Stair lifts are usually a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. If you are shopping for a stair lift, chances are you have many questions. Most shoppers are looking to find the right lift to help a family member get up and down the stairs. There are several types of lifts and hundreds of stair lift dealers. Here are some general hints:
1) If you are thinking a certain dealer, brand or model stair lift might be right for you, do a web search for “X complaints.” Just substitute the stairlift brand for “X”, such as “Brand X stair lift complaints.” Adding the word “complaints” will bring the negative out into the light.
2) All stair lifts sold in America today mount on the stairs. None of them mount on the walls. They all have safety features so that if you run into something, they will stop. The safety features on stair lifts are very similar across the board.
3) There is no such thing as a “battery back up” stair lift. Stairlifts are either AC or DC. AC units tend to be noisier, bulkier and more industrial looking than DC stair chair lifts. You will typically find AC machines in churches, public and commercial settings. If you are shopping for an AC powered lift, ask for one that relays instead of computer circuits.
4) DC powered electric chair lifts run on their batteries when they are operating. They recharge themselves automatically when they are parked. Most DC lifts must be parked on specific charging points to properly recharge. If the batteries do not recharge properly, your stair lift is as useful as a lead balloon. Some modern lifts, like the Sterling 950, can be parked anywhere along the track. If you are shopping for a DC powered stair lift, ask if it has “continuous charging”
5) There are two basic track types. The drum and cable type of track is very rugged but tends to take up a lot of space. This type of stair lift is typical of products hat were designed and built in the 1960-1990 era. They are heavy and take up a large amount of space. They are not very compact. People that walk up and down the stair case are often bothered by the size of these machines.
The other track type is a rack and pinion design. The track is usually aluminum and has a hardened steel gear rack. The motor of the chair has a pinion gear that turns and causes the lift to go up or down. Rack and Pinion systems are much quieter than the drum and cable. They also give the user a smoother ride. That’s all I have for today. Look for more articles in my Stair Lift and Wheelchair ramp series.