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Whats the Difference between a Platform Lift and a Passenger Lift

It is easy to assume that all lifts are the same – after all, they both serve the same function in moving people vertically within buildings! This is not always the case, however, and it is key to know the differences between lifts so you choose the right one to install. The two major types most buildings use are platform lifts and passenger lifts. But what features does each type have and how do they differ?


Silens Pro Top lift Tile - What's the difference between a platform lift and a passenger lift?

This is perhaps the lift which springs to mind for most people on the subject. A passenger lift can carry multiple people inside it, with around 8-people models being most widely seen. This is due to these passenger lifts being specifically mentioned in Volume 2, Part M of current building regulations. A passenger lift travels quicker than 0.15m/s which makes moving people fast around buildings simple.

Installing this sort of lift would need a lift shaft building to house the required mechanism and passenger car. These lifts are normally preferred in new buildings where constructing the shaft is simpler or in buildings with a lift shaft already present. Passenger lifts are usually installed when it is expected they will get lots of regular use and be the main way people will travel around the building.


vertical case study image - What's the difference between a platform lift and a passenger lift?

A platform lift is another way of moving people vertically inside buildings but has found favour in many places as a way of providing access to higher floors for wheelchair users. Also known as a vertical lifting platform, these lifts are better for smaller numbers of passengers who are only travelling short distances. Platform lifts normally operate at a slower speed and typically only move up one or two floors.

They come in a wide choice of sizes – some can be built to take just 1 wheelchair user while others can handle up to 4 or 5 people. There are also many types of platform lifts you can have installed depending on what you need it for. This goes from open platform lifts to low pit lifts, enclosed lifts and beyond. Installing these lifts is normally easier as they do not require a shaft or pit to be dug. This not only makes it quicker to install a platform lift but also makes them more suitable for buildings where space is tight. If you have a building where most people will walk up the stairs or where it is not possible to install a passenger style of lift, this is a good choice.


When it comes to these two types of lift, the major differences are:

– Passenger lifts are faster than platform ones
– Passenger lifts need a lift shaft to work while platform ones do not
– Platform lifts take up less space and are less expensive to install
– Passenger lifts are designed for heavier, more regular use
– Platform lifts are usually designed to transport fewer people
– Platform lifts are designed to travel less distance and be used in low-rise buildings
– Platform lifts are preferable for solving disabled mobility or access issues

To sum up the above, a passenger lift is generally used when speed, usage and size are the main considerations. Platform lifts are preferred for low-rise buildings or residential properties where it will see less use and be especially helpful for disabled access and mobility. Platform lifts are also better if you do not have the space or money to build a lift shaft in the building.


As the above shows, finding the best lift for your home or commercial building is all about picking the one which meets your individual requirements. For more advice or help with making the right call, get in touch today on 01200 405 005.