Mounted on a specially fitted rail, this chair-like device for domestic use is sensor-controlled and inexpensive when compared to elevators
A stairlift can make climbing stairs an easy exercise for senior citizens who face mobility problems and for the physically challenged too. The contraption has entered the elevator market in Kerala.
Mounted on a specially fitted rail on the side of the staircase, the chair-like device moves up the steps on commands given through a hand-held remote control or buttons fitted on the armrest. The gliding chair, with a comfortable and simple design, mainly targets domestic clients.
Stairlifts do not require an alternative-current (AC) supply. With a 24-volt direct-current (DC) input, the device can carry a maximum load of 127 kg. The select few dealers in the State stock both indoor and outdoor types.
The imported stairlifts now being supplied can function on a 12-metre rail, mounted on the side of the staircases. Most of the body components are either made of aluminium or steel. The plastic parts used in some portions for seating arrangements are heat- and UV-resistant, protecting the stairlift from fading and heat damage.
The padded seat with its chic folding arms, footrest, and headrest allow smooth and comfortable access to the stairway. The swivel seat helps to get on and off easily without twisting the body. On moving, the diagnostic digital display gives various pieces of information on its screen. As the ascent and descent are controlled with the use of sensors, it is a “soft stop” rather than a “crash-landing.”
Five safety sensors on the footrest stop the carriage automatically on encountering any obstruction on the way. For extra security, a stairlift can be fitted with separate lap and shoulder harnesses. After use, the user can easily lock the switch pad, preventing children from misusing it. At present, the stairlift trade in Kerala is dominated by a German company named Acorn. Although full-fledged showrooms are yet to be opened, the company has a State-wide network to meet demand from potential clients.
Dealers say the cost, including of installation, comes to around Rs.2.5 lakh. They offer free service for three years.
M.T. Geevarghese, manager of a leading elevator company which deals in Acorn products, says people are not yet aware of the utility of the comparatively new product. Compared with elevators, the stairlifts are inexpensive and more suitable for domestic use.
Dealers are now focussing on selling indoor stairlifts which can be fitted to ordinary staircases.