Welcome to our guide to stairlifts and your most asked questions answered.
Lets get the big one out of the way first. And why not, after all you want great value for money.
After a bit of digging and according to a few pages we’ve found the prices can vary massively. This can be due to your staircase layout, therefore it’s unfair to compare one brand against another unless they’re going on the same staircase.
So, according to stairliftexperts.co.uk, they’re suggesting the average price for a stairlift to suit a straight staircase is £1,850. This is based on a new model (not reconditioned) with a 2 year warranty and assuming it doesn’t need any hinged rails or powered options. (Click here to see their page)
Now for a curved staircase, these can vary by thousands depending on how many bends and how much space you have in your hallway or landing. However, their suggested average price is £3,950.
Now the comparison site Which? have gone even higher with their average prices, starting at £2,000 for a basic straight lift and up to £6,000 for a curved one! They have also mentioned that Stannah, the most recognised name in stairlifts is on average £400 more expensive than the 2nd contender Acorn. (Click here to see their page)
We are pleased to be able to say that we are considerably cheaper than the comparisons and examples above. We prefer to give you all the available options, rather than specifying one and then adding all the extras you may not even need.
One of the most honest and independent websites we’ve found is reviewmobility.co.uk who base their research on customer’s own reviews.
Our advice to anyone looking to buy a stairlift is to get a detailed breakdown of ALL the options and bits you may be able to save on, or with some of the national companies, they have been know to ‘throw in’ the extras for a much discounted price. It’s always worth an ask!
Which brand to pick
While there are a few makes and models to chose from, just like a car, everyone has their own reasons for picking a certain brand. The independent dealers, like us, will have their own reasons for a particular lift, be it based on price, options available and for us, definitely reliability.
A question we recommend every new stairlift customer should be asking is regarding after sales support. What happens when it goes wrong? How much will it cost to fix? How quickly will you come and fix it?
2 years warranty is great, but what does it cover and what are the terms. For example our 2-year warranty is subject to you paying for an annual service at the 12-month point. It also covers everything except user error, such as turning the keys off. However we always go through the obvious fault-finding bits on the phone first.
At the point the warranty expires, we often acquire new customers who’ve previously bought directly from the big brands but tell us that they have quoted £365 call-out, just to knock on the door! That’s before they’ve even done any work. If you buy a lift from us, we will offer various options such as servicing or maintenance contracts to cover your costs in the event of a breakdown after the warranty period.
All stairlifts sold to a private person will always be VAT exempt as they are a mobility product. The only exception for this is if an organisation or company such as a care home or local authority
The Stairlift controls are found on either arm-rest in the form of two buttons, or usually a toggle switch to help users who may have arthritic issues. Either type of control requires ‘constant-pressure,’ this method gives the user complete control of the stairlift and simply let go if they wish to stop. At the end of the journey, the stairlift will stop automatically, most provide an audible noise also as a safety feature.
What happens if there is a power cut?
All modern stairlifts now run on low voltage battery power. This means that if the mains power supply fails the batteries will power the machine until the power is restored. Manufacturer’s have quoted 8-10 trips being possible before needing a re-charge, but we’ve once tested a lift to 20 trips and got bored before the batteries gave up! This generally will vary with the age of the batteries and will be more noticeable with multiple users.
Do I have to maintain the batteries?
The battery packs are housed within the stairlift. The modern design of stairlifts makes using the lift very simple. When the machine is not in use, it will be either at the top or the bottom. At this point, the battery pack will recharge, very similar to the principle of cordless telephones.
Similarly to any rechargeable battery powered product, the batteries do have a limit to their lifespan. This can vary depending on the stairlift’s usage but generally we always say you should get at least 5 years of daily usage from your stairlift before it will start showing signs of needing replacement. It’s highly unlikely to leave you stranded as they tend to run noticeably slower on their journeys upstairs for the days leading up to their replacement, but should always be able to get you down.
For all the lifts we install, we keep batteries fully charged, in stock on our vans.
We both want to use the stairlift, how do we do that?
With all installations it is standard practice to be provided with two call & send devices. These are either wall mounted or wireless hand held remote controls. Usually one is located at the top and the other at the bottom of the stairs. Just like the controls on the chair, you have to press and hold to make the stairlift move.
What if I cannot manage the swivel seat?
Stairlifts are designed for ease of use for a wide variety of users, if you find it difficult to operate a manual swivel seat; you should consider the option of a powered motorised swivel.
Can other people still use the stairs if a stairlift is fitted?
Yes, all stairlifts fold flat against the wall when not in use, taking approximately 300mm at it’s widest point. Also, remember, when the stairlift is not in use, it will be either at the top or bottom of the stairs in the ‘parked’ position, (unless you have requested your curved rail stairlift to park on the bend.) Only the track, at low level would be present on the stairs, leaving the stairs virtually free from obstructions.
If I buy a stairlift, how soon will it be fitted?
Normally, if you purchase a straight stairlift, it can be fitted the same day or the next day. However, should your stairlift need to be a curved model, the installation lead time can be slightly longer. You would expect to wait approximately 3-4 weeks. This is due to the curved stairlift rail being custom made for your property.
How is the stairlift fitted?
Stairlift rails are no longer fitted to the wall, but directly onto the stairs through the floor covering of the stairs via feet, or cleats. You will have approximately 3 – 4 feet for a straight staircase.
What power supply does the stairlift require?
Connection is normally to the nearest 13amp socket. If there is not one in the vicinity of the staircase, installers may request that you arrange for the installation of one. Normally, the engineer will try to conceal the wiring wherever possible and run to the nearest available plug point similar to a typical telephone or cable TV installation.
Will the door at the bottom of the stairs be an issue?
This is quite a common scenario which is simply to overcome with the use of a hinged track. A hinged track comes in two forms, manual or powered. Depending on the user’s ability and the number of users dictates which would be the best option for you. This would normally be discussed at the free stairlift survey stage. But if you only have one entrance to your property, the stairlift surveyor may refuse to fit a stairlift because of the limited emergency access should any problems arise in the future.