Published at Friday, 14 September 2018. Stair. By Christina Finke.
While the maintenance of mobility in the event of a power outage is a huge advantage of a DC stair lift system, that advantage is tempered by the cost of replacing batteries every 12 to 18 months, which can run up to $100 a pop for most stair lift batteries. On the other hand, DC stair lifts make less of a demand on the home electricity system, meaning that electric bills will be somewhat lower for DC powered lifts. The batteries of a DC powered stair lift charge in one of two methods: station charging or the use of a charge strip. With station charging, permanent charging stations are positioned at each end of the rail. Charge strips allow the lift to charge at any point along the track. Today’s rechargeable batteries are reliable and hold a charge better than old models. The typical stair lift battery will stay charged through about 8 trips up and down the track, though it will vary based on how long the staircase is and how heavy the person it is transporting is.
Curved stairs are not as safe as a strait set of stairs. Curved stairs get very narrow on one side. A curved set of steps may be difficult to negotiate in an emergency or fire situation. Handrails should be installed on at least one side of the stairs that has two or more risers. Properly configured stair handrails should 34 inches high and they should be designed to comfortably accommodate a person wrapping their hand around the rail. Guardrails also should accompany a handrail system on a properly configured set of steps. The gaps should be only 4 inches wide so that the body of a child can not fit though the openings.
The biggest danger with AC powered stair lifts is that during a power failure, the stair lift will not function. Early versions of stair lifts were all AC powered. Trailing electrical cables presented tripping hazards, and the lifts moved in a jerky, start-stop manner due to the nature of the AC powered motor. At that time there wasn’t much choice because battery technology had not advanced as far as it has today. Today, DC powered stair lifts that only recharge from the household supply of electricity are the most popular lift chair designs. With DC powered stair lifts, if the power goes out, the battery can’t charge, but the lift will still be functional until the battery’s charge runs out. These models are quieter than AC models, too.
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