Rigid powered bath lifts

Rigid powered bath lifts

This page considers rigid removeable bath lifts. Two other types of powered bath lift are also available and advice on these is available on the following separate advice pages:

The main function of the bath lift is to lower the seated user down in the bath and lift them back up from the bottom of the bath to the height of the bath rim. Users must be able to lift their legs over the bath rim if they wish to bathe independently.

Features of the rigid powered bath lift

Bath lift seat:
The majority of bath lifts have a seat and back rest of solid plastic mounted on a frame which attaches to the bottom of the bath with suction feet. Some units are covered with mesh material. There are an increasing number of manufacturers who are supplying detachable machine washable covers to reduce infection concerns. If a person has low body weight and/or fragile skin a cushion or insert can be helpful.

Back rest:
On some models the back is fixed; for others the reclining mechanism is an integral part of the operation of the bath lift. A reclining back can give a more relaxing and comfortable bath; accommodate people with reduced hip flexion or back conditions such as kyphosis and scoliosis and assists taller people to maximize the available length of the bath. The degree of recline varies to a maximum of 40 degrees. The overall height of the backrest varies and can, in a few cases, include a moulded head rest and other cushion inserts for additional support/stability and comfort.

Integral bath handles:
If your bath has integral handles and your bath lift has side flaps, then you may need to purchase side flap protectors (unless offered as part of the initial purchase) as the side flaps could become stuck under the handles. Read more on side flap protectors

Removing from the bath:
Bath lifts can be removed for cleaning or to allow another member of the family to use the bath. Some models have detachable components making the bath lift easier to remove and safer to handle. However, you need to decide who will carry this out. In addition to the weight issue the reach required to remove the suction feet from the base of the bath needs to be considered. There is a strong seal formed by the rubber feet and the water. The design of the suction feet has been markedly improved in some models which now have tabs on the individual feet or lifting bars to assist with breaking the seal.

Power source:
Many models of bath lifts are powered by rechargeable batteries which are either situated on the backrest, in the handset or in a separate portable power unit.

When using a bath lift powered by rechargeable batteries consider:

  • The number of lifts per charge: this varies, depending on the size and power of the battery. In general, the smaller batteries situated in the handset need to be charged more regularly than the larger packs. Some models are available with an institutional power pack and recharger for frequent use which will carry out up to 60 lifts per charge
  • Charging: batteries have to be plugged into the mains when recharging and this activity should therefore be carried out away from the bathroom. On some models, the handset is removed and plugged into the charger; others have large batteries which have to be removed for charging
  • Some models have a light on the handset indicating the current battery life.

Powered lifts are controlled by a handset which is waterproof and safe if accidentally immersed in the water. In most cases, they can be attached to the bath or tiles with suction pads. Some handsets can float. The controls are usually easy to manage for people with limited dexterity or can be used by a carer assisting the user. Some are rocker switches which can be operated by the heel of the hand or elbow. Some models have tactile controls designed for users with low vision.

Try before you buy:

When considering bathing equipment an individual assessment with an occupational therapist may be appropriate as your safety in your bathroom is very important. There may also be individual factors which determine which bathing equipment best suits your needs. The information on this site is not a substitute for individual assessment.

We recommend you try out a bath lift before purchase. Visit the Disabled Living Foundation's webpage on Equipment Demonstration Centres in the UK to find an equipment demonstration centre near you. The centres provide individuals with opportunities to view, and try, products and equipment and obtain information and advice from professional staff about equipment that may assist them.

Further information:

For further information please read our general bathlifts advice page.

Advice last checked: 02 February 2018 Next check due: 02 February 2021

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement


  1. Disabled Living Foundation 2014  Choosing equipment for bathing
    View reference   Last visited:  30/09/2015 Evidence type: 2
  2. Pain, H., McLellan, L. and Gore, S. 2003  Choosing Assistive Devices: A Guide for Users and Professionals
    Jessica Kingsley Publishers :  London and Philadelphia Evidence type: 1; 2