The Best Stair Lifts Review 2020

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Stair lifts preserve independence for those aging in place. However, the sheer range of designs, safety features, and power requirements can make choosing the right model a challenge. Fortunately, with a little research and some help with installation, anyone can outfit their home with a stair lift that will provide worry-free access to upper stories. 

We researched a few options available online, paying special attention to weight limits, comfort, and other crucial factors. We’ve also included a detailed buying guide at the end of this piece to help buyers make educated decisions. If you’re looking for a stair lift—and you’re not quite sure what sets the various options apart—here’s where to start.  

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The Best Stair Lifts

1 Harmar SL350AC Stair Lift

With consistent high user reviews, durable materials, and sensible comfort features, Harmar’s SL350AC is a moderately priced option that checks all of the most important boxes. It operates on standard 115-volt AC current, and separate controls at the top and bottom of the stairs allow for simple, hassle-free operation. The custom-made aluminum track supports weights of up to 350 pounds (Harmar offers additional options rated for 500 and 600 pounds), and the seat and footrest fold up to save space in your stairwell. 

The carriage is pre-installed on a section of the track, so installation is relatively straightforward. With that said, buyers will need to accurately measure their staircases, making appropriate adjustments for orientation and obstacles (see our buying guide for other considerations to keep in mind when carrying out a DIY stair lift installation). 

Key features:

  • Custom fit for your staircase
  • Collapsible seat and footrest 
  • Separate controls for both the top and bottom of stairs
  • Free lifetime warranty on motor and drivetrain
  • Upholstery color options include light almond, evergreen, and mocha

Specification:

  • Brand: Harmar
  • Average shipping weight: 187 pounds
  • Weight capacity: Up to 600 pounds, depending on model

Pros:

  • Simple installation and durable materials
  • Upholstery available in multiple colors
  • One of the most affordable home lift options

Cons:

  • Because this is a custom made item, it is not return eligible
  • Requires electrical wiring for the call stations

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2 Nautilus Stair Lift

Nautilus is one of the most well-known stair lift brands, and while its products tend to be expensive, they’re well equipped with practical features.

This lift features a worm drive gear arrangement, which never requires greasing. It’s controlled via a simple rocker hand unit, which allows the user to switch directions or stop ascending/descending when necessary. There’s also a remote control, which can be useful for using the lift as a sort of dumbwaiter (for instance, sending baskets of clothes up and down a staircase). A battery provides the necessary power for the motor to operate; the battery recharges at either end of the staircase, and the lift plugs into a standard wall outlet.  

The manufacturer provides 24/7 phone support during installation, along with a lifetime warranty on all parts. There’s also free shipping to 48 states, which helps to justify the relatively high price tag (note the “relative” in that sentence; while this isn’t a cheap product, it’s still reasonably priced given its features and quality).   

Key features:

  • Plugs into a standard wall outlet
  • Collapsible seat and footrest
  • Grease-free mechanism
  • Free lifetime warranty on motor and circuit board

Specification:

  • Brand: Nautilus
  • Average shipping weight: 165 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

Pros:

  • Chair and footrest fold to just 10.5 inches
  • Comfortable seat and rocker controls put user in charge
  • Lifetime warranty on motor and circuit board 

Cons:

  • Because this is a custom made item, it is not return eligible
  • Significantly more expensive than the simpler Harmar SL350AC 

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3 2018 Wiltek Elevators Universal Stair Lift

A folding stair lift gives users the choice of taking the stairs on foot or in the powered seat, making it an ideal choice for families whose members who have different mobility-related needs. This Universal Stair Lift from Wiltek Elevators provides a great combination of capacity, ease of use, and design seeing as it folds flat to the wall. 

This is a tremendous stair lift at a great price, but it’s an overrun of the 2018 model, so interested buyers should act quickly. The full 15 feet of track it comes with is generally enough for single-flight stairs, and a rechargeable battery allows for consistent operation even during power outages.       

Key features:

  • Runs on 115-volt AC power; simply plug into an outlet for power
  • Rechargeable emergency battery provides 20 two-way trips per charge
  • Safety seatbelt and folding footrest facilitate safe travel
  • No rewiring required at installation
  • Safe for use from 25 to 35 degrees of incline
  • Lifetime drivetrain and control board warranty

Specification:

  • Brand: Wiltek Elevators
  • Average shipping weight: 150 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

Pros:

  • Great price for a reliable stair lift
  • Backup battery keeps the unit running when the power’s out
  • Manufactured in the U.S.A. 

Cons:

  • 2018 overrun means this model won’t be available at this price for long
  • Included 15 feet of track may not be enough for some staircases
  • Company does not provide installation assistance

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Stair Lift Buying Guide

According to one study, about one-third of healthy, community-dwelling older adults experience at least one fall per year, and approximately 25 percent of those falls result in injuries. For seniors, fall risk mitigation is incredibly important, and stair lifts can provide older adults and their family members with peace of mind.

With that said, a stair lift is a major acquisition, as it’s intended to be a permanent part of your home. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before ordering.

How is the lift controlled?

Most lifts operate primarily with rocker controls, which require constant pressure to function. If the user takes their hand off of the control, the lift stops moving. This can be a crucial safety feature, but if you’re planning on using the lift to move laundry baskets or other objects, you’ll want to find a solution that will also operate remotely, for example, a remote control. 

How is the lift powered?

Check to see whether the controls will require additional electrical wiring for proper installation. Hiring an electrician can quickly add to the overall cost, but it’s a necessary step for some lift systems. The good news is that many home stair lifts simply plug into the wall, which is convenient if you have outlets near your staircase. 

You also need to determine whether the lift requires constant power for operation. If you’re buying for an older adult who is physically incapable of climbing the stairs, you’ll want a unit with a battery to ensure that the system won’t stop functioning during an electrical outage.

Is my home’s stairwell capable of accommodating a lift?

Measure your stairwell carefully before comparing options, taking obstructions and grade into consideration. If you’re uncomfortable with making the measurements, hire a handyman or contact one of the lift manufacturers for guidance.

The products on this list are generally intended for simple, straight staircases. Some lifts can be installed on winding stairs, but unless you’re a skilled mechanical engineer, you’ll want to hire professional installers to handle the task.

Will I be able to install a stair lift myself?

A stair lift rail is a load-bearing structure, and improper installation can lead to serious safety hazards. If you’re at all uncomfortable with this sort of job, look for a local company that advertises lift installation services. 


That said, plenty of handy purchasers have safely added a stair lift to their home as a DIY project. It’s best to work with a minimum of two reasonably strong installers since the track will need to be supported at either end of the staircase.

What stair lift safety features are the most important?

Safety is a top priority for manufacturers of stair lifts, but not all users have the same requirements. For instance, every stair lift we looked at includes a seatbelt. For users who have difficulty sitting upright, a simple lap belt won’t be sufficient, so look for harness restraints in these situations.

Another common safety feature is a proximity sensor. These devices automatically arrest the chair’s motion when they detect obstructions. For users with pets or small children in the house, this is an essential safeguard. 

Speaking of children in the household, look for a lift with a lockable on/off switch. Many models feature a keylock that prevents power in the absence of the key. While this is a good way to prevent unauthorized use, make sure that the key control isn’t too difficult for users with limited joint mobility.