Written by Stannah at 19-07-2018

Stairlift, home elevator or platform lift?

How do you know which is the best option for you?

Using Medicaid to purchase a stairlift

If stairs have started to become a problem for you or a loved one, you may be looking for a solution. However, you’ve realized there are lots of different options to consider – so, which one do you choose?

We’re here to help. Although any of the three options would help you or your loved one get your freedom of movement back, they have different uses, and can be used in different situations. The mobility of the user, space constraints and price are all key factors to consider, so in this article, we’ll talk about the main features of each one, as well as anything you might have to bear in mind if you decide to opt for one over the other.

stannah stairlifts for straight stairs

Stairlift

What is a stairlift?

A stairlift is a lift that takes a person up and down the stairs while sitting on a chair. It’s pretty straightforward really – it does what it says on the tin – carries you up the stairs comfortably and safely. One of the main perks of a stairlift is that it is the most cost-effective way of giving you freedom of movement in your home. As no building work has to be done to install one, and they can be installed on practically any staircase, they’re a good solution for anyone who simply wants to get up their stairs, without having to make any significant alterations to their home.

There are a lot of different stairlifts on the market, and while they might all seem quite similar, there are quite a few differences between them:

  • The look of a stairlift – is the stairlift designed to match your home décor?
  • How it is controlled – is the hand control ergonomic?
  • Comfort features – whether it has a cushioned seat and if the footrest is long enough
  • Safety features – how easy is the seatbelt to do up? What happens if there’s something in the way of your stairlift?

there are lots of things to consider before you choose the right stairlift for you. Do some research online and read customer reviews – see what other people are saying about each company to make sure you choose one you can trust.

Who can use a stairlift?

Like we said above, pretty much anyone. If you can hold yourself upright in a chair, you can use a stairlift (you need to be sure you’re securely in the chair all the way to the other end).

People who find it difficult to bend their knees or hips

ou can even use a stairlift if you find it difficult to bend your knees and hips, as we have several different chairs in our range, each one built to meet different needs. The Sadler is the perfect blend between a perch seat and a chair, and if you find it difficult or painful to sit back into a chair, and get back up again, it’s exactly what you need to carry you up the stairs. The seat of the Sadler tilts back, supporting your weight as you sit back into it, taking the pressure off your knees, as you glide up the stairs in near-standing position. Then, when you reach the other end of your stairs, it tilts back up, gently helping you out of the chair.

Wheelchair users

You can even use a stairlift if you use a wheelchair, but if you want to use your stairlift independently, you need to be able to get in and out of your wheelchair, and in and out of your stairlift, by yourself. A stairlift also can’t carry a wheelchair, so you may need to have another one waiting for you at the other end of the stairs. As long as you can hold yourself upright in the chair, the standard safety features of each one of our stairlifts – from our ergonomic seatbelt to a footrest fold button – make sure our stairlifts are safe and easy to use.

Where can I have a stairlift installed?

A stairlift is installed on your stairs. They can be installed on the vast majority of staircases, whether they’re long or short, wide or narrow, indoors or outdoors, straight or curved. Stairlifts are fitted onto your stairs (whatever they’re made of), not your walls. That means that installing a stairlift doesn’t require any building work, and installations are quick (take less than a day) and clean.

As long as you have a power outlet near your stairs, a stairlift can be installed easily – and can even be fitted to carry you up multiple staircases, and multiple floors.

Pros

  • Cheap to run
  • Quick to install
  • Extremely quiet
  • Comfortable to ride
  • A cost-effective solution
  • No building work necessary
  • Folds away neatly when not in use
  • Can be removed easily if necessary

Cons

  • You can’t choose where you install it
  • Is more conspicuous than a home lift
  • Can’t carry heavy cargo (e.g. a wheelchair)

home-elevator

Home elevator

What is a home elevator?

A home elevator could be the solution you immediately jump to when you think of making your home more accessible. After all, home elevators tend to increase property value, and are often seen as a smart investment – especially if you have reduced mobility and are finding it difficult to get around in your home.

The main things to consider when thinking about getting a home elevator installed in your house, are:

  • Where you’ll install it – do you have room to build an elevator shaft and pit? Could you get a home elevator that doesn’t need a shaft or pit? Do you have the space even a small elevator would require?
  • How much it’ll cost. Home elevators tend to be more expansive than stairlifts, and as well as the elevator itself, you need to consider the building work that must be done to accommodate the elevator.
  • How long it will take to draw up the plans and actually install your home lift. Can you wait that long?

Who can use a home elevator?

Anyone and everyone.

However, home elevators come in lots of different shapes and sizes. For that reason, you should think about exactly what you want and need while you’re exploring your options. Do you need your home elevator to:

  • Carry a wheelchair?
  • Carry heavy weights?
  • Have automatic doors?
  • Go up more than two floors?
  • Carry more than one person?

All of these variables could alter the price and type of elevator you’re looking for.

Other things to consider if you’re thinking about buying a home elevator are:

  • Where you’ll place your home elevator to get the best use from it.
  • Where the drive unit will be placed – will you be able to hear it when the elevator is being used?
  • Home elevators often need yearly maintenance to make sure they’re working as well as they can be.

Where can I have a home elevator installed?

Unlike when you buy a stairlift, when you buy a home lift you’re not limited by where you can put it. Depending on what your home is like, you can maximize the use of your home lift by putting it exactly where you want it. You will probably need to get help from professionals in order to work out what’s best / doable in your home, but buying a home lift gives you a lot of possibilities and choice in the matter.

Pros

  • Cheap to run
  • Comfortable to ride
  • Can carry heavy cargo
  • Adds value to your house
  • Doesn’t alter your staircase
  • You can choose where you want to install it

Cons

  • Requires building work
  • Can’t be removed easily if necessary
  • The project takes a long time from start to finish
  • Depending on where the drive box is installed, can be noisy when in use
  • More expensive than a stairlift or platform lift

platform lift view from top of stairs

Platform lift

What is a platform lift?

A platform lift is a platform that moves along a rail that’s attached to your stairs, giving you access to your whole home. The platform can transport a person in a wheelchair, a person who is standing up or a person seated on a flip-down seat. It’s the ideal solution for transporting people and / or cargo up and down stairs.

A platform can be fitted for access up one or several flights of stairs, so could be the ideal solution for you to reach your whole house.

Who can use a platform lift?

Anyone can use a platform lift thanks to its convenient flip-down seat. Whether you use a wheelchair or not, a platform lift can carry you smoothly up your stairs. An added benefit of a platform lift is its capacity to carry heavy cargo, meaning you have an easy solution to carry heavy goods up and down your stairs, without putting yourself in danger.

Where can I have a platform lift installed?

Like a stairlift, a platform lift must be installed on steps. The good news is that whatever your steps are like – whether they’re long or short, indoors or outdoors, straight or curved, and whatever they’re made of, a platform lift can be installed on them. However, due to the size of a platform lift when it is unfolded for use, it can’t be installed on very narrow staircases, as it needs space to be able to travel all the way up. However, when it’s not in use, a platform lift folds up neatly, leaving plenty of room on the steps for anyone who wants to use them.

All you need, is to have a power outlet by your staircase for a platform lift to be fitted, to get you moving on your stairs.

Pros

  • Cheap to run
  • Quick to install
  • Extremely quiet
  • Can carry heavy cargo
  • A cost-effective solution
  • No building work necessary
  • Folds away neatly when not in use
  • Can be removed easily if necessary

Cons

  • Not very comfortable to ride
  • You can’t choose where you install it
  • Is more conspicuous than a home lift and a stairlift

A quick summary – stairlift Vs. home elevator Vs. platform lift

Stairlift Home elevator Platform lift
What is it? A chair that carries you up your stairs An elevator fitted in your home A platform that carries you up your stairs
Can it carry a wheelchair? no yes yes
How many people can it carry in one go? 1 It depends on the elevator, but usually more than 1. 1
Can it lift very heavy cargo? no yes yes
Can it carry you up multiple floors? yes yes yes
Does your home need to be modified in order to install it? no Yes. Often (but not always) to install a home lift, you’ll need to build an elevator shaft and pit in your home. no
Can you choose where it’s installed? You can choose the side of the stairs you want to install it on, but that’s about it. Yes (depending on the constraints of your house) You can choose the side of the stairs you want to install it on, but that’s about it.
Do you need planning permission in order to install it? no yes no
Can it be installed both indoors and outdoors? yes no yes
How long does an installation take? Less than a day At least a couple of weeks About one day or two
How economical is it to run? Very. In fact, it’s even cheaper than your coffee machine. Pretty economical, although it really depends on the lift you opt for. Very. In fact, it’s even cheaper than your coffee machine.
Will it add value to your house? no yes no