Outdoor Stairlift vs. Vertical Lift: Which is Best for You?

Outdoor stairlifts and vertical lifts can help you to get in and out of your home. They're more expensive than a simple ramp, but they don't require a great deal of space. They're also much less obtrusive, which is ideal if you're working with limited space and have very unforgiving neighbors. That being said, which option is best for you or your loved one and what are the differences? 

Benefits of an Outdoor Stairlift

An outdoor stairlift works just like the lifts that you can install inside your home. It's perfect for homes with multiple steps and for users who have severe mobility issues. Simply sit on the chair, press the button, and the chair will scale the stairs.

Outdoor stairlifts have much shorter rails than indoor varieties. The chair can also be flipped up to allow other occupants to access the stairs.

Overall, here are the benefits of investing in an outdoor stairlift:

  • Great for users with mobility issues
  • Available for over $2,500 (longer curved stairlifts can cost over $12,000)
  • Easy way to get in and out of the home
  • Not suitable for wheelchair users
  • Doesn't require as much space as a ramp
  • More cost-effective than a vertical lift

Benefits of a Vertical Stairlift

Also known as a wheelchair lift or platform lift, a vertical lift is like a mini elevator. It can come with or without a roof and is perfect for wheelchair users who lack the dexterity and/or strength required to get in and out of a stairlift. 

Vertical lifts don't take up a great deal of space and they are surprisingly compact, but they are also much more expensive and cost around $5,000 to $20,000 on average. There are cheaper options out there and the height will dictate the price, but it's often more expensive than a stairlift.

Here are the benefits of investing in a vertical stairlift:

  • Great for wheelchair users and those with severe mobility issues
  • Available for between $5,000 and $20,000
  • Easier to transport an individual with grocery bags and other items
  • Takes up very little space 
  • Available with or without a roof

A Wheelchair Lift or an Outdoor Stairlift?

It really all comes down to your needs and your budget, and these two can clash. Here are some particularly important factors to take into account when this happens:

Wheelchair Users

If you're a wheelchair user with mobility issues and multiple stairs, you need a vertical platform. That’s because it may be too risky to navigate into and out of a stairlift every time you enter or leave the home. If you lose your balance, slip, or stumble, you could seriously injure yourself and it's just not worth the risk.

The problem is that these benefits come with a massive price tag and if you're on a tight budget, it might be out of the question. We still recommend getting a quote and seeing how much installation will cost, but if it turns out to be too pricey, you can always look into getting a ramp fitted. It will take up more room, but it's a lot cheaper.

Of course, if you're a wheelchair user who doesn't have strength/dexterity issues, doesn't have the room for a ramp, and is comfortable moving in and out of chairs, a stairlift will suffice.

Those Who Can’t Walk Unaided

If you can't walk without a cane or a walker and you find it tiring to climb the stairs, an outdoor stairlift might be all you need. It's an easy way to get up and down the stairs and it's usually sufficient for someone who doesn't need a wheelchair.

As noted above, it's still not a cheap option, but it provides good value for money and will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Staircase Shape

If you live in a home that is accessible through a long and curved staircase, a stairlift could cost you over $12,000, at which point it makes more sense to look into external elevators. They're not exactly quick, but they're safer and provide more benefits, so if you're going to end up paying the same price, it might be the better option.

Where to Begin

Whether you're looking at solutions for a commercial or residential property, you should begin with a free in-home consultation, which is available for both products. 

The experts will assess your home, consider your needs, determine the safety features you’ll need, and talk you through the price and the installation process. If you go with a reputable dealer, they won't pressure you into making a purchase that you don't need and can't afford, and they will always have your best interests at heart.