If you are having difficulty going up and down the stairs in your home, you may want to consider adding a stair lift. A stair lift can be a great solution for people with mobility issues or trouble navigating stairs.
How much does a stair lift cost? A basic stair lift for an average single flight, straight staircase without turns, landings or curves will usually cost from $3,000 to $4,000. Custom stair lifts for staircases with turns, landings or curves will start around $7,500 and will increase in price with complexity and length.
The price of a stair lift can vary widely depending on the type that is required for your staircase, the options you select, your needs, and the stair lift manufacturer. Some of the factors that will affect the price of a stair lift include:
- Stairway type – a straight staircase will usually be the most affordable. Curves, turns and landings can add substantially to the cost. Also, the width of the staircase can limit what stair lift models can be installed. A narrow staircase may not be suitable for any type of stair lift.
- Stairway length – most stair lifts are designed for staircases with 12-14 stairs. Longer lengths will add additional cost – up to $100 per foot.
- Rider weight – most stair lifts are designed for individuals that weigh 300 pounds or less. Stair lifts are available for individuals up to 600 pounds and can add up to $1,500 or more to the cost.
- Indoor vs. Outdoor – the required weatherproofing for outdoor stair lifts can add $400-500 to the cost.
- Chair features – there are many options for stair lift chairs: folding powered and non-powered footrests, swivel seats, colors and finishes, safety harnesses and restraints will all add to the final cost.
- Rail type – manual or automatic folding rails can add up to $500 to the final cost.
Types of Stair Lifts
Stair lifts are known as stair lifts, stair-lifts, chair lifts, stair gliders and many other names. They are motorized chairs that are for moving people up and down staircases. Stair lift rails are made of steel or lighter weight aluminum and include an enclosed chain drive system. Most modern stair lifts include adjustable height seats, speed governors, fold up footrests and rails, seat belts, an armrest rocker switch for easy operation and a backup-batteries.
There are two basic types of stair lifts. A straight stair lift is installed on a straight staircase with no turns, curves or intermediate landings between floors. A curved or custom stair lift is installed on a staircase with a curve or turn or intermediate landing area.
Straight Stair Lifts
A straight stair lift is designed for staircases with 12-14 stairs and no turns, landings or curves. They can be extended or trimmed to just about any length. Many times a straight stair lift is a stock item for a manufacturer and will require little or no modification to install in a home. Prices start at $2,000 but can be as high as $5,000. Most end up being in the $3,000 to $4,000 price range and carry a one-year warranty. Customizing a straight stair lift with options such as a folding footrest, folding rail, power swivel seat, custom colors or material will increase the cost. Straight stair lifts can be installed in a matter of hours and require minimal training for the user.
Custom Stair Lifts – Turns, Landing and Curves
A custom or curved stair lift is installed on a staircase with turns, intermediate landings, or curves. They are custom-made to match the unique turns and curves of a staircase and can be designed to fit nearly any staircase length. Prices start at $7,500 but can go as high as $10,000 or higher depending on the length and complexity of the staircase. Further customization with options such as a folding footrest, folding rail, power swivel seat, custom colors or material will increase the cost.
Used or Rental?
Purchasing a used stair lift for your home may be a good investment. Most stair lifts manufactured in the United States have a designed lifespan of around 10 years but are only used in the home on average for 3-4 years. Used stair lifts can save home owners as much as 10-50% of a new stair lift. However, installation will cost extra and if the used stair lift was customized for a staircase that is different from yours, even more installation costs can be expected.
If you need a stair lift for a short period of time during a surgical recovery or for a visiting relative, a rental stair lift may be a good choice. You may be able to find a short term rental stair lift, usually for only $200-$500 a month. Unfortunately, rentals are almost always limited to straight stair lifts.
Most modern stair lifts are equipped with many safety features. A speed governor limits the chair’s speed so that it does not move too fast especially when descending. Obstruction sensors stop the chair when it meets an object on the staircase. Retractable seat belts are included for added safety. To prevent others from using the stair lift, many are fitted with a key.
Newer stair lifts are powered with rechargeable batteries. That way the stair lift will continue to operate during a power outage.
Most stair lifts are controlled by a simple constant pressure switch. As long as the rider presses and holds the switch, the chair moves. When the rider release the switch, the chair stops immediately. Some also include a remote control to call the stair lift chair from one floor to another. This would be convenient for stair lifts with multiple users in the home.
Maintenance and Repair
Modern stair lifts are well made and require very little maintenance. Yearly maintenance checks by a qualified manufacturer’s representative are a good idea and many manufacturers offer yearly stair lift maintenance programs. Battery capacity and wear should be checked regularly.
Here is a list of some common stair lift manufacturers and their contact information.
|101 Mobility||https://101mobility.com/||(888) 258-0652|
|Acorn Stair Lifts||https://www.acornstairlifts.com/||(866) 871-6260|
|Acsent Stair Lifts||https://www.ascentmobility.com||(720) 545-9222|
|Handicare USA||https://www.handicareusa.com/||(888) 637-8155|
|Improvement Center||http://www.improvementcenter.com||(844) 761-9318|
When your staircase cannot accommodate a stair lift or if a stair lift is beyond your price range, here are a few good alternatives to consider:
Handrails – A very inexpensive alternative is to install handrails on both sides of the staircase. With handrails on both sides, a climber will be able to steady themselves from both sides of the staircase.
Stair Blocks – Stair blocks are furniture quality, half-height blocks which are easily added to your existing staircase and reduce the effort required to climb or descend a stair case. These will double the effective number of steps with minimal alteration to the staircase. For a better understanding of stair blocks, check out this video.
Sliding Stair Rails – A stair climbing aid is a grab bar that will slide and lock into place in front of the stair climber to hold as they climb or descend. These typically cost about 50% of the price of a stair lift. You can see examples of a sliding stair rail at StairAids, StairSteady and AssiStep.
Platform Lifts – Also known as elevator or porch lifts, these are vertical or inclined lifts that can accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, and power chairs. They normally cost more than a stair lift.
Are stair lifts covered by Medicare? Unfortunately, no – Since stair lifts are not considered necessary medical equipment, Original Medicare does not cover the cost of stair lifts. However, there are some Medicare Advantage plans that may cover stair lift costs. Also, depending on the state you live in, Medicaid may cover a portion of the cost.
Do stair lifts use a lot of electricity? Modern stair lifts are very energy efficient. Most use two batteries to operate the unit and move the chair up and down – not your home’s electricity. Only a small amount of electricity is needed to keep the batteries charged, usually less than $15 a year.
How long do stair lifts last? You can expect a modern stair lift to have a life expectancy of about 10 years. If the stair lift does not receive heavy use and is only used a couple times a day, the stair lift may last longer. Stair lift batteries usually only last 3-5 years. A yearly maintenance check by a qualified manufacturer’s representative is always a good idea.