Stairlifts help seniors and other adults with limited mobility safely travel up or down a flight of stairs. Seniors with a stairlift installed can live independently in a home with stairs, without needing assistance from a caregiver or other loved one to move through the house. The system is usually fairly simple, consisting of a seat, a set of rails and a motor to power the motion of the seat. While there is always variation in the models seniors can choose from, stairlifts come in two basic configurations: straight and curved.
There are several reasons why a curved stairlift might be preferred over the generally less expensive straight option. The first is that the stairway itself is curved, which can force the choice. Stairs with a landing or a twist in them also usually call for a curved lift. Even straight flights of stairs can benefit from having a curved lift installed, if the top and bottom stations of the lift curve out of the way to keep the stairs clear for foot traffic.
This guide is for seniors and their loved ones, who may be looking for a curved stairlift for their home. It describes some of the most capable and affordable curved stairlifts on the market, along with a rundown of what makes each a good choice.
AmeriGlide’s curved stairlifts are some of the most competitively priced on the market. The base model of the Platinum Curved line costs $8,114 for the complete kit. This is nearly $2,000 less than the average cost for a curved stairlift and includes the cost of installation, which must be done by an approved vendor because AmeriGlide does not permit unauthorized installation of the Platinum. AmeriGlide also takes a leading position for its complete cost transparency, especially for price estimates on custom curved sections, which run up the final cost of most other models.
This model has a carrying capacity of 352 pounds and comes with a standard warranty of two years for all parts, and five years for the drivetrain only. The Platinum Curved model can be installed along a track of up to 19 feet, and it comes with a number of standard features, such as pleather upholstery, that are premium upgrades on straight stairlift models. Buyers have the option to upgrade further to a saddle seat in red, blue or beige.
Bruno’s Elite Curve stairlift is somewhat more expensive than the budget models available, but the brand makes up for that with outstanding warranty protection and very high overall quality. The base model in Bruno’s curved stairlift line starts at $10,500, which is close to the middle range for home lifts. This comes with a five-year warranty on all components, which is one of the best offerings of its kind on the market.
The Elite Curve has a standard suite of features and customization options that are not present with most other entry-level curved stairlifts. Sophisticated audiovisual systems built into the control unit make the lift easy to control and problems easy to spot as they occur. Leather upholstery is standard and is available in tan, brown, maroon, charcoal, olive and burgundy. The weight capacity of the Elite Curve is 400 pounds, which makes it a very good choice for heavier passengers and riders who intend to fold their wheelchair and carry it up and down with them.
The Handicare 2000 Curved stairlift comes with an impressive suite of features on the base model, and it has several upgrades available at a relatively minor increase in cost. The two curved stairlift designs Handicare offers are available for between $6,190 and $8,590 installed, which is the lowest price among leading brands for curved models. On top of the industry-leading prices, Handicare offers a two-year warranty on all parts and a 10-year warranty for the drivetrain. Financing is not available directly from the company, but lifts are installed by a variety of partners around the United States, who are free to offer financing terms of their own.
The 2000 Curved, like Handicare’s straight stairlift base model, is only available with manual operation, but the mechanical elements of the drivetrain run smoothly and well. The base model has a 200-pound weight limit, and a heavy-duty kit is available that upgrades the model to 350 pounds. Upholstery on the seat is vinyl, and it’s available in more than half a dozen colors. Buyers can upgrade from the standard foldaway seat to a saddle model, which is somewhat larger and more comfortable.
Harmar has a single curved stairlift model, the Helix, and the base model is offered at $13,999 to start. The company offers an upgrade for outdoor operation, though the additional cost varies by location. The curved Helix model has a wide range of shapes it can be assembled into, and the rails are made from tubular steel. This is a departure from most stairlift models, which use less durable rails made from extruded aluminum. The extra strength these steel rails provide gives the Helix a weight capacity of 350 pounds with a smaller footprint and easier foldaway than models with bulkier aluminum rails.
One of the nicer features of a Harmar installation is the flexibility of the Helix kit. Sections can be assembled in a variety of configurations to adapt to almost any common stairway design. From gentle curves to outright spiral staircases, Harmar curved stairlifts are mounted to stairs rather than walls, and they can be installed quickly with little to no modification of the surrounding stairway
Curved stairlifts operate much like straight stairlifts, but their different geometry imposes a few changes to their design. The first difference is in the shape of the rails. Curved stairlift rails turn to match the path of a curved or angular stairway. This is ideal for spiral staircases and stairwells with a bend or landing in the middle. External stairs are also often irregularly shaped, which calls for a curved frame to match. Curved stairlifts also usually have a battery pack aboard, which charges from house electricity and operates even when the power is out. Harmar lifts are an exception to this rule because they draw AC power directly from the wall mains. Curved lifts also commonly have rapid release features that can let a senior out of the seat in case of a jam, obstruction or stall.
Finding a suitable curved stairlift for the home can be a challenge for any senior. Prices for these lifts are generally two to three times higher than the price for a similar straight lift, but they typically carry a warranty and may be financed by the dealer that installs them. Unlike straight lifts, which can sometimes be installed at home by the buyer, curved lifts most often require professional installation. This takes some of the sting off the list price, which usually includes the installation cost, rather than just the price of the kit, as is the case with straight lifts.
For more information about how to buy a curved stairlift, see our article, The Most Affordable Stairlift Brands of 2019.