When you live in a multi story house and walking up and down the stairs just isn't feasible anymore, either because you have suffered from an injury, or because a physical condition is causing you to be short of breath just taking a couple of stairs, then I'm sure you have thought of getting a stairlift at one point or the other.
Residential stairlifts or building stairlifts are mobility devices that consist of a rail or track and a car which is suitable for standing or sitting and whisks you from one end of the stairs to the other, no legwork required.
And when you check out the manufacturers and the models, you come to a question: What kind of a stairlift should I get? Several manufacturers offer AC powered chair lifts and others offer DC, or battery powered lifts. So which would work better for you?
We're going to look into a few points here that could make your decision easier for you. The questions we'll ask are: How is your residential power delivered? How is your condition or injury affecting your sense of balance, and how much maintenance are you willing to devote to your stairlift?
Based on the answers, you will be better able to decide whether to go for an AC or a DC variety of a stairlift.
How stable is your residential AC power source?
Based on your past experiences, have you found that frequently, out of nowhere, you experienced a power outage? Did that power outage last an appreciable amount of time? Can you think of many instances? Well, if you live in an area where power outages are frequent and lengthy, then you should lean toward a battery powered residential stairlift. They will operate even during the power outage an will provide at least two dozens or more trips without recharging the battery. AC powered chair lifts on the other hand, will get stuck wherever the outage catches them and will stay there until the power comes back. How risky is that for you if you would get stuck like that?
Is the condition you have also affecting your sense of balance?
If so, you definitely want a solid seat belt on your chair lift, you want a solid swivel chair to make the entry and exit into the chair easier, and, most of all, you should go with the DC powered stair lift. Why? Because these usually have less of a jerky motion at the beginning and at the end of the trip. The manufacturers offer no explanation for why that is but it can be tracked down simply to more power in an AC engine than in a typical DC or battery powered engine. With less power, naturally, the acceleration and "jerkiness" is less pronounced. Consequently, you will less likely be shaken off balance, which could increase the risk of fall.
How much maintenance are you willing or able to provide?
The battery operated stair lifts may be more reliable when it comes to power outages, but the battery technology is not perfect so batteries age, and lose their power over time. This is sometimes difficult to forecast or even diagnose. So batteries in a battery powered stairlifts need to be maintained regularly, and replaced from time to time to prevent any "weird" or "unusual" behavior when the battery starts to show its age. So if you are not ready to provide or schedule regular maintenance of a stairlift, then you should be better off with an AC powered stairlift.
Still undecided? See the website for a large selection of both AC and battery powered stairlifts. Examples include AC and DC powered Ameriglide stairlifts and DC powered Brooks stairlift, model Lincoln.