A stairlift review is difficult. It’s not like most expert reviews you read, where the best products are chosen based on hands-on testing and real-world results. With a vacuum, for example, we might put an equal amount of dirt on a rug and test how much of the dirt each vacuum picks up in two passes. However, performing comparative tests on stairlifts is impractical. For starters, we would need 8 equal staircases next to each other and about $50,000 to buy all the stairlifts.
But most importantly, comparatively testing stairlifts wouldn’t provide much helpful information for you. When it comes down to it, a stairlift is just a tool to get you up and down stairs. And every stairlift is capable of doing this as well as the next. So what you’re really looking for is a reliable stairlift from a reputable company with great service at a reasonable price.
As such, our stairlift review is an evaluation of the top eight stairlift brands on the market. We look into their reputation via user reviews, the variety of stairlifts they sell, the specifications of their stairlifts, the terms of the warranty, and the cost. We’re not trying to sell you a stairlift with our reviews. Rather, we want to make sure you are as informed as you can be when you go to a stairlift dealership.
Customer satisfaction: A focus on brand
A brand’s success largely rests on its reputation. “Word of mouth” has always been the primary means for growing a business. If you’re great at what you do, the reputation travels. With this in mind, we looked at each brand’s reputation by reading user reviews on a number of websites, like TrustPilot, ConsumerAffairs, and the Better Business Bureaus. We poured over the one- and two-star reviews to see why people didn’t like their stairlift or their experience with the company. Likewise, we read the positive four- and five-star reviews to gauge the same reasons.
It’s important to note that a review is just a review. It’s not a fact. It’s not an absolute representation of the company. It’s an anecdotal experience of one person’s experience. That said, when you have enough reviews, you can start to find patterns in these experiences. Perhaps the motor tends to break down after just 12 months or the battery loses its charge after just three months. Maybe the excellent customer service is repeatedly mentioned, or the good pricing. Either way, by reading the reviews, we can get some idea of how well customers are satisfied and why. For one brand, a commonly referenced point was how the company was able to build a curved staircase for their stairs even after several other brands said it couldn’t be done. These are the sorts of details you don’t find anywhere else except through reviews.
Variety: Is there a stairlift for you?
There’s more than one way to get a senior up the stairs. But with some stairlift manufacturers, you wouldn’t know it by the small selection of stairlifts they offer. Staircases are not a universal piece of architecture. And neither is the human body. For this reason, we preferred brands that offered many types of stairlifts. Some to fit different types of stairs. Some to fit different types of seniors.
For example, few manufacturers offer a perched seat for seniors who struggle to get up from a sitting position. Fewer still offer bariatric stairlifts for obese poeple too heavy for standard stairlifts. For some, it’s less about comfort and more about fit. They need a slim seat with a narrow rail to fit on a narrow staircase while others need a fold-up rail so the stairlift isn’t in the way of a door or walkway. In other words, the type of stairlift that’s best for you is the one that fits your physical needs and fits your staircase. If a company only offers one or two models, they likely don’t have a model to fit your specific needs, thus eliminating them from being the best stairlift brand for you.
For most of the brands we reviewed, stairlifts is just a small part of what they make.These brands largely specialize in wheelchair lifts, car lifts, ramps, and other products designed to help others regain their mobility. And while this is great, the lack of focus on stairlifts means they often only have a few models.
We also preferred brands that let you choose the color and material of the upholstery, as well as the shape and style of seat. This stairlift is going to live in your house, amongst your decor. It needs to fit into your aesthetics as much as possible.
Specifications: What's under the hood?
Stairlifts are largely regulated. They can’t go faster than 20 feet per minute and they must have rechargeable batteries capable of keeping the stairlift operable in a power outage. They also need safety features, like sensors that stop the stairlift if something is on the rail. As such, we paid more attention to the specifications that made each stairlift a little different from the others.
Here are the main specifications and features that we prioritized in our evaluation:
Warranty: Is it built to last?
It’s not a secret that most people never care to look at a warranty, much less use one when the need arises. However, when you’re looking to spend between $1,600 and $15,000, a warranty matters a great deal. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars only to have the motor poop out after six months. As such, we read the warranty details of every stairlift brand, comparing the policies.
A warranty isn’t just a way to make sure you don’t lose the investment you’ve made on shoddy workmanship. A good warranty also reflects the company’s confidence in their workmanship. If a company has a short warranty, it says “we don’t believe in our product and neither should you.”
In this industry, ten years is considered the lifetime of the product. As such, the best lifetime warranties for a stairlift cover all parts, including the motor, for ten years. Unfortunately, most brands only cover the motor for three to five years, and some only cover it for 12 months.
It’s also important to pay attention to the language. In one policy, the warranty literally said they wouldn’t cover the cost of the labor or the replacement part. Well, if you have to pay for them to replace the broken part, then it’s not really a warranty at all.
Cost: Will it break the bank?
Most seniors live on a fixed income. As such, if you’re going to spend thousands on a stairlift to regain your mobility and independence, you need to make sure every penny is account for. Unfortunately, comparing stairlift prices is not as cut-and-dry as other types of categories. For starters, only two of the brands we reviewed list the prices of the stairlifts. The data we received came from other sources, such as consumer websites and user reviews.
But even then, it’s difficult to compare costs because every home is different. If you have curved stairs, your quote is going to vary wildly from your neighbor, even if they have curved stairs. Why? Because the rails must be custom made according to your stairs dimensions.
Still, we did our best to compare the cost so you have some idea of what you can expect to pay. We also looked into whether the companies offer financing, which can help make the stairlifts more affordable.
Final verdict on the best stairlifts
To put it bluntly, the best stairlift for you is not the best stairlift for your neighbor. It’s that simple. You need to understand your mobility issues, find a seat that fits your comfort, a style to fit your aesthetics, and stairlift that fits your stairs. But by spending over 60 hours researching the brand reputation, the types of stairlifts available, the features, the warranty, and the cost, we’ve determined which stairlift brands are best for various types of seniors.