How To Add An Electrical Outlet For A Stair Glide Chair Lift

If you intend to install a chair lift for a loved one who can no longer ascend or descend stairs unassisted, you'll need an electrical outlet within ten feet of the upper or lower end to power the lift. Even if you use a battery operated chair lift, you'll need an outlet to recharge the battery.

Luckily, you don't need a dedicated outlet, because these units will not require a separate or higher powered line. You can wire an outlet from an existing outlet that is just out of range for use with the chair lift.

Here's what you'll need

An outlet, outlet box, and cover plate 

The outlet will be placed inside the outlet box, which fits inside the wall. Purchase an outlet box that has an upper and lower screw for attaching the box inside the wall, not the type with two sideways nails for attaching to a wall stud. The cover plate will hide the outlet from view.


You'll need fourteen gauge wire for a fifteen amp line and twelve gauge wire for a twenty amp line. Check the breaker that controls the line for the amp rating. The wire you will need will be in a three wire bundle, with a hot wire, a neutral wire, and a grounding wire inside a plastic sheath.

Determining the length of wire needed will require measuring the distance from the existing outlet to the location of the new outlet. Add a few feet for connection purposes and for compensating for a possible indirect pathway between outlets.If you're connected to a close existing outlet, a twenty five foot roll of wire will suffice.

Wire cutter/ stripper tool

Screwdrivers (flat and philips head)

Pry bar

Utility knife

Preparing to install the outlet

Place the open end of the outlet box against the wall in its intended location, and trace an outline of the box. Cut along the trace mark with a utility knife until the rectangle of drywall can be removed.

You will need to use a pry bar to remove the bottom molding along the drywall between the existing outlet and the proposed outlet to run wire. When the molding is removed you can begin the connection of the outlets.

Connecting the outlets

First, turn off the breaker to the existing outlet. If its not marked on the breaker box, plug something into the outlet and flip breakers individually until power is turned off to the outlet.

Remove the center screw holding the cover plate, then the upper and lower screws that attach the outlet to the outlet box. Pull the outlet from the wall.

Remove the outlet box by loosening the upper and lower diagonally placed screws until the box can be pulled from the wall. Knock out one of the lower punch out tabs on the back of the outlet box, then place the box back inside the wall, tightening the screws until it is secure.

Begin feeding the sheath of wire through the punch out hole in the outlet box until you reach the floor. If there is no gap between drywall and floor, cut a small hole in the drywall at floor level so the wire sheath can be pulled through. Feed the wire gradually as you pull it along the wall from which you removed the molding, until you reach the intended location of the new outlet.

Again, if no gap exists between drywall and floor, cut a small hole at floor level directly under the outlet opening that was cut previously. Feed the wire until it reaches the wall opening and pull it through. 

 Place the end of the wire sheath through the punch out hole in the outlet box (from the outside), then place the outlet box inside the wall, tightening the screws until it is secure.

Strip one inch of insulation from each of the three wires in the sheath, by placing each wire in the slot on the blade that is numbered according to wire gauge, close the blades, and pull the wire through.

Attach the black wire to the upper gold terminal on the new outlet, the white wire to the upper silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the green terminal. Tighten all terminal screws as tight as possible.

Place the outlet inside the outlet box and tighten the two screws that secure it inside the box, then attach the cover plate.

Wiring the new outlet to the existing outlet

Back at the original outlet, use the wire cutters to cut the wire sheath at a point several inches beyond the wall opening and strip the insulation from the wire ends. Attach the wires to the lower section of the existing outlet in the same manner as the new outlet. The new green or copper colored wire will share the green terminal with the existing wire. Attach the outlet inside the outlet box and the cover plate as before.

Check the wire sheath before reattaching the molding, to be sure it is not pinched or otherwise damaged from restoring the molding. 

Turn on the breaker, and your loved one is ready to glide.

For professional electrical services, contact a company such as Etheridge Electric Company Inc.