Stairlifts make it possible for people who have trouble traversing stairs to get up and down between the stories in their home. If you’re considering installing a stairlift in your home, you may be curious about the actual mechanics that make these ingenious, helpful devices actually work. Here, in a nutshell, is how stairlifts work.
The typical stairlift
consists of several basic components. First, there are the rails, a
system of tracks that are fixed to the stair treads, or in rare cases,
to the wall beside the staircase. Generally, there is a bracket attached
to the steps on the stairway. The rails are attached to the brackets.
Next there is the carriage, the component which moves along the rail. In
most cases, the carriage is pulled along the rails by a chain or cable,
though some may be driven along the rails by some other system. The
carriage generally consists of a seat, usually with arms and a footrest
for safety. Some chairlifts have a “perch” – a small platform on which a
passenger can stand during transport. Finally, there is the battery,
which powers the motor
that runs the drive train. It is similar to an automobile battery and
must be plugged in to recharge. The battery operation ensures that the
stair lift will operate even if there is a power outage.
stairlifts are operated via a control on the arm of the lift. The
control may be a switch or a toggle, which is easier to operate for
people with limited dexterity. Modern stairlifts often also have a
remote controllers that can operate the stairlift from a short distance.
These operate as call buttons to bring the lift to the top or bottom of
the stairs where a passenger is waiting.
stairlifts also incorporate a computer processor which tracks the speed
of ascent and descent and records the number of trips up and down the
stairs. These records can help service engineers diagnose problems on
service calls, and may also warn owners when parts need maintenance,
attention or replacement.
stairlifts incorporate a number of important safety devices that cut the
power to the lift when something goes wrong. These range from sensors
that stop the seat when they encounter an obstacle or obstruction on the
stair to governors, which brake the chair if the mechanism recognizes
that the chair is moving too fast.
Most engineers and vendors who
install stairlifts will be happy to explain the key workings to you if
you ask, because it makes their jobs easier if you understand how the
lift operates, so if you have questions, just ask.