senior woman using automatic stair lift vs home elevator

For people with mobility issues who have decided to remain at home rather than move into an assisted living facility or one-story home, stairs are often the biggest obstacle to manage. Outside of bathrooms, stairs are one of the main areas of a home that presents many potential injury risks. Luckily, there are home modifications for the diasbled and seniors available to ensure your home is safe to maneuver. 

Homeowners can remove stairs as a barrier by installing a stair lift or home elevator. Both are a smart investment to allow people access to multiple floors, but how do you know which is the better option for you?

Let’s take a look at a stair lift vs elevator and show you the many benefits and drawbacks of each. Both options are a great solution to accommodate seniors, wheelchair users, and others with limited mobility.

How Does a Stair Lift Work?

A stair lift is a motorized chair that moves along rails that have been mounted to your home’s staircase. Whether your stairs are straight or curved, a stair lift can be installed quickly and safely to ensure mobility between floors. 

Stair lifts are a great option for seniors or for people who want a safe solution to manage stairs, but they aren’t the best solution for wheelchair uses. One of the key factors in using a stair lift is the ability to get up from the chair with little to no assistance, and if a user isn’t able to safely navigate a stair lift, then a home elevator is an option.

Check out our guide on various lifts.

How Does a Home Elevator Work?

A home elevator offers several benefits, despite the significantly higher cost than a stair lift. Since a home elevator is a home modification, your property value will increase since a good portion of the cost is retained. 

A home elevator is the safest accessible solution for navigating between floors. It allows wheelchair or power chair users to use it without getting in and out of their chair, and the ease of use is certainly appealing.

What Are the Differences?


If price is the main consideration, stair lifts will be the most cost-effective solution. Home elevators are considerably more of an investment. Given the amount of remodeling or construction required, installation of an elevator will affect the resale value of your home. 

Stair lifts are certainly the more affordable option, but your space has to be able to accommodate it. Narrow staircases might not be able to fit a motorized chair, and an elevator might be your only solution to accessing multiple levels. 


Stairlifts are much easier to install than an elevator. You can have one installed easily in a few hours, depending on the shape of the staircase. Getting a home elevator installed could take days or weeks, and it will take up a much larger footprint in your home.

User Friendly

There are lots of design options for both elevators and stair lifts, and whichever one you decide to go with should be the right solution for your mobility needs. Wheelchair users might not be able to transfer to a stair lift, and, if they don’t have someone to carry their wheelchair up and down the stairs, will likely need to have more than one wheelchair to access multiple levels.

Home Space

A stair lift takes up much less space than a home elevator, and the seat can be folded away when not in use. Home elevators are a permanent fixture and even a small elevator will take up significantly more space than a stair lift. However, because the lift is entirely separate from your stairs, home elevators won’t clutter up or take away space on your staircase.


Both options will require annual maintenance, but a home elevator is likely to require more due to the additional moving parts in both the platform lift and the elevator shaft. With either option, you should get a professional to regularly inspect your lift option.


Both lifts will make some noise with use, and the amount will depend on the model you choose, but generally, it’s not loud enough to be disruptive.

Home Value

Like most home improvements, having an elevator in your home will increase your home’s resale value. It will allow more potential buyers to consider your home when you sell it in the future, whereas a stair lift can be removed easily enough.

You Can Put Your Trust In The Conval-Aid Experts

There are plenty of things you have to consider when installing a mobility solution in your home. A stair lift is a more affordable option for those with limited mobility, but a home elevator will provide a way for mobility chair users to access multiple levels. 

Talk to a Conval-Aid specialist to help determine the best solution for you. Although we don’t sell home elevators, we have the experience and knowledge to guide you on the best lift solution for your needs and home situation.

Book an appointment with us today!