Stair Lift Designs
Stair lifts have a come a very long way since they were originally invented. In days gone by, stair lifts were barely functional – the design was crude, they were extremely uncomfortable, and worst of all, they were unsafe. Cables or ropes were used to haul the lift seat up, and the cumbersome drive unit was often at the top of the stairs or underneath. Things have surely changed since then, thankfully.
There are a few different types of stair lift designs. Two of the main ones are Mobile Drive Unit and Mains Power Supply.
Mobile Drive Unit Stair Lift
The mobile drive unit style of stair lift is somewhat self explanatory. The type of drive system that is used moves the stair lift up and down the stairs with the seat attached to it. Inside the drive apparatus, there is an electric motor, gear box, and all of the other mechanical parts used to make the machinery work.
The old rope systems from long ago have been replaced by cables or multi-link chains, which very closely resemble bicycle chains. The motor rotates a spool-shaped device or a type of cable that is called reel-in-reel-out. There is also a cogged wheel mechanism that can move up and down the chain.
One of the problems that arise with cable or chain drive systems is their continual need for lubrication. This can occasionally get quite messy. Another issue is that often regular service to the machines is required as the cables or chains need re-tensioning or in some cases replacement.
Mains Power Supply Stair Lift
These kinds of stair lifts are powered by a domestic electric supply. What this means is that the stair lift is connected to a power supply that is a 110 volt AC supply. These types of stair lifts that run on ac supply tend to be a little old-fashioned compared to more modern kinds of stair lifts.
One of the biggest pitfalls of this kinds of stair lift is if the power goes out. Because they operate on electricity, this can be a problem, especially if the user is operating it when the power outage occurs. Because of the continued flexing and tensioning that occurs, the unit will often break down and require service. The parts that are used tend to malfunction after being used again and again. Basically, AC power is more difficult to control than DC power generally.
Stair Lift Design Innovations
There have been many changes and upgrades made to different kinds of stair lifts today. Now, users have a multitude of options when choosing the type of stair lift that they want.
For example, more stair lifts are using DC or battery power. This is helpful because the power does not come from an AC source, and means that it is a bit easier to control and also that if there is a power outage, the stair lift will still operate and the risk of getting stranded as it were is much lower. Some stair lifts have implemented infra-red controls, as well.
They can also have handy features like seats that swivel, which can increase comfort, and they can be pressure sensitive, meaning that if they come in contact with anything, they will cease to move, which makes them much more safe if there is any obstruction in the way. This protects the user from harm, should anything like that happen.