Stair & Chair Lifts

Posted on January 4, 2021

Stair Lifts

A Stair Lift has a fixed chair attached to a rail system. You sit into the chair and drive yourself up and down the rail system with the controls on the arm of the chair. The drive system can be something as simple as a screw drive for a straight staircase or a something more complex such a rack and pinion or a drive sprocket for a curved stair lift.

There is a very, very big time and price difference between straight stair lifts and anything which is not straight. Anything which is not straight is called a curved lift even if it has but a single turn. Right. left. up or down anything but straight is curved. All curved stair lifts are custom to your staircase and take about a month from order to installation. In contrast a stair lift which is straight up and down is a commodity. A straight stair lift can be had in a week and will have a median cost $5,000. A curve stair lift is custom will take a month or more to obtain and then install and will cost 3 to 4 times what a straight stair lift cost. That’s correct, on average, the high teens to low twenties for a curved stair lift.

Here is the primary reason why one cost so much less than the other. We don’t even have to measure the staircase for a straight chair lift. We place your order and receive the product in a week or so and then come to the house to install. Once on site our employees cut the stair lift to fit your staircase and complete the installation. It is far less expensive because it is a commodity. Essentially we take it off the shelf and install it.

A curved lift is custom. We measure the steps with a photo-telemetry a collaboration between computer design and photography.. The manufacturer then develops the exact design to fit your staircase. Once approved by us the manufacture builds the curved lift. It is usually delivered to us about one month after we have approved the final design.

Signature Elevators & Accessible Design has historically represented and installed only one stair lift company Harmar. They are the eight hundred pound Gorilla within the stair lift industry. They have been consistent and great to work with. We historically have never considered an alternative because the time frame and the price of the other eight hundred pound gorilla as well as the other smaller brands were not appreciable different. However, we have recently added Up Stairlift to our product line up. They brough a difference not in price but in time. We can now install a curved stair lift solution within two weeks. Because they have taken the custom out of a curved stair lift. We order a standard package and assemble it curves and all in the field. No cameras no custom manufacturing. We essentially take it off the shelf and assemble it to fit, curves and all in one or two days within two weeks of taking your order.

Chair Lifts

A Chair Lift is for someone who uses a wheelchair. They roll their chair onto a platform and the platform rises to the floor or level they want to get to. Someone who is not using a wheelchair can still use the lift. A chair lift is also called a platform lift or wheelchair lift. As well as residential wheelchair lift and commercial wheelchair lift.

There are basically three divisions within the chair lift category. The first is residential vs commercial. Residential comes in two primary selections 2 feet or 4 feet of rise. Four feet of rise is actually 52” maximum. After that you are into commercial lifts; specifically, a CPL commercial platform lift which is in compliance with ADA the American Disability Act. Here the distinction is how much rise before the lift has to be installed in a shaft per the code. The answer is six feet. Once a CPL is greater than 6’ in rise then it must be in a shaft.

Beyond rise there are some other differences between a residential platform lift and commercial lift i.e. compliance with ADA. As such it is possible to have a two foot commercial lift which has some commercial requirements or features which a residential two foot lift does not have.

The drive system for a chair lift / wheelchair lift / platform lift is almost always a screw drive. A thick screw about 1.25” or 1.5” in diameter turns the screw is meant go nowhere. It is the nylon coated nut which goes somewhere. The nut part of a larger housing rides the screw up or down depending in which direction the screw turns. There is also a more expensive hydraulic drive system.

There is one more important point of consideration with screw drives. The screw is a piece of round grooved steel 1.25” or 1.5” in diameter. At some point the length of the screw effects performance. At two to four feet this length of grooved steel is as straight and unbendable as can be imagined. At six feet to eight feet it is very stiff. However, as we pass ten feet the screw starts getting flexible. At twelve to fourteen feet the screw is flexible, not like a guitar string but, not a stiff unbendable piece of steel. Like a guitar string its wobble emanates noise. It emanates that noise inside of a steel box the tower. Which echoes the noise making it louder. A 14’ screw drive in a shaft may be a bit less expensive than a standard elevator but when your tell me it is so loud that it must be coming apart… we’re going to say “nope that is just how loud it gets”.

Signature Elevators & Accessible Design represents and installs Harmar residential and commercial platform lifts.

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