We evaluated 15 stair lift companies and found the four best choices. We carefully considered cost, stair lift types, customer support and rankings from experts as well as current stair lift users in our evaluations. The four companies that ranked highest are Handicare, Stannah Stairlifts, Harmar and Acorn Stairlifts. In this guide, you’ll see essential stair lift features and benefits, tips for choosing the best stair lift for your mobility needs and you’ll see detailed evaluations of the top companies. You’ll also find helpful frequently asked questions about stair lifts in this guide.
- Contact companies to get full estimates and compare prices
- Test different models to find features that are most important for your comfort and safety
- Read the company’s Terms and Conditions to note any hidden fees and watch out for scams
Tips for a Wise Buyer
Stairlifts are motorized seats attached to a fixed track close to the inner stair rail and are used to carry people up and down stairs. Stairlifts mount directly to your staircase with an electrical (battery-charged) motor used to gently lift a specially-designed chair up and down the stairs. A joystick, remote control or a power button is used to control the movement of the seat.
The chances are that you are one of the nearly 16 million adults age 60 and older who, according to the Population Reference Bureau, live alone in the United States, often staying in their family home. Many of these people need to make some adjustments to their homes to remain independent, and a stairlift is a popular addition. The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University reports that the aging population is growing for a number of reasons and in 2011:
“60 percent of households aged 80 and older and 47 percent of those aged 65-79 had lived in the same residence for 20 or more years.”
There are many types of stairlifts available
There are plenty of choices to consider when selecting the perfect stairlift. Straight stairlifts are usually the least expensive alternative, running directly along the side of a staircase. Curved stairlifts cost more because they require customization to create a track that follows the curve of your staircase. Many companies also make outdoor stairlifts which can operate in the elements and are helpful for moving people from porch to driveway or down to a boat dock, detached garage or shed.
In-home stair lift estimates
Most stairlift companies offer free in-home surveys to help individuals choose the best stairlift for their needs, spot possible problems, recommend features for your stairlift location and to measure the staircase. The survey will include an assessment of electrical power availability as well.
Although there are self-install stairlifts on the market, it’s best to have a skilled professional handle the installation. Installing a stairlift is a complex project with safety concerns and an experienced technician can help ensure years of trouble-free operation.
Have a stairlift installed professionally
After the completion of the home survey, you will receive information for contacting an installer or installation will be arranged for you. Be sure to get a quote that includes the cost of installation, and understand that if you live in a less populated area installation cost could be higher.
Types of stairlifts
Ask yourself these questions when deciding which type of stairlift is right for your home:
Will the stairlift be temporary or permanent? If you have a short-term need for assistance getting up and down stairs, a rental is better than buying.
What size stairlift is required? The seat should fit you well and provide optimal safety. Standard stairlifts typically carry individuals weighing up to 300 pounds. Models that accommodate more weight are wider and can take up more space. If you are tall or tiny, be sure you can fit and ride comfortably in a standard chair and that all controls and features are within easy reach while seated.
Do you prefer that the stairlift blend in with home decor or have the best appearance possible? You may want to spend more for a premium chair, upgraded upholstery or add other options.
Is your staircase straight or curved? Does it cover multiple levels in your home? Companies make standard-fit and customizable, modular stair lifts to fit any home.
Do you have a door near the top or bottom of the stairs? You should consider a flip-up seat or rail option that keeps the stairlift from crowding the door.
Try out a variety of stairlifts in showrooms whenever possible, and get an idea for the seat width you require by sitting in a kitchen chair or another firm chair and measuring. Call your local municipality such as a city hall to ask about building permit requirements, and ask installers about local licensing and liability insurance.
Finally, beware of scams and compare prices across several providers. Unusually low prices, pre-owned stair lifts and deceptive branding can be a red flag. For example, a common occurence of deceptive branding in the stairlift industry is when businesses put their name on manufacturer’s low-quality equipment. Keep in mind, the sellers don’t make, install or support the equipment.
Consider these stair lift features
Convenience features might be standard or optional and may affect the final price. Nearly all stairlifts on the market offer swivel seats to make it easier to get in and out of the chair and also come with safety belts.You need to be able to use the stairs in power outages safely, so most models have a battery backup that supports multiple trips up and down the stairs. Verify that the model you will buy has a battery backup.
More options raise the price
Features that may be optional include lift-up foot or armrests, tilt or perch seat positions to make it easier to enter and exit the stairlift and speed control. Some companies offer rails that fold up manually or automatically to reduce tripping hazards. There are stairlift models that curve at the bottom to park the seat off of the staircase.
Ask for comprehensive estimates that include a breakdown cost of the stairlift, optional features you might want, installation and warranty.
Stair lift warranty
Know how to stay within warranty
Stairlift warranties can vary quite a bit across companies. Most cover parts and labor for a few years while some companies offer lifetime warranties on the motor and gearbox. Ask about monthly, weekly and other maintenance you need to do to keep the stairlift running well to maintain the warranty terms. Ask about the availability and cost of service and support in your area. A reputable company should offer 24/7 customer service for questions or troubleshooting.
Our search for the best stair lift companies
1. We searched for an extensive list of stairlift companies
2. We evaluated stairlift companies based on our expert-guided buying criteria: customer support, affordability, and mobility options
3. We provided you the best stairlift companies for consideration
Stair Lift Reviews
After our evaluation, we chose the four best stairlift manufacturers: Handicare, Stannah Stairlifts, Harmar, and Acorn Stairlifts. Each of these companies stood out above and beyond the competition.
Handicare has a rich history starting with being founded by three young men who were paralyzed and looked for options to be more independent at home. Founded in 1990 in Norway, Handicare has offices in the U.S, Scandinavia and Europe. The company’s mission is simple: Making everyday life easier. Core values include commitment, integrity and respect.
Handicare manufactures a variety of affordable to premium straight and curved stairlifts, including outdoor models. The Van Gogh model has the distinction of running against the interior wall on a staircase instead of along the handrail. Prices quoted for budget models with no options start out at around $2,500 on up to $10,000 or more for a top curved model with all options added. Options include folding rails, power footrest, chair swivel and folding functions, harness and a color selection for the seat, chair and rail.
We were impressed with Handicare’s Vision, a unique 3D computer application used for showing customers exactly how a stairlift looks installed in their own home with the color and options they choose. The warranty on straight stairlifts includes a lifetime warranty on the motor and gearbox and curved stairlifts come with a five-year warranty. Verified consumer reviews rate Handicare highly.
Harmar was founded in 1998 with manufacturing facilities in Sarasota, Florida. Harmar added the popular Pinnacle stairlift to the line of stairlifts in 2008 and today the company sells stairlifts across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Harmar manufactures a full line of straight and curved stairlifts, including heavy-duty and outdoor models. The Helix model is customizable for use with stairways with a 90- or 180-degree turn, a spiral staircase and multi-story staircases. When folded up, the Pinnacle SL600 is the lightest and narrowest model available, requiring only 11 inches of space.
The base price for the Pinnacle SL600 starts off at around $4,000 and the Helix runs close to $10,000. Both models feature a unique drive system that requires no grease or lubricants, which reduces maintenance. Harmar dealers partner with some financing programs to let you know within a few minutes at a dealership if you are eligible for payment options. Harmar offers a two-year warranty on components.
Stannah has been in business for over 150 years and remains a family business today. Stairlift distributors are located in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and have sold over 600,000 units. Stannah boasts an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Stannah manufactures straight stairlifts, customizable curved stairlifts for any staircase and an outdoor model. The Sadler model is designed for people with limited flexibility. The seat is fully supported in near-standing position and with calibration to the customer’s height, so the seat tilt makes getting into and out of the chair effortless. Prices run from $2,500 to around $8,500. All stairlift models are rated for narrow staircases, except for the Scout which is designed for stairs with a door at the top such as a basement staircase. All Stannah models come with a lifetime warranty on the motor and gearbox.
Stannah has a rental program for short-term use, and dealers often have manufacturer refurbished stairlifts available at a reduced cost. Most models are available in a more varied assortment of colors compared to competitors, and verified customer reviews rate Stannah very highly.
Founded in 1992 and based in Orlando, Florida, Acorn has served customers in more than 600,000 homes around the world. It covers nearly every major metropolitan area in the United States with their dealers or partnerships with other stairlift retailers. Acorn is currently the only manufacturer to have earned the Ease of Use Commendation from the Arthritis Foundation. To gain this distinction, Acorn submitted scientific studies and evaluations of the products they sell, then the products were tested by the Arthritis Foundation. What makes Acorn stand out, however, is their FastTrack modular rail system that makes installation on curved stairs fast and easy to customize on-the-spot.
The Acorn 130 is a budget-friendly option for straight stairways with pricing starting at around $3,000. The level of customization possible with the 130 makes pricing impossible to quote without speaking to a dealer. The 180 model is sold for any staircase whether it’s curved, has multiple landings, or requires customization. The company also has an outdoor model. Acorn offers a one-year comprehensive warranty on its stairlifts.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know the stairlift will fit?
An authorized dealer for the stairlift company should survey the staircase in your home and make sure the chosen lift will fit properly. A dealer representative will likely ask you questions to make sure the model you prefer will work based on your size and mobility needs.
What is the average price of a stairlift?
Getting a stairlift installed on a straight stairway will cost around $2,500 to $5,000 on average. If you have a curved or multi-level stairway, you’ll need to budget for around $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the model you choose.
How do I get help paying for a stairlift?
Medicare does not cover the cost of a stairlift at this time although in rare cases you may get some help with an accessibility feature. Many states have programs to help people pay for assistive technology. See the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance website to find a financial assistance program in your state. Veterans should check to see if they qualify for VA assistance to help pay for a stairlift, especially if one is needed to accommodate a disability with a referral from a VA provider. Many stairlift companies offer financing terms, but be sure to get full disclosure of interest rates and fees before applying.
How do I know a stairlift is safe?
Buy a reputable brand and you should feel completely safe as long as you use the stairlift as directed. Some have safety features such as sensors to keep the stairlift from moving until you’re securely in the chair. Although you can buy refurbished models, a new stairlift is likely to be more reliable and covered by a warranty. Finally, pay for professional installation and make sure installers are licensed and bonded.
What are the electrical requirements for owning a stairlift?
Almost all stairlifts sold today are low-voltage, DC units, meaning you just need a standard electrical socket where you can plug it in. Your stairlift should be sold with around 25 feet of cord to reach the outlet nearest your staircase.
Maintaining your mobility and being able to live in the comfort of your own home is a big goal as you age. Stair lifts help you navigate multiple levels of your home safely. Whether your staircase is straight or custom-made, you can work with a stair lift company to find a lift that fits your needs.
The best three stair lift companies we recommended stand out for different reasons and meet our selection criteria. We came to our conclusions after reviewing market research and expert analysis, resulting in recommendations designed to help you choose the ideal stair lift based on your individual needs.