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.
1. Bruno Elite Indoor Stairlift SRE 2010
Bruno is known for its high-quality and stylish stair-assist chairs. The Bruno Elite Indoor Stairlift SRE 2010 is a straight stair-assist chair with a maximum capacity of 400 pounds. Its arms, seat, and footrest all fold to create more space. It also includes two twelve-volt batteries.
Six different upholstery options
An adjustable footrest
A wireless call-and-send feature
Continuous charge strips
No ability to function on curved stairways
2. Harmar SL600 Pinnacle Premium Stair Lift
The Harmar SL600 Pinnacle Premium is an indoor straight stair-assist chair that is known for its high-quality upholstery and signature wide seat. Also, its patented system can make up to sixty trips if the power goes out.
Uses less power
Folds to just eleven inches deep
Can run twice as many trips as some other stair-assist chairs if the power goes out
Has a unique system, so you may struggle finding parts for repairs
Has a maximum capacity of 350 pounds
The Stannah Sadler is an elegant and comfortable curved stair-assist chair. It is ideal for people with limited flexibility in the hips and knees because it lets them maintain a more upright position. Its slim design also makes it a good match for homes with narrow stairs.
Distributes weight better with tilting seat design
Fits a wide variety of curved stairwells
Requires only one hand to pull and secure the seat belt
Requires professional installation
Has an exclusive tilting-perch seat that’s costly to repair
The Handicare 2000 is a great choice for homes with curved, steep stairs. You can choose from several types of seats and stairway options—a spiral, ninety-degree angle, or 180-degree angle. Its standard weight limit is 254 pounds, but the heavy-duty version can carry up to 302 pounds.
Accommodates a wide range of staircases
Includes options like a deluxe extra-wide seat, powered seat swivel, and folding footrest
Has eight parking options
Charges 24-volt batteries only at the top and foot of the rail rack
Has uncomfortable seat padding after extended use
Reduces risk of structural damage to your home
Has an elegant, extruded aluminum rail
Has a maximum weight capacity of 266 pounds
May require costlier repairs and maintenance due to custom parts
The Acorn 180 Stairlift is a highly customizable curved stair-assist chair. It can be installed in a wide range of staircases, including those with multiple landings. Unlike other curved stair-assist chairs, it comes with modular rails that allow for quick installation and removal, and won’t damage your home’s structure.
Stair-assist chairs can make independent living more comfortable and safe. These stair-assist chair options all help ensure safety, even when caregivers or family members are not at home.
*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend products. This is not a guarantee. Each individual's unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen products.