Which Stair Lift Is Best?

Stair lifts may at first look to be complicated pieces of machinery, but you can relax with our help and assistance as we aim to make the whole process very easy.

It may surprise you to know that installing a straight lift on your staircase will take less than an hour. Our curved models might take a little longer – and will probably be completed over an afternoon or morning to suit your timetable.I'll give you a hand with your mobility

 

If you’ve any questions at all please ask us.

Phone between 7am and 11pm on 0800 007 5050

Or Email us HERE

 

Here are some chair lift options:

  • New & used straight lifts

  • New & used curved models

  • Straight lifts & bridging platforms

  • Outdoor stairlifts

  • Extra wide stair lift seats

  • Uprated seats for example: Up to thirty stone limit bariatric models

  • Perch lifts (for those who might not be able to sit down on a lower seat)

  • Sit or standing option

  • Mains powered or battery powered (DC)

  • Digital display for diagnostics

  • Manual or powered hinge for the rail to accomodate obstacles

  • Powered swivel option

Stair lifts are designed to help anyone to climb and descend the stairs in their home, in a more sure and safe way. Because not all staircases or lifts are the same, they should be designed to fit your own unique and individual needs.

There are 3 main types of design: straight travelling in a straight line, curved that can go around the corner & perch which are a stylish solution for anyone who can not bend their knees or stand safely enough. The exact model you need will be dictated by the kind of stairs you’ve got in your home and your own physical needs.

Sometimes a bridge platform or a simple staircase amendment can help to avoid the expensive costs of a curved system.

As every stairs are different & everyone’s needs are also different as well a reputable company always assesses you and your stairs as a unique and bespoke installation, rather than a one size fits all policy.

Regardless of whether your stairs are narrow or wide or curved or straight it is highly likely we will have a chairlift that can be installed on your stairs. Spiral staircases are our speciality! If you’ve a few steps outside in the garden, we can arrange a surveyor to get one suitable for outdoor use, which are waterproof so as to carry on working irrespective of the weather.

The only thing that’s common with all our lifts is that each one will be a perfect fit for someone’s home. Maybe someone like you? Call us to see how we can help.

Phone 0800 007 5050 today.

Most chair lifts have comfortable seats (complete with seat belts!) ) But if you’ve trouble sitting, or your stairs are very narrow, you can get a perch lift. The perch has a padded section that replaces the seat & provides a small support for leaning against when using it, much like a padded yet comfortable bar stool.

If other people will be using the stairs, you can have the option to fold the seat down of the unit when not in use. Even if the user does live alone & doesn’t need to consider other people’s needs accessing their upstairs, a carer, doctor or decorator may be impeded if an old & bulky second hand lift has been bought to save money, as it could block the stairs unnecessarily.

A swivel chair can help, if you can swing the chair around to face away in the direction of the landing at the top, it can make getting off the lift easier. The swivel is easy to operate, by pulling a handle under the seat to allow the chair to swing round.  An easier option, and one to bear in mind if the user has a degenerative condition that may affect their hand mobility, is to take up the option of a powered swivel seat.  These are usually available with a small additional cost, depending on the brand chosen.

Stairlift Controls

All models generally come with 2 controls – 1 to turn them on & off, & another to control movements. There is a wide range of controls, from simple switches to the joysticks & buttons – & all modern lifts have remotes. The best selling budget lift in Britain has rocker switches on each arm of the chair so that the user can control it even if they have a mobility restriction. Most chairlifts (as they’re also often called) are controlled by built-in rechargeable batteries – continuously recharged by the mains – so in case of a power failure, the lift will carry on working! A digital diagnostics panel would display a code if you ever had a problem with the performance of the lift.  Then a quick read of the manual or a call to the manufacturers twenty-four helpline will help resolve any worries you had.

Some people might be worried about how the lift will look in their home.  They may think  “Can I hide a stairlift?” thinking that they don’t want to admit they have a genuine need for help on the stairs, or they think it might be unsightly on their staircase.  However all modern day brands are now designed to fit into different types of decor and some manufacturers even employ specialist interior designers to ensure theirs look good.

When the surveyor visits to discuss your needs, make sure to tell them that the look of the chair lift is important to you and he should be able to give you a swatch of different seat colours.  The most economical model of lifts come in a blend-into-anywhere light beige colour.  As the lift is fastened to the stairs instead of the wall, any existing decoration in the hall and on the stairs will remain unchanged.

What is a stair lift?

It is defined in the famous online encyclopedia Wikipedia as a mechanical device that is used to help lift people or wheel chairs on the stairs.  The entry on ‘Wikipedia’  is quite an interesting read and contains lots of information, however it may be a little out of date and it is pretty ‘Americanised’ so may not help you as such with a choice of companies to help you in the United Kingdom. Also here is the Wikipedia encyclopedia entry showing the company headquarters where I have done much of my ‘training’ in recent years.  I am also particularly proud of the Charitable Works section – Read Here

Here, I would like to give some interesting information as to the origin of the stair lift, or chair lift as it is often known – followed by a comprehensive guide of the manufacturers and their products.

In the early 1920’s there was an entrepreneur in Pennsylvania, USA who had figured out a way to assist his friend, who had polio, to go up and down stairs.  He had built what he called an inclining chair in prototype form which then went on to commercial production as the Inclinator.

However, modern historians, particularly David Starkey, have highlighted the fact that the earliest mention of a stairlift can be traced back to no less than Henry VIII.

The king who had been injured when horse riding, had used a giant chair that was brought up the stairs of his London residence by a rope and block system.

Stannah

The stair lift in modern times is often known as a ‘Stannah’ just as a ballpoint is a biro or a vacuum cleaner is a hoover. Stannah, of course still a principle manufacturer, and having been around since the 1970s, is the name that many people immediately associate with the product and is the oldest lift manufacturer making them in the UK.

On the subject of Stannah lifts…“An engineer friend was asked to remove an old chairlift in Cheshire as the owner went abroad. Everyone was wondering how old it was. The user couldn’t remember – only that he had never had it serviced – and it had never gone wrong! That is quality! So I sent some photographs to the manufacturer. Stannah kindly replied -”The Model shown in your pictures is a 215 Bench seat, this model was produced from 1984 until 1991, I think the model shown was built in 1984. It would have been manufactured in the UK, Andover Hampshire”.Neil Bennett
Technical Services Coordinator
Stannah.com

So that particular model lasted over 20 years! Who knows how much longer it could have gone on for, without needing attention or repair, as when we had the stair lift professionally removed, it was due to emigrating abroad, not that it was faulty in any way.

Whilst the industry is still a small one by comparison – there are now several large manufacturers satisfying the increasing demand for a facility that enables people to stay in their homes and make full use of the upper floor.

Acorn

In the past decade – the Acorn Stairlifts empire has entered the world market starting from grass roots in Yorkshire – to become the biggest producer in terms of units. They produce a reliable slim line and economically priced lift that is sold in many countries. Possibly directly because of Acorn – the cost has become a lot lower in the past few years – and during my involvement in the industry in the past few years – I have seen quality improve and prices drop considerably.

In 2008, Acorn bought Bison Bede – mainly to have the potential to manufacture their very own curved track system – previously they had relied on supply from other makers. Acorn also now own Brooks too – which was purchased out of liquidation for a nominal fee. The straight Brooks lift is in fact the same as an Acorn, yet as it usually marketed through trade companies at a lower cost – it has a separate branding. The colour is a standard gold/beige – but it is in fact an Acorn, made by Acorn and often factory fitted by them on behalf of another smaller company. Effectively, the order is often taken by a local care shop or small stair lift company – who then sub contract out the job to them. This is quite an ethical arrangement – and no different than looking at Heinz Beans and Tesco Beans being next to each other on the same supermarket shelf at differing prices. We all know this is virtually the same product with a different hat on. It is called re-branding.

Why not ask us for some of the Acorn reviews we have, from our satisfied customers?

 

 

 

Minivator

Minivator are owned by Handicare a huge European lift and healthcare company which globally is bigger than Stannah in turnover. Minivator are also known as Companion and operate as a marketing partner of AgeUK. Their Minivator 2000 will fit the narrowest staircases as it will run tighter to the newell post of the stairs than any other brand. Their curved prices are also quite reasonable starting from £3850 for that particular model.  New straight Minivators can be installed for around at least half of this figure, for reconditioned perhaps around £995 not including VAT or electrical work. It all depends on your needs, requirements and the layout of your staircase.  Get in touch and we can help you choose wisely.

HOWEVER… When spending hundreds or thousands of pounds – it is necessary to be a little more informed and careful than when buying a tin of beans.

A stairlift is a once in a lifetime expensive purchase, and my aim is to point you in the right direction of a supplier who is best placed from a point of view of where they are, what is offered and at what cost.

To conclude on who actually makes them – we have the following British manufacturers:

Acorn (which now incorporates Bison Bede)
Brooks (which is in fact Acorn)
Liftable-Cumbria
Meditek
Minivator
Powerdrive
Stannah

… and from overseas, Freelift (from Holland) Thyssen (which make the Flow curved model and are a German engineering company) and the American giant Bruno which have a presence in the UK through distributors.

I have compiled here a list of all the known brands of stair lift available in the United Kingdom – along with the specifications. It is quite a lot to take in and some of the terms start to get a little technical – but please remember – I am here to make life simple – and whatever questions you have – ASK ME

Below is a brand-by-brand guide. To see it more clearly click here to download as a pdf.
Or here as a word doc

Contact me or call Freephone 0800 007 5050 any time and you will be making the first sensible step to find out what in my opinion is the right direction in which to go.

Kind regards,


Doctor Neil Stirling MB ChB

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by Dr. Neil Stirling MB ChB