies who try to take advantage of customers,” Josh Campbell said. “We recommend going beyond just the Better Business Bureau rating and reading reviews on places such as Google reviews and Yelp. If you feel like a company is pressuring you into buying, take your business elsewhere.” 

Buying A Stairlift Is a Big Decision; Take Your Time

If you or a loved one has mobility issues, a stairlift can help you maintain your routine and reduce the risk of injuries. You might even be able to stay in your own home without downsizing or moving into an assisted living facility.

Nonetheless, it’s crucial you partner with professionals. 

“Every home is different, so an installation video or instruction book may not provide the small details that make an installation go smoothly and provide the safest lift,” Shane Campbell said. 

“A stairlift is supposed to make a stairway safer, but an improper installation can be dangerous and impact the reliability of the lift.”

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.