You may be wondering what a stairlift is. Well, it is a kind of mechanical device that is used for the purpose of lifting people and or wheelchairs up and down flights of stairs. For stairs that are quite wide, a rail is mounted to the stairs' treads. Then the chair or the lifting platform is attached to this rail, and the person on the platform or the chair is lifted, as the platform or the chair moves along the rail. Stairlifts are also known as stair gliders, stair lifts, chair lifts, and also by other names.

The history of stairlifts

In the 1920's, there was a man called C C Crispen, who was a businessman in Pennsylvania, he wanted to enable his sick friend to move from one floor to another floor. Thus he ended up designing a rather unique kind of seat which would be able to travel up and down stairs. He was, in fact, an engineer of sorts, and he was successful in building the first prototype of the inclining chair, which he named the Inclin-ator. Today, we know this as the stairlifts.

But there is this other interesting fact that you must know about the historian Dr. David Starkey, in 2009, found something in the possessions of King Henry VIII, which might just have been the first stairlift. The King had been injured in jousting, and he used a chair which was hauled up and down the stairs on a block and tackle system, by his servants, when he lived at the Whitehall Palace in London.

But you would be surprised to know that the modern stairlift hails back to the 1930's, when the first stairlifts were produced commercially, advertised and sold in the USA by the Inclinator Company of America. These were targeted mainly at polio victims.

More information on stairlifts

Stairlifts come with many features adjustable seat height (to make accommodations for short or tall people), flip-up rail, folding step, battery isolation switches (which are very convenient), call stations, key switch, speed governor (to adjust the speed for comfort), soft start, seatbelt (for safety purposes), and soft stop.

The straight rails type, which is suitable for use on domestic staircases, they are made from extruded aluminum or steel, and they usually come in different cross-sectional shapes. Usually they weight over 30 kilograms, depending on how long they are. Usually, these straight rails are attached to the steps with metal brackets; these are most often called cleats. Sometimes, the case may be that the rail crosses a doorway at the stairs' bottom, or even there is an obstruction caused in such a case the hinge can be fitted so that the end of the rail can be folded back out of the way, if it is not currently being used.

Stairlifts can also have curved rails which are made from aluminum or steel, and according to the designer, they come in different cross-sectional shapes. The designs may vary, and usually the curves should have the smallest possible radius, so that they can be more convenient for use.

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