Straight Stairlifts: Frequently Asked Questions

We aim to answer as many questions as we can in regard to straight stairlifts from type’s, models, installation, prices, features and maybe the odd question you hadn’t even thought about?

Hang onto yaw hat this is a long read!  

All you need to know about straight Stairlifts FAQ

Straight Stairlifts

What is the difference between straight stairlifts and curved stairlifts?

As the name implies a straight stairlift is for installation on a straight staircase IE completely straight no bends half landings fan-shapes top or bottom of the staircase.

Reconditioned Straight Stairlifts

How do stairlifts Work Operate
All modern straight stairlifts operate on batteries they no longer need to be connected to the mains supply with trailing cables. The batteries are stored in the stairlift carriage and are charged when the stairlift is parked at the top or bottom of the staircase.

The stairlift travels along an aluminium track with a hardened rack in the centre this is known as a rack and pinion drive system.

Stairlift rail Rack and Pinion

How fast does a stairlift travel?
The average speed a stairlift moves is quite slow, travelling up to a maximum rated speed of 0.15 meters per second (0.34 mph), this ensures a safe, comfortable ride. Can you speed the stairlift up to make it go faster? The simple answer is no, we can’t increase the speed.

What is the maximum weight a straight stairlift can take?
The SWL “Safe working load” for a straight stairlift is up to 159kg (25s) (350lb).  Curved Stairlifts is around (21s).

How wide does my staircase need to be to install a straight stairlift?
Most straight stairlift installations require at least (27 inches) (74.04cm) this is the minimum width a staircase can be. However, at this width you would struggle for space so the more room the better.

Can a stairlift rail be shortened or made longer?
Yes, the rail can be shortened or made longer but must be carried out by a qualified engineer who has the knowledge and tools to complete the task. We do not recommend DIY attempts at altering the rail in any way shape or form this could result in serious injury or harm to the stairlift user and none users of the stairlift.

How much electricity does a stairlift use?
Stairlifts use very little electricity the average cost of running a stairlift equates to around £5.00 per year a 60watt light bulb would cost £14.00 per year in terms of wattage 23Kwh per year.

Should I switch my stairlift off if we go on holiday?
No, always leave your stairlift switched on and parked on a charger point top or bottom of the stairs.

Ensure the charger remains plugged in so the stairlift can charge while you’re away. Failing to do this could result in your stairlift not working on your return home due to a flat battery.

Does my stairlift come with a seatbelt?
Yes, all modern Stairlifts come with some type of seat belt most manufacturers use the same type one would find in any car.

Is there a display to inform me if my stairlift is faulty?

Most modern stairlifts have some type of diagnostic display to inform you about the condition of the stairlift. You should check the owner’s manual if the stairlift fails to operate for guidance.

Does the stairlift come with a key to isolate the stairlift?
Yes, all modern stairlifts come with some type of key switch to isolate the stairlift. Ideal if you don’t want the grandchildren playing on it!


Acorn Fault code display unit

How do I operate the Stairlift make it move up and down?

There will be a paddle bar, joystick or buttons on one or both of the chair arms. To operate the stairlift simply push the joystick, button or paddle in the desired direction.

The stairlift can also be used independently via a remote control unit similar to a TV remote control it consists of two buttons one for up direction and one for down direction.

Can two people use the stairlift?
Yes all stairlifts come with call – send units! Remote controls which are placed top and bottom of the staircase which allow it the lift to move up and down the stairs.

If the stairlift is parked at the top, the person at the bottom simply uses the remote control to bring the stairlift to the bottom. The same applies if the stairlift was at the bottom, the top user simply calls the stairlift to the top for them to use.

Stairlift controls

Do stairlifts have in-built safety features?

Yes, all modern stairlifts come with an array of safety features. Safety edge devices are incorporated into the upside / downside of the carriage. Should the lift be operated due to an obstruction the stairlift will stop and you will have to remove the obstruction to continue the journey. This also applies to the footplate where you would rest your feet.

Acorn Slimline 130 Stairlift

Does my stairlift come with a seatbelt?
Yes, all modern stairlifts come with some type of seat belt most manufacturers use the same type one would find in a modern car or van.

Will the stairlift still work in a power cut / outage?
Yes, all modern stairlifts operate via batteries installed inside the stairlift carriage – body. The stairlift should work for a number of days even if not charged typically a stairlift should complete 12 full runs up and down the stairs allowing ample time for the power supply to be reinstated.

How do stairlifts fix to the stairs? Will there be any damage to my staircase?
There will be no damage to your staircase or walls all stairlifts fix to the stair treads not the wall, normally three brackets one on the first step one in the middle and one at the last top step.

The brackets are screwed through the carpet into the stair tread with medium sized fixing screws x4 each bracket.

On removal there will be a small indent where the bracket has been and slight signs of the screw hole. A good firm brush of the carpet and some steam should remove all signs of the stairlift bracket indentation and screw holes depending on the quality of the carpet.

My stairlift keeps making a beeping audible tone sound. Is there something wrong?
If your stairlift is continually making a beeping noise similar to the sound of a smoke detector it’s an indication your stairlift is not on charge. Check the stairlift is parked on a charging point ensure the stairlift charger is plugged in and connected to the mains supply check to see if any CB Circuit Breakers have tripped on the fuse board

If none of the above apply you should call an engineer to check the stairlift charging circuits also check the owner’s manual for potential issues and any actions required.

What type of batteries does my stairlift use?
Most straight stairlifts operate on sealed lead acid batteries. It requires two 12V 7ah batteries and they are wired in series to produce 24V to drive the stairlift motor.  The batteries are accessible within the inside of the carriage stairlift-body.

Can I change the Stairlift Batteries when required?
We highly recommend you get a trained engineer to exchange the batteries. You can buy the batteries from many battery stores but beware of cheaper none brand names, they contain less led content and will degrade a lot faster than a good quality named battery.

You should always replace both batteries at the same time replacing only one battery could cause the new battery to degrade a lot faster than its expected life span.

Replacing the batteries is a simple task for a trained qualified engineer the main problem could be trying to gain access to the batteries like most things there is a knack or trick on how to remove and refit covers you could damage the covers and safety edges leading to further problems and expense

Replacing the batteries might only be a temporary solution and within a few days the stairlift is running slow or stop starting a good engineer will check all the charger circuits before and after replacement of the batteries.

Do you repair and service stairlifts?
Yes, if you purchased a stairlift through our company we can arrange repairs and servicing for your stairlift. We have our own dedicated trained engineers that can help you maintain or repair your stairlift.

We do not repair or service stairlifts installed by other companies, we recommend you contact the company you purchased the item from for any repairs.

Does the stairlift seat swivel at the top for easy dismount?

Yes, all modern stairlifts come with a manual swivel option. You simply push the chair seat release handle down and like sitting in an office chair you swivel yourself around using your feet to shuffle the chair 45-90deg. See our blog post for more information Stairlift Seat Swivel

Stairlift Seat Swivel

Can I stand up on my straight stairlift when it's moving?

No, you should not stand up on a sit down stairlift when in motion the stairlift is designed for you to be seated at all times when in motion.

There are stairlifts designed so one can stand upright when travelling traversing on the stairlift this type of stairlift is known as a perch standing stairlift and has a special frame support for the user to hold onto when operating the stairlift.

Perch Standing Stairlifts

Stand or sit down Acorn perch Stairlifts Manchester

We have a doorway at the bottom of the stairs. Can we still have a Stairlift installed?

Yes, in most cases one would require a manual or powered hinge rail! When you have finished using the stairlift you fold up the seat and footplate of the stairlift and park the stairlift at the 2nd or third step then you manually lift up the bottom section of the rail to allow access to the room see fig8.

There are powered options available where the hinge raises and lowers as you travel up and down on the stairlift at additional costs.

We have a radiator at the bottom of the staircase, can we still have a stairlift installed?
In most cases if you have a radiator at the bottom of the staircase the radiator will require removing or relocating. This is a hard one to answer and a site survey would be required.

Stairlift hinge rail

How much room is required at the bottom of the staircase to allow a Stairlift to be installed?
From the bottom nose of the first step a clear none obstructive distance of 24 inches (60.96Cm) is required. However, there could be exceptions, we recommend a home site survey to learn more about your options.

How long do stairlift batteries last?
The lifespan of stairlift batteries varies with usage of the stairlift and other factors such as the weight of the user and steepness of the staircase. Taking all the factors into consideration one should expect to obtain at least two years service from a set of batteries. Battery manufacturers only offer a 12 month warranty on batteries.

Is it better to rent or buy a stairlift?
If one requires a stairlift for a short period of time one may consider the rental option which might be a more viable financial option. The outlay costs would be drastically reduced and one does not have the trouble to resell dispose of the stairlift when no longer required. Rental option would include installation service and maintenance of the unit and removal disposal of the stairlift when no longer required

If one requires a stairlift for a long period six months or longer it would be more beneficial to buy a stairlift outright, bearing in mind once the warranty has expired one would have to cover all the costs of servicing and breakdowns. See our rental stairlifts blog post

How easy is it to remove a stairlift?
Removing a stairlift for disposal or carpet refitting should be left to trained engineers. We recommend you leave the stairlift in situ if selling the product, leaving it installed allows any prospective purchaser to see the unit in good working order before they buy.

If you’re very confident with DIY, removal should be a straight forward task otherwise arrange for it to be professionally removed and disposed of.

Are stairlifts noisy?
All modern stairlifts are DC Battery driven meaning they are whisper quiet and easy to maintain. Plus, all modern stairlifts now use a rack & pinion drive system which is a lot quieter than the old rope and chain drive system.

What happens if I am downstairs and the stairlift is at the top of the staircase?
Modern stairlifts come with call / send remote control handheld units similar to a TV remote control, one simply points the remote at the chairlift and simply presses the down or up button the stairlift will now move traverse in the down / up direction allowing the stairlift to be used by 2 or more people if required.

Are brooks and acorn stairlifts the same?
The simple answer is yes. The only difference would be in the chair seat carriage cover colour! Acorn is grey and Brooks is cream.

How do I clean my stairlift and rail?
We recommend you wipe dust down the stairlift with a duster. For stubborn stains use a light damp cloth to clean. Do not use furniture polish or silicon based products especially on curved rail systems.

Does the stairlift come with an emergency lowering system?
Most Stairlifts do not have an emergency lowering system. All come with a hand winding wheel which is mainly for the engineer.

You cannot hand wind the stairlift down or up the entire track system it would take you all day if not longer. The hand winding wheel is for moving the stairlift a few inches which may be required by an engineer for maintenance reasons only.

Can the seat height be adjusted raised or lowered?
This depends on your stairlift. Some models are fixed height, the seat post cannot be adjusted on Acorn Brooks Straight Stairlifts. However, its fixed height covers 98% of the population with no issues.

Some stairlift manufacturers do offer seat height adjustment if you think this will be an issue check with the supplier before arranging a home site survey to confirm.

Can we renew our stair carpet with a stairlift installed?
We strongly advise you to renew the stairs carpet if you’re thinking of replacing it in the very near future before your stairlift installation.

Some carpet fitters will attempt to cut round the fixing brackets to install a new carpet which would leave gaps if the stairlift were removed.

The best and neatest method is to have the stairlift removed and refitted on the same day as the carpet fitter attends, this could incur a charge by the stairlift company prices vary depending on company and location so we always recommend to replace carpet first.

Can we get help to purchase a stairlift such as Stairlift Grants Finance options?
Yes, stairlift grants are available but the process can be very time consuming and waiting times are varied depending on the council and social services departments for your district. Be aware that you will also be means tested as part of the grant scheme.

Speak to your local social services department or adaptations advisor for more information on stairlift grants.

Can you buy a stairlift on finance?
There are a number of UK Stairlift companies that offer stairlift finance options. Ensure they are regulated by the finance regulations board fsc and have all the official documentation to offer finance options before signing any finance agreement policy.

Do you pay VAT on stairlifts?
No, if the stairlift is for your own personal use and in a private dwelling you do not pay VAT. You will be required to sign a form with the nature of your disability or illness to be exempt.

Do we have to pay a deposit before stairlift installation?
This depends on the stairlift company, a lot of the bigger stairlift operators will require a down payment deposit to place an order.

At Stairlift Trader we do not take any deposits or payments on straight stairlifts, you only pay after installation and you are 100% happy with the product and service you received.

Curved Stairlifts are bespoke design and custom made for each individual staircase. Due to this a deposit will be required, approximately 50% and this is none refundable if you cancel the order before completion and installation of the stairlift. This applies to all bespoke designed items not only related to curved stairlifts.

Can you rent a straight stairlift?
Yes, you can hire a straight stairlift most companies. The average price of renting a stairlift is £40-£50.00 pcm. Most require an installation fee which covers the installation and administration fees and removal of the stairlift. See our Stirlift Rental blog post for more information on rental Stairlifts

Your rental monthly price should include servicing maintenance and breakdown repairs plus removal of the stairlift when no longer required.

Can I rent a curved stairlift?
No, curved stairlift rails are bespoke designs they are custom-made for each individual staircase making it unviable to rent a curved stairlift.

How long does it take to install a straight stairlift?
The average time required to instal a straight stairlift is between 1-1.5 hours and slightly more if it’s a complicated setup that requires a manual or hinge rail system. Curved stairlift installation take around 3-4 hours.

How much do straight stairlifts cost?
The cost for a new straight stairlift is between £1200-2200 depending on model and manufacturer.

Average price for a reconditioned straight stairlift is £500-1000 depending on model and manufacturer.

How much warranty should my stairlift have?
All new stairlifts should come with a 12 month warranty and 90% of companies will offer you a two year warranty on new products. They may also offer you an extended warranty at additional costs.

They break down warranty packages into categories based on metal colours: platinum, gold, bronze. Usually the more expensive the metal colour the better the benefits you receive. Always check what you are getting in your warranty and always read the small print.

Which is the best stairlift to buy?
All stairlift manufacturers’ suppliers will claim their stairlifts are the best on the market, the key is to carry out as much research about each model manufacturer as possible. When selecting an installer ensure you have done your home work on the company. Most importantly has the stairlift got all the functions and specifications you require expect from the product.

How do I choose a stairlift?
Different models of stairlifts suit each persons needs. We can assess your personal needs ensuring the right stairlift is fitted, this includes curve models, standing models, comfortable seated indoor or outdoor models.

Once you’ve made the decision to get a stairlift, the next step is choosing the correct model for you. This will depend whether your staircase is straight or curved. If you know somebody who owns a lift, have a chat with them. That way you will get an unbiased opinion. You then need to consider what is important to you, cost, reliability or brand name.

How do I choose a stairlift supplier installer?
Due diligence plays a big part into finding the best Stairlift Supplier installer. Research each company to ensure they have been trading for a number of years and have a proven track record.

Check reviews, always do a Google search “Review Stairlift Trader” a good example of what one should expect to find. All our reviews are 100% genuine and have been Google verified.

Recommendations from other people is a great way to find a good company supplier of stairlifts.

We recommend getting at least three quotes from big and small companies.

Avoid so called stairlift comparison websites! They simply obtain your details and pass them onto one or three companies they are affiliated with and take a commission if one of the companies installs your stairlift. It’s always better to do your own research and contact your chosen company directly for a price.

Try and use a local company, beware many traders will use virtual address and local phone numbers to make you think they are based in your county, they could be on the other side of the country.  In that case it’s highly unlikely they will attend to a breakdown on a Sunday afternoon leaving you stranded.

All reputable companies will attend within 24 hours or less for stairlift breakdowns if you have an extended warranty package, depending on the package it may include breakdown cover attendance for the same day.

Never feel pressurised into buying something, in fact no matter how good the deal sounds don’t sign on the day. It’s amazing how different you may feel a day later.

Try to get as many family members involved and have them present when the surveyor arrives, they might raise questions you haven’t considered it’s always nice to make it a family decision.

From the owner writer of this Stairlift FAQ

I hope you found this FAQ helpful and answered any questions you may have had and hopefully a few more you didn’t think about

If you reside in Greater Manchester please check out our range of Stairlifts and prices we have over 40 years experience in the Lift-Stairlift mobility sector we built our business on reputation

Good Luck

Graham Bardsley (MD Stairlift Trader)

Graham Bardsley MD Stairlift Trader


No matter what your requirements if it’s related to Stairlifts we can help. Call us today on 0161 370 6999