Stand mixers are generally more expensive and powerful than hand mixers, while hand mixers tends to be more versatile and easier to store. Stand mixers, powered by more robust motors, are better suited for mixing thick batters and kneading bread dough, tasks that most hand mixers can't complete.
Counter-top stand mixers come with a variety of attachments, such as whisks and dough hooks. By comparison, hand mixers usually have limited attachments, such as a single pair of beaters.
In terms of price, hand mixers are consistently more affordable, with models retailing from $20 to $100 as of February 2015. Dedicated stand mixers, in contrast, have a price range of $100 to $400, depending on model.
Some manufacturers, such as Hamilton Beach and KitchenAid, offer hybrid hand and stand mixers that feature a removable stand base. These models attempt to bridge the gap between heavy, bulky stand mixers that, although powerful, take up a significant amount of counter space and hand mixers that lack the power to effectively mix heavy materials.
Home cooks often purchase a hand mixer first, then add a stand mixer as cooking needs progress. A hand mixer is typically considered a basic kitchen tool, while a stand mixer is considered an advanced tool.