Date – May 13, 2019

We all have challenges. Maybe stairs are yours? Perhaps you’ve considered a stair lift or a home elevator to ease the stress of the staircase. The differences really come down to your personal needs. But, what is the difference between an elevator and a stair lift, and which is right for your circumstances?


Stair lifts provide a seat that will cruise you up or down a staircase. They are meant to provide an easy lift for mild mobility issues, such as achy joints, hip issues or breathlessness. If you have more extreme mobility issues, you will likely require assistance getting on or off the stairlift. Also, platforms capable of holding and transporting a wheelchair will take-up more space, about 3-feet worth of the stairwell.

Stair lifts work great for wider staircases, though can be fitted to narrower ones. They’re conducive for curvy or straight staircases, indoors or outdoors. Generally, stair lifts aren’t easy to conceal and often include a stair lift rail, straps, a chair and/or safety rails. Stair lifts may come in a variety of colors, with options for rail finish and seat color. Some stair lifts fold-up out of the way when not in use. The stairwell railing may have to be removed to fit in the railing for the stairlift. Relative to an elevator, stair lifts make less noise when in use.

Average cost is between $2,000 and $5,000. Stairs lifts cost between $1,000 and $3,000, with installation labor around $2,000. Stairlifts are more cost-effective than elevators because they don’t require remodeling of your home. Only an electrical outlet may need to be installed if one doesn’t already exist near your staircase. Stairlifts don’t add any extra value to your home, as new residents may not need it. They are, however, easy to remove.

If you can sit down and stand-up with ease, this may be for you.


Home elevators are an extremely convenient way to access vertical levels in your home. They allow for greater independence and are beneficial to those with serious health conditions that affect mobility. There are two kinds of home elevators: hydraulic or pneumatic. Hydraulic elevators use compressed oils to offer smoother force and power. Pneumatic elevators use compressed air, which can elicit a rigid ride, but are faster and cheaper.

Home elevators range in size, from 12-18 sq. feet. Hydraulic elevators tend to require a bit more space to make room for the elevator’s motor. A pneumatic elevator requires only enough space for the cab itself. Hydraulic elevators can be concealed from view, with various appearance options. Pneumatic elevators are usually clear plastic or glass. Pneumatic elevators are smaller than shaft elevators, allowing installation in tighter spaces.

Elevators are a bit noisier than stair lifts due to cables or other machinery involved. You can install acoustic panels to help absorb sound if you opt for a hydraulic elevator. The best option is to install the elevator is non-noise sensitive location, such as near a bathroom, kitchen, wardrobe or storage room.

Home elevators are more expensive in materials and installation, relative to a stair lift. The cost to install a pneumatic elevator that climbs one floor is around $10,000, with the elevator itself consuming most of that cost (usually between $5,000 and $7,000). A hydraulic elevator costs around $20,000 when all is said and done, with the hydraulic elevator itself costing $10,000. Elevators can add value to your home (by up to 10%), especially if it was installed at the time of home construction.

Generally, elevators are for indoor use and can take longer to install than a stair lift. Both home elevators and stair lifts should be inspected annually for routine maintenance. Cables for hydraulic elevators should be replaced every five years to ensure optimal function and safety.

Everyone in your home and guests can take advantage of the elevator, so it can serve a multitude of purposes.