Chairlifts Jargon explained!chairlifts image of couple for blog post

We have put together a chairlifts Jargon buster in the hope of making stairlift terminology a little easier to understand. Below you’ll find the most common stairlift terms with explanations … we hope you find them useful!

Straight Stairlift. The term “straight stairlift” refers to a stairlift unit and stairlift track which can be installed on straight staircases only. A straight staircase would start at the bottom and directly climb to the landing area or top of the stairs in a straight line. The stairlift track for a straight stairlift can be tailored made to the exact length of the staircase. Furthermore it can also be adapted to overcome obstacles. Most noteworthy of which are doorways near the bottom by the use of a hinge track system for example.


Curved Stairlift. The term “Curved stairlift” refers to a stairlift unit and stairlift track that can be installed on staircases that feature corner/s or/and bends. The stairlift track can be tailored made to any configuration of staircase including multiple corners and bends.

Stairlift Track. A stairlift track is fixed in most cases directly to the stairs and not the wall. The stairlift unit is then fixed upon the track enabling the stairlift to move up and down the stairs. Stairlift tracks are usually around 4-5” wide and are made from aluminium (straight) or steel (curved). The length depends on the size of your staircase.


Powered / Manual Swivel Seat. A swivel seat is a device that enables the top half of the stairlift (where the user would sit) to be rotated away from the staircase so that the user is facing another direction. It’s designed to make getting on and off the stairlift easy and safe. Its main use is usually at the very top of the stairs for direct access to the landing area. They come in two options, manual and powered. Manual swivel seats are the standard option on most current stairlift models. Powered swivel seats are an upgraded feature.

Width When Folded. The majority of stairlifts come with folding arms, seats and footrests. “Width when folded” measurements are to give the user an idea of how much room will be available on the stairs once the stairlift is folded away after use (arms, seat and footrest all folded together against the wall).

Diagnostic Display. A diagnostic display is small digital display screen located on the stairlift. It displays current performance information. It enables the user to identify a problem with the stairlift via the handbook and also gives stairlift engineers a quick guide to any problems. Most stairlifts now come fitted with a diagnostic display as standard.


Weight Capacity chairlifts. This refers to the maximum user weight that the stairlift is able to carry up and down the stairs.

AC Powered chairlifts. AC stands for Alternating Current and is commonly associated with older electric driven stairlifts.

DC Powered chairlifts. DC stands for Direct Current meaning battery operated. The majority of today’s stairlifts are powered this way due to the many advantages over AC powered stairlifts.

Toggle Controls / Joystick. Usually located on the stairlift arm, the toggle controls / joystick is a simple device that enables the user to operate the stairlift by lightly pressing left or right to control the direction up or down the stairs.

Parking Points / Charging Points. Parking points are usually located at the top and bottom of the stairlift track where the user would end their journey and are a common feature on DC powered stairlifts. Charging points are usually fitted in the same place so that when the stairlift is parked either at the top or bottom, the stairlift batteries are charged automatically.


Manual / Powered Hinge Track. Occasionally, the design of hallway and positioning of doors at the bottom of the stairs, means the stairlift is unable to park at the very bottom. A hinge track can overcome this problem as it’s designed so that the bottom part can be folded down when in use and up when not in use. They come in two options, powered and manual.

Manual / Powered Footrest. Footrests are a standard feature on all stairlifts and offer support and comfort while travelling along the stairs and when alighting the stairlift. Manual footrests can be raised or lowered via the footrest handle, powered footrests can be operated by the press of a button and are automatically lowered and raised by a motor.

Stand And Perch / Perched Stairlift. Ideal for users who cannot bend their knees to sit, the seat is higher and the user perches on the seat. This can also be an advantage on narrow stairs to stop the knees protruding out as far.

Safety Edges. Safety edges stop the stairlift immediately if anything is blocking its progress along the stairs. This then enables the user to safely remove the obstruction. These are usually located around the footrest and stairlift carriage.