Difference Between Stair Lift, Wheelchair Lift, Wheelchair Elevator

If you or someone that you know suffers from mobility problems, there are several medical devices that can greatly increase your quality of life by making it easier to move between the floors in your home.

Three of the most popular devices are stairlifts, wheelchair platform lift and wheelchair elevators.

These three options are quite different in price range and in what they have to offer in terms of solving mobility needs.

Stair Lift

Stair Lift in action


The user sits in a chair located at the bottom of the staircase and presses a button that causes the unit to move to the top by gliding on a track. The track sits on top of a flight of stairs and is usually mounted directly to them instead to the wall.

On the reverse end, the device will move to the bottom to help the person get back down the staircase.

Getting a stairlifts is often less expensive than installing a wheelchair elevator.

Wheelchair Platform Lift

Girl sitting on a wheelchair platform lift

Platform Lift

It is more often used in public buildings, then in private residences.

It has a platform that is large enough to carry the wheelchair.

Some models come with folding edge ramps. This prevent the wheelchair from moving toward the edge of the platform.

Over the years manufacturers have been adding many additional safety features as control buttons, emergency stop button, rack-and-pinion drive system, and safety arms.

Wheelchair Elevator Lift

Woman operating a wheelchair elevator


This is often the best choice for someone who is permanently or temporarily bound to a wheelchair, which is large and bulky, and it is very difficult to drag up a flight of stairs.

The user opens a door, so the wheelchair can be moved inside of a small compartment.

Then, through a system of pulleys or hydraulics, the compartment is lifted straight up to the next floor or lowered straight down to the floor below.

The drawback is that the installation of these elevators involves a lot of construction and can be quite costly.