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Stair Lift vs Step Lift: What’s The Difference?

A step lift at the bottom of exterior stairs.

Two popular types of lifts that we come across are step lifts and stair lifts. Whilst both offer commercial passengers lift access to help them up and down stairs, there are differences between the two. We will detail the differences between the two, and the similarities they both share, as well as discuss which is best for your needs.

What Is A Step Lift?

Step lifts are mechanical devices that transport a user in a wheelchair up and down short steps or inclines if they have mobility issues. They are designed to help people in wheelchairs go up stairs with ease and without having to leave their wheelchairs. They can be used both internally and externally and can climb a distance of up to 10m.

The two main types of step lifts that we can install and maintain for your property are an incline platform lift (that is ideal for spaces that cannot accommodate vertical lifts), and platform step lifts (that can provide access where vertical access is a metre or less).

Step lifts are primarily used for short travel. They are mainly used for buildings that have elevated entryways that require steps to enter, which is why they are made using more strong and robust materials that are able to withstand the elements. Due to the nature of their use, step lifts can also accommodate a weight of up to around 650 pounds (300kg).

What Is A Stair Lift?

Stair lifts are mechanical devices that transport a user up and down stairs if they have mobility issues. They are commonly used in care homes and hospitals and are designed for those who use walking aids such as walking sticks and frames. 

There are two main types of stair lift: a straight stairlift (designed to travel up and down a straight staircase with ease), and a curved stairlift (designed to go around curves at the end of banisters and spiral staircases).

Stair lifts are designed with safety in mind, and they can typically hold a weight of up to 300 pounds (136kg), however, more bespoke options are available for those who need a stair lift that can accommodate more weight.

Installation of a stair lift is relatively easy; once the staircase has been measured up, it only takes 1-3 hours to install a straight stairlift, and 4-5 hours for a curved stairlift. However, this can vary depending on the bespoke level you require.

A stair lift at the bottom of a staircase.

What Is the Difference Between A Stair Lift and A Step Lift?

The biggest difference between a step lift and a stair lift is their intended usage. A step lift is designed for wheelchair users, whereas a stair lift is designed for those who use mobility aids such as frames and walking sticks. A stair lift has a seat and allows you to move from floor to floor on a track that rides up the stairs, while a step lift has a platform designed to lift a wheelchair user while they’re still in their chair.

A stairlift also generally takes a passenger diagonally up a staircase, whereas a step lift is a platform going straight up to the next floor. Step lifts are the best lifting solution for short or single flights of stairs as they allow users to stay in their wheelchairs.

Step Lift and Stair Lift Similarities

Both step lifts and stairlifts offer solutions to those with mobility issues, and both offer solutions for those who find climbing up or down stairs difficult, making your building far more accessible. 

Step Lifts and Stair Lifts are also operated similarly, with the user operating them using a remote control or mounted control pad. Both options are great for accessibility, and they can both benefit your premises. Both stair lifts and step lifts can help your building comply with accessibility standards set out in The Equality Act (2010) and can improve the experience for disabled people.

A step lift half way up an exterior staircase.

Specialist Step Lift and Stair Lift Installations from RJ Lifts

At RJ Lifts, we provide stair lift and step lift solutions for your building’s needs. As one of the leading independent lift companies in the UK, we can provide lift services throughout the UK and at a highly competitive rate.

For effective home lift and commercial options, contact us today

Contact us today to start a conversation about your lift installation needs!