If the time has come to get a stair lift for your home, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. There are so many different brands and models that picking between them can feel impossible. Instead of just endlessly browsing through your options, a better way to approach this situation is to make a list of the features you need in a stair lift and then only look at models that offer those features. Here are the four main decisions you'll need to make when narrowing down what features you need.
Do you need a regular or heavy duty stair lift?
While there is some variation between brands, in most cases, regular stair lifts have a weight limit of about 300 pounds. If you weigh more than 300 pounds, you will want to restrict your consideration to heavy duty stair lifts, which have higher weight capacities. If you're near 300 pounds, it also may not be a bad idea to spring for a heavy duty chair lift. This way, if you happen to gain a few unplanned pounds, you do not have to worry about going through the struggle of replacing your stair lift. If you ever have visitors who may need to use the stair lift and are over 300 pounds, you can accommodate them, too.
Do you need the chair to swivel?
There are two basic types of seats that chair lifts may be fitted with. A fixed-seat chair lift has a chair that faces the interior of the staircase. To get in and out of the seat, you would have to step on the top or bottom stair. The other option is a swivel seat, which rotates to face the top or bottom of the stairs for you to get in and out -- and then swings to face the interior of the staircase as you're in motion.
If you have very limited mobility, the swivel-seat chair is probably a better choice as it allows you to avoid stepping onto the stairs. However, if don't envision yourself struggling to get into the chair from the step, a fixed seat might be a better choice. There is less of a chance of malfunction, as there's no swiveling apparatus to worry about, and fixed-seat lifts tend to be cheaper, too.
Do you need a foldable or non-foldable stair lift?
Do you have family members who will be traversing the stairs by foot on a regular basis, or are you the only one who frequents the stairs? If you want the stairs to be very accessible to foot traffic, you may want to get a fold-up stair lift that condenses against the wall when not in use. However, if you're the only one who uses the stairs regularly, you can get away with a non-folding stair lift -- you won't have to go through the struggle of folding it up. Anyone who does need to use the stairs by foot will be able to; they'll just have to squeeze past the lift.
Is a battery-powered lift or an electric lift better suited to your needs?
A battery-powered stair lift plugs into the wall to charge, but then runs on its battery. An electric one must be plugged into the wall in order to run -- it does not have a battery. There are pros and cons to each option. With a battery powered unit, you have to remember to charge the unit frequently. If you use it too many times in a row, it might run out of power. However, if the electricity goes out, you can still use your chair lift (as long as the battery is charged). With an electric lift, you don't have to worry about plugging it in or about it running out of power with heavy use -- but if the power goes out, your stair lift won't work.
If you have frequent power outages in your area, a battery-powered unit might be the better choice. However, if you plan to use the stair lift frequently and don't want to have to remember to charge it, electric might be ideal. You can always pair an electric stair lift with a generator to prepare yourself for power outages.
Once you know what weight capacity you need, what kind of seat you want, whether you want your chair to fold, and whether you prefer a battery or electricity-powered lift, you're ready to shop.
For more information and options, talk with a company that supplies stair lifts, like All-Star Lifts.