The Straight & Curved Stairlift Buyers Guide®


A Free Information Databank to Learn All About the Stairlift, Global Leading Manufacturers, Reviews, How to Choose a Stairlift and How to Buy a Stairlift!

Curved Rail Stairlifts

Curved Rail Stairlifts


How are Stairlifts Built?

How are Stairlifts Built?

Components of a 'Chair Lift' Stairlift

Chair Seat | Carriage | Track Rail | Complete Stairlift

The most popular stairlift is a Chair Lift Stairlift System. A Chair Seat is secured to a Carriage. The Chair Seat and Carriage are mounted onto a Rail Track. The Stairlift drive system (either a Rack and Pinion or cable/chain drive system) runs the passenger carriage up and down the rail (track) system. Stairlifts are electrically powered - either directly from the domestic electric supply or by a Battery Power system that is re-charged by the domestic electric supply.

There are stairlifts available for both curved and straight staircases. Straight Rail Stairlifts are more affordable than curved ones. Curved Rail Stairlifts are custom made to fit the staircase and cost roughly twice as much as straight stairlifts.
Straight Rail Stairlifts can usually be installed in a day when necessary. However, not all staircases run straight from top to bottom - many staircases have bends in them. In those circumstances, the stairlift needs to run on a rail that is specially designed and built to fit the precise measurements of the individual staircase. As a result this custom rail takes longer to manufacture than a standard one, sometimes up to four to six weeks.
One manufacturer has now reduced the delivery time from weeks to hours using a modular rail system innovation it calls Fast Track Stairlift Installation. Now the manufacturer builds the custom rails at the customer's house from a number of straight, curved and angled pieces, rather than in the factory. This means a quicker and more efficient service which is a key requirement of many of its customers.

A Stairlift is Made Up of Several Major Assemblies

Chair, Carriage, Foot Rest and Rail
A Chair Seat or Perch Seat,  a Carriage with a drive or cable/chain system, a Foot Rest or Stand Platform and a Rail Track System.
A Chair Seat or Perch Seat System, is fixed to the carriage containing a drive system, rack and pinion or cable, which runs the passenger carriage up and down the Rail Track System.

Special Note:

No two different manufacturer stairlift models are designed and built alike. 


Please verify with the manufacturer that ALL of the Safety, Convenience and Comfort features listed below may or may not be installed or included on your Chair, Carriage and Rail System stairlift purchase. 

Chair Seat

Chair Seat
  • Padded seat and backrest
    Ensures that the Stairlift gives the most comfortable ride available.
  • Directional paddle switches
    Easy to operate, even by those with limited dexterity.
  • Safety belt
    Included for added security.
  • Folding arms and seat
    Slimline fold-away design allows easy access to the staircase.
  • Lockable swivel seat
    Allows the user to safely board and leave the lift without the need for twisting the body.

Perch Seat

Perch Seat
  • Padded seat and backrest
    Ensures that the Perch Stairlift gives a comfortable ride.
  • Directional toggle switch
    Easy to operate, even by those with limited dexterity.
  • Safety belt and handrail
    Included for added security.
  • Folding arms and seat
    Slimline fold-away design allows easy access to the staircase.
  • Great for Narrow Stairs


Carriage on a Rail
  • DC (battery) power
    This means that the stairlift does not trail an electrical cable behind it, but is self-powered. The battery charges when the stairlift is at rest and a fully charged battery will power 15-20 trips up and down the stairs, even in a power outage.
  • Diagnostic digital display
    Informs the user of the status of the stairlift.
  • Dual electronic and mechanical braking systems
    Double safety systems mean that the stairlift is unable to descend unexpectedly or at speed.
  • Folding footrest
    Slimline fold-away design allows easy access to the staircase.
  • Lockable on/off switch
    Allows the user to prevent others from using the lift such as children or grandchildren.
  • Overspeed governor
    Controls the speed of the stairlift to prevent sudden or rapid descent.
  • Rack and pinion drive
    The track uses this secure rail structure to provide smooth and stable movement up and down the stairs.
  • Remote controls
    Handsets supplied, which allow the user to 'call' or 'send' the stairlift up and down the staircase.
  • Safety sensors
    Safety sensors on the footrest and carriage stop the lift if an obstruction is encountered.

Carriage Assembly

The carriage is the foundation of the stairlift which drives the chair stairlift seat up and down the stairs and can include a rack and pinion drive motor, DC battery housing, digital diagnostic status display, audible alert system, folding foot rest, standing or perch platform, safety key lock, safety on/off switch, remote control capability, safety edges and a folding swivel seat with limited dexterity dual hand controls.

Carriages travel on rollers running on the rail track to enable the carriage to travel straight and sustain accurate interlocking of the drive gear into the rail gear rack. Quality stairlifts usually have multiple rollers for a smoother ride. In most modern designs the carriage is driven along the inclined rail by a rack and pinion system while earlier stairlifts are pulled by a cable or chain, or by another drive arrangement.

Carriage Assemby with DC Battery Power Motor and Gearbox

Carriage Assembly with DC Battery Power Motor and Gearbox of the Stairlift
Carriage Assembly with DC Battery Power Motor and Gearbox of the Stairlift
Some Stair Lift manufacturers have designed and manufactured new stairlift Technology to ensure control over their quality. One manufacturer, to excel to the forefront of the stairlift industry with new Engineering strides, pioneered DC (direct current Battery Power) technology in the stairlift industry.
This was chosen due to the inherent advantages of Safety, smooth power delivery and the ability to operate normally during a mains power failure. Interestingly, all of its competitors have followed this lead and now offer a DC product, or have DC powered appliances under development. Such are the advantages of this technology!
In order to achieve the required speed and torque characteristics for stairlift applications, gearboxes are often fitted to custom motors. To meet the space and Performance requirements for Stairlift manufacturers, special Design & Inspiration teams develop new DC motors and gearboxes, incorporating Rare earth (NdFeB) magnet technology to achieve motor length reduction and weight reduction.

Chair Seat Positions

Passenger sitting 'sidesaddle' | Passenger using a Swivel Seat | Fold-up design with folding arms , seat and footrest
Passenger sitting 'sidesaddle' | Passenger using a Swivel Seat | Fold-up design with folding arms , seat and footrest
The standard arrangement for a modern classic home stairlift is to have the chair seat positioned at a 90 degree right angle to the rail track so the passenger user travels "sidesaddle".Most home stairlift carriages have a folding seat with folding arms and a folding footrest. Some stairlift models have a ‘perch’ seat or stand-on platform.
A swivel seat enables the seat located on the top half of the stairlift carriage, where the passenger sits, to be rotated away from the staircase so that the user is facing another direction. At the top of the staircase steps the seat can be swiveled generally 45 degrees or 90 degrees away from the stairs and then locked in place for safety and ease of comfort, to allow the user to dismount from the stairlift onto a landing.
Stairlifts are available with either a manual swivel or a powered swivel, depending on the user’s capability. The majority of better stairlifts have swivel seats with a safety switch so the stairlift won’t move unless the seat is locked into its travel position.
Powered or manual swivel seats are designed to make getting on and off the stairlift easy and safe; their main use is usually at the very top of the stairs for direct access to the landing area. Manual swivel seats are usually the standard feature or option on most current stairlift models. Powered swivel seats are usually an upgraded feature.

Rail Track System

Curved Rail Modular Track System
  • Modular Rail System
    Enables reduced installation time


One manufacturer invented the “modular” rail concept, built up from straight rail sections and a suite of standard bend sections.


This unique process allows the rail portion of the lift to be quickly assembled from stock components, enabling faster delivery and installation than any other curved stairlift on the market.


The stairlift manufacturer states that their curved rail stairlift installation can take only days instead of up to four to six weeks with its Fast Track Stairlift Installation.