What is a Stairlift?

A stairlift is a motorized seat that runs up and down a staircase on a rail.

Usually they are made up of three assemblies that all work together. You have a rail system (often referred to as a 'track'), a drive system (often referred to as a 'carriage') and a seat - which is usually just called a plain old seat!

The seat is fixed to the drive system and the drive system runs up and down the rail system. Stairlifts are electrically powered - either directly from the domestic electric supply or by a battery system that is re-charged by the domestic electric supply.

There are stairlifts available for both curved and straight staircases, although straight stairlifts are much cheaper than curved ones. Curved stair lifts cost roughly twice as much as straight stairlifts. There are a few different options available to allow for different capabilities of the users.

Stairlifts can usually be installed in a day and when necessary, can be removed leaving little trace.

Seated Stairlifts

These tend to be the most common type for the home. The majority of users are able to walk, but find it difficult to negotiate the stairs. You must be able to sit safely on the seat during transit and transfer on and off at the top and bottom of the stairs. A swivel seat and lift up armrests will make getting onto and off the seat easier.

Walking sticks may be carried on the stair lift, but if you use a larger walking aid, it probably cannot be carried on the stair lift and therefore two aids will be required - one at the bottom and one at the top of the stairs.

Standing Stairlifts

These can be used if you are able both to walk and to stand while travelling up and down stairs. These may be chosen in preference to seated models if the staircase is exceptionally narrow, or if you have a stiff leg and are unable to bend your knee when seated. These stairlifts usually have one or two guard rails that the user can hold on to whilst moving. Some manufacturers have a sit / stand option available, so either method can be used.

Perching Stairlifts

These are very similar to standing stairlifts except that they provide a small amount of additional support for the user to "sit" in a standing position. You are transported in a perching position i.e. between sitting and standing. These stair lifts usually have one or two guard rails that you can hold onto during transit.


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