Home Elevator Information and Costs
Things to consider before you buy a residential elevator
Once only for the rich and famous, a home elevator is now an affordable luxury to make the home barrier free and convenient. Building a new home with a residential elevator can add value to the property by making it accessible to all and by easing everyday tasks like lugging laundry and groceries between floors. Here’s some great information and, when you’re ready, we can help you find local experts with our pre-qualified network.
A private home elevator is a specialized version of a public elevator, with the same basic principle of operation. In North America, residential elevators should be built to meet certain code requirements that limit such things as the speed, size and capacity. Most home elevators require a shaft-way in which to travel. Modern designs feature automatic operation so they open, close and move down with single touch buttons.
Today’s home elevators can be finished inside to match the homeowner’s style and design tastes, including solid hardwood interiors and glass observation panels.
Getting Started with Your Home Elevator
A locally trained residential elevator contractor will perform a site visit to assess the space you have and the construction requirements specific to your home. The best time to involve the contractor is when you are planning a new home or a major renovation. Not all home elevators have the same requirements, so it is imperative to select the elevator you want before the hoist-way is constructed. The best companies have free planning guides on their websites to advise on hoist-way construction.
Other Operational Choices
Your elevator will be custom built and programmed to travel from floor to floor with two stops or more. Each landing will have a call station button (hall call) installed and each landing will also require a special door that locks and cannot be opened unless the elevator is at the landing. The elevator itself should also have a cab door or gate to keep occupants from falling out of the cab while the elevator is in motion. Inside, the elevator will include a cab operating panel (COP) to allow the user to stop the elevator and to operate doors.
Inside the Elevator Cab
For traditional elevator drive systems, the inside of elevator cab can be finished as you like. Some companies offer great factory finish options including solid raised hardwood, veneer, MDF, melamine and plastic laminate walls. You many also choose to receive a basic unfinished cab and have your local home contractor to finish the cab to match your home.
The elevator will also have hardware fixtures such as a handrail, operating panel and pot lighting in the ceiling. You will be able to select styles and finishes for these components.
A home elevator cab is built to a variety of standard sizes or may be custom-sized. A good size is 40″ x 54″ (maximum size is 15 sq. ft in North America). A home elevator can have one or two doors that exit straight through or at 90 degrees to each other depending on your home’s construction. You may also have a choice for the height of your elevator cab. A taller cab (80″) will feel more spacious.
Construction and Safety Requirements
A home elevator cannot be installed in any kind of public building, including in places of worship. For any buildings that are not private homes, you will need a commercial elevator or lift. The exception is a private condominium with private access.
Hoist-way construction is important. Do not build a hoist-way without knowing the specifications required for your elevator. An elevator also needs overhead room (room above the top of the elevator at the top landing), and usually a pit at the bottom. A general idea of space required for the hoist-way is five square feet. Leading manufacturers publish many specifications on their websites to help you plan in advance.
A hoist-way has a number of requirements for construction including specifics for the wall where the elevator rails will be secured (the support wall). Each manufacturer provides these specifics for each model of elevator.
Most of the time, a pit between 6″ and 12″ is required at the bottom of the hoist-way. The pit must have a concrete pad able to withstand an impact load for safety.
There are also electrical requirements for residential elevators that vary by model. A skilled electrician will need to ready the site to power the drive and other features of the elevator such as lighting.
Most elevators include a phone key pad for safety, but you will need to add a landline for the telephone capability.
Residential elevators can travel up to 50′ depending on the model, and manufacturer and move at a speed of between 20′ and 40′ per minute. Each model has its own capacity rating but the largest size typically carries 1,000 lb. (some areas may allow larger capacity).
Doors and gates are controlled with electro-mechanical locks for safety. Solid core doors are required. A door operator can be added so that the elevator doors do not need to be opened manually. Automatic sliding doors like those from Savaria provide added safety because they eliminate the gap between the landing door and the cab door. Look for doors and gates that include light screens or light curtains. Light screens create a beam of light that, when broken by a person walking through it, ensures that the elevator cannot move.
Your local professional elevator contractor should know the local code and inspection requirements for residential elevators. You may need a permit and also require government inspection before you can use your elevator, depending upon where you live. Silver Cross can help you find a pre-qualified installer near you who will know what is required in your area.
Home Elevator Manufacturers
There are several residential elevator companies based in North America. With the exception of Savaria, which is a public company, the companies are privately held. Commercial elevator companies such as Otis and Kone do not sell home elevators.
A family-run business for 90 years, Inclinator’s Elevette home elevator was actually introduced in 1928. Today, the company offers cable drum and hydraulic drive elevators as well as machine-roomless options.
An general accessibility company, Savaria purchased luxury manufacturer Concord Elevator in 2005 and offers hydraulic, machine-roomless geared traction and gearless home elevators. They are known for doing custom work to meet virtually any need.
Waupaca Elevator Company
In business since the 1950s, this well known company makes winding drum and hydraulic units with machine-roomless options.
With its roots in mountain aerial tramways, Garaventa changed its focus to accessibility products in the late 1970s. The company more recently introduced home elevators to its portfolio with a hydraulic and machine-roomless model.
This company offers both traction and hydraulic drive systems. They are more well known in the southern U.S.