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It’s a myth: ‘I’ll be stranded on the stairs in a power cut’

12:00am | & Lifestyle

There are many misconceptions and myths about stairlifts, one of the most common being that you could be left stranded on the stairs if you experience a power cut mid-journey or something triggers a safety cut-out ‘trip switch’ in your electrical fusebox.

Early stairlifts drew their power directly from your home’s mains electricity supply and, as such, were at risk of shutting down unexpectedly during a power outage. This could leave you stranded on the stairs if you were using the stairlift at the time, and if no-one was around to help you, you could be there for some time.

This situation has even been used to comedic effect, notably in the Peter Kay TV comedy “Phoenix Nights”. It saw central character Brian Potter (played by Kay) trapped overnight on his stairlift after an overloaded plug socket activated a trip switch in his fuesbox.

Although funny in a TV comedy, it was an obvious and potentially dangerous design flaw in real life – and it was Acorn Stairlifts which eliminated it. As an industry-leading innovator, Acorn continually invests in improving the design and function of its award-winning models. It was the first company to introduce robust and rechargeable DC batteries to power its stairlifts, eliminating the danger of being left stranded in a power outage. Here’s how it works:

The powerful battery pack is located in the base of the stairlift carriage (the chair assembly which travels up and down the stairlift rail). Whenever the carriage is ‘parked’ at the top or bottom of the stairs, it is docked at a charging station. The stairlift rail is still plugged into the nearest convenient domestic power socket, but the mains power doesn’t drive the stairlift directly. Instead it charges the batteries when the carriage is ‘parked’ and not being used.

Even if the power supply goes off, the high-capacity batteries will continue to operate the stairlift, so you can complete your journey in safety and comfort. In fact, a set of fully charged batteries in optimum condition hold enough power for more than 10 return journeys up and down an average straight staircase and more than eight on an average curved staircase. So if you make four or five return journeys per day, you should be able to keep using it for around two days in a power outage – and it’s unlikely that you’d be left without mains power for so long.

The exact number of return journeys possible without recharging will vary depending on the length of the staircase, how much weight the stairlift is carrying and the age and condition of the batteries. But even when the batteries do run down, all Acorn stairlifts have a built-in safety feature which allow them to ‘coast’ in a controlled way to the foot of the stairs, so that you can get off safely.

Major advances in battery technology over the past few years mean our rechargeable batteries are now smaller, lighter and more powerful than ever before. The fact that the stairlift only draws mains power to ‘top up’ the batteries as and when needed also means it is very economical to run.

The digital display featured as standard on all Acorn Stairlifts will alert you to any potential issues. For example, if the stairlift carriage isn’t fully docked in its recharging position, or if the power socket supplying the stairlift rail has been accidentally switched off. By using the digital display in conjunction with your easy-to-understand Acorn Stairlift user manual, you will be able to diagnose and fix most basic issues.

Even if something happens which you can’t understand, help from Acorn is only ever a phone call away, 365 days-a-year. Any machinery with moving parts will also benefit from regular care and maintenance. We recommend an annual service by one of our own skilled engineers to keep your Acorn Stairlift in tip-top condition. The first service is included in your stairlift’s comprehensive 12-month warranty. Beyond that we offer a full range of service plans and extended warranty packages to ensure your Acorn Stairlift is there whenever you need it, now and for many years to come.

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