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For many people, when faced with the need to consider a better way to cope with the stairs in their home, the stairlift is undoubtedly one of the first possible solutions to spring to mind. This seems like a reasonable idea; not too expensive, is capable of getting the user upstairs and can be installed in the home without extensive remodelling. However, stairlifts are certainly not the only option. More and more customers with a need to solve the problem of moving easily between floors, are choosing a contemporary home lift, also frequently known in New Zealand as a domestic lift or home elevator, over a stairlift. Here we look at the five main reasons why.


As its name suggests, a stairlift has only one viable location in most homes, the main stairwell. If your stairs are suitably wide and you do not mind having the stairlift on view in this typically very central of locations, then all is well. However, if this is not the case then a stairlift can be far from ideal.

If the staircase is narrow, once the stairlift is in place it will typically mean it is not possible to pass on the stairs when the device is being used and indeed, for staircases on the narrow side, railings may have to be removed. This can then affect the safety and comfort of any users who wish to climb the stairs themselves.

A home elevator on the other hand, can be installed almost wherever in the home is your preference, requiring in most cases no more space than that of a cupboard. As it is not such an overt ‘mobility aid’ many customers are happy to have their stylish new home lift in full view, often in surprisingly central locations, but equally this type of domestic product is not tied to any particular room or location and can be concealed if preferred.


If appearance is a concern, then as well as the opportunity to situate the domestic ift in an ‘out of the way’ location, it may interest you to know that today’s modern home elevators can be selected to blend with your décor. Most can in fact be fully customised, from the flooring, to the panels of the car itself. Stairlifts are generally more clinical in appearance and viewed more as a mobility necessity rather than a feature of the house and whilst there are a choice of styles, the design of the item itself cannot generally distract from its more clinical appearance. There are compact two-person home lifts and wheelchair-accessible home lifts available too.


Stairlifts are found by some to be frustratingly slow. Typically they travel between floors and between 0.16mph and 0.34mph. A home lift on the other hand will take around 30 seconds to travel between floors. So, if you have multiple floors in your home to contend with, then for this reason alone the ease of a domestic lift may be of particular interest. This increased speed does not come with any increase in noise over a stairlift, today’s modern, self-supporting home lifts are whisper quiet.

Safety and Comfort

For some, there may be a need to take a walking aid between floors too, a stick, a frame, a wheelchair, or even a family pet. This is not easy to do with a stairlift but of course poses no problem to a home lift. There are options available which can carry up to three people between floors, so for maximum space and comfort then a home lift is by far the most practical option.

For a wheelchair user, the independence offered by being able to freely access and exit the lift, complete with their wheelchair, can be far preferable to the more stressful manoeuvring required to board and leave the stairlift. A home lift or home elevator also enables any user to easily take their belongings with them, or indeed simply provides the flexibility for a carer or companion to accompany the person in need of help which gives reassurance to both parties.

It is often the case that for peace of mind, other family members therefore will prefer the option of a home lift over a stairlift. The lifts themselves contain a series of sensors and mechanisms to ensure that the user’s safety is never compromised and family members know that all that is required from their loved one to travel between floors is the touch of a button.

Return on investment

Stairlifts are in many cases a cost-effective solution to the problem of how to access other floors in the home when mobility becomes an issue. However, for the reasons already outlined, they may not be the preferred solution. A well-designed home lift, in the right location, can add value to a home in the way that a stairlift would not.

More and more home elevator customers are installing their lift before the need is there and future-proofing their homes – to enjoy the benefits in the meantime and enable them to put the lift in the best location or have it installed whilst other changes are being made. So, the additional investment at the time of selecting the best solution can be found very worthwhile once the above aspects have been considered. New owners of the property will quite likely be able to put the lift to use themselves, whether it be for transporting luggage, golf clubs and the like between floors, or simply enjoying the peace of mind that the solution to any future mobility concerns is already in place. Put simply a home lift is versatile, comfortable and convenient.