28th July 2021
If an occupational therapist (OT) has assessed your needs and recommended a stairlift, the next step is to find out how much one will cost. This will involve a feasibility study by a stairlift company.
To find out about recommended stairlift companies near your home, consult your OT, or an expert from a equipment demonstration centre or disabled living centre, who will be able to give you some options.
Alternatively, visit the Disabled Living Foundation’s (DLF) website, which has details of stairlift models from national stairlift manufacturers and suppliers, many of whom are members of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA).
The latter can be reassuring, as it means that the company has to follow a code of practice set by the BHTA and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Our 2020 survey of stairlift owners revealed that the average price paid for a new stairlift was £3,284
Although stairlifts are expensive items, the cost of buying and installing one has remained fairly stable for years.
Our 2020 survey of stairlift owners revealed that the average price paid for a new stairlift was £3,284. The average price paid for a new straight stairlift was £2,845; this increases to an average £4,217 for a curved stairlift.
As a general rule, every corner in your staircase will double the initial price. If you have a staircase formed of two straight flights of stairs with a landing area in between, it may be cheaper to buy two straight stairlifts instead of one curved one. You would need to be mobile enough to move from one lift to the other, though.
Because curved stairlifts are made to measure, a deposit is normally required. This isn't usually necessary for straight stairlifts, though.
Prices and quality vary between manufacturers and by type of stairlift. In our stairlift brand reviews, we've included average prices for brand new and second-hand , and stairlifts, as well as such as Bespoke, MediTek and Thyssenkrup.
If you want to see a range of stairlifts, there are a few options.
Some companies have showrooms at which you can see and try different models.
Alternatively, you could find your nearest equipment demonstration centre. These are dedicated places where you can try out mobility aids in a non-sales environment, which can feel more relaxed. There are a number across the UK, and you can find a list on the Disabled Living Foundation's website.
You could also ask your local council which brands it uses. If you have an occupational therapist, ask them or contact the occupational therapy department of your local council.
If you know someone who owns a stairlift, ask to try theirs, and talk to them about the pros and cons. There's nothing like sitting on a stairlift and giving it a go for seeing whether it might suit you.
But remember that your requirements may be very different – for example, if theirs is a straight stairlift, it's likely to have been simpler and cheaper to install than a bespoke option for curved stairs.
Ask whether the company is a member of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA). This means it will have signed up to its code of practice, which includes ethical selling.
All stairlifts must be CE-marked and comply with British Standard BS5776.
For a stairlift company to be able to give you an accurate quote, a surveyor will usually need to visit your home to carry out a feasibility study. This should be free of charge.
They'll determine, among other things, whether your stairs are wide enough for the stairlift you want, and, for seated stairlifts, wide enough to allow room for your knees when seated.
The visit is your chance to find out about the different models of stairlift the company offers. But it's not just about your staircase, the assessor will need to find out about you too.
This will allow them to identify the features that will suit your individual needs.
It's a good idea to get quotes from two or three different companies, including one manufacturer and one supplier, so you can compare prices and make an informed decision.
If possible, try to arrange for your OT to be present during the feasibility study. If this isn't possible, you should at least make sure that your OT has given you clear written instructions about which stairlift features are important for you – for instance, whether you need one that is seated or a standing and, if seated, whether it needs to be height adjustable.
Once the study has been completed, the company representative will give you a written quote, either there and then, or in the following days.
Larger companies may have computer software to show you what your customised stairlift will look like on your own stairs.
A quote should include:
Check with the salesperson if you’re eligible for a VAT exemption because of disability.
A good company will be able to give you information on the length of the stairlift’s warranty, too. Most have a one-year minimum warranty, but some offer two-year and extended warranties.
Make sure the quotes you're getting are like for like. Think about the following:
Stairlifts from brands such as Acorn and Stannah can take between one and 14 days to be installed. Council or housing association installation is likely to take longer.
We asked the bigger manufacturers how long you can expect to wait for your stairlift to be installed. Acorn said that an assessment visit is generally scheduled the same day, then it's around one to five working days until installation.
Stannah said that an assessment visit generally takes up to two days to arrange, and it's three to 10 days until a straight stairlift is installed, or 10 to 14 days for a curved one.
Age UK said that an assessment visit usually happens the same or the next day as requested, with two to five days to install a straight stairlift, or seven to 14 days for a curved one.
This is likely to be significantly quicker than council or housing association installation.
If you think you might be eligible for financial assistance towards a stairlift, check out our guidance on council-provided stairlifts and financing home alterations.
Make sure you're clear about whether the quote you're getting includes VAT, so you can compare quotes between companies.
Stairlifts are economical items to run. Many manufacturers claim that they cost much less, in terms of electricity charges, than using a kettle.
Stairlifts should be inspected by a qualified stairlift engineer every six months, and serviced annually – especially as most people with stairlifts are dependent on them to give them access to the whole house.
Your stairlift should come with a minimum one-year warranty; some companies offer two years. Most stairlift companies also offer a 24-hour no-fees call-out service for the first year, which covers any spare parts that might be needed.
After the first year, you'll need to either renew your warranty, or pay an engineer by the hour for any required servicing.
Most stairlift companies offer extended warranties or maintenance contracts when you purchase a stairlift. Not all of these cover the battery, however.
A company should not put any pressure on you to purchase one of its stairlifts. Be especially wary of companies with pushy salespeople, or of those that flaunt ‘special offers’. Our shows which brands represent the best value for money, quality, reliability and more – and the ones which avoid using pressure selling tactics.
Stairlifts can normally be installed in less than a day. And, as most stairlift rails fit to the stairs rather than the wall, no structural alterations to your home should be needed.
If you're ready to have your stairlift installed you can find a reliable local trader with Which? Trusted Traders. You don't have to be a Which? member to use our Which? Trusted Traders service and all of our traders have been fully vetted by our ex Trading Standards assessors. Use our search tool below to find a reliable trader in your area.
You can save some money by buying a second-hand stairlift. The average cost of a second-hand stairlift is £2,802, compared with £3,284 for a brand-new one.
Many manufacturers and suppliers sell reconditioned stairlifts, which can be much cheaper than new ones. These are usually straight stairlifts that have been removed from one property and can be fixed to another staircase in a different home. Made-to-measure curved staircases are not normally available second-hand.
If you're considering a second-hand stairlift ask the same sort of questions as you would for a second-hand car. For example, the stairlift's service history, who has serviced it and the length of any warranty included.
Handicare and Stannah told us that only approved or authorised dealers should be selling reconditioned stairlifts. Do check, as if you buy a reconditioned stairlift elsewhere, it won't come with assurances such as a one-year warranty, guarantee and a full service history.
When we surveyed stairlift owners in 2020, we found that the average price paid for a second-hand stairlift is £2,802, compared with £3,501 for a brand-new one.
Hiring a stairlift might be a better option if you know you will only need it for a set period of time, such as if you're recovering from an accident or operation. Some suppliers have a minimum term for stairlift hire, often around three months.
Installation costs when hiring (which normally also includes removal at the end) range from £350 to more than £1,000, while monthly rental fees range from £10 for a straight stairlift from a local supplier to as much as £150 a month for a complicated curved stairlift from a national manufacturer.
It's worth looking into whether you might be eligible for a stairlift provided or funded by the council.
If you need to buy a stairlift because you have a chronic illness, or other form of disability, and intend to live in your current property for the next five years, you may be eligible for a to help with the cost.
Social services or your local environmental heath department may be able to offer disabled facilities grants of up to £30,000 to eligible people. They also sometimes offer low-cost loans. However, your income and savings have to be assessed first, and referrals from an OT are normally required.