Stairlifts: 5 Common Misconceptions


Stairlift misconceptions

Some of the most common misconceptions surrounding stairlifts are related to:

  1. their cost
  2. expensive to operate
  3. their size
  4. walls not being strong enough to fix a stairlift to
  5. stairlifts won't work during power-cuts

So, Stair Lift Experts have broken down some of these issues which are, 'usually', misguided thoughts, offering potential and existing buyers a clearer understanding to these misconceptions.

Stairlift Costs – they are expensive

It is not uncommon to assume stairlifts carry a heavy price tag. Surely stairlift prices have gone up year on year, especially in today's economic climate? You only need to look at your fuel bills to see this. Strangely though, 5 – 10 years ago, unlike your fuel bill, stairlift costs were more expensive than they are now. For example one would have expected to pay in excess of £2,000 for a standard straight stairlift and over £5,000 for a standard curve stairlift. Furthermore, these products and costs did not offer the many options that are now readily available. Although options are still charged as 'additional costs' they are much needed options and can enhance and/or assist a user's quality of life. Powered swivel seats and power hinge rails are now common options to name but a few.

To get an idea of stairlift costs, please read this article. However, the most precise way to get an actual cost is to obtain a few quotations. Again, you can benefit from Stair Lift Experts experience here, as we offer to contact good quality stairlift providers on your behalf, saving you valuable time, effort and worry. All you need to do is 'fill-in' the few details on our 'request a quote' form and Stair Lift Experts will arrange the rest. You can be assured that Stair Lift Experts only contact companies that provide quality products that offer value for money.

Stairlifts are expensive to operate

Certainly not and this is due to advanced technology in power saving devices. Stairlifts have come a long way and are now considered equal status, if not better, than other household appliances.

Most, if not all, modern stairlifts comply with European Directives and are built to EN 81-40 standards. Power efficiency and safety are among these directives. As a rule of thumb, most DC stairlifts use very few pennies a day for electricity to trickle charge the rechargeable battery (between 0.10p – 0.20p per day).

Some even consider a stairlift to be one of the cheapest appliances to run in the average home based on the assumption that the average stairlift travels up and down the stair case no more than 14 times per day. Obviously there are always exceptions to this, but 14 travels or 7 return journey's per day uses very little battery power.

Stairlift size

Most people's perception is that the size of their staircase may not be wide enough for a stairlift to travel up, down or around bends. Strange as it may seem, although the width of the staircase is one major factor, this is not the most important issue. The most important issue is the overall measurement taken from the user's spine to their knees or spine to their toes while sitting on the stairlift seat. Usually it's the user's knees that protrude furthest as the majority of users can tuck their feet back while resting on the footrest. It is also recognised that some users find bending their knees and feet difficult. Therefore it may be their feet sticks out further than their knee, while resting on the footrest. Whichever protrudes the most (knees or toes) is the measurement taken to the user's spine. The thickness of the seat back is then added which governs the overall distance from the back of the seat to a user's knees or toes as to whether a stairlift will travel safely on the staircase.

The aim is to avoid the user's knees or feet from clashing with the opposite side of the staircase and most suppliers would still like of provide a further 25mm (or 1 inch) clearance to be safe. If there is a clash, there are still solutions available to our suppliers. In some cases minor alterations may be available where they can widen the staircase width to allow the user a safe travel.

Quality stairlift providers should always note where staircase alterations are possible and at what cost. For the larger user there may be additional options available and again a Stair Lift Expert will discuss these during the site survey.

We appreciate size and weight can sometimes cause user issues both in mobility and body mass which is why Stair Lift Experts recommend stairlifts that are capable of taking weight limits up to 31.5 stone or 200 kilograms, more on max stairlift weights.

Another important issue to note is that stairlifts can be folded when not in use. This safely increases the available walking space for other householders needing to use the staircase.

Walls not strong enough

A very common misconception is that stairlifts are fixed to the wall. In almost every case stairlifts are fixed to the treads on the staircase.

Support feet that hold the rail/s which the stairlift travels along is fixed to specific treads of the staircase. Your surveyor can inform you which treads are used, all you need do is simply ask if you wish to know. The weight of the stairlift and the user are supported across the full length of the staircase.

Those buyers thinking maybe their lath and plaster or plasterboard walls may not be strong enough, need not worry.

No good during power-cuts

Many years ago, it is fair to say, most manufacturers made stairlifts that were only powered by mains electricity (AC current). Unfortunately when power-cuts occurred or the power was cut off they immediately stopped working. Years ago, maybe another coin was needed to feed the meter for the stairlift and other appliances to operate. This was not only an inconvenience but often very unsafe, as elderly users living on their own had to navigate their way when stranded upstairs to the find the electric box which was often downstairs.

Fast forward to today and things are quite different. Yes, mains AC power is still needed, but this is purely to trickle charge rechargeable batteries which are usually hidden within the stairlft carriage.

There are many advantages to using rechargeable batteries (DC current). Today if the mains AC power fails, your stairlift would still continue to operate safely using power direct from the re-chargeable battery/s. Today's advancements enable AC mains electricity to constantly charge the batteries while the stairlift uses the DC power directly from the recharged batteries. If the recharged batteries ever lost the mains supply then the rechargeable batteries automatically continue to operate the stairlift.

A rule of thumb is that most manufacturers' rechargeable batteries are capable of operating the stairlift for approximately 3 – 4 days using 7 return journeys a day without the need for recharging. As soon as the mains power comes back on then the batteries are automatically recharged to full capacity.

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