Stairs are, at the same time, incredibly simple and incredibly complex. For people with full mobility, there’s nothing easier than moving up and down a staircase. However, at the same time that ease of use is completely reverse for people with limitations on their movement. Modern technology has gone a long way in fixing this problem. The two main solutions come in the form of stair lifts and wheelchair stair lifts.
The two devices share some common features. The biggest, of course, is the intended use. They’re designed to lift people up and down staircases through use of a motorized system. There are significant differences between the two devices though. The most apparent comes from the seat, or lack of one.
A standard stair lift has a single seat attached to a rail which traverses the length of the staircase. One simply sits on the attached chair, and it moves itself and the person sitting it around. The biggest variable here is whether the staircase is curved or not. Technically a curved and straight staircase use the same sort of stair lift; however, in practical terms a curved staircase requires quite a bit more custom work due to the inherent variations one will find there.
A wheelchair lift is similar in many ways. The biggest difference is that there’s usually a flat platform instead of a chair. The intended method of use is for someone in a wheelchair to position themselves on the platform, and have it lift them up and down the stairs.
In general, if one uses a wheelchair, the wheelchair lift is the preferred device. At best, a person in a wheelchair will need a second wheelchair at the top and bottom of the stairs. It’s certainly possible to use that way, but most people would find that to be overly costly and inconvenient. As such, people in wheelchairs generally go with a wheelchair lift.
Standard stair lifts are generally favored by people with limited mobility who have some use of their legs. People with canes in particular usually prefer this model. The main point where the choice becomes more difficult is for people with walkers. However, the lower cost makes it less problematic to simply have multiple walkers compared to multiple wheelchairs. So in general people with walkers also tend to prefer the standard model of stair lift.