Stair Lifts: The 2020 Ultimate Stairlift Guide
A stair lift is a battery powered, motorized chair that glides up and down a staircase on a rail mounted to the stair treads. Stair lifts can be installed indoors and outdoors in homes, churches, and other public buildings where permitted. Although, they are most popular for people with limited mobility that can no longer safely use the stairs at home. The typical user is able to stand, sit, and pivot with little to no assistance.
According to an AARP survey, 90% of seniors prefer to remain at home as they age rather than moving to an assisted living facility. However, aging, injuries, and illnesses can make it difficult and unsafe to navigate stairs alone. When installed in conjunction with other home modifications, a stair lift can allow you to remain in the home you know and love. And as the overall American population continues to age, stair lifts are becoming more popular – making them widely available at affordable prices, especially when comparing the monthly cost of assisted living facilities or retirement homes.
So how do you decide if a stair lift is the right solution for you or your loved one? This Lifeway Mobility Stair Lift Guide has all the answers you’ll need to find the best stair lift for you or your family member.
In This GuideUse the links to jump to the topic(s) you are interested in, or simply scroll down to start reading.
- Who Are the Most Common Stair Lift Users?
- Stair Lift Basics
- Stair Lift Benefits
- Types of Stair Lifts
- Commonly Added Stair Lift Options
- Are Stair Lifts Safe for Me?
- Stair Lift Pricing / How Much does a Stair Lift Cost?
- Stair Lift Warranties
- How Do I Pay for a Stair Lift?
- Should I Buy a New, Used, or Rental?
- How to Choose the Best Stair Lift Company
- Buying Online & DIY
- Comparing Stair Lifts
- How Does the Buying Process Work?
- Service & Maintenance
- About Lifeway Mobility
- Download Bruno Stair Lift Brochures
Who Are the Most Common Stair Lift Users?
A stair lift can be a great home safety solution in many situations, but listed below are those can benefit the most from the installation of a stair lift:
- An ambulatory person who can walk on flat surfaces, but struggles with the stairs
- Wheelchair users that can safely transfer laterally
Here are some of the most common situations that we encounter when doing a home evaluation for a stair lift:
- An injury or surgery has made it impossible to safely navigate the stairs to reach a bedroom located on the second floor.
- The laundry room is in the basement and it would be too much of a hassle to bring the washing machine and dryer to the first floor.
- An couple living in a multi-level home is starting to find it difficult to use the stairs due to a decline in mobility
If any of those situations listed above sound familiar to you, and moving to a single-level home or senior living is not an option that you want to consider, then a stair lift is a great option for you. Size and weight of the typical stair lift user are usually not an issue as the weight capacity of a stair lift typically ranges from 300-400 lbs. However, we do offer a Harmar heavy-duty stair lift model with a weight capacity of 600 lbs if needed.
With the installation of a stair lift, you’ll be able to continue to enjoy the home you love, and the risk of a serious injury from falling on the stairs will no longer be a worry.
Stair Lift Basics
Stair Lift Benefits
A stair lift benefits the person using it, as well as the caregivers and loved ones who may be concerned about a family member being unable to safely climb a set of stairs. Three of the main benefits of a stair lift are:
- Independence: One of the top reasons that people choose to have a stair lift installed is to regain their independence at home. A person’s independence becomes limited when they no longer feel comfortable using a staircase at home and require someone’s assistance to safely use the stairs. A stair lift can provide access to the bedrooms upstairs or laundry room downstairs, which means that you or a loved will no longer have to sleep downstairs or avoid going downstairs to do the laundry.
- Safety: Limited mobility puts many seniors at risk of slipping, missing a step, or tripping on an item on the stairs. Fortunately, these mishaps can be prevented with the installation of a stair lift. After installation, all you’ll need to do is sit on the chair, buckle your seat belt, and with a press of a button, you’ll be safely transported up/down the stairs in no time!
- Peace of Mind: Your family will have peace of mind knowing that the risk of an injury on the stairs has been greatly reduced. It’ll also remove any anxiety you may have had when trying to climb up and down the stairs.
Learn about the additional benefits that a stair lift can provide.
Types of Stair Lifts:
The most common and economical type of stair lift is a straight rail stair lift for an indoor staircase. Straight stair lifts come with a standardized rail that can be cut to fit any average straight staircase. There are a number of different manufacturers to choose from if you have a straight staircase; we most often recommend Bruno for their lift quality, vertical design rail, lifetime warranties, and positive customer reviews. Weight capacities for straight rail stair lifts range between 300-600 lbs. For added safety and/or comfort, there are several manual and power upgrade options available if needed. Straight stair lifts are the quickest for us to install and can be your way of regaining access to an upstairs bedroom or basement laundry room.
If a staircase has curves, turns, or intermediate landings, then a custom curved rail stair lift will be needed to gain access to an additional floor level of a home. The rails of the curved models are custom-built by the manufacturers. Manufacturers use a technical photo system to ensure the rail is built to fit the exact design of your staircase. While there are modular style curved rails available, we prefer to only sell ones that are custom built to provide the safest and most durable solution.
Lifeway Mobility Expert Tip: If you are on a budget, consider the option of having two straight rails installed on a staircase that has an intermediate landing, instead of a curved rail. This will save you money if the landing area is large enough, and it is deemed to be a safe option by one of our stair lift experts. This is a common solution in tri-level homes.
Straight & Curved Available
If you or a loved one has a set of stairs outside the home that can no longer be safely navigated, consider looking into an outdoor stair lift. The rail and chair are built to withstand outdoor elements such as rain, snow, and high winds, and they come with a cover to protect them when not in use. For the Bruno outdoor models, there are two types of covers that you can choose from to protect the lift. The first type of cover is called bag cover, which is located underneath the seat to maximize space on the staircase for others to continue to navigate by foot. The other type cover is called a canopy cover. As the name implies, it provides a cover over the user when needed, and reminds upright behind the seat when not in use.
Straight & Curved Available
A wheelchair lift or ramp is often the best accessible solution for businesses, schools, churches, and even the common areas of condominiums. However, when a commercial or public building is limited on space, and budget is an issue, a safety accommodation such as a commercial stair lift is the next best option. To have a stair lift installed in a public building, it must be equipped with an overspeed break and keyed controls. The commercial stair lift model that we offer comes with a 400 lb. weight capacity, are most commonly installed in churches and other places of worship.
Stair Lift Options
To enhance the safety and usability of your stair lift, there are a variety of additional options available. Please note that some options discussed below may not be available on all stair lift models offered by Lifeway Mobility.
A manual or power folding rail is a perfect addition if there is a doorway at the bottom of the stairs, or if the rail is in the middle of a hallway and presents a tripping hazard for other family members and visitors. Folding rails are typically added to straight rail lifts.
While both folding rails can prevent the rail from becoming tripping hazard at the bottom of the stairs, there are situations where the manual folding rail is better than the power folding rail and vice versa.
Power Folding Footrest:
Standard: A power-folding footrest is commonly added when the person who will be using the lift cannot bend down to fold the footrest up and down. When lifting the seat of the chair up, the footrest will automatically fold with it. Push the seat down and the footrest will come down automatically.
Arm Activated: To make this even easier, we recommend adding the arm activated version of the power folding footrest. We recommend the arm activated version because many users may find it difficult to sit down on the lift with the footrest already folded down. With the arm activated option, you sit down on the lift without the footrest being in the way, and then fold the footrest down while seated, with a push of a button.
Power Swivel Seat:
All stair lifts are equipped with a manual swivel seat to enable the user to safely get off the chair at the landing. However, if mobility issues prevent the person from swiveling manually, then a power swivel seat is recommended. The power swivel is controlled by a switch that will be located on the chair's arm and wireless call sends that come with the lift.
A larger footrest option can be selected if the standard footrest is too small. A visit to a nearby showroom is a great way to determine if you need to upgrade the size of the footrest.
Choice of Upholstery:
If you don’t like the standard upholstery color of the stair lift you select, you can choose an upgraded color option to better match your home’s decor. Please note that seat color and design can only be selected as an upgraded option for certain stair lift models.
Is a Stair Lift Safe for Me?
When installed by a professional installer, a stair lift is a very safe way of navigating between the floor levels of a home. A stair lift may not be the recommended solution for everyone, but it is safe for those who have limited mobility, assuming they can sit and stand with little to no assistance. A Lifeway Mobility stair lift expert can help confirm whether or not, you, or a friend or loved one, will be able to safely use the lift at home.
Stair lifts are also very easy to operate for most people, and they include built-in safety features such as:
- Seat Belts: All stair lift models come with easy-to-use seat belts, which prevent the user from falling out of the chair while riding up or down the stairs. Some of the newer models have retractable seat belts, which prevents it from getting in the way when sitting down on the chair.
- Obstruction Safety Sensors: There are safety sensors in the footplate and motor that automatically stop the lift if there is an obstacle in it's way.
- Weight Capacity: The weight capacity of the models we offer ranges between 300-600 lbs.
- Adjustable Seat Height & Arm Rests: If you select a Bruno Elite stair lift, the armrest width and the seat height can be adjusted to maximize each individual's comfort needs.
Stair Lift Pricing
It is difficult to provide an exact price of a stair lift because there are many different types of lifts, configurations, and options. However, the cost overviews below will give you an idea of what you can expect to pay. To get an exact price for the installation of a stair lift on your staircase, please contact us to set up your FREE in-home evaluation.
Straight Stair Lift Pricing:
If your staircase is straight and does not have any intermediate landings, then you can expect to pay somewhere between $2,200–$5,000 for a straight rail stairlift (new or used).
Lifeway offers both new and used straight stair lifts, and often provides a discount on all of the lifts that we offer. The final price that you are quoted will depend on the model selected and potential upgrade options. Warranty coverage is provided on the components, parts and labor for new and used lifts.
If you are on a tight budget, we offer monthly financing (for those who qualify), which can get you a lift for as low as $49.50/month.
Rental Stair Lift Pricing
Similar to our used stair lifts, a rental option is only feasible if your staircase is straight (all stair lifts that we rent come from our certified pre-owned inventory). Renting a stair lift is a great solution for temporary needs or if you need the lift for a specific period of time that happens to be less than a year. The pricing of our rental options includes the first three months of rental, installation and removal, and service if/when needed. At the conclusion of the first three months of rent, there will be a monthly fee for each additional month that the lift is needed. Please contact us to learn more about our rental options
Curved Stair Lift Pricing:
The price of curved stair lift starts at $9,500 and ranges upward from there, depending on a number of different factors, such as the number of turns needed and power upgrades. Curved rail stair lifts are more expensive than straight stair lifts because the rail must be custom-fit to your unique staircase. When comparing the monthly cost of senior living or assisted living facility, a curved stair lift is more of a cost-effective solution.
If you want to learn more about what determines the total price of a stair lift, or if you would like a free quote, please contact Lifeway Mobility.
Bruno Stair Lift Warranties
|Parts||2 Years||2 Years||3 Months|
|Labor (provided by Lifeway Mobility)||1 Year||1 Year||3 Months|
*as long as the original purchaser owns the stair lift
How Do I Pay for a Stair Lift?
If you are finding that the price ranges listed above are not within your budget, consider these funding options to help pay for a stair lift:
- Veterans Affairs (VA): If you are a veteran and in need of a safe way to get up and down the stairs at home, please contact your local VA hospital. The VA offers different types of waivers for straight and curved stair lifts (as well as wheelchair lifts) for those who meet their criteria.
- Insurance/Medicare: Unfortunately, most insurance companies and Medicare do not cover stair lifts. However, we do recommend you contact your insurance provider to see if they may offer coverage for these types of products. Another option that you may want to consider is a Medicaid waiver through the Department of Rehabilitative Services or an insurance carrier.
- Consumer Financing: Some stair lift providers offer financing to qualified buyers in which the stair lift is paid off in monthly payments. Typically, there will be a down payment required and an interest rate determined by your credit score is applied to the payments.
- Other Options: You may also consider other financing options to help cover the cost of your stair lift, such as a home improvement loan, reverse mortgage, state grant, or state-based home modification program. Your local township may even offer grants to assist with home modifications for people with disabilities.
If you live in the area served by of one of our office locations, here are links to lists of local funding sources that may be able to help pay for a lift:
- Chicagoland Funding Sources
- Indianapolis Area Funding Sources
- Minneapolis Area Funding Sources
- Southern New England Funding Sources
Should I Choose a New, Used, or Rental Stair Lift?
Choosing between a new, used, or rental stair lift will depend on your mobility needs and unique situation. If you are not on a strict budget and will need the lift for more than a year, then a new lift is likely the best option for you. A new model offers a more robust warranty on components, parts, and labor.
However, if you are on a strict budget, then "used" is the way to go. While it may not offer as great of a warranty, you’ll still be receiving a lift that works like it's new that provides a safe way to get up and down the stairs at home. All of the used lifts that Lifeway offers are "certified used", which means that they are clean, safe to use, and equipped with new batteries.
Renting a stair lift is another option to consider it is unknown how long the lift is going to be needed. A rental is also very common when a lift is only needed for a few months due to an injury or temporary living arrangements. For example, if you or one of your family members recently had a knee procedure, and will be unable to climb the stairs for six months, then a rental may be the perfect solution. Please call (847) 215-9490 and one of our stair lift experts will help you learn more about our stairlift rental program and so that you can better determine it makes the most sense for your needs and situation.
How to Choose the Best Stair Lift Company
- Read Reviews: Many years ago it was hard to learn about the reputability of a company or product unless someone you knew had already purchased the product. Today, you can easily do research on products like stair lifts by visiting review sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Caring Village and Trust Pilot (see our reviews from our actual customers below). Also, you can simply type in the name of the dealer or manufacturer in Google to read their Google reviews.
- Service After Installation: Choose a company that you can rely on to service the lift after it’s installed. There are many companies that will only install the lift, leaving you to look for a separate service provider. You will definitely want to make sure the company you choose offers ongoing service and maintenance.
- Good Warranty: You’ll want to make sure that there is a robust warranty offered for the major components of the lift, basic parts, and service. Bruno (the stair lift manufacturer that Lifeway most often recommends) offers a lifetime warranty on the major components for indoor stair lifts and a 5-year warranty on the major components of outdoor straight stair lifts. All parts have a 2-year warranty, and Lifeway also offers a 1-year warranty labor. It is also very important to note that Bruno stair lifts are ISO9000 approved!
Buying Online & DIY
Be careful when looking at stair lifts that can be purchased from online market places. We suggest you ask yourself the following questions before making a purchase decision:
- Does the online price listed include taxes, shipping, and installation? Very often, the price you see online is not all-inclusive. While the listed price may look attractive, they may be hiding shipping costs, and installation of the lift is most likely not included.
- Who will install the lift? A majority of the stair lifts purchased online have to be installed by the buyer instead of a certified installer. While a DIY install may be help minimize costs, all of the high quality stair lift manufacturers do not recommend it. If you purchase from a local dealer such as Lifeway Mobility, your lift will be installed by a factory trained technician.
- Who will service the lift? Companies that sell stair lifts online do not usually provide service either, which means you would be stuck figuring out how to fix the lift should it need maintenance.
- Are replacement parts available? Replacement parts for Bruno stair lifts and most other manufacturer models are only available for purchase if you have bought the lift through a certified dealer.
Purchasing a stair lift from a local certified stair lift dealer like Lifeway Mobility is most often the best option for those who want a quick, safe, and worry-free solution – and here’s why: Your lift will be installed and serviced by a factory-trained technician who installs these types lifts on a daily basis. You’ll never have to worry about figuring out what needs to be fixed should the lift stop working. You’ll also receive better warranty coverage on both the product and the labor.
Comparing Stair Lifts
While we most often recommend the Bruno brand to our customers, there are times that a lift from a different manufacturer may be needed to accommodate the needs of a client or when a staircase is narrower or steeper than average.
Below are some of the stair lift models that Lifeway Mobility offers to local residents. When comparing two or more stair lifts, some of the most important factors to consider are durability/quality of the lift, weight capacity, size/width of the rail, and warranty coverage. Please note that some of the products listed may not be offered at all Lifeway Mobility locations.
Straight Rail Stair Lifts
Pictured above (from left to right) are the following straight rail models: Bruno Elan, Savaria K2, Harmar SL600HD
Curved Rail Stair Lifts
Pictured above (from left to right) are the following curved rail models: Bruno Elite CRE, Harmar Helix, Handicare Freecurve
How Does the Buying Process Work?
If you’ve read everything above and have decided that a stair lift is the best way for you or a family member to age safely and happily at home, please follow the steps listed below to get started.
- Gather More Information: Reach out to Lifeway Mobility to gather additional information, and get all of your stair lift related questions answered by one of our accessibility experts.
- Schedule a Free In-Home Evaluation: All Lifeway Mobility locations offer free in-home evaluations. One of our office staff members will be happy to schedule one of our stair lift experts to come to your home at a time that is convenient for you and your family. During the in-home evaluation, we will take the time to understand your specific needs and then offer our best recommend solutions. We will also measure the staircase with a tape measure if it's a straight staircase, and use a photo system to gather specific measurements if your staircase has curves, turns, or intermediate landings (photos then submitted to manufacturer for building of rail). Lastly, even though the stairs may present the biggest challenge, you may learn from one of our experts that there are simple updates in other areas of the home (such as adding a grab bar or two in the bathroom) that can also prevent falls.
- Receive a Proposal: After the conclusion of the in-home evaluation, the measurements of the staircase will be used to assist our sales consultant in submitting a proposal. You can expect to receive a proposal within a day or two after the date of the evaluation. If you have a very unique staircase, it may take a day or two longer to submit the proposal because of the photo measurements, which are needed to estimate the exact specifications of the curves and turns for the rail. The proposal that you will receive will include the price of the best recommended stair lift solution and all other potential options discussed during your home evaluation.
- Visit a Showroom: Visit one of our local showrooms so that you or a family member can test-ride a lift to get comfortable with how it operates and ensure it is the best solution. All of our office locations, with the exception of Indianapolis, have showrooms equipped with fully operational Bruno stair lifts. You'll also be able to see a number of other home safety solutions, such as an accessible bathroom demo, home elevator, and wheelchair lift.
- Purchase: Consider all factors – from online reviews, to safety features, options, and warranties – to help choose the lift that is best for your needs. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have.
- Installation: After the lift is purchase, one of our staff members will reach out to schedule the date and time of installation that works best for you. If you purchase a straight stair lift, it can be installed within a day after purchase, depending on the model selected and our inventory. For curved stair lifts, installation will be a few weeks after the lift is purchased because the rail has to be custom built by the manufacturer. On the day of installation, one or two of our factory-trained technicians will come to your home to install the lift on the treads of the stairs (your walls will not be damaged) and then show you how to safely operate it. The time of installation is dependent on the type of lift selected -- straight rail models take 2-3 hours to install, whereas a curved rail model will require an additional hour or two.
Service & Maintenance
One of the most common questions that our customers ask is "What happens if the lift needs to be serviced"? The answer is give us a call, and we will be happy to schedule one of certified technicians to come out to see what the issue is so that we can get it fixed and have the lift back up and running for you. We provide a 1 year warranty on labor for all new stair lifts and 3/6 months for used stair lifts. We offer offer ongoing service at the conclusion of the labor warranty, so you'll always have someone to call if your lift needs service.
While it is not required to have the lift maintained, we do recommend you consider our yearly maintenance plan. This will help ensure that the lift is in great working condition and ensures its longevity. If you want to clean the lift, we recommend using a dust rag or multi-surface wipes each month to help it prevent it from collecting dust.
See our list of answers to the most FAQs after a stair lift installation to learn more about maintaining the lift, or watch the video below for some helpful ownership tips from Bruno.
About Lifeway Mobility
Lifeway Mobility is an accessibility solutions company headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut. We’re a proud Bruno Diamond Stair Lift dealer and proudly serve the following areas:
- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, & Southern New Hampshire,
- Chicagoland, Southeastern Wisconsin, & Northwest Indiana
- Minnesota & Western WI
In addition to stair lifts, Lifeway Mobility offers wheelchair lifts, ramps, home elevators, patient lifts, and other home and bath safety solutions. The accessibility solutions that we offer are manufactured by some of the top manufacturers in the industry such as Bruno, Savaria, and EZ-Access.
Our primary goal is to help customers to be able to better identify products and services that will help meet their needs and improve their quality of life. Please call us today at (847) 215-9490 to schedule a FREE home evaluation or to learn more about stair lifts or any of the other accessibility solutions that we offer.
Advantage of Choosing Lifeway Mobility for Your Stair Lift
- Free home assessments (We will evaluate the holistic accessibility needs)
- Local showrooms to "try before you buy"
- Installation & delivery by our factory-trained and certified technicians
- Service offered after installation
- Limited Lifetime manufacturer warranty on major components of new indoor Bruno stair lifts*
- 1-year labor warranty on new stair lifts provided by Lifeway Mobility
*Applies to original owner of new stair lift purchase
Download Bruno Stair Lift Brochures
Please use the links below to download a brochure of the stair lifts that we offer from Bruno Independent Living Aids: