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


Stairlift Buyers Guide

How a Stairlift Works

Chair, Carriage, Foot Rest and Rail
A stair lift occasionally called a personal chair lift, a stair glide or a stairway elevator is a resourceful mobility system to help make your life easier and safer with stairs.

Essentially, a stairlift transports you up and down the stairs and modern stairlifts consist of a chair (or a perch seat), a carriage assembly with a drive system and a foot rest or stand platform. The carriage assembly is attached to a modular rail system, which is in turn is attached to the treads of a staircase, not the wall.

Components of a 'Chair Lift' Stairlift

Chair Seat | Carriage | Track Rail | Complete Stairlift

The most popular stairlifts are chair lifts stairlift systems. A Chair Seat is secured to a Carriage. The Chair Seat and Carriage are mounted onto a Rail Track. The Stairlift drive system (usually 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 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 for a curved rail stairlift 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.

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, diagnostic status digital 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 lock with limited dexterity dual paddle switch 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.

Rail Track System

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


The curved stairlifts “modular” rail system 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. One manufacturer states that a curved rail stairlift installation can take only days instead of up to four to six weeks with its Fast Track Stairlift Installation.

Engineering excellence ensures a stairlift provides a safe and comfortable ride along a sturdy, continuous slim and attractively finished modular rail system mounted on either the inner or outer curvature of your staircase. This unique process allows the rail portion of the lift to be quickly assembled from stock components, enabling faster delivery and installation.

Chair Lift

Chair Stairlift Providing Access to the Upper Level

Chair Lifts stairlifts are the most conventional style of stairlift for the home. The majority of users is capable of walking, but finds it difficult to climb or navigate the stairs.


Chair lifts allows you to rediscover your home; because you are no longer restricted to one floor level of your home.


Stair Lifts can allow elderly people and younger people with mobility problems to have a greater degree of independence and to stay in their own homes much longer; as they make it much easier for people to travel between the different levels of their home. 


Though once, it may well have been a chore to walk up or down stairs or to go to the bathroom or to go up to bed, life can be much easier and much more relaxing once a chair lift has been installed. Chair lifts are very comfortable to ride, easy to use and are reliable and versatile.
The user controls a directional paddle switch or control switch located on the armrests to easily operate and ride the stairlift up and down the stairs. The seat is wide and deep enough for the average person to sit in comfortably and the chair lift speed is set within safety standards. 


The chair lift fits on almost any staircase and can fit on the narrowest of staircases. The stair lift folds compactly to leave space for other staircase users and does not hinder normal stair use.
There are many chair lift options to adapt to suit your personal needs along with ease of use features, Stairlifts are also available in a range of colors to match your décor.


A remote control can ‘call’ or ‘send’ the lift from the top or bottom of the stairs to you or another person at the top or bottom of the staircase.
You must be able to sit safely on the seat during the journey and transfer on and off of the chair lift at the top and bottom of the stairs, sometimes with the assistance of a caregiver. A swivel seat and lift up armrests and footrest will help make getting onto and off of the chair seat much easier. fold-up design stairlifts have a fold-up seat, arm rests & footrest. When not in use, the seat, arms and footrest of the stairlift can be folded away to provide easy access to the stairway.


Walking sticks or canes may be carried on the stair lift, but if you use a larger walking aid frame, it is advisable to have two walking aid frames in the home, one to be used on the first floor at the bottom of the stairs and another at the top of the stairs. 

Selecting Your Stair Lift

Free no-obligation professional home survey & consultation and measurement of your staircase
Free no-obligation professional home survey & consultation
Along with your personal physical requirements, the type of staircase where the stair lift will be placed is an important consideration when determining which stairlift is appropriate.

Your safety and the features of modern stairlifts which you require and select to be installed onto your stair lift is directly related to a successful decision and buying experience.

Therefore the more knowledgeable you are about stairlifts in general, your personal requirements, available options, important ease-of-use and available safety features, the selection process, the purchase process, installation process and after care service process, the better your overall experience.

If you have the available time, you will be happier, if you schedule a free no-obligation professional home survey & consultation and measurement of your staircase; along with an answer to all of your questions consultation, a free written no-obligation price quote from a professional surveyor to discover all of your valuable options and opportunities.

That being said, a high quality stairlift is a better choice than a low quality stairlift, to fit within your budget, your needs, cost price range and after care of the stairlift, with 'peace of mind' stairlift support and service.

The major difference between stairlifts is the state-of-the-art technology, quality of ride, quality of materials, stair lift ease of use and comfort, budget, the best value for the cost price, fast installation, personal safety on a stairlift, safety of others in the household, example children, and most important the consideration of the stairlift manufacturer's reputation for sales, installation, and after care service and support.


Professional Stairlift Service Technician Performing a Yearly Inspection
Professional Stairlift Service Technician Performing a Yearly Inspection

Servicing your stair lift

It is advised that your stairlift is serviced after the first 6 months and thereafter at least every 12 months.

Routine service is an important part of stairlift ownership, and you should consider it no more unusual than the maintenance program you would have for any other fine mechanical object you own.

Maintaining your stair lift in suitable operating order is important to prevent any costly repairs or interruptions. While stairlift companies generally do offer annual servicing contracts, there are a few minor things you can do yourself just to keep it operating in good running order without any need of technical knowledge. Keeping your stairlift clean and in good working order can help prevent many of the most common problems.

There are basic steps in maintaining the quality of your stair lift:

Audible Warning Beeping Sound

•    Battery may be running low

•    Stairlift may need service

Clean Rails and Stairs

•    Keep obstacles from the rails and stairs
•    Vacuum or clean the rails with a dry cloth


•    Generally stair lifts function very quietly
•    Noise may come from a problem with the rollers or a motor … call a service technician

Proper Usage

•    Never exceed the maximum weight which can be safely carried by the stair lift.
•    Never allow your stairlift to be used unsupervised by children

Remote Controls

•    Check and replace the batteries when needed
•    If there is interference with the controls, contact a service technician to reset the controls

Stairlift is Slow Moving

•    If stair lift movement becomes slower the stair lift battery charge may be running low or there may be a problem with the motor

Schedule a Yearly Checkup Inspection Appointment by a Professional Stairlift Service Technician

•    Check the Batteries
•    Check the Controls and Remotes
•    Check the Carriage and Drive System
•    Check All Installed Features and Options
•    Check the Rails and Mountings
•    Perform a Safety Check of the Entire Stair Lift

Stairlift Buyers Guide Checklist


Essential and Important Stairlift Features, Options and Requirements

  • Arthritis Foundation's Ease-Of-Use Commendation
  • ASME A17.1 - 1990, meets safety code for elevators and escalators
  • ASME A18.1 - 2005 meets safety standard for platform lifts and stairway chairlifts
  • Audible Fault Reporting - alerts the user with a series of beeps if there is a problem
  • Automatic Speed Adjustment - curved rail stairlifts unique Auto Speed feature slows down the stairlift on cornering for your comfort and safety. The stairlift will slow down as it reaches the stopping point at the top and the bottom of the rail on the stairs staircase
  • British Safety Standard BS5776 - 1996 - meets the British Safety Standards - eliminating any risk of electric shock
  • DC Battery Power 24 Volt - safe low voltage operation
  • DC Power Battery Power - fully charged battery will power up to 20 journeys up and down the stairs
  • DC Power Battery Power - maintenance free batteries. Operates during a power outage
  • DC Power Battery Power - stair lift does not trail an electrical cable behind it
  • Diagnostic Digital Display - any (rare) faults with the stair lift are displayed digitally as a number or letter, providing clear and simple information for users and engineers
  • Dual Braking System - Dual Electronic and Mechanical Braking Systems - two independent safety systems on the stair lift. This means that the stair lift is unable to descend unexpectedly or at speed - eliminates the possibility of an uncontrolled descent - fitted as standard on some stairlifts are double safety braking systems. This is an essential safety feature that is imperative to have on your stairlift
  • Folding Hinged Rail - the lower section of the rail folds up and out of the way when not in use, allowing greater access at the foot of the stairs
  • Fold-up Design - Fold-Up Seat & Footrest - when not in use, the seat and footrest of our stair lifts can be folded away to provide easy access to the stairway
  • Heavy Duty Stairlift Option - specifically designed stair lift for individuals who may be of a larger persuasion. The maximum weight capacity on either the outdoor, perch or straight stair lift
  • Inertial Reel Seatbelt - an inertial reel lap harness, this is like a seat belt in a car, and will keep you securely on the seat of the stairlift at all times
  • Infra-Red Remote Control Controllers - stair lift can be 'called' or 'sent' up or down the stairs by using a remote control similar to a TV remote control. Allowing you to call and send the stairlift, so that if a friend or partner should wish to use the lift, you can send it back to them once you've used it
  • Limit Safety Sensors – soft stop sensors stop the stair lift in the correct position at the end of travel
  • Lockable Isolation Switch - lockable on/off key switch - stair lift can be locked with a key so that others (children, for example) cannot use it. The stair lift continues to charge when locked.
  • Near silent operation – stairlift smooth quiet ride quality - peerless ride quality is attributed to a rail profile and chassis roller system working in conjunction with DC power and a rack and pinion drive system
  • Overspeed Governor - Controls the speed of the stair lift to prevent sudden or rapid descent.
  • Paddle Switch Direction Dual Controls - Easy to Use simple operation controls on both arms of the seat for use by either hand for up and down motion of the stair lift.
  • Perch Option - Perch / Stand Stairlift Option - designed for users who have trouble bending at the knee, suitable for those with knee troubles and for narrow staircases
  • Pressure-Sensitive Edge Safety Sensors - cut-out /off safety sensor switches - Special sensors in the stair lifts carriage and footrest prevent it from moving if an object obstructs the stair lifts passage. Sensors automatically cut off power to the lift when the sensors are activated.
  • Quick, simple installation - no mess or disruption
  • Rack and Pinion Drive - the stair lifts track uses a secure rail structure to provide smooth and stable movement up and down the stairs.
  • Self-Leveling Transport System - curved rail stairlifts unique system automatically adjusts the speed and level of the seat on cornering, providing a safe and an exceptionally smooth ride.
  • Sit and Stand Frame - with a Sit/Stand Frame, you can choose whether to use the stairs in either the usual seated position or to stand on the footrest.
  • Smooth Start / Stop Action Motion - stair lifts upward and downward movement begins smoothly and slowly, without jarring or sudden stops.
  • Stairlift fits to the treads of the stairs and not to the wall
  • Stand Option - Stand Stairlift Option - specifically designed stair lift for people who have issues bending at the knee. These stair lifts allow the domestic user to perch gently on the higher seat or stand upright.
  • Swivel Seat with Locking Catch - the seat of the stair lift turns for ease of access at the top of the stairs, and locks to prevent accidental slipping.


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