Finding the Best Stairlifts In 2018 – Reviews and Comparison

This site is packed with reliable, well researched, and helpful information articles and stairlift reviews to help along the way to installing that perfect stair lift

Stairlift straight with elderly manI get it. Who do you trust? What is a good and fair price to pay? Which stairlift will last for years and work well?

My name’s Paul. Let set things straight. I’m not much of an interweb guy, but I do know a hell of a lot about stairlifts. You see I’ve installed them for years.

Believe me, I’ve seen the cowboys and I don’t want you to fall into their trap and spend thousands on something you don’t need or that isn’t fit for purpose.

Over the years I’ve worked with over 2000 stairlifts in all types of buildings and houses and worked with many manufacturers.

After dealing with yet another elderly woman who had been conned, it was at that point I decided there wasn’t enough information out on proper stairlifts, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and I built this review site.

You need a great stairlift with the best features in the market to make sure you can rely on it for your independence and mobility. However, with the multitude of lifts available and the similarity in their features, you could get lost.

Fortunately, this review will guide you in selecting the stairlift that best fits your needs, starting with the products just below which are the 14 top rated straight and curved stairlifts available in 2018; by rating and you can read full reviews further below…

Top 7 Straight Stairlift Reviews and Comparison

ImageStairliftCompanyTypeMax. WeightBest ForOur RatingFind out more
Acorn Superglide 130 stair lift folded130 SuperglideAcornStraight127kgEntry-level / budget★★★★★Read Acorn 130 Full Review
Companion 950+ Handicare 950+950+CompanionStraight140kgMid-range & bending issues★★★★★Full review coming soon!
Stannah Starla chairlift for stairsStarla 600StannahStraight160kgHigh-end & customisation★★★★★Full review coming soon!
Companion 950+ Handicare 950+950 CompactCompanionStraight140kgEntry-level, Slimline★★★Full review coming soon!
Companion 10001000CompanionStraight159kg (200kg with Heavy-Duty kit)Mid-range, Customisation, Slimline design★★★★Full review coming soon!
Stannah Siena 600 Straight Stairlift600 SienaStannahStraight160kgHigh-end, Customisation, Luxury★★★★Full review coming soon!
Platinum Horizon PlusHorizonPlatinumStraight120kg (140kg on Plus model)Entry-level
Mid-range for Plus model
★★★★Full review coming soon!

Acorn Superglide 130 Straight Stairlift

Acorn Superglide 130 stair lift foldedThe Acorn Superglide 130 is by far the best entry level stairlift currently available. It’s slimline design and user friendliness make it one of the most popular straight stairlifts on the market. The stairlift will fit and swivel on stairs that are just 660mm wide! Making the Acorn also one of the narrowest stairlifts.

Reliability – The Acorn 130 Superglide straight stairlift is second to none on reliability, I could personally see a well serviced and maintained Acorn lift continuing well beyond 10 years being used daily. It has many features you will find on more expensive lifts such as a digital diagnostic display and adjustable width seat. With the Acorn, you will also find a feature not found on many stairlifts – dual operating toggle switches found on both arms.

The Acorn is only available in one colour but I do find this compliments most homes and lets face it when choosing a piece of equipment that could be potentially life changing are looks really that important?

The Acorn is available with a range of optional extras such as a powered swivel, a powered footrest and are also available with both a powered hinge and manual hinged rail. The outdoor version of the Acorn is in my opinion the best outdoor straight stairlift available. A stand/perch and sit/stand option is also available.

All in all, the Acorn is a solid, reliable, user friendly and cost effective lift designed and manufactured in Yorkshire. If you are in the market for a straight stairlift I would definitely shortlist the Acorn.

Want to know more about the Acorn 130 Superglide?

950 Compact Companion Stairlift

Companion 950 straight stairlift reviewThe 950 Compact by Companion or Handicare (same company) is another standard entry level stairlift which boasts some great standard features along with a good track record on reliability and usability. The 950 compact offers you a safe and cost-effective way to overcome the challenge of your stairs.

If it is a ‘bog standard’ stairlift you are looking for that will take you from the bottom to the top effortlessly and in comfort then look no further than the 950 compact. The lift is the slimmest in the Companion range. I found one of the major advantages of the stairlift is the constant charging system which means wherever you leave the stairlift it will be on charge. This eliminates a large chunk of ‘user error’ call outs.

The lift, like many in its class has a digital diagnostic display and, like the Acorn, is only available in one colour however this colour works with most décor. If colour is a deciding factor then see our review on the 950’s sister lift the 950+.

The 950+ is a solid, cost-effective entry model for anyone who just needs a simple option
Options are limited on the 950 it has been solely designed to be an entry model lift with the purpose of getting the user from bottom to top as simply and as cost effective as possible. Again, if options are required see my review on the 950+ below.

If -like me- budget plays a major part when making an important purchase then you will struggle to find a more cost-effective lift than the Companion 950 Compact. As with the Acorn, if you are in the market for a simple, reliable stairlift I would seriously consider adding the 950 compact to your shortlist.

Want to know more about the 950 Compact by Companion?

Companion 950+ (or Handicare 950+) Chairlift

Companion 950+ Handicare 950+If you are looking for a more customisable stairlift then, in my opinion, the 950+ is the way to go. The 950+ offers the same great reliability and usability of its younger brother the 950 Compact with added customisable features such as a powered swivel and powered footplate.

The 950+ is also available in 6 complimenting colours.

I would personally put this stairlift in the ‘mid-range’ category, a little more effort has gone into designing this lift and this shows. It is a very neat and tidy stairlift both when in use and when folded away.

The lift uses the same constant charging system as the 950 compact which means wherever you leave the stairlift it will be on charge giving you peace of mind that you cannot leave the stairlift ‘off charge’.

The stair lift, is available with both a power swivel and power footplate or a combination of both. This is ideal for users who have issues bending or dexterity problems such as arthritis. The lift also comes as standard with a retractable seatbelt rather than a ‘clip’ style making the unit a lot neater when not in use.

Furthermore, should you have an obstruction at the top or bottom of the staircase, such as a doorway, the 950+ is available with the revolutionary slide-track. This is only required in a handful of cases so if more information on the slide track is required please click here.

Pricewise, the Companion 950+ stairlift is a little more expensive than the entry model lifts available but in all honesty, it is not that much more considering the additional features and benefits available. I would personally still call it cost effective.

Want to know more about the 950+? 

Stannah 600 Siena Stair-lift Review

Stannah Siena 600 Straight StairliftStannah has to be the most recognisable name in the stair lift world and the 600 Siena straight stairlift does not disappoint. With its contemporary styling and fully customisable options the Stannah, in my opinion is one of the most desirable stairlifts on the market.

Available with all the options you would expect including powered swivel, powered footplate and powered hinge. Along with customisable options such as seat colour the Stannah also comes with optional rail colour, optional light touch control and a range of seatbelt options. The 600 chair lift really is a ‘high end’ straight stairlift.

Stannah are an industry leader and it shows. Over their 140-year history they have manufactured and installed over half a million stairlifts worldwide. They really are on top of their game when it comes to design and engineering.

You will pay a premium for this reliability and reputation. Stannah is one of the best but is also one of the most expensive. However, one might argue that “you get what you pay for!”.

If your budget allows I would definitely consider the Stannah, you cannot get a better straight stairlift for the money.

The reliability and aftercare is everything you would expect from a global company while the personal touch Stannah adds is as good as you would receive from a local supplier – top class.

Want to know more about the Stannah Siena? 

Companion / Handicare 1000 Review

Companion 1000The Companion 1000 stairlift boasts one of the slimmest stairlift tracks available. A stairlift on your staircase is never going to be invisible but the design of the 1000 chair lift means the lift will have as little visual impact and intrusion as possible.

As with the 950+ I would put this stairlift in the ‘mid-range’ category. The lift has a sleek design, is available in 6 colours to suit all decors and also has all the standard safety features you would expect on all lifts as well as a range of optional extras including a powered swivel and powered footplate.

The 1000 stair lift is also available with a powered hinge which is ideal when there is an obstruction such as a doorway at the base of the staircase. The hinged section will automatically raise and lower when required. For a more in depth explanation of hinged stairlift rails.

 “If it’s complete customisation you require then I would recommend the 1000 stairlift”

The sleek design coupled with the innovative narrow rail makes it a highly desirable stairlift.

Like all things in life this doesn’t come ‘cheap’ but as with all well designed and well-built products you get what you pay for. Having said that the Handicare 1000 is one of the most reasonably priced fully customisable stairlifts available.

Want to know more about the Companion 1000? 

Stannah 600 Starla

Stannah Starla chairlift for stairsJust when you think stairlifts can’t get any better or more customisable… along comes the Starla 600 straight stairlift by Stannah. As with the Siena stairlift reviews, Stannah have gone all out on design, customisation and build quality with their flagship model.

In terms of straight stair lifts the 600 Starla is as “high-end” as you can get. As well as all the standard features and benefits you would expect from a stairlift the Starla boasts a wealth of additional safety features including:

  • seat load sensors
  • easy to use one-handed seatbelt
  • sensors for obstructions
  • immobilising keys

As with all stairlifts, the standard options are available such as the power swivel and footplate. Where the Starla chair lift stands out from the crowd is the 15 possible upholstery options and colours available. This coupled with the two possible rail colours gives you 30 possible combinations!

Again, like the Siena stairlift all these options, high quality design, engineering and aftercare do demand a higher than average price. However, if your budget allows, I would definitely consider the Stannah, you cannot get a better straight stairlift for the money.

People often refer to any stairlift as a ‘Stannah’, similarly in the way we refer to sticky tape as the brand ‘Selotape’ and our vacuum cleaners as ‘Hoovers’ – which is also a brand.

In my opinion this is down to the market domination Stannah has had over the years. This does allow them to command a higher price. If your budget allows and you want the best of the best my advice is buy a Stannah.

Want to know more about the Stannah Starla? 

Platinum Horizon Stair lift

Platinum Horizon PlusThe Platinum Horizon is a relative newcomer to the straight stairlift scene however, it has started off strongly! A lot of effort has gone into the design and manufacture of this lift and in my opinion, it shows. The Horizon stair lift is available in two forms. The Horizon Standard and the Horizon Plus.

The Horizon Standard has been designed to compete in the ‘entry-level’ market. Don’t let this put you off though it still has a wealth of excellent features including;

  1. An advanced diagnostic digital display
  2. Manual swivel
  3. Manual footplate
  4. Infra-red remote controls.

The Horizon Standard is currently only available in one colour but this Beige colour does compliment most interiors.

The Horizon Plus falls into the ‘Mid-Range’ category. I personally feel if you are considering a Horizon chair lift then this is the one to go for. It has fully customisable seat options including arm width, fabric colour and an innovative optional Ergo+ seat pad which allows the Horizon to fit on the narrowest of staircases with ease.

The Plus model is also available with all the options you would expect from a mid-range stairlift including a powered swivel, an automatic hinge and there is even an outdoor model available.

Not heard of Platinum? Don’t be alarmed. Yorkshire based Platinum have been around for years and started off by reconditioning and remanufacturing stairlifts and over the years have put together a fantastic research and development team which have allowed Platinum to become a major player in the worldwide stairlift industry.

Want to know more about the Platinum Horizon? 

Top 7 Curved Stairlift Reviews and Comparison

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While there are many different manufacturers of curved stair lifts their general appearance falls into two simple sub-categories. Single track or ‘monorail’ style and a ‘twin-tube’ design, which as the name would suggest has two tubes at different heights running up the staircase.

My personal opinion is that a stairlift is there to do a job, to get a user from the bottom to the top. As such the aesthetics or looks are not that important to me. However, I can appreciate that for some users the look of the stairlift can potentially be a deciding factor.

Monorail style curved stairlifts are considerably more pleasing to the eye and a lot of effort has gone into design and manufacture. Twin-tube style curved stairlifts are, for want of a better phrase, uglier than their single-track counter parts.

So why not make all curved stairlifts monorail? Well, single tube or track stairlifts require a lot more technology and circuitry. The reason for this is with a monorail the lift needs to know exactly where it is on the rail in order to keep a level seated position. It also requires an additional motor and circuitry to keep the seat level at all times. The ‘twin-tube’ design uses the bottom tube as the ‘drive’ tube and the second top tube as a mechanical level thus eliminating the need for extra motors, circuitry and ‘intelligence’.

Inevitably monorail systems are more expensive due to the additional requirements. They are also a little less reliable than their twin-tube counter parts due to the additional electronics and motors required – more technology = more to go wrong! However, if you are prepared to sacrifice a little bit of reliability then a monorail style chair lift can look incredibly stylish and compliment even the most modern of homes.

Acorn 180 Curved Stairlift

Acorn 180 Curved Stairlift with manThe Acorn 180 stair lift is one of the UK’s most popular ‘monorail’ style curved stair lifts. The Acorn 180 uses a modular rail design meaning rail parts are already manufactured in many different shapes and sizes.

As with all stairlifts the standard model comes with a manual swivel and manual footrest. However, these are customisable and the lift can be fitted with a powered swivel and powered footplate if required. The Acorn 180 is also available with an automatic hinges rail if required.

Reliability – as I described earlier the Acorn 180 chair lift is a ‘monorail’ style system and as with all monorail systems you do sacrifice a little bit of reliability for the looks but don’t let this put you off. As long as you buy from a reputable company like the ones I recommend here then you can rest assured if your lift does breakdown reliable technical assistance is only a phone call away.

The lift is currently only available in one colour however, I find this compliments most colour schemes. Like its straight counterpart the 180 has many advanced features such as a digital diagnostic display, radio frequency remotes and dual operating toggle switches.

This allows Acorn to provide a bespoke curved stairlift using ‘off the shelf’ parts which means you can have your stairlift installed within days rather than weeks!
The Acorn 180 is one of the more cost-effective monorail systems, designed and manufactured in Yorkshire, if you are in the market for a good solid curved stairlift I would definitely consider the Acorn 180.

Want to know more about the Acorn 180 Curved?

Companion 2000 Curved

Companion 2000 CurvedThe 2000 model stairlift is Companion’s (Handicare) twin-tube offering. The stair lift is a fairly compact unit and is designed to fold up leaving the staircase free for other users. The bespoke track is designed to fit your individual staircase and maximise clear space on the stairway

Like all other stair lifts the Companion 2000 offers you all the basic functions that you would expect plus the option to upgrade to a powered seat swivel and/or folding footplate.

The upholstery is also available in six differing colours to compliment all homes. Coupled with a range of different track colours giving you a complete customisable option not found with many stairlift companies.

The 2000 chair lift is a twin-tube design and as I explained above twin-tube systems have the edge when it comes to reliability however, they do lack a little in the looks department, but don’t let this put you off.

I feel a well serviced and maintained 2000 will last many years. If it is a good solid and reliable curved lift with a good range of customisable options you require then I would strongly advise you to consider the Companion 2000.

The Companion 2000 is one of the more affordable twin-tube systems, a lot of effort has gone into the design and manufacture of this lift however, whilst the tube diameter on the rail is one of the narrowest the actual drive unit and chair is built for comfort and is therefore a little larger than average. This is something you may wish to bear in mind if you have a particularly narrow staircase.

Want to know more about the Companion 2000 Curved?

Companion Freecurve for Stairs

Companion Freecurve Stair liftsThe Freecurve is Companion’s flagship single tube ‘Monorail’ model. The rail is a sleek 80mm tube design and the stairlift shares the same typical features you would expect from the whole companion range, including; easy to operate controls, whisper quiet and a wealth of customisable options.

I might sound a little repetitive here but as with most stairlifts the Freecurve comes with a standard manual swivel and footplate with the choice to upgrade these to powered options.

The Freecurve does have an ace up its sleeve – If you require a curved stairlift with a hinge, I feel the Freecurve hinge is one of the best available for curved stair lifts.

In recent years the Freecurve has had a full overhaul from its ‘Freelift’ days and the design team has done a really excellent job. Gone are the days of the old solid rubber seats!

The chair on the new Freecurve is very contemporary in design and is available in five colours and the rail can be custom painted to any standard RAL colour giving potentially hundreds of possible combinations.

The Companion Freecurve is one of the more cost-effective monorail stairlifts. The basic design has not changed much over the years (except for the seat). This has allowed many of the common faults you would find with a product that is new to the market have been ironed out.

In my opinion the Freecurve can almost offer like-for-like reliability with a more basic twin tube system. This curved stairlift is definitely worth considering, great reliability, brilliant design and cost-effective. What more can you ask for!

Want to know more about Companion Freecurve Stairlifts?

Stannah 260 Curved (Siena/Starla)

Stannah Curved Models Siena / StarlaThe Stannah Curved Stairift or 260 as it is known in stairlift circles is one of the original twin-tube curved stairlifts. It is one of the most copied stairlift rails out there.

Many small improvements have been made over the 15+ years this lift has been around. However, the basic design has remained the same, after all, if it is successful and reliable then why change it?

One of the more notable changes in design over the years has been the chair. This is now available in two formats. The Elegant Starla seat is slimline and is available in a range of stylish vinyl and fabric upholsteries with a stunning looking wood trim.

The Siena seat is a more contemporary design and is the more popular of the two. The Siena is available in a wide range of practical vinyl colours and two seat widths.

The Stannah curved stairlift comes as standard with:

  • A footrest link lever so there is no requirement to bend down to lower the footplate
  • Optional extras that are available include an automatic footrest folding button located on the arm
    • A powered swivel seat and a range of different seatbelt types
  • If required the Stannah 260 chair lift is also available with a powered hinge track should you have obstructions at the base of the stairs

In my opinion the Stannah 260 Curved stairlift is one of the best twin tube systems on the market. However, as with everything in life, if you want the best of the best it is going to cost you. Stannah is probably one of the most recognised names in the stairlift world.

They are at the top of their game when it comes to research, design, customer service and reliability. You may have to pay a little bit more for this but as with everything in life – you get what you pay for.

Want to know more about Stannah Curved Stairlifts?

Bespoke Infinity

Bespoke Infinity Curving StairliftThe Bespoke Infinity rounded stair lift is relatively new to the market. However, don’t let this put you off. Bespoke have been reconditioning and re-engineering curved stairlifts for over 20 years.

Their wealth of knowledge with twin tube curving stairlifts has allowed them to create their own offering – and it is proving very popular!

This stairlift comes as standard with a manual swivel and manual footrest link lever…. And yes, you’ve guessed it… it is also available with both a powered swivel and powered footplate as optional extras.

The upholstery is hand stitched and is available in a wide variety of colours to suit your taste. The stairlift track or rail is also available in any of the standard RAL colours to suit your décor.

Boasting industry leading production times, fast and efficient installation and a fantastic aftercare service Bespoke is really starting to make waves in the Stairlift industry!

The Infinity is one of the more cost-effective curved stairlifts. All their processes from design to manufacture are in-house which allows Bespoke to keep expenses to a minimum and pass the savings on to the end user.

Designed for bending round corners and angles, and manufactured in Yorkshire the Bespoke Infinity is fast becoming a popular stairlift throughout the industry. I would definitely recommend getting a quote for a Bespoke before you commit to any other brand.

Want to know more about the Bespoke Infinity?

Bespoke BS101 Review

Bespoke BS101 ChairliftThe BS101 is Bespokes flagship re-engineered and reconditioned curved stairlift. The contemporary styled BS101 has been designed solely to go on curved or more complex staircases.

The BS101 negotiates corners, bends, landings and corridors with ease and can be installed on either side of the stairs enabling it to be fitted on almost any staircase configuration.

The eagle-eyed among you may well recognise the design of this lift. The BS101 is a reconditioned model from one of the most popular stairlift manufacturers in the world. However, for legal reasons we cannot associate their name with this lift – even the stairlift world has its legal battles!

Bespoke really have excelled in the remanufacturing of this stairlift after all, Bespoke is built on their fantastic ability to be able to recondition stairlifts.

The lift as standard comes with the usual features you would expect; standard manual swivel and a footrest link lever. Bespoke have such a large amount of reconditioned stock that they can also offer options such as powered swivels, powered footplates and even powered hinge rails. Subject to availability they can also offer a range of upholstery colours to compliment any interior.

The BS101 is a great option for those of us with budget restrictions. The lift is reconditioned and manufactured in Yorkshire so lead times are very quick. This fast-reliable service coupled with Bespoke’s top class aftercare service really makes this lift a top contender in the reconditioned curved stair lift market.

Want to know more about the Bespoke BS101?

What to Look out for When Finding the Best Stairlift? – Stairlift Buyer Guide

1. Type of Stairlift

The most crucial factor when starting to look for a stairlift is what type you actually need. You can judge this based mainly on the type of staircase you have, coupled with the width and height restrictions of the available space. When choosing a suitable stairlift you will also need to take into consideration your own height and weight.

Straight Stairlifts

straight staircase for stairliftsMost modern (post 1990) houses have straight staircases. A straight stair lift will run on a straight track and go in a straight line.

It cannot bend around corners or bends like a curved stairlift can, but at the same time, being straight and not needing to be custom made makes it a cheaper and quicker option.

Some houses will have a straight staircase except for 1 or 2 steps at the top or bottom. Instead of having to get a curved stairlift and pay the extra few thousand to do that, you may feel comfortable with just climbing the extra couple of steps yourself and using the straight stairlift for the remaining bulk of the stairs.

However, I would always recommend having a home survey completed and considering your future needs – yes, you may be comfortable climbing those extra two steps now, but what about in a few years?

If your staircase is made up of 2 straight staircases as below, then it may be possible to buy 2 cheaper straight stairlifts, rather than one bigger, more expensive curved one – but again, this should be properly assessed and all options considered by yourself and an expert.

One other option available with a straight staircase is being able to purchase a reconditioned unit if money is tight. Reconditioned stairlifts are readily available and if purchased from the right supplier can be of excellent quality and just as good as a new purchase.

One thing to always be aware of, as with every industry, is the “cowboy installer”. Unfortunately, they do exist and my best piece of advice would be – If it is too good to be true, chances are it is! Don’t forget you are not just purchasing the stairlift but you are also purchasing a reliable aftercare service this is a major factor people often overlook!

We recommend a survey by a professional installer to ensure you get the right option!

Curved Stairlifts

If your stairs have corners, bends or are a spiral shape, you will most likely need a custom made curved stairlift. They will be specially tailored to fit the exact layout of your stairs to ensure the best fit and working condition.

Types of curved staircases can be:

  • Spiral staircases
  • Straight stairs with 1 or 2 at the top and/or bottom that change direction
  • Two sets of straight stairs that change direction in the middle

Over the years, the technology of curved stairlifts has improved significantly with tracks being made up of modular components and bends, meaning even a spiral staircase can have a stair lift from bottom to top!

Unlike a straight stairlift, curved ones take longer to design and build, and cost more in the process, but, does mean you can add bespoke design options in such as allowing the stairlift to be parked in various places, like a mid-point turn on the stairs. Your supplier will be able to help explain options and recommend such additions.

Curved staircases types and examples

As with straight stairlifts you can purchase a reconditioned curved stairlift. However, the overall saving you will make is not that great. Due to the rail the stairlift runs on being individual to each property this rail is always made brand new. The actual reconditioned part of the curved stairlift is the chair and carriage that runs on the rail

Every stairlift company should offer a free, no obligation assessment of your staircase and be able to advise the options based on your budget and needs, so if you have a curve or bend of any type in your staircase, we recommend having this done before anything else.

Heavy Duty Stairlifts

Heavy Duty Stairlift by Companion

Companion 1000 Straight Stairlift – Heavy Duty – can go up to 31 stone

A heavy duty, or bariatric stairlift as it is known, is one that is built for larger people. Weight can unfortunately increase with age and it is therefore important that people who don’t fall into the “normal” weight range have a stairlift that can comfortably, and safely, support them when using stairs.

The usual capacity for weight on a standard stairlift is around 18 to 22 stone depending upon model. A heavy duty stairlift can usually help with anything over this up to and beyond 32 stone.

This is great for anyone who was worried they may have to leave their current home or move into a bungalow or flat – it gives them the option of staying in their current home but still getting up and down stairs with ease.

However, we recommend a survey being performed as a heavy duty stairlift is often wider and bulkier than a standard one, and so you may find it difficult to fit a narrow or curved staircase as easily as another.

Stairlifts for Narrow Stairs

Many houses in the UK, especially older and terraced properties, can have narrow or steep staircases, where room is a concern even without a stairlift fitted.

Due to this, the stairlift manufacturers have introduced models of stairlift that are designed for a narrow or compact fit. Some of these will have a nice, slim design that lets a user stand or perch rather than sit down fully like a normal stairlift.

However, depending on your stairs and the exact measurements, it is still possible to get narrow or compact stairlifts with full sit down options and chairs – it all depends on what your home allows. As always, we recommend a survey be done to find out.

They all have a footrest which can be folded up and makes the unit very neat and tidy when not in use, meaning other people can use the stairs as normal too.

How do I know if I have a ‘narrow’ staircase?

This can change depending on manufacturer, but generally the minimum width of the stair for a lot of standard stairlifts is 28 inches or 70 cm. Anything less is usually considered ‘narrow’ by stairlift companies.

A survey can tell you if you need a specialist stairlift due to a narrow staircase
This poses a safety risk for a standard seated model as the user could be injured or knocked off the stairlift after hitting the wall or banister. The size of the machine could also make it difficult for other people to use the stairs safely, and you don’t want the stairlift damaged by people bumping into it because there isn’t enough room!

Perching and Standing Stairlifts

If you have poor or restricted movement, such as knee or lower back pain which makes it difficult to sit down with ease, then a perched or standing stairlift may actually be a better choice for you.

As well as being a more narrow stairlift design, this type can mean you stay stood up or perched whilst on your stairlift, rather than having to bend and sit.

Perched stair lift example

The main concern with a standing stairlift is the headroom. You need to ensure there is plenty of room for you to go up and down the stairs stood up on the unit without risking knocking your head on anything – again, this is where a stairlift survey by a professional company can help.

Price-wise, a standing or perched stairlift tends to cost a bit more than a standard straight model, but is usually less than curved one.

Outdoor Stairlifts

There are many possible reasons you need an outdoor stairlift, such as garden steps, steps or a steep driveway to the front door, or any other access reason.

Outdoor stairlifts can help aid any of these issues, and work in a very similar way to an indoor one, with straight and curved models available – the only difference being the weather and waterproof materials needed.

A lot of models will have a specially coated weather resistant track and, when not in use, the stairlift can be protected by a specially designed cover to guard them it from the elements.

A survey will be able to help you decide what type of stairlift you need, length and how to get power to it depending upon location. All major manufacturers we recommend on this site will carry out a free, no obligation survey to help you decide.

The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to give up your home, or stop being able to enjoy your garden. An outdoor stairlift can certainly help.

2. New or Reconditioned Stairlifts

A stairlift, particularly curved models, can be expensive. One option that may be available to you is getting a reconditioned stairlift which is one that has already been used in another home or building.

Don’t worry though, reconditioned stairlifts are often just as good as a new one, and have to go through strict checks and cleaning procedures before being released to a new owner.

Advantages of a reconditioned stairlift include:

  1. They cost less
  2. They should still have a warranty and after-care options available
  3. They go through strict checks, maintenance and cleaning processes before being re-released

If you’re on a budget, this is definitely an option for you. If bought from a reputable company they will even come with a warranty for peace of mind.

Take a look at some of our recommended suppliers and see if a re-conditioned model is suitable for you.

New models are just that – brand new, full warranty and guarantees are standard.

3. Manual or Powered Footrests

All stairlift models will feature folding arms, seats and a footrest as standard, but there are also different types of footrest on some models such as:

  • Manual Footrest: The majority of stairlifts available on the market have this type fitted as standard, which is simply a footrest which is lifted and lowered by hand. Most do have easy fold mechanisms to assist and lower the amount of effort required, but be aware if the stairlift user has lower back or bending issues, having a manual footrest may be a burden.
  • Lever linked footrest: This type of footrest is lifted and lowered by a lever system, usually located at seat height. This is obviously beneficial to anyone who struggles to bend to the foot area level like you would have to on a manual version.
  • Powered or automatic footrest: This type is becoming more common on the newer models of stairlifts, and allows a user to lower the footrest by simply pressing a switch, or even having the machine do this automatically when switched on or off, meaning the user doesn’t have to worry about it at all. Great for anyone with bending or mobility issues.

4. Type of Track

To allow the stairlift to get low enough for the user to mount and dismount when arriving at the bottom it is necessary for the stairlift rail or track to extend beyond the bottom of the staircase.

In situations where there may be an obstruction at the foot of the staircase (e.g. a door), or where the stairlift could cause a tripping hazard, a hinged rail is required.

Hinged rails fold back away from the foot of the staircase when the stairlift is not in use. Hinged track stairlifts vary in design, however they all fall into three simple categories.

Before any purchase, always ensure a survey is done. The surveyor will be able to point out if any different type of track is required and explain the pros and cons for each application.

Manual Hinge

As the name states this type of hinged rail requires the bottom section to be manually folded back. The hinged section of track folds back with the assistance of a gas strut making the
process as effortless as possible. The manual hinge cannot be fitted when the obstruction is a fire exit.

Make sure the user of the stairlift is fully able to operate a manual hinge track before purchasing. A survey with a professional installer will help determine this.

Manual hinge track example

Manual hinges can be lifted when the stairlift is not in use.

Powered and Automatic Hinge

A powered hinge operates independently from the stairlift. The hinged section of track opens and closes by holding down the corresponding button on either a wall mounted or hand held remote control eliminating the need for any bending and lifting.

An automatic hinge is very similar to the powered hinge but as the name states the hinge will work simultaneously with the stairlift.

Powered hinge track example

Powered hinges are operated at the touch of a button from upstairs or down to move the track away from doorways.

As you travel upwards on the stairlift the hinged section of track will rise and as you travel downwards the hinged section will lower automatically, making the process as simple and user friendly as possible.

5. Safety Features

Stairlifts come with many safety features as standard to prevent accidents and injuries as much as possible. There are a range of features to look out for when purchasing a stairlift.

Safety features are very important! Always consider what you need as well as other visitors to your home – e.g. small children!

Safety belt

Similar to a car seatbelt, this will ensure the user is strapped in and secure when the stairlift is moving. The majority of stairlifts have this feature as standard and are retractable similar to in a car so you don’t have to worry about it looking untidy.

Key switch or lock

Some stairlifts come with a key switch which prevents unauthorised use. Simply turn the key and pull it out and the stairlift is disabled, and unusable by anyone until the key is put back in.

This is great for anyone who has young children in their home or visiting, to stop them using the stairlift without supervision.

Safety edges

Most stairlifts will have pressure sensitive sensors on the carriage and/or footrest. This simply means if the stairlift is moving and there is anything in the way e.g. a bag on the stairs, the stairlift will stop to prevent injuries or damage.

It is important to properly assess the safety features of any stairlift you purchase and ensure it will fit the needs of your home and lifestyle.

6. Controls, Diagnostics and Remotes

Modern stairlift machines have a good range of controls and diagnostic devices as standard to ensure your unit is running as efficiently and safely as possible, whilst making it as easy to control and operate as can be.

Some common features to look for are:

Diagnostic display

A diagnostic displayA large majority of new stairlifts come with a real time diagnostic display. This displays the current operating status of the stairlift, highlighting its current service status and any failures in the machine, for example, if the lift has been left off charge or one of the safety edges has been activated.

Handheld Remotes

Some stairlifts can come with two handy remote controls as standard. Allowing you to call or send your stairlift up and down without the need to sit on it. Remote controls are also particularly useful in situations where there is more than one user.

Toggle switch

Toggle switch safety featureThe toggle switch that is used to operate your stairlift from the seated position and can come in all shapes and sizes. Some stairlifts have ergonomically designed toggles, some have paddle switches on one or both arms and some lifts are joystick or button controlled. One thing they all have in common is they require minimum effort and are very simple to use.

Look out for the features on the stairlift you are looking at and ensure they fit your needs.

7. Electric, Power and Battery Capacity

The majority of stairlifts will need mains electric to be supplied – it is rare to not require this. However, instead of the stairlift running off the mains supply, and stopping if there is a power cut for example, they now power and charge a battery whilst not is use.

This enables them to have plenty of charge to keep working if there is a cut in mains power supply.

Battery Capacity

All modern domestic stairlifts are now battery operated and the charging of these batteries is fully automatic. A major advantage of battery power is in the unfortunate event of a power outage your stairlift will continue to operate as normal.

Battery operated stairlifts also use considerably less electricity than their out-dated mains powered predecessors.

Make sure to check the battery capabilities of a stairlift and ensure they are sufficient to keep working in the event of a mains power cut – especially if you are looking to purchase older, reconditioned models.

Getting Power to Your Stairlift

Nearly all modern stairlifts a low voltage and simply ‘plug-in’. However, there is sometimes a need to have a power point or plug socket fitted closer to the stairs to allow a neater installation. Your chosen supplier should:

  • Be able to arrange this as part of their service.
  • Always make sure your stairlift installer or their electrical contractor has the relevant qualifications to work on domestic electrics and should ideally be a member of one of the following:
    • NICEIC, Elecsa, Napit, Stroma or carry the BSI Kitemark.

8. Weight Capacity

As mentioned in the heavy duty stairlift section, it is important to ensure the stairlift can adequately carry your weight. Most stairlifts can carry up to 18-22 stone comfortably, but if the user is any heavier, we suggest looking at heavy duty stairlift models to ensure safety.

Models on the market can go up to 44 stone on a straight stairlift and up to 30 stone in a curved track at the time of writing this.

Always ask your supplier what options they have and how the heavy duty stairlifts will affect options on track, staircase and model type.

9. Colours, Upholstery, Comfort

Last but by no means least, is the colour, upholstery and comfort of your stairlift. Some companies and manufacturers offer a range of colours and materials for the seat in particular, and they really try to ensure your stairlift is a sleek and attractive part of your home, rather than the big, ugly, bulky machines of the past.

Companion stairlifts example colours and upholstery

Companion stairlifts example colours and upholstery options

It is important you get a stairlift you like and will enjoy using as you will spend a lot of time looking or sat on it. See what options are available to you.