Even though they’re part of everyday life, stairs can be hazardous—especially for people with limited mobility. Thankfully, stair-assist chairs provide a safe way to move up and down stairs, reduce caregiver stress, and provide independence. For those who live in multi-story homes, stair-assist chairs can be indispensable.
If you’re considering getting a chair lift for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to take your time considering features, costs, and manufacturers—which is why we’ve outlined the best stair-assist chairs and what you should keep in mind while shopping for one.
What to consider when purchasing a stair-assist chair
Because every person, home, and lifestyle is unique, it’s important to keep your personal considerations in mind when purchasing a stair-assist chair. Here are some things we considered while looking at the top stair-assist chairs.
Many stair-assist chairs fit any type of stairway, but curved stairwells may require custom chairs. Some manufacturers ask you to measure your stairway before purchasing a stair-assist chair, while others will send an employee to measure your stairwell.
Make sure the stair-assist chair you purchase meets the highest safety standards and has safety hitches that ensure it won’t move until it’s securely locked. Your stair-assist chair should include brakes, safety belts, and sensors that stop the chair if an object is in the way.
For some people, stepping off a stair-assist chair onto the top step may be difficult. To help with this, look for a chair that swivels to an appropriate angle. Some chair lifts can swing to ninety degrees, while others offer a wider range of movement. To add usability for all users, make sure your chair also has a soft start and stop and easy-to-use controls.
Your stair-assist chair should have a comfortable backrest and large footrest. You can also find specialized models for users with specific ailments—which may come with ergonomically designed seats or adjustable seats and footrests.
Most stair-assist chairs have a maximum weight capacity, which is often up to 400 pounds. Make sure to find a stair-assist chair that offers the right weight capacity for the user and will not put too much strain on your wall.
Stair-assist chairs either plug into an outlet or use batteries. Most newer models that use outlets have cords that run along the track and stay out of the way. If you use a battery-powered chair, most manufacturers recommend replacing the battery each year, and you’ll want to check how many times you can use the chair between battery charges.
Some chair lifts are easy to install onto the stairs yourself, while others may require you to hire a professional who can ensure proper track alignment. If this is the case, ask if the manufacturer can send someone to install it for you.
Most stair-assist chairs designed for straight stairs cost $3,000–$5,000, while chairs designed for curved stairs can cost $8,000–$15,000. Medicaid helps cover these costs in some states, and you may be eligible for a tax deduction if your stair-assist chair is medically required.