If you’re handicapped a stair lift can really give you back your independence. But the cost of a handicap stair lift is expensive so before you part with your money you should make sure you buy the best stair lift for you. Here’s a quick review of stair lifts for the disabled.
There are two basic types of stair lift; the straight stair lift and the curved stair lift. These further divide into electric AC mains stair lifts and DC battery operated stair lifts. First off, do you require a curved stair lift? The price of a curved stair lift is many times more expensive than a straight stair lift. And most stair lift manufacturers only make straight stair lifts. These manufacturers will tell you that you can use two straight stair lifts if you have a middle landing, however you should bear in mind that you will have to get on and off the stair chair lift twice; this may not be so easy, depending on your handicap, especially when changing stair lifts on a small interim landing.
Until recently just about all stair lifts for the disabled were powered from mains electricity. This had some problems: the units were noisy: they had a trailing cable, which could be easily tripped over; the ride action was somewhat ‘juddery’; and you couldn’t use it when there was a power failure. Most new handicap stair lifts are battery powered. You get many advantages with a battery stair lift: quiet ride; smooth ride; no mains wires and easy to install; and you can use it when there is a power outage.
However, there are some advantages to main power. With an electric stair lift you can use it as much as you like; battery operated stair lifts need to be recharged. So, if you think you might use the handicap stair lift more than 20 times a day, then you could consider an electric stair lift.
The following manufacturers make handicap stair lifts for straight stairways only.
The Acorn Superglide 120 stair lift is a very good battery powered unit. You get many features as standard; safety sensors to stop the chair when it encounters an obstacle, fold up seat and flip up foot rest, swivel seat, and a directional paddle switches that are operated by the lightest touch and can be used easily by those even with limited dexterity. You also get a choice of safety belts; inertial reel lap harness comes as standard – you have to pay more for a fixed 3-point shoulder harness.
Finally, Acorn also manufactures the Superglide Perch Stair Lift. This perch stair lift is especially useful for those who have only limited movement in their knees – it’s also ideal for stairways that are narrower than normal.
Summit stair lifts are designed to be cheap and easily installed. The company makes electric stair lifts and not battery. You get many of the features that come with the Acorn; however the controls on the Summit stair lift are not ideal for the disabled. Also, you don’t get a safety belt. If your disability is such that you have limited use in your hands or you need to be secured with a safety belt, then you really should consider the Acorn; the price of its disable stair lift is more than that of the Summit stair lift but you do get a lot more features that are better for the handicapped.
If you need a curved stair lift then you’re probably best is considering either a Bruno stair lift or Stannah stair lift – both of these companies also make excellent straight stair lifts.
All Bruno stair lifts are battery powered. The company makes the Bruno Electra-Ride III Curved Rail stair lift. You get a retractable safety belt; optional wrap-around parking so the chair doesn’t occupy too much space on the landing; and it can carry up to 350 lbs. All in all, the Bruno is an excellent stair lift for the disabled.
Stannah is a UK stair lift manufacturer who supply handicap stair lifts all over the world. The Stannah 260 stair lift is its curved stair lift. This stair lift is ideal for the disabled. The arms come with integrated controls that operate at the lightest touch – you can also get a joystick option if you prefer. You get a manually operate swivel seat as standard but there’s also a powered swivel option. The stair lift comes with 9 sensitive safety edges to detect any obstacle and stop the chair. Finally, the chair travels along a unique dual track that is very elegant in design.
The Stannah stair lift is a little more expensive that the Bruno handicap stair lift but it is worth paying that little bit extra.
The above four stair lifts all work well for the disabled. For a straight stair lift, the Acorn Superglide stair lift is your best option. For a curved stair lift, the Stannah stair lift is my recommendation. Whichever model of handicap stair lift you choose make sure it has the features you need.
By Robin Cassidy
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