Adapting a home for patients and customers with limited mobility can range from minor alterations, such as fitting handrails and half steps, to more complex and costly changes. 

One common major adaptation that can dramatically enhance independent living and quality of life is the installation of a home lift.

But what exactly do we mean by the term home lift, and what are they for?

What Products Are Out There?

There are three types of home lifts on the market, each serving a different purpose. The three types are stairlifts, step lifts and through-floor lifts.

Investing in an item that will greatly impact someone’s day-to-day life requires learning as much as possible about it. To help you determine which product might suit your patient or customer’s needs best, we’ve put together this simple guide that should explain the differences between each type of home lift and how they work.

Stair Lifts

A stair lift is a mechanical device that transports its user up and down stairs along a rail. The rail itself can be fitted to the wall but can also run along the stair treads if the staircase is sufficiently wide. 

How Do Stairlifts Work?

The three components vital to getting a stairlift up and running are the motor, the battery and the gear. 

The motor and battery are usually located within the base unit of the stairlift and together provide power, meaning there is usually no need for a separate power source to be wired in whatsoever. 

Stairlift batteries are highly durable and last a long time; they shouldn’t need to be replaced regularly and do not need charging. In case of a power cut, battery-powered stairlifts also usually have a backup battery.

To get the lift moving, the motor turns the gear, which is connected to a geared strip that is built into the track. Together, these three main components work to propel the stairlift in the chosen direction. 

Users are buckled in with a discreet seatbelt, ensuring the utmost safety, and there is a vast range of seat options to choose from during the purchase process, including swivel and lift-and-tilt functions.

To simplify things, users and their helpers can operate their stairlift with a remote control on most modern models, making getting up and down stairs easy and speedy.

Step Lifts

Where stairlifts move users from one floor to another, step lifts enable users to remain in their wheelchairs and usually serve shorter distances, such as split-level rooms and external steps leading up to the home. 

How Does A Step Lift Work?

Platform lifts such as step lifts, also called wheelchair lifts, rely on a motor and a drive. This can be hydraulic in nature, traction and chain based, or rely on a screw and nut mechanism.

How a user operates a step lift is near identical to a stairlift, with either remote control or a mounted control pad. Because step lifts can be installed outside and inside the home, they tend to be made with durable materials designed to take on a range of weather conditions and temperatures. 

Through-Floor Lifts

Most people know what a stairlift looks like, but they’re less likely to have come across the concept of through-floor lifts.

Through-floor lifts work much the same as your generic department store elevator; they travel up and down between (and through) floors and are operated through a control panel within the lift. However, unlike a lift you might find in your local IKEA, through-floor lifts are usually much smaller and designed to transport a single user rather than a group of people.

Who Might Benefit From A Through-Floor Lift?

These types of home lifts may be the perfect option for individuals whose home space simply isn’t able to accommodate a stair lift. For example, if a staircase is too narrow or if there are radiators or doorways in awkward places. 

Some patients or customers may also have specific disabilities or injuries that mean they cannot use a stairlift at all. 

How Much Do The Different Home Lifts Cost?

Due to the bespoke nature of installing a home lift, including the space available and the user’s needs, the price of fitting a new lift varies greatly.

To get a more accurate cost estimate, it’s a good idea to contact your preferred provider to arrange an appointment so that they can discuss your needs and measure up.

The good news is that financial help could be available for stairlifts, so it’s worth doing your homework to see what your patient or customer might qualify for. Support could include the purchase falling under VAT exemption or getting a stairlift from the local council. Read more about funding adaptations in our recent blog.

Home Lifts Come In All Shapes, Sizes And Uses

So it’s important to know what’s out there and consider the particular needs of an individual with reduced mobility when considering adapting their home.

Want to learn more about the range of personalisations available for home lifts? You’re in the right place. Book a call with one of our experts for no pressure, no stress advice.