For seniors with limited mobility or people with disabilities, the best stairlift for your house is essential. It gives you back your home and helps you be more independent. If you can’t get up and down your stairs, you either sell your house and move into a single story building or you get a stairlift. It’s that simple. Stairs pose too great a risk to not have one. And when you consider the costs and stresses associated with moving, a stairlift is the obvious choice.
That said, a good stairlift is still a significant investment. And one that should last for as long as you need it. So, it’s important to take your time to consider the various types of stairlifts, safety features, seat types, and comfort. For example, the biggest challenge to choosing the right stairlift is finding the right one to fit your specific stairs and needs. Since most homes have a unique number of stairs with perhaps some curves or turns, an expert consultation is necessary to find the best stairlift for you.
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Bruno’s strict adherence to ISO 9001 certification for a quality management system means the product is consistently made to a very high quality. While every manufacturer claims to make their stairlifts to the highest standards, few have ISO 9001 certification. This devotion to quality is apparent when you look at the customer reviews. With over 2,500 reviews on multiple sites, Bruno’s overall rating is 4.8 stars — the highest rating from verified users of all the brands we evaluated. It’s clear people like their Bruno stairlifts.
Bruno Stairlifts are famous for being exceptionally comfy, but it’s the incredible folding abilities of the company's stairlifts that sets it apart. Having a folding seat is essential, especially if you have other people living in the house and using the stairs. A stairlift seat takes up a significant amount of space, but with the Bruno stairlift, it hugs the wall tightly, allowing for people to move past it like it wasn’t there.
Bruno stairlifts feature automatic charging via the rail wherever the seat is parked, so you never have to worry about recharging it. The brand also includes a folding rail for staircases adjacent to a door or walkway. The bottom portion of the rail simply folds up and out of the way.
Read our full Bruno evaluation.
AmeriGlide is one of the few stairlift manufacturers to forgo the dealership and sell directly to the consumer. This means you don’t pay a marked up price. And since they sell directly to you, the starting prices are listed on each stairlift, which is rare. They even include the monthly cost if you want to finance through their partner. This type of transparency on pricing is rare with stairlift manufacturers. It helps you see what type of budget you can expect before you go into a sales call. In fact, it’s one of the few stairlift companies that sells directly to consumers online. But more importantly, the prices are lower than other brands, with the stairlifts starting at around $1,690.
AmeriGlide offers factory reconditioned stairlifts, which are from people who have sold their stairlifts back to the company after they don’t need them anymore, a common practice. Not only is it a great way to save money when you start out but it allows you to recoup some money when you don’t need it anymore.
We wish the customer reviews were better, however. While there aren’t many user reviews online, the overall rating was very low at just 2.6 stars. By comparison, other brands averaged 4.8 stars with thousands of reviews.
Read our full AmeriGlide evaluation.
Curved stairs add convenience and architectural flare to a home. But this also makes them difficult to outfit with a stairlift because every staircase is different. While the seat is the same as any stairlift, the rail needs to conform to the curve of the stairs. And since every set of curved stairs is different, this means you likely need a custom designed stairlift. And that’s what you get with Stannah Stairlifts. In fact, customer reviews often state how their staircase was deemed impossible by other brands only to have Stannah’s experts make it happen.
With over 40 years of experience in building stairlifts and over 150 years building lifts, Stannah has the most experience in the industry. This experience is evident in the excellent customer reviews, as the company has an average of 4.8 stars on several user review sites. As such, there’s a greater chance you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.
Of course, you pay for that quality. Stannah stairlifts are not cheap and feature extras like heated chairs and perch-style seats. The one major downside to Stannah Stairlifts is the lack of bariatric stairlifts.
Read our full Stannah evaluation.
Most stairlift companies focus on developing stairlifts for the elderly and the disabled. They often only have three models in their lineup. And none of the models are designed to lift more than 300 pounds. Most don’t pay any attention to the severely obese population. But Harmar does. The Harmar Pinnacle SL600HD features a wide seat and is rated to lift 600 pounds, nearly double the industry average, making it our pick for best bariatric stairlift.
In addition to providing an excellent bariatric stairlift, Harmar features stairlifts with a patented quiet drive system designed to give you a smooth ride with very little noise.
We’re disappointed that there aren’t many user reviews to be found online of Harmar stairlifts. This makes it difficult to gauge how well people like their purchase or the customer support they receive from Harmar. With a weak 3-year warranty on the motor and few reviews, we suggest you test a Harmar stairlift at a dealership before deciding to buy one.
Acorn’s specialty is fast installations that require no structural changes to your home. That’s how the marketing goes, anyway. With most manufacturers, it takes weeks for a stairlift to arrive and several days for installation. But with Acorn’s FastTrack system, they claim to have it installed in just days after your purchase. In some areas, it can take just a day. This fast turnaround is excellent if you’re coming out of surgery or if you had a fall and realize you need a stairlift as soon as possible.
Aside from Acorn’s fast installation, we’re not thrilled about the warranty, the limited options, and the lack of a bariatric model. Acorn claims to be the biggest manufacturer in the world, but the lack of transparent pricing and a short 12-month warranty is a big concern. In addition, while Acorn is the most reviewed manufacturer, the reviews are inconsistent. On one site, they have a high 4.7 rating but on another site they have a 2.7 rating from users. As such, it’s difficult to tell whether Acorn makes a consistently great staircase with great service or not.
The best stairlifts: How we made our picks
Rather than review specific stairlift models, we’ve turned our focus to reviewing the various stairlift brands. The reason is simple — every home and every person’s situation is different. When you look at stairlifts as being an investment in your independence, it becomes much less about which specific model is the best and more about which brand is going to help you find the best stairlift for you.
We spent over 60 hours researching the brand's history and online reputation. We looked at the available options and evaluated the specifications of each stairlift, including the warranty details. Finally, we compared the cost of the stairlifts using various sources. Here are the things we looked for when evaluating stairlifts:
Rail system: Every stairlift in our review is installed directly to the stairs. The rails sit on the stairs and are screwed into the floor rather than the wall. Most are a single rail system, but some curved stairs use a double rail.
Motor or drive system: Stairlifts use either a rack and pinion gear system or a worm gear. Experts point at the worm gear as being the smoothest and quietest option, but it tends to wear down much faster.
Weight Limit and Angle: Most stairlifts have a maximum weight limit of around 300 pounds at a maximum angle of 45 degrees. Some manufacturers make heavy duty or bariatric stairlifts capable of lifting up to 600 pounds. That said, we recommend you don’t exceed 80-percent of the maximum weight limit.
Safety features: It’s tough to find a stairlift that isn’t built with safety in mind. All of the stairlifts we looked at have seatbelts and safety sensors to stop the lift if something is on the stairs. That said, the best lifts also have redundancy features in place to ensure you don’t get stuck on the stairs. For example, one brand uses four motors. If one motor fails, it can still get you up or down. And all of the stairlifts have batteries, allowing you to use the stairs in a power outage.
Warranty: The stairlift industry doesn’t have very good warranties. Most brands break the warranty into parts. Usually there is a 3 to 5 year warranty for the motor and drive parts, 1 to 2 year warranty for the electrical components, and a year warranty for the battery. However, they range dramatically. The best warranty, which is marketed as a lifetime warranty, is 10 years for all parts while the worst warranty we found last only three years and didn’t cover the cost of labor or the cost of the replacement part.
How much does a stairlift cost?
The cost of a stairlift swings dramatically between $1,600 and $15,000, depending on the brand and the type of stairlift. Since most manufacturers don’t list the pricing, we had to source the pricing from user reviews and other review sites. Here’s how it typically breaks down:
Straight Stairlifts: These are the easiest cost to predict and the cheapest. They start at about $1,600 and can reach as high as $5,000, though most straight stairlifts cost about $3,000. The difference is the length of your stairs. If your staircase is very long, expect to pay closer to $5,000 for additional rails.
Curved Stairlifts: The cheapest curved stairlifts cost around $6,600, according to user reviews. But this would be for a very simple curved staircase. On average, a curved stairlift costs around $10,000, with some in the $8,000 range and others in the $12,000 to $15,000 range. Since the rails are custom built to the specifications of your home’s stairs, the cost varies a lot, even with the same brand.
Outdoor Stairlifts: Outdoor stairlifts use rails and components designed to handle the weather, so they are more expensive on the whole. A straight outdoor stairlift starts at about $5,000 while a curved outdoor stairlift starts at around $12,000.
Repairs and maintenance: Perhaps the most common complaint with users is the unexpected fees that come with repairs and maintenance. This issue is a common thread amongst all brands, and likely has more to do with the dealerships partnered with the brands. Some manufacturers require routine maintenance for the warranty, and this can cost between $200 and $500, according to some reports. Things like “removal and disposal of broken parts” is often a charge over $100.
How can I afford a stairlift?
Stairlifts are expensive. And when you’re aging-in-place on a strict budget, you may not have thousands of dollars to spend on a stairlift. That still doesn’t mean you can’t afford one. Since most manufacturers sell stairlifts only through dealerships, here’s some options to ask about when talking to a dealership:
Refurbished: Many dealerships sell used stairlifts at a discounted price. The rails still might need to be custom made to your home, but you might get a good deal on a used seat.
Rental Options: If you know you’re not going to use the stairlift for very long, renting one makes more financial sense.
Financing: There are many options for low-interest financing. AmeriGlide and Hoveround, for example, offer financing directly. And most dealerships also provide financing. Most of the time, to be approved you need to be over 62 years old and own the home you’re having the stairlift installed to. That said, financing allows you to afford a stairlift by paying a monthly fee for a period of time. Usually you can determine whether to stretch it out over five years or less, adjusting the payment to fit your budget.
Buyback: Some dealerships will buy back the stairlift when you don’t need it anymore, so make sure you ask them if they have a buyback program or policy. While you won’t get the full price you paid back, it is a way to mitigate the overall cost of stairlift.