Stair Lift vs Home Elevator: Which is Right for You?

If you live in a multistory house and have difficulty climbing your stairs, it may be time to consider adding a stair lift or residential elevator to your home. While both options accomplish the same goal, there are several factors which determine which of these options might be right for you. Let’s take a closer look.

Stair Lifts

Stair or chair lifts have several attributes that make them a popular choice for folks that have difficulty climbing their stairs. They are a cost-effective and reliable solution that usually can be installed quickly.

The cost for a straight rail stair lift typically starts atElan-Going-Up-Model1.jpg around $1,800 for a refurbished unit and $3,000 for a new unit with installation. If necessary, some providers offer rental and financing options. Many providers keep models of straight rail stair lifts in stock and can typically schedule installation in 1 to 2 days. The installation itself should only last a few hours.

Curved rail stair lifts need to be custom-made to fit your staircase and come with a higher price tag and a longer lead time. They typically range from $9,000 to $16,000 and can take up to 4 weeks to have the rail manufactured and ready for installation. Most stair lifts can fold up when not in use to allow for others to use the stairs and typically run on a battery that is constantly charging so that the chair can be used during a power outage. Stair lifts should also require less maintenance than an elevator.

However, stair lifts do come with their drawbacks. The user should have fairly good mobility and the ability to stand, pivot, and bear weight. While not ideal for wheelchair users, many can safely transfer to a stair lift, however they may need to keep a second wheelchair on the upper level.  Stair lifts have lower weight capacities than elevators and usually top out at 400 lbs. It can also be difficult to carry items between floors if needed. In addition, installing a stair lift will not add value to your home, but can be easily removed if no longer needed.

Pros Cons
Cost Effective Not ideal for wheelchair users
Quick Installation Lower weight capacities
Easy to Remove Won’t add value to the home


Home Elevators

While once considered a luxury item only found in posh homes, residential elevators are gaining popularity in homes across America. Elevators are a costlier option than a stair lift and require a significant remodel which can take weeks to months to complete. A traditional hoistway elevator typically starts at around $30,000 installed and will require shaft construction and prep work which can cost an additonal $20,000 to $30,000. Depending on the model, a separate mechanical room may also need to be built. Home elevators typically require more maintenance than a stair lift.

savaria-eclipse.jpgThe installation of a hoistway elevator will require significant planning and prep work, which translates to time and money. That said, a residential elevator has its benefits. If you are a wheelchair user, an elevator is the safer and more practical choice for accessing upper levels. Residential elevators can transport a person with their wheelchair to multiple floors and have weight capacities up to 1,000 lbs. It also allows riders to carry items such as baggage up and down. Another benefit is that an elevator will typically add value to your home.

 A more economical option of residential elevator is what is known as a through floor or two-stop elevator. This type of elevator travels through a cut-out in the floor and does not require the construction of a shaft. This means that installation time is quicker than with a hoistway elevator. A through floor elevator typically starts at around $29,000 with installation. While weight capacities are lower than a hoistway elevator (500 to 550 lbs) it still can carry more weight than a stair lift.

Pros Cons
Better for wheelchair users More expensive
Carry items between floors Significant planning & remodel
Adds value to your home Longer installation time