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The Lowdown on Straight Stair Lifts 

In this article you will find the different things that make up a stair lift. Sort of the nuts and bolts of stair lift design. This article will also offer interesting tid-bits of information that will in the very least offer reading material for bathroom time.

Drive Type - There are 3 types of Stair lift drives that are available for consumer purchase.

·         Cable - Most cable drive systems use a strong steel cable, the kind used in elevators, to advance the passenger. From what I hear, these have a very long life span and are a much cheaper, safer option.  

·         Worm drive: This is a new type of drive that offers a smoother, quieter, more fluid machine. It looks like a big screw that rotates on teeth.

·         Rack & Pinion - This system operates on a gear and teeth system. It is a round gear that rides along the teeth of the track. Most of the stair lifts today are rack and pinion… however, with the new worm drive… things might be changing.

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Different types of stair lifts:

As I mentioned earlier… there are many different types of stair lifts. Your two categories of interest will be Straight stair lifts and Curved stair lifts; both names speak for themselves. When it comes down to it, the type of stair lift that you get will weigh heavily on your stair type. If it is a straight run of stairs, then your obvious choice will be a straight stair lift. If the stairs have any curve to them whatsoever, your choice will be a curved stair lift. There is one exception however… sometimes you come across a set of stairs that has a staircase going up to a landing and then another stair case on the opposite side. Now in this case, you can go either way: a curved stair lift that goes from the top to the bottom, or two straight stair lifts. Another area that will determine the type is whether or not your stairs are indoor or outdoor. Weight of a person also plays a factor as most stair lifts do have a weight capacity. All in all, the type of stair lift you either rent, purchase, or find second-hand will ultimately decide for itself with the type of stairs you have.

 

Rail / Track – The track is secured to the stairs… most companies use aluminum or metal… but mainly aluminum because of its light weight and durability. Rails are mainly consisted of a hard durable plastic or lightweight aluminum that attaches to the stairs via foot plates.

Power – You have your choice of AC, DC, or FC [Flintstone charge]. Your AC model or “alternating current” will run off of a standard house hold current and will plug into a grounded outlet. The DC model or “direct current” will be your battery operated stair lifts. The DC model still plugs in to the wall and primarily runs off of a trickle charge but still can handle only so much. The nice thing about DC power is that in the event of a power outage you still have the ability to operate the machine. However, once the batteries are dead… they are completely dead and must be replaced. Most people choose the AC power because of its consistent functionality.

Swivel Seat – The swivel seat allows the user to rotate and lock into place so that they are able to get on and off the stair lift away from the stairs. This seems to be the safest option as the latter requires the rider to get off and on facing the stairs… one wrong move and OUCH! 

There are two types of swivel seats: 

·         Manual – This swivel seat requires the rider to hold down a lever and rotate the seat themselves.

·         Automatic – This style does all the work for you… you simply continue to hold the up switch and the seat automatically turns and locks into place.  

Diagnostics – Most of the newer stair lifts have a diagnostics system on board. These usually consist of blinking lights or numbers or alpha numeric codes. They are nice because you can call the company you purchased or rented the stair lift from and based on the reading, they can give you the appropriate next step to take for resolution.

Installation – Some companies sell straight stair lifts for self-install and these are a good deal. Not only are they really easy to install but you can find a good deal on them too. Curved straight lifts will require company installation and will run you a good amount of money.

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Straight Stair Lifts Part 2