Our clients often ask us this question, or a similar one. So much so that we decided to answer it here!
The fact is that there are several commonly used names for “the electric stair chair”—or whatever you prefer to call it!
If stairs are becoming a challenge for you or your loved one, you may be considering what options are available to help make traveling between floors safer. Although we offer more than one solution, adding a chair that can transport you safely between floors is one of the most popular options.
By now, you have probably realized that there are a wide variety of terms that people use when referring to this stair climbing, home accessibility device. But you may be asking yourself, “Which name is correct, and how do I know if I’m researching the correct product?” Below, we’ll discuss the common names for this device.
Most Popular Terms for a Stair Climbing Device
When you’re shopping for a home accessibility device, you’re likely to refer to it by the name you’ve heard other people use most often. Perhaps a family member had a “stair glide” growing up, or your neighbors recently purchased a “lift chair”. From stair glide to lift chair and everything in between, the variety of names used is wide ranging.
Before revealing the “most technically correct” name for this stair-climbing, home accessibility device, we will identify some common points of confusion and some outdated terms, as well as the most commonly used terms today.
Clearing the “Chair Lift” Air
The most common point of confusion is between a “chair lift” and a “lift chair”. In fact, there are two points of confusion about calling the chair that travels up and down the stairs a “chair lift”.
The first is that “chair lift” can also be used to refer to an aerial chairlift that one might find on a ski hill. Alternatively, this more generic term of “chair lift” can sometimes be used to describe a wheelchair lift, which is different than a stair chair lift.
The second issue is that “chair lift” sounds a lot like “lift chair”. A lift chair is a specialized piece of home furniture that serves the medical purpose of helping the user stand up after being seated in it for a period of time. A useful device, to be sure—but not the same as a chair lift!
Having said all of this, many people call the chair that lifts you up and down the stairs a chair lift, and as long as we know which one you’re talking about, we’re OK with it!
The Old-Fashioned Way: “Stair Chairs” and “Stair Glides”
Some folks like to do things “the old-fashioned way”—and who could blame them? We love old-fashioned fun, like board games, cribbage, fishing, and sitting on the front porch talking with friends. When our clients ask us about “stair glides” and “stair chairs,” we think about the good ol’ days, a few years back, when these terms were more popular. Let’s file stair glides and stair chairs under “oldies but goodies” and move on!
What about the Term “Stair Elevator”?
The term “stair elevator” has been gaining in popularity lately, and we can see why. These devices are quite literally chairs that elevate the rider easily between floors. Although this may seem like a logical name, it can often cause confusion, because the term “elevator” typically refers to a different product entirely. Home elevators typically require construction and can provide wheelchair accessibility to multiple floors of a home or business. Stair elevators, on the other hand, do not require construction and do not provide wheelchair accessibility.
Okay, How About “Stair Lift”?
Perhaps the most common way to refer to that “stair lift elevator” or “stair climbing chair” is… a stair lift. Simple, straightforward, and specific enough where we almost always know what specific device is being described. We say almost always because there is one other type of lift that is sometimes called a “stair lift”—an inclined platform lift, which is a type of wheelchair platform lift. However, there’s no doubt that stair lift is the most common phrase used to describe the electric chair lift for stairs. So surely, stair lift must be the technical term for this device, right? If we’re being technical – it isn’t.
Technical Term Used by Engineers
The safety code that addresses this type of equipment is the American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) A18.1 code. This code is widely adopted by state and local elevator and lift jurisdictions throughout the United States, either with or without changes.
This safety code is titled “Safety Standard for Platform Lifts & Stairway Chairlifts”. The first part about “Platform Lifts” addresses the safety of wheelchair platform lifts. The second part about “Stairway Chairlifts” addresses the safety of stair lifts. To get even more specific, the chapters that address stair lifts refer to them as “Inclined Stairway Chairlifts”. So, if you wanted to get REALLY technical, that is what you could call the powered stair climber chair in question: inclined stairway chairlifts.
Okay, How Do I Get a Stair Lift?
We hope that you found this article on stair lift naming conventions informative! At Arrow Lift, we’ve been providing accessibility solutions for over 35 years. We’re always interested in what new “slang” is trending for the many products our team works with daily. As you’ve probably guessed by now, we’re used to helping clients find the best solution to suit their needs, regardless of the many device names. If you could use some help identifying which stair lift options are most practical for you or your loved one, please contact us for more information.