Newly arrived technology could provide a realistic alternative to the stairlift, says Lachlan Falkner
Until very recently, the traditional stairlift has been almost the only option for people who struggle with mobility either through old age, disability, or illness, but still want to live in their property and access all floors.
But a new alternative has come onto the market that offers many significant advantages. – the ‘real’ through floor lift that rises vertically.
Such domestic lifts are usually far more reliable than stairlifts, which can often break down leaving users potentially trapped upstairs or confined to the downstairs until the problem is fixed.
And while stairlifts may seem to be the cheaper option, the difference is not always as clear cut as it appears. A bespoke curved stairlift could cost between £4,000 and £7,000 – while a home lift from Stiltz Lifts, for example, starts at less than £9,000. In addition, stairlifts also require regular servicing and maintenance depending on usage.
Stairlifts can often spoil the aesthetics of a home and be obtrusive. Domestic lifts, in comparison, can be fitted with an integrated curtain that simply slides over, making the lift seem like a windowed area. In fact, the lift car of Stiltz’s Vista Lift, its most recent product, is made of clear polycarbonate and has been designed to allow the lift to “dissolve” into a room’s decor without a trace.
Home lifts are much faster than stairlifts: they can take one passenger up to one floor in under 30 seconds, while stairlifts can take several minutes to transfer the user up and down the stairs.
And unlike a stairlift, home lifts allow for more than one person to travel at one time. This means no one person has to be left at the bottom or top of the stairs while the other one uses the lift on their own. With a home lift, the user can move around their home independently and does not require any assistance getting on or off, as they often do with a stairlift. There is also no risk of falls with a lift in the home.
Originally conceived in Australia and introduced to the UK in 2010, Stiltz Lifts’ version of the home lift does not use hydraulics. Best of all, it does not require load bearing walls either. Instead it uses a dual rail system – the “stilts” – which is self-supporting, with the weight of it and the lift carried in compression through the rails and into the floor of the home. No extra external mechanisms are required.
Stiltz has three types of domestic lifts as part of its range, including lifts designed for wheelchair users which are wider and deeper. All are powered by a 13-amp power socket just like any other household appliance such as a kettle, microwave or toaster. This powers a roped drum-braked gear motor drive system which is self-contained within the lift car.
With a footprint of just 0.62 sq m, the Stiltz lift should be able to be fitted almost anywhere in the home. As its shape is designed not to be a simple rectangle, it can go in a wide variety of locations such as a stairwell void, or from cupboard to cupboard. In a non-listed building, no planning permission is required for a installing a lift – just a standard building notice application.
All Stiltz home lifts need to be installed by professional builders, but, once the lift provider has taken a survey of the property, decided where the lift is going to go, and measured its outline on the floor the lift will be passing through, the company can supply any builder with templates of the design of the lift so they can quote for the work. These templates give a step-by-step guide on how to complete an installation.
Lachlan Falkner is new business development manager at Stiltz