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6 Features to Make Your Home More Convenient

The home of the future exists today. Thanks to home automation, you can now place your next grocery order in minutes, lock your front door when you’re already at the office or adjust the temperature indoors when you’re on your way home. Smart home systems do more than make your life easier, though. They can also improve your home’s safety and make your house more accessible as you get or your loved ones get older. Should you decide to sell your home later, a home automation system can make the house more valuable to prospective buyers.

If you’re ready to increase your home convenience and boost safety, here are a few features worth installing.

1. A Home Assistant

Home assistants such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa act as digital administrative assistants for you and others in your household. You can use them to make shopping lists, schedule meetings or appointments and set countdown timers. You can also take advantage of the assistants’ search features and ask them random trivia questions as they come into your head, such as, “What’s the square root of 36?” or, “When was the Eiffel Tower built?”

Along with organizing your life and satisfying your curiosity, your home assistant can connect to and control other smart devices in your house, such as a smart thermostat or smart locks. If you want to use your assistant to control other devices, you need to purchase products that are compatible with each other. Google Assistant works with Google products, while Alexa is compatible with more brands and devices.

2. A Home Elevator

Elevators aren’t only for commercial buildings. A home elevator makes your residence more convenient, safe and accessible. It can also make your home more attractive to potential buyers, allowing you to set a higher price for it when you want to sell.

Among the benefits of installing a home elevator is ease of access. People who have limited mobility, whether they use a wheelchair, cane or walker, can use an elevator to travel from the lower levels of the home to the upper levels and back again. If you have young children who are still mastering going up and down stairs, you can transport them easily from one floor to the other in the elevator, while keeping them under close supervision.

If you live on your own, a home elevator can make you feel more safe and secure. Instead of climbing up and down stairs and risking a fall, you can use the elevator. If you’ve decided to age in place, a home elevator can help you stay mobile and allows you to use more of your home for longer.

An elevator also makes moving objects and furniture a snap. You can load up the elevator with boxes, bags and suitcases and send it from one floor to the next, instead of lugging those heavy objects up a flight or two of stairs.

3. Smart Locks

A smart lock replaces a traditional key with a code that you tap into a keypad to lock and unlock your home’s doors. The locks can give you greater control over who has access to your home. Instead of giving your housekeeper a physical key, you can provide them with a code that only opens the doors when they would be cleaning your house. If you are expecting a package, you can give the delivery driver a code to open the door and place the package in the foyer of your house rather than leave it on the front steps.

Smart locks can connect to your home assistant and mobile device, too. If you are on the way to work and can’t remember if you locked the door, you can check your device to see the status of the lock. If you did leave the door unlocked, you can lock it right from your phone. You can also unlock the door remotely if one of your children forgets their code or if friends or family members are swinging by and you’re not at home yet.

4. Smart Lights

Over the years, the light bulbs in your home might have changed from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Smart lights take things a step further. They are energy-efficient LEDs that connect to a home assistant or other app, allowing you to control the lights from a distance or to program the lights to turn on and off at particular times. Some smart lighting systems also let you adjust the level of lighting. You can wake up to lights that slowly get brighter or fall asleep to lights that gradually dim.

Smart lights can help you save money by reducing your energy use at home. LEDs are among the most efficient types of bulbs, lasting for years longer than CFLs or incandescents and using much less energy. Since you can turn the lights on and off from anywhere, using your mobile device, you can make sure you never leave the lights on when no one is at home or in a particular room.

5. A Dumbwaiter

dumbwaiter is a small lift that carries groceries, suitcases and home necessities from one floor to the next. Installing a dumbwaiter in your home can make your life more convenient, as you’ll no longer need to carry heavy objects up and down stairs yourself. A dumbwaiter can also make you feel safer at home, as you’ll reduce the risk of falling while carrying things, and can reduce the risk of back strain and other injuries.

6. A Smart Thermostat

Like other smart home devices, a smart thermostat connects to your mobile device, allowing you to program it when you’re away from home. Smart thermostats can also learn your habits and schedule and set themselves to certain temperatures based on when they expect you to be home from work or go to bed in the evening.

A smart thermostat takes the hassle out of maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home. It can also save you money over time, as lowering the indoor temperature in the winter or increasing it in the summer reduces the energy you use. Your smart thermostat can also send you reminders about scheduling HVAC tune-ups and maintenance, helping to keep your systems operating smoothly and efficiently for as long as possible. Regular maintenance prolongs the life of your HVAC system, too.

Inclinator Can Make Your Home More Convenient

Your home should be safe, convenient and comfortable. Installing a home elevator or residential dumbwaiter from Inclinator can make it all three. To learn more, find an Inclinator dealer near you today.

Popular Home Elevator Designs

Installing a residential elevator can make your home more accessible and allow you or your loved ones to age in place. If you’ve been hesitant to consider a home elevator because you aren’t sure how it will look or whether it will fit inside your home, you can rest easy. You have many options when it comes to the design and style of a residential elevator. It can blend into the background of your home, looking like just another closet or door, or if you prefer, the elevator can be a focal point of the room.

Inclinator residential elevators are available in several styles, designs and finishes. Use our home elevator design guide to create a residential elevator that matches your tastes and fits in well with the rest of your home.

Home Elevator Cab Styles

The elevator cab determines the overall aesthetic of your home elevator. Inclinator offers six cab styles to choose from, giving you plenty of options. Whether you prefer a more modern aesthetic or are in the market for something elegant and classic, here’s what you can choose from:

  • 100 Cab: The 100 Cab is our simplest design. It has a wood laminate floor and a white ceiling and the option to paint the interior walls any color you’d like.
  • 200 Cab: The 200 Cab design trades painted interior walls for wood-paneled walls. You can choose from eight wood species, including light and dark finishes, whichever best coordinates with the overall aesthetic of your home.
  • 250 Cab: The 250 Cab design is a Shaker-style cab, meaning it is made of solid wood and has veneer inserts for the finishes. The cab opens and closes with a vinyl accordion-style gate.
  • 300 Cab:  If you prefer an elegant look, the 300 Cab might be just right for you. It has wood paneling available in eight finishes and the option of adding moldings, such as a chair rail or picture frame. The flooring of the cab can be left unfinished so you can match it to your home’s existing flooring.
  • 400 Cab: The 400 Cab provides the most luxurious aesthetic of the bunch. It has solid wood walls with paneling, molding and trim. You can also install acrylic panels so you can see through the walls of the cab.
  • 500 Cab: The 500 Cab offers a sleek, modern aesthetic. Its aluminum frame can be silver, white or black, depending on what works with your home decor.

All six of our cab styles work with any type of drive system. Each style can open on one or two sides, depending on your needs.

Home Elevator Finishes

The cab style is just part of the overall design of your residential elevator. The finishes you pick for the walls, floors and ceiling also affect how well it blends in with your home’s aesthetic and how well it matches your taste.

  • Walls: The finish options for your elevator walls of your elevator depend on the cab style you choose. Many styles can be finished in the factory with hardwood or with exotic wood species. You can also leave the walls unfinished and paint them the color of your choosing.
  • Floors: Inclinator residential elevators include a laminate floor, available in five wood grain finishes. Some cab styles allow you to choose an unfinished floor, giving you the option of matching the floor of the cab to the floor in the rest of your home.
  • Ceilings: While the ceiling of the 100 Cab can’t be customized, the 200 Cab, 300 Cab and 400 Cab all have nine ceiling finish options that match or coordinate with the walls of the cab.

Home Elevator Accessories

The customization options for your residential elevator don’t end with the walls, floors and ceilings. You can also choose the style of the handrails, lights and operating panel to reflect the decor of your home and your taste.

  • Handrails: Handrail styles include a standard, flat style or a rounded rail. The standard handrail can match the wood finish on the walls, while the round rail is available in three metal finishes: oil-rubbed bronze, brushed stainless and brushed brass.
  • Ceiling lights: Inclinator’s elevators come with two lights as standard, each with LED bulbs and the choice of a white acrylic finish or a white and painted bronze finish. You can increase the number of lights in the cab if you’d like.
  • Operating panels: The operating panels inside the cab and in the hall can be flush with the wall or raised. They are available in three finishes: oil-rubbed bronze, brushed stainless or brushed brass.

Home Elevator Door Design Options

Your home elevator needs a gate and door to operate safely. Inclinator has 18 gate configurations available, meaning you’ll be able to find an option that works with your needs and style. Your elevator can have a gate on one side or on two sides. If it has a gate on two sides, the sides can be opposite each other or next to each other. Each elevator has an accordion fold gate that needs to be fully closed before the elevator will operate.

Design options for your home elevator door include:

  • Vinyl laminate, available in 16 finishes
  • Hardwood, available in six finishes
  • Acrylic, available in bronze or clear
  • Aluminum, available in gold, silver and bronze

The frame of the accordion gate can be one of two colors: nickel or bronze.

Contact Inclinator for the Best Home Elevator Design Options Today

A residential elevator doesn’t have to look out of place in your home. With so many design options to choose from, you can easily take advantage of the convenience and value offered by a home elevator without having to sacrifice the aesthetics of your home. To learn more about popular residential elevator designs and to see your options up close, find an Inclinator dealer near you today.

Elevator Installation Safety

It pays to think safety first when you are designing and building homes from scratch or are updating existing properties to install an elevator. Taking the steps necessary to protect your team from injury will help you avoid construction delays. You’re also more likely to complete your projects on budget when you put an emphasis on safety. Additionally, your team will be happy that you’ve taken the steps needed to look out for their needs and protect them.

Construction jobs, including being an elevator mechanic or installer, are among the most dangerous in the U.S. Having a grasp of the hazards your team might face when installing a residential elevator is the first step to take toward elevator fall protection and other safety measures.

Hazards of Residential Elevator Installation

Working on a construction project, including residential elevator installation, brings with it a number of hazards, such as:

  • Falls: A worker can fall from a height during elevator installation for many reasons. The structure they are working from might be unsteady, or they might lose their balance. Across the construction industry, falls are usually responsible for the greatest number of deaths each year.
  • Electric shock: Electrical shock can occur during elevator installation if a mechanic is using a power tool that isn’t grounded. Shock can also happen if there are loose wires or conductive materials nearby.
  • Not using personal protective equipment (PPE) properly: Workers at any job site should always be given the right protective equipment. For the most protection, it’s essential that they are shown how to use it properly.
  • Scaffolding collapse: If scaffolding or a similar structure is being used during the installation process, it needs to be secure, constructed on solid ground and able to carry four times its maximum load. It’s also important that the scaffolding is constructed by a trained and experienced person and that workers are properly trained before they climb onto it.
  • Getting struck by the elevator: As the installation process progresses, a worker could be struck by the elevator itself. If someone is working in the hoistway or elevator shaft, and the elevator begins to travel along the hoistway, they need to have ample time to get out of the way.
  • Getting stuck in confined spaces: There’s also a risk that a worker will become stuck in the confined space of a hoistway during installation. The elevator shaft can be very narrow and difficult for a person to exit quickly in an emergency.
  • Muscle strain: An elevator installer can develop injuries such as muscle strain, repetitive motion injuries or sprains as a result of the daily requirements of their job.

Is Being an Elevator Mechanic Dangerous?

The job of an elevator mechanic and installer can be a physically taxing one. Many installers need to be able to lift up to 200 pounds. As they work, an installer might need to stay in the same spot for an extended period and might have to work in a confined space such as the elevator shaft.

Along with the physical demands of the job, there is also a physical risk. Some of the injuries most commonly experienced by elevator installers include falls, electrical burns and muscle sprains. Providing installers with the appropriate protective equipment, such as helmets or hard hats and harnesses, can help to make their job safer.

Residential Elevator Installation Safety Tips

In 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recorded 14 injuries involving elevators. Thirteen of the injuries were fatal, and the vast majority of them involved elevator installation or maintenance. Here’s what you can do during a residential elevator installation project to help keep the list of injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, as low as possible.

  • Establish and review safety protocols: If you do not already have a set of safety protocols, now is the time to create them. Your safety measures can include clear instructions on what workers can do to minimize injury. They should also outline the steps to take in an emergency situation. Part of the protocols can include training people to lift objects safely to reduce the risk of sprains or strains.
  • Train employees on the proper use of PPE: Hard hats and harnesses, as well as other types of PPE, can effectively reduce the risk of significant injury if a person falls or is struck by an object. For PPE to work effectively, a person needs to know how to wear it or how to use it. Offer training sessions to your team that demonstrate how to use a harness as well as how to remove or safely get out of a harness after a fall.
  • Always secure ladders and scaffolding: Scaffolds and other structures that require a person to be at a height should always be properly assembled and fully secured. They need to be on steady ground. Additionally, a ladder or scaffold should not be moved from one location to another while someone is on it.
  • Turn off electrical power: If possible, turn off the power to the elevator before beginning any work on it. The condition of any cables or wires should also be carefully monitored. Avoid using any wires that are frayed or otherwise showing signs of significant wear.
  • Make sure power tools are grounded: Any power tools used during the installation of an elevator should be properly grounded.
  • Don’t overload an elevated surface: Along with securing ladders or scaffolding, it’s also important to make sure that they are not carrying more weight than they are rated for.
  • Use the buddy system: Create a buddy system to protect workers who need to travel into the hoistway or another confined area. While one person is in the tight spot, their “buddy” can act as a spotter, alerting them to any changes and alerting others to the presence of the worker in the shaft.

Work With a Trusted Elevator Manufacturer

Another way to make sure the elevator installation process is as safe as possible is to partner with a trusted elevator manufacturer. Inclinator has been building high-quality, safe and reliable elevators for many years. We perform extensive testing to ensure that our elevators pass all safety measures. Many of our elevators have been in service for decades and still operate safely. We’re also here to provide top-notch technical support when needed.

Contact Inclinator to Learn More About Our Residential Elevators

Inclinator has been providing safe and reliable elevators to residential builders and architects for decades. If you are considering making residential elevators part of your next building project, we will work with you to create an elevator that meets your needs and complements the properties you design. We build all of our elevators to order, meaning you’ll get the exact size and design you need. Contact us today to learn more.

Aging in Place to Deal With a Pandemic

aging in place to deal with a pandemic

Many older adults would rather stay in their homes during the later years of their life than move into a nursing home or adult community. There are many reasons why aging in place appeals to so many. It allows people to stay in the home they love and are familiar with. It’s often more affordable for adults to remain in their homes than move to a nursing home.

Since nursing homes or assisted living facilities often have medical professionals on hand to help residents, many people wonder if aging in place is safe. As it turns out, aging in place might be a safer option for older adults, especially during a pandemic. As of the beginning of July 2020, 42% of all deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. were linked to nursing homes. More than 296,000 cases, or about 10% of the total cases in the U.S. at the beginning of July, were in nursing home residents or employees.

benefit of aging in place

Why Aging in Place Is Beneficial During a Pandemic

Viruses affect different people in different ways. While someone might develop a mild illness after exposure to a virus, another person can become severely ill. Often, factors such as a person’s age, their current health and their immune system play a part in determining how sick they become after exposure to a virus. Older people are often more likely to become very sick from a virus. If they have another medical condition, such as diabetes or hypertension, their risk increases. Older people with suppressed immune systems also have a greater risk of becoming very ill.

During a pandemic, a particular disease is prevalent all over the world. In some cases, such as with the novel coronavirus, the pathogen that causes the disease is new enough that there isn’t a vaccine for it and treatment options are limited. It’s often best for people to avoid situations where they could be exposed to the virus, such as limiting social contacts or interacting with other people.

When a person lives in a nursing home, limiting contact with other people can be challenging. Even if a person has their own room or private apartment, others are likely to be coming and going from their personal space throughout the day. A nurse might stop by to check on a resident, for instance. If the nurse has recently left the room of another resident who was infected with a virus, they could spread it to other residents they contact during their shift.

If a person is aging in place, it is much easier to limit contact with the outside world. If they need medical care, they can arrange to have someone stay with them in their home. Instead of interacting with multiple people, the home health aide would only interact with that individual.

Aging in Place Allows for the Comforts of Home

Another benefit of aging in place during a pandemic is that doing so allows a person to continue to enjoy their home and familiar surroundings. When a disease is widespread and there is no cure, the best thing to do is remain home as much as possible. When a person is surrounded by the things they know and love, such as their comfortable bed, their favorite chair or framed photos of their friends and family, they are more likely to feel calm and at ease compared to if they are in a setting that doesn’t feel like home to them.

Aging in Place Allows for Socially Distant Visits

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes in the U.S. restricted visitors, meaning that residents couldn’t see their loved ones for months. The goal of the restrictions was to limit the transmission of the virus, but it also had severe social consequences.

When an individual remains in their home, there is more opportunity for them to see family and friends at a safe distance. For example, adult children can sit on the porch of their parents’ home and visit with them through a window.  When the weather is nice, family and friends can visit and socialize in the person’s yard, wearing masks and keeping a safe distance apart.

connect to friends and family while aging in place

Potential Drawbacks of Aging in Place

There are some potential disadvantages to aging in place, particularly in a pandemic. An older adult who usually enjoys social and community activities is likely to find those activities cut off due to social distancing requirements. For someone who is used to seeing friends at the local community center regularly, who goes out to the movies or to see plays, or who spends time at the local library or coffee shop, staying home can feel restricting and isolating.

Fortunately, modern technology makes it easy to overcome pandemic-related social isolation. An older adult can connect to friends and family through email and text messages and can use a smartphone or tablet to make video calls to their loved ones. Local community centers likely offer some programs virtually during a pandemic to continue to help people connect.

Making sure nutritional needs are met can also be a challenge when a person ages in place during a pandemic. An older adult might be fearful of visiting the grocery store and unable to afford the extra costs associated with grocery delivery. There are still many options available to ensure that a person gets the food they need during a pandemic. Some senior centers continued to offer contact-less meal delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance. People have also been willing and able to pick up groceries and other necessities for their neighbors who can’t get to the store themselves.

How to Prepare for Aging in the Home

If you or your loved one decides that aging in place is the best option, you might need to make some changes to the house to make it easier to get around in and safer. Some aging in place home improvements include installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing area rugs and other trip hazards and installing fixtures that don’t require a strong grip to use.

In multi-story homes, installing an elevator can make it easier for an older person to travel from one floor to the next. A home elevator can also help to reduce the risk of a person tripping and falling down the stairs.

age in place safely during a pandemic with inclinator

Inclinator Can Help You Age in Place Safely During a Pandemic

More and more people are choosing to age in their homes. A home elevator can help to make aging in place a safe reality for many, during times of pandemic and during normal times. To learn more about the installation process and what you expect from a home elevator, find an Inclinator dealer near you today.

How Do Elevators Work?

Elevators have dramatically changed how people live. Thanks to elevators, it’s now possible for buildings to tower above the ground, consisting of dozens or more stories. Elevators have also revolutionized home living. Thanks to elevators, people with limited mobility can remain in multi-story homes. Elevators also make it easy for people to transport bulky or heavy objects from one floor to the next.

So, how do residential elevators work? Understanding what the different parts of an elevator are and how they fit together will give you a better idea of how these machines can take you from one floor to the next.

Anatomy of an Elevator

The simplest way to describe an elevator is as a box that travels up and down a vertical shaft. How the box travels up and down is determined by the drive system. Take a closer look at the parts of an elevator to see how they work together:

Elevator Cabs

The elevator cab is the part of an elevator that many people are most familiar with. It’s the car that you ride in to get from one floor to the next. Elevator cabs are available in a variety of sizes and finishes. Some of the features most cabs have in common include:

  • Operating panel
  • Handrails
  • Ceiling lights

Depending on the style of the cab, it might have painted or wood-paneled walls. Some cabs have laminate flooring or can be created with a floor that matches the flooring in the rest of the house.

Elevator Doors and Gates

So, how do elevator doors work? Elevator gates and doors do more than open and close — they play an essential role when it comes to safety. The gate and door keep people from falling out of the cab while it travels. They also keep people from falling into the shaft when the elevator is on a different floor.

Home elevators often have either one or two entrances, depending on the design of the elevator and the layout of the home. Each entrance needs its own door, which opens on the landing, and its own gate, which is part of the cab.

Elevator gates are available in a variety of styles. One popular style for home elevators is an accordion gate, which folds up and collapses to one side to let people on and off the elevator. Home elevators might have a scissor, or collapsible gate, installed instead.

The door to an elevator is on the landing and should stay closed when the elevator is not on the floor. Often, a landing door looks like other doors in your home. The key difference between a landing door and a door to a closet or bedroom is that you’ll find an elevator cab rather than a bedroom or closet when you open the door. For safety reasons, a landing door should be locked when the elevator is on a different floor or is in transit.

Safety measures also limit the space between the elevator gate and the landing door. To prevent a small child or pet from becoming stuck between the gate and the door, there should be no more than 4 inches between the two. If a 4-inch round object, such as a ball, is placed in the space between the gate and the door, the door will not be able to close, and the elevator won’t run.

Elevator Drive Systems

The drive system is the machinery that moves the elevator cab from one floor to the next. Inclinator offers three drive system options:

  1. Cable drum: The cable drum drive system is ideal for compact spaces, as it uses a patented monorail to guide the cab up and down. The drive system itself is located in a separate machine room. A cable drum system is compatible with all of our cab styles and is able to travel up to 50 feet.
  2. Hydraulic: The hydraulic drive system also features a monorail and requires a separate machine room. A notable benefit of our hydraulic drive system is that it uses much less fluid than other home elevator brands.
  3. MRL Overhead Cable Drum: The MRL overhead cable drum drive system uses two guide rails to draw the cab up and down. It requires less height between floors than other drive systems, making it an ideal choice for split-level houses. “MRL” stands for “machine room-less.”

Elevator Shaft

The elevator shaft is the part of the home that houses the elevator cab and rail. Typically, a home elevator shaft will contain the following:

  • The pit: The pit is the area just underneath the lowest level of the home. It provides space for the bottom of the cab when the elevator is on the bottom floor of the house. The depth of the pit can vary based on the type of drive system and cab installed.
  • The rail wall: The rail wall holds the monorail or guide rails. It keeps the cab of the elevator stable and secure.
  • Overhead: The overhead area is the space at the top of the shaft on the uppermost floor. Just as the pit provides room for the bottom of the cab when the elevator is on the lowest level, the overhead space provides room for the top of the cab when the elevator is on the top story.

Residential Elevators vs. Commercial Elevators

If you’re considering adding an elevator to your home, you’ll want to install a residential elevator, not a commercial model. There are some notable differences between how residential elevators work and how commercial models do. There is also a difference in size.

For example, commercial elevators need to be specific sizes to meet ADA Standards and safety code requirements. The same rules don’t apply to residential elevators. In fact, residential elevators tend to be much smaller than commercial ones.

Are Elevators Safe?

Elevators have come a long way in terms of safety over the years. Today’s home elevators are designed and built to follow safety standards set forth in section 5.3 of the National Safety Code for Elevators (ASME ANSI A17.1/CSA B44-2016). The safety standards create weight limits, speed limits and distance limits. They also detail how much space can be between landings and doors and doors and gates to minimize the risk of accidental injury.

All of Inclinator’s elevators are designed and built to follow the code. Our elevators have numerous safety features that ensure they meet or exceed the most up-to-date safety codes.

Learn More About How Home Elevators Work Today

An elevator can help you stay in your home for longer and can make life more convenient. If you’re interested in learning more about your options, search for an Inclinator dealer near you today. You can also contact us with any questions you have about residential elevators and the installation process.

Does My House Have Enough Room for an Elevator?

Previously considered an expensive luxury reserved only for mega-mansions, home elevators have become far more cost-friendly, customizable and dimensionally feasible for many home and mobility needs. The question is no longer if elevators in your house are realistic — it’s where and when you could install one.

From simple two-story elevators to multi-floor lifts, discover how to calculate enough space for your home elevator. Installing a custom-fit elevator can deliver peace of mind that your home stays your home for years to come, regardless of what life throws your way.

does my house have enough room for an elevator

Size Requirements for a Home Elevator

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a residential elevator’s dimensions cannot exceed 84 inches tall, or 7 feet in total height. Elevator width is a bit more flexible, with common dimensions running between 36 and 40 inches, or 3 to 3.3 feet.

These dimensions allow enough room for one to two people to fit comfortably within your home elevator. However, these sizes only determine the interior elevator cab, or the portion of an elevator where passengers ride. Having enough room for a home elevator system requires space for numerous elevator mechanical components, as well as that cozy cab.

In fact, installing an entire home elevator system requires room for:

  • The elevator shaft
  • The elevator cab
  • Clear entry and exit pathways
  • Possible machine room or mechanical control system

In total, experts recommend roughly 18 to 20 total square feet of space to build or retrofit a custom residential elevator. Check your state’s specific building ordinances to know the exact sizing maximums or restrictions that exist for residential work.

Now that you have a rough estimate for how an elevator may fit into your home, you should consider several other factors to make sure you get a well-designed, well-functioning unit.

1. Typical Residential Elevator Sizes

There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for building home elevators. Units will first and foremost be designed around architectural features and layout of your home, plus account for local, state and federal residential building codes.

That said, the typical elevator room sizes include:

  • 38 inches wide by 48 inches deep
  • 36 inches wide by 60 inches deep
  • 40 inches wide by 54 inches deep
  • 60 inches wide by 60 inches deep

Again, the final size of your residential elevator will be determined by home layout, building regulations and the overall shaft allowance. The shaft and your elevator’s power and control mechanisms must be built first, influencing the rest of the spatial design.

2. Custom Home Elevator Weight Capacities

In addition to the size of your elevator, you’ll also need to select your unit’s weight capacity. Elevator weight capacity dictates how many people can ride in the cab at once. It also gives a reasonable basis to determine additional items or cargo you can transport with you, from groceries or luggage to home goods and even furniture.

Residential elevators come in four typical weight capacities:

  • 500 pounds
  • 750 pounds
  • 950 pounds
  • 1,000+ pounds

An elevator’s weight capacity, lift platform design and mechanical powering systems all go hand-in-hand. For example, a 500-pound capacity unit can’t be bigger than 12 square feet.

residential elevator weight capacity

Because weight capacity, lift design and unit powering method are so interconnected, it’s essential to work with an architect, elevator installation expert or certified elevator dealer to ensure you’re getting a cohesive and safe system that meets your needs.

Do I Have Space for an Elevator Machine Room?

Today, there are two main mechanical powering systems operating residential elevators:

  • Machine-room powered: As their name suggests, machine-room powered elevators require dedicated space above or below the elevator to house and maintain the unit’s mechanical pulley and powering cables, motors and similar components. Most elevators are machine-room powered, including the common hydraulic elevator type, as well as machine room-powered track elevators.
  • Machine room-less (MRL) powered: Machine room-less elevators do not require system mechanics to have their own dedicated space at the top or bottom of the unit. Instead, their designs tend to rely on pneumatic tube systems to safely raise and lower lifts, with the tubing itself installed into adjacent walls.

The amount of room you have available in your home will be the largest factor influencing if a machine room or MRL system is right for you. Both types of powering mechanisms are one of the most important components for elevators in homes.

Powering systems control your home elevator’s movements, and they influence where in your home you can install your new or retrofit elevator. For this reason, determining if your home has space for an elevator machine room is just as essential as planning for shafts, cabs and cleared door entry and exit ways.

Luckily, both types are available to configure within the vast majority of homes — even for retrofit projects where architects and elevator installation specialists recommend one type over the other. Both types of elevators additionally come with their own pros and cons described below.

1. Home Elevator Models Requiring Machine Rooms

Home elevators with machine rooms remain a popular choice for several reasons:

  • Pros: Machine-room elevators are quieter and produce fewer vibrations than an MRL. In a home setting, these sound controls are key to a convenient, comfortable system. Most machine-room backed elevator types, such as hydraulic, can also carry heavier loads and maintain smoother lift rates.
  • Cons: Machine-room elevators require a base pit or similar space to house its major power and control mechanisms. In some cases, these pits may have to be specially dug or configured within your home, slowing down the construction timeline.

2. Home Elevator Models Without Machine Rooms

Consider these advantages and disadvantages of home MRL elevators:

  • Pros: On average, MRL elevators are more energy-efficient than their traditional machine-room counterparts. This type of elevator uses hoist space better, making them an attractive option when the installation space is tight or narrow. Because of this spatial flexibility, MRL elevators pneumatic components can fit into existing floor spaces, wall spaces or even attached to balconies, trimming down installation timelines and saving money up-front.
  • Cons: Still requires additional space at the top of the elevator for the hoist.

In the end, you and your trusted elevator installation team will determine the best type for you based on several factors, from your budget and ideal installation timeline to the spatial availability and energy efficiency of your home.

MRL elevator models

Do I Have Enough Room for a Home Elevator?

Yes, in the vast majority of cases, your home likely has enough room for an elevator.

By consulting with an elevator manufacturer or representative, you can determine the perfect-fit residential elevator size, including:

  • Proper height, width and depth
  • Necessary load capacity
  • Appropriate home placement
  • Installation and ongoing costs
  • Energy efficiency tips and best practices
  • Machine room or MRL

In addition, working with a residential elevator manufacturer directly introduces a range of customizations to make your elevator look and feel as cozy as your home. Possible home elevator cab customizations might include:

  • Walls: Wall paneling and finishes feature hardwoods, exotic woods and clear glass panes or unfinished panels for you to make a true custom mark.
  • Flooring: Commercial-grade, durable yet aesthetic laminate floors to match your hardwood or unfinished flooring prepared for custom floors.
  • Rails: Handrails that offer form and function, from wood fixtures to upgraded metal pieces in a range of tones and glosses.
  • Ceiling: Ceiling panels and tiles to match the rest of your elevator and bring cohesion to your overall elevator. Here at Inclinator, most of our residential elevators carry the option for customizable grained ceilings.
  • Lighting: Custom LED lighting can be installed into your unit, or choose to configure your own fixtures for added detail.
  • Operating panels: Pick accents and finishing styles for your elevator’s operating panel to match the rest of your look.

Other Regulations for an Elevator in the House

Aside from state and local building ordinances, a few other regulations pertain to fitting an elevator in your home.

1. Special Needs and Accessibility

Given its private, residential setting rather than a public or commercial one, elevators in homes do not need to meet the ADA’s full list of detailed size, placement, dimensional and aesthetic qualifications.

Logically, though, a home elevator does need to be designed for wheelchair accessibility. This includes designing platforms and cabs capable of fitting wheelchairs, plus providing enough room for wheelchair spins, movements and changes of direction without great hazard or inconvenience for the rider.

Other safety and building regulations may still apply, particularly at the local level. However, to get the most out of your home elevator, you may invest in additional elevator components or add-ons, such as:

  • Braille text on operating panels to assist those with vision impairments
  • Automated doors or gates to simplify entries and exits
  • Motion-activated lighting

2. Safety Regulations

Home elevators are a safe and secure form of in-home transportation. With today’s advancements in mechanical engineering, architecture and technology, there’s never been a safer or more convenient time to install one in your house.

What’s more, general safety regulations exist guiding elevator manufacturing and installation best practices. Ask all elevator businesses you’re vetting if they follow 2016’s ASME 17.1/CSA B44 ordinances. Following these codes is voluntary, so you’ll want to find out early if a manufacturer adheres to them. In doing so, you proactively take your safety into your own hands.

At Inclinator, we outfit state-of-art elevator technology that meets the utmost safety standards. We install our elevators like they’re going into our own homes, carrying our own loved ones. This means elevator safety features such as:

  • Code-compliant safety gates
  • Backup battery-powered cabs
  • Emergency backup lighting
  • Full-time cab monitoring
  • Optional door safety guards and light curtains

Benefits of Having Space for a Home Elevator

While adding or reinstalling an elevator in your home is a significant renovation to take on, it comes with proven benefits.

benefits of home elevators

1. Stay in Your Home No Matter What

Home elevators provide assurance that you can reside at home whatever your future physical or health circumstances.

Few people enjoy considering these realities — and too many avoid it until it’s too late. Adding a small, custom residential elevator to your home provides true comfort that you’ll never have to give up the place you call home.

2. Have Uninhibited Home Access

It’s your home, after all. Enjoy every floor, nook and cranny with a residential elevator fitted to size and ready around-the-clock for easy home navigation.

Home elevators minimize current and potential mobility issues impairing your ability to travel up or down flights of stairs. Without such an option, many are forced to rearrange room functions, such as creating a makeshift bedroom in the main floor living room if all bedrooms are on the second story.

Preserve the integrity of your home — and your full, unimpeded enjoyment of it — by considering a custom home elevator.

3. Increase Your Home’s Value

Yes, adding an elevator to your home can increase its overall value.

Many prospective buyers may specifically look for homes with elevators. Plus, with the aging U.S. population, it’s arguably never been a better time to install a unit in your home to attract potential homebuyers who will require an elevator to have freedom in their home.

Other situations where adding a properly sized residential elevator to your home will up its value include:

  • Those looking for a multi-generational-ready home
  • Aging individuals, couples and their families
  • Individuals with mobility impairments
  • Larger, multi-unit or multi-family homes, duplexes or apartments
  • Vacation properties you rent

In total, the cost of outfitting a new elevator in your home will vary. Estimates depend on your location, the cab or lift style selected, the drive style selected, hoistway needs, local regulations and more.

However, the cost of paying or retrofitting that elevator is calculated into a home’s resale value. What’s more, installing an elevator for residential purposes still requires minimal construction, even compared to other home improvement projects.

4. Have Lifelong Peace of Mind

The peace of mind afforded by a simple home elevator is unparalleled.

Your home is your sanctuary — the place where you create memories, share experiences, host events, celebrate holidays and milestones and experience the everyday pleasures of life. Aging and mobility impairments may be inevitable, but leaving this special place because of them shouldn’t be.

With the right elevator manufacturer, support is always nearby. Local elevator repair teams are right around the corner to address any mechanical issues as soon as they strike, plus provide annual checkups delivering even further peace of mind.

Does My House Have Room for an Elevator?

Turn to an Inclinator dealer for clear answers on whether your house has room for an elevator. Our nationwide network of elevator experts can give you a personalized assessment of the viability of an elevator in your house, as well as price estimates, installation guidance, best-fit elevator types and so much more. Find your local dealer today.

does my house have room for an elevator

How Long Will It Take to Build My Home Elevator?

If you are looking to make the most of your home and keep your independence as you age, you may consider purchasing a home elevator. With a home elevator, you can access every floor of your home with ease. Many people build elevators into their existing homes so they can stay mobile as they age. In-home elevators also allow you to keep the same house you’ve lived in for years. If you’re considering installing a residential elevator, you’re probably wondering how long the process will take.

how long will it take to build my home elevator

Here at Inclinator, two of the questions we get most frequently are, “How long does it take to build an elevator?” and “How long does it take to install an elevator?” The length of the rest of the process will depend on how long it takes you to make the right decision. You might wrestle between two cab designs, for instance. Or, maybe you know exactly what you want. If so, that part of the process will be a bit shorter. You should feel confident in the choice you make, so don’t rush.

Getting Quotes

The first step to installing a residential elevator is to understand the cost. When installing an elevator in your existing home, you will need to have a system custom-built to work in your home. We build each elevator to order so the machinery will fit in your home and stop at each floor of your house. Because of the highly-customizable nature of in-home elevators, we recommend you find a dealer near you to help you through this process.

Using our online request form, you will fill out some information about your project:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • The ZIP code of the installation
  • More information about the request

After you fill out our online form, your local dealer will call you and ask you a series of questions about your project. Through this conversation, our elevator professionals will learn about the construction of your home. Then, they will help determine what kind of elevator will fit best. The number of floors you have will be one of the determiners of cost. The more floors you have, the more stops your elevator will need to make, and the more complicated the installation. There are several things you should discuss to receive the most accurate quote.

  • Your desired cab style: You may have several designs you are considering. If so, our representatives can discuss the varying costs of each design.
  • The drive system you select: Certain drive systems will need extra overhead clearance or an engine room. Our representatives would be happy to make recommendations based on your home’s layout.
  • How many elevators you would like to install: Depending on the layout of your home, you may only need to build one elevator. You might also find it easier to access each room by building two elevator systems, one on each side of your home.
  • Your location: Your state and local government might have specific regulations regarding the installation of a home elevator. Your ZIP code will help us determine if there are any codes we’ll need to meet that influence your design and installation process.
  • The level of complexity and configuration in the hoistway: The number of floors you have, and other elements of your home’s layout will determine how complicated your home elevator installation will be. Consider discussing this with your contractor, or ask your contractor to discuss this with the dealer directly.
  • The accessories you want: You can select from a wide variety of accessories for your home elevator, from handrails and custom finishes to lighting and operating panels.

At Inclinator, we offer fast quotes through our local dealers. After you submit our contact form, an Inclinator dealer will call you back promptly. You’ll then receive a reliable estimate after a short phone call. You should budget 15 minutes to half an hour for each company you consider. This conversation will allow the dealers to get as much information as they can about your home, so they can provide you with an accurate quote. You may need a week or two to gather each of these quotes, and discuss your options with your contractor.

Choosing a Company

As you gather quotes from several elevator companies, you will start to understand where each price range falls. The cost is one factor of many you should consider while selecting the right elevator company for you. Other factors include:

  • Safety: Your home elevator is designed to make every level of your home more accessible. Your elevator manufacturer should offer many safety features to ensure you always have the best experience when using your elevator. Your company should provide secure gates that interlock so the door cannot open unless the cab is securely parked. Ceiling and floor lights offer visibility and safety whenever you use your elevator. Handrails help you keep your balance. All Inclinator models feature gates, interlocks, lighting systems and handrails as a standard. Most importantly, you should look for a company that provides emergency responsiveness. All Inclinator models have full-time cab monitoring and a backup battery, so your elevator can operate even in a power outage. We also offer the options to install a phone in the cab and add automatic doors.
  • Expertise: Your home elevator company should have plenty of experience in the business. A home elevator is a mechanical device, which requires engineering and professional installers. Because of the many building codes governing residential elevators, it’s best to work with an experienced local dealer. Their local knowledge will ensure your elevator is compliant with state and municipal codes. Inclinator has nearly a century of experience in the industry, with local dealers stationed throughout the country.
  • Maintenance: Your elevator will need regular inspections and the occasional repair to keep everything operational. It’s best to look for a company that offers full repair services and a focus on preventative maintenance first. Your residential elevator company should provide annual inspections. Experienced service personnel help you spot any problems before they become major issues. Preventative maintenance through your local Inclinator dealer will help you save money in the long run. An Inclinator elevator has a strong construction that minimizes spontaneous maintenance needs. You’ll have confidence that your elevator rides will be smooth.

choosing the right home elevator company

Selecting the right company for you is a decision you’ll make hand-in-hand with your contractor, architect and the other members of your household. Do your research on each company you are considering. How long it will take to make a decision depends on how much time you wish to spend. You may need to find a time to sit down and weigh your options alongside your builder. You might also want to do extensive reading on each company you consider.

Planning Where the Elevator Will Go

Your home’s layout will play a large part in determining the best place to install your elevator. When retrofitting your home with an elevator, you may need a dedicated room for the engine. The cable drum drive system requires a separate engine room, so it needs less overhead room. Other elevator drive systems, such as our motor roomless (MRL) elevators, have a self-contained system, which doesn’t need a separate engine room. Motor roomless elevators will need more overhead room.

For the elevator itself, you will need space cleared for the elevator shaft. Most of our cabs are standard 15-by-15 feet. We also offer the option for a smaller cab, which is 12-by-12 feet. With any car you choose, you will need about 1 foot of extra space on each side to house the elevator shaft. The contractor you work with on this project can help you figure out the best area to clear space for your elevator.

Many homes have a layout that simplifies the process of building a shaft. If your home has closets in the same location on each floor, it’s quite simple to carve these existing closets into an elevator shaft. If you do not have a stacked closet layout, your contractor may need to build an addition to your home for the elevator shaft. No matter where you place your elevator, you will also need a pit between 6 and 10 inches deep and up to 10 feet of extra clearance overhead.

plan where an elevator will go in your home

You’ll also want to consider convenience. You may want an elevator near the main rooms such as your bedroom and your living room, for example. As you discuss the plan of where to place your elevator with your contractor, you may discover the need to take on more construction. The timeline for this will depend on the work you need done and what your contractor can accommodate. The next step in the process is to design your cab and have it built to your specifications. So, you may be able to move on to this step while your home is under construction.

Designing the Elevator

Next, you will select from many cab designs and drive styles. At Inclinator, we offer six cab designs. You can choose a look that will match your home’s interior and your decorating preferences. Our standard cab features white walls that can be painted to match the color of your home, as well as beautiful laminate flooring. Our upgraded models offer a selection of wood or aluminum finishes.

designing your home elevator

You will also select a drive system for your elevator. We offer three drive systems, including the Cable Drum, the Hydraulic and the MRL Cable Drum. These will each travel up to 50 feet high with up to six stops. They each come in both 1,000- or 500-pound capacities. Work with one of our licensed dealers to help you determine which drive system will fit best with your home and your lifestyle needs.

We break down the entire process of designing and selecting the right elevator for your home in our free ebook. After you choose the cab design, drive system and other features, your elevator will be custom-built. Custom building a home elevator will take four to eight weeks. We recommend you begin working on construction to retrofit your elevator while it is manufactured.

Installing the Elevator

Before we install the elevator itself, the site must be prepared. Your contractor will need to dig the pit and build the hoistway. If the elevator needs a separate engine room, this room must also be constructed before the wiring gets prepped for the installation. All construction and preparation will depend on how fast your contractor can work. After your contractor finishes building the hoistway and begins to set up the wiring, the home elevator installation process can begin. 

At Inclinator, our professional installers take great care to protect your home before installation begins. We cover all floors and furniture, and after the elevator is installed, we test the elevator to make sure it is working properly. A simple two-stop elevator installation will take approximately four days to install with two technicians working on it. Each added floor will add an extra day to the installation. Only Inclinator licensed dealers can install our elevators, and our dealers are well-trained, experienced and efficient installers. Our elevators also come pre-assembled, unlike other in-home elevators. Since our elevators come ready-to-install, the process is much faster.

Contact an Inclinator Dealer Near You

Many of the steps in the elevator selection and installation process will have varying timelines, depending on your schedule and how quickly your contractor can construct the elevator shaft.

  • Gathering quotes: Getting quotes from elevator companies is estimated to take one to two weeks. The timeframe depends on how much research you want to do and how many companies you contact.
  • Choosing a company: Selecting an elevator provider is estimated to take one to two weeks. You might take longer if you speak to more companies or plan to do more significant research before you make a choice.
  • Planning where the elevator will go: You will likely discuss this step with a professional contractor. Your contractor can help you understand what is possible in your current layout and make a recommendation. Selecting a location may take up to one week. Then, it will be the contractor’s responsibility to draw up a plan. Talk to your contractor to get a better time estimate.
  • Designing your elevator: Selecting a cab design and drive system is up to you. You may take just one day to pick which design you like, or as long as you need to be confident in your decision. Your contractor and your elevator dealer will make a recommendation for the drive system you need. After you get all these details in place, building the elevator will take four to eight weeks. During this time, we recommend that your contractor start prepping for installation.
  • Installing the elevator: At a minimum, installing your elevator will take four days, assuming two technicians are on the job. For each floor above two stops, add another day to the installation schedule.

contact inclinator

All Inclinator elevators meet or exceed international codes and have robust safety features, so our in-home elevators are reliable and secure. We have nearly a century of experience, and most of our employees have a 30-year tenure with our company. With such vast expertise in both our manufacturing process and our local dealerships, we offer residential elevators you can trust. If you are ready to fit your home with a stylish and functional Inclinator elevator, find a dealer near you to get the process started. 

If you have questions about our cabs, drive systems, add-on features or anything else, please feel free to contact usWe can put you in touch with your local dealer and guide you through each step of the in-home elevator selection and installation process.

History of Dumbwaiters

Dumbwaiters are a practical, convenient and time-saving household feature, but they have not always looked the way they do today. While today’s dumbwaiters resemble small freight elevators, these cargo conveyors once had a very different appearance. In this guide, we’ll discuss some surprising facts about dumbwaiters and how they became the useful home helper they are today.

history of dumbwaiters

What Are Dumbwaiters?

Modern dumbwaiters for home use are small lifts that have an electric operation to move goods between floors. Their design makes them too small to carry people, and you must discourage children from attempting to ride in them. However, for moving groceries, books, meals and more between floors, nothing beats the ease of filling a dumbwaiter and pressing a button.

modern dumbwaiters

Some models, though, still use pulleys and hand-drawn ropes to move the dumbwaiter and its load between floors. These older, manual models often appear in older homes. Some people restore their homes with manually operated dumbwaiters to preserve the historical integrity of the property, but others may upgrade these models to electric. The mechanical operation of a manual dumbwaiter makes moving the cargo between floors more manageable, but it still requires extra effort that button-operated electric dumbwaiters don’t. Older dumbwaiter lifts could slip, disrupting the load in the car. If you had a plate of food, a dumbwaiter mishap could cause a lost lunch or toppled beverage. The dumbwaiters in today’s homes have numerous safety and convenience features not seen in older models.

However, dumbwaiters were not always this convenient or easy to use.

The History of the Dumbwaiter

This design for the dumbwaiter has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a simple hoist in Ancient Greece. To fully appreciate the modern dumbwaiter, you should take a walk back through time to see how this device has evolved throughout the centuries:

Dumbwaiter Origins

The first dumbwaiter dates back to the Ancient Greeks. These lifts used a series of winches and pulleys with ropes pulled by strong men to move the load. Ancient Rome took the idea to the next level to move animals and gladiators to the fighting arena floor in the Colosseum via 24 lifts. The men required to operate these lifts numbered in the hundreds.

Over time, these hoists developed into elevators used to transport people and goods.

How Jefferson Made These Household Helpers Popular

In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson, a Francophile, brought many innovations from France and the rest of Europe back to the United States. Among these was the French’s use of dumbwaiters during dinner parties.

However, the dumbwaiters adopted by Jefferson did not look anything like today’s versions. Instead, these models were more of a portable serving stand. Hosts would replace their servants at dinner with these mobile stands that included all the foods for the many courses, from appetizers to desserts. In Paris, Jefferson could host up to 20 people with the help of five of these dumbwaiters.

This piece of furniture may have remained as an archaic dining piece in Europe had Jefferson not brought the design back to the United States. At Jefferson’s estate of Monticello, he had five dumbwaiters in his dining area.

Among the dumbwaiters that Jefferson owned was a particular model that one guest described as a spring-loaded turning shelf between the kitchen and dining room. The device allowed the kitchen staff to put food and beverages into the dumbwaiter, then turn it so it would appear in the dining room for Jefferson and any of his guests. After the meal, the guests would put their empty plates on the dumbwaiter, and it would revolve back into the kitchen. Jefferson employed such a model at the White House during his presidency, as well.

Jefferson's dumbwaiters

The use of a dumbwaiter at his estate allowed Jefferson privacy and the chance to entertain his guests without servants distracting the meal. At the White House, the ability to host a meal without servants became a matter of national security. The president could discuss sensitive issues at meals with his guests without worrying about servants who may spread gossip about the discussions. With the Revolutionary War still in recent memory, along with the espionage that occurred during it, the nation’s leaders had reason to fear open ears.

The name for the dumbwaiter likely came from its ability to act as a silent servant, using the outdated term “dumb” for someone who does not speak.

Spinning shelves to move food between rooms was not the only dumbwaiter innovation Jefferson made at his home of Monticello. He also had a lift mechanism to bring bottles of wine from his wine cellar to the floor above. The lift used weights and pulleys to move a load of wine from the basement up to the dining room. At the end of the meal, Jefferson could put the empty bottles back into the dumbwaiter and send them down to the cellar for reuse. If he had sent an empty bottle down during the meal, a member of his staff would likely replace it with a full bottle to return to the dining room.

Though the first patent for dumbwaiters would not appear until the late 19th century, several homes of the well-to-do used variations of this device until then.

For example, in Thomas Edison’s home of Glenmont, the floor plans showed a dumbwaiter in the home’s design. This mechanical model lasted until 1944 when the Edison family converted the space into a passenger elevator as a convenience for Mrs. Edison in her later years.

Later, the space underwent renovations again to become a return air shaft. In 1931, an appraisal report of the home described the dumbwaiter as a pine car measuring two-foot by two and a half-foot inside a four-story shaft with a guide rope. The Edisons likely used the dumbwaiter to move coal and firewood from the cellar to fuel the fireplaces and stoves in the floors above.

The First Patent

Though the mechanical dumbwaiter Jefferson used at Monticello was futuristic at the time, it didn’t take off in popularity until the end of the 19th century when the first patent for a dumbwaiter appeared.

In 1887, George W. Cannon filed the first patent for a mechanical dumbwaiter operated by pulleys and weights. This design featured a counterbalance weight to help the car move vertically. Pulleys at the top of the shaft and attached above and below the car increased the length of the rope, which reduced the effort needed to move the dumbwaiter. Thanks to the introduction of the mechanical dumbwaiter, multi-story homes and apartments could have easier deliveries between floors. This device’s use also became a boon to restaurant workers of the time.

In an era when restaurant kitchens or pantries occupied different floors from each other and the dining area, dumbwaiters could safely convey food without workers tripping on stairs. To operate, these models required someone to shout what they needed down the shaft. The person below would fill the need and hoist the dumbwaiter car. Unfortunately, these dumbwaiters got such heavy use that the ropes would stretch or slip off the pulleys, resulting in dumbwaiters crashing to the bottom of the shaft.

In the late 19th century, these mechanical dumbwaiters became popular additions in the multi-story homes of the wealthy. One Peoria, Illinois, home, built just a few years after the dumbwaiter’s patent, had one of these devices installed in it. This dumbwaiter and others like it of the period had a few features to ensure their safe operation, like:

  • A handwheel pulled the rope to prevent the user from getting rope burns.
  • Both a hand brake and a check rope allowed the operator to slow or stop the car as it moved.
  • Wooden guide rails kept the dumbwaiter moving on a straight vertical path.

Though commonplace in the homes of the wealthy, dumbwaiters also had applications in high rise tenements. Those on the upper floors could safely bring their laundry or groceries up without tripping over the stairs. The added convenience and safety brought by the dumbwaiter helped these early apartment dwellers cope with their cramped city quarters.

Several of these manual dumbwaiters — or at least hints of them — remain in many homes today. If you are lucky enough to have the shaft of one of these old dumbwaiters in your home today, you likely don’t have the dumbwaiter still. As times changed and wooden guide rails and ropes wore out, homeowners converted the dumbwaiter spaces into conduits for wires or cables. Should you choose to restore dumbwaiter service to your home, you may be able to use the existing space when you upgrade to a modern electric model.

Just as today’s homeowners always want to update their homes with the latest appliances, so did people of the early 20th century. As electricity became more common in homes, it eventually would power dumbwaiters, too, though this innovation would not happen until the 1920s.

Dumbwaiters in the 20th Century

In the 1920s, the dumbwaiter would join the electric revolution with the addition of electric motors. These engines allowed for better control of the devices and fewer mishaps from slipped loads. These modern devices appeared in many places, including restaurants and libraries.

One example of a library taking advantage of the electric dumbwaiter is the facility at Duke University. Up until the 1970s, most undergraduate students could not browse the stacks themselves. They would have to request a book from the Circulation Desk. In the 1940s and 1950s, the procedure started with a student identifying the call number of the desired book from the card catalog. They would write this number on a paper and deliver it to the Circulation Desk. The attendant would then put the paper into a pneumatic tube and send it to the proper floor. Additional staff members on that floor would pull the requested book and drop it onto an electric dumbwaiter to deliver the material down to the Circulation Desk. The dumbwaiter, though, had the more appropriate term of booklift.

dumbwaiters in libraries

In 1959, Popular Mechanics reported on the return of dumbwaiters, noting that the most popular models installed in new homes at the time had electric motors. The article notes such innovative features of electrically driven dumbwaiters as brakes that only release when power flows to the solenoids. This operation prevents the dumbwaiter from falling in case of a power outage since, without power, the car will not move. Another key safety feature is the safety slack cable. This rope pulls taut to hold the car in case of failure of the main line or cable. While these changes in dumbwaiters seemed futuristic in the 1950s, they are common safety features in dumbwaiters used today.

Dumbwaiters Today

While the overall operation of dumbwaiters today mimics their predecessors, they offer many more features for safety, speed and convenience that older models lacked.

For instance, today, you can have a dumbwaiter installed in your home that runs on a standard 120-volt current. That low amount of power still can move up to 120 pounds and 35 feet vertically with four stops. You also don’t need to worry about the orientation of your rooms. Modern designs can accommodate openings on up to three sides.

For commercial use in restaurants, hotels and similar places, you can find dumbwaiters that handle up to 500 pounds. These more powerful options require 220 volts for operation, though. With proper installation and use, dumbwaiters can protect restaurant workers in a multi-story dining area from tripping with trays full of food while climbing stairs. By moving the food and empty dishes in dumbwaiters, the servers have their hands free to hold onto a handrail on the stairs. Preventing accidents on the stairs protects both the customers and servers in restaurants, which explains these devices’ popularity in larger dining facilities.

Bring a Modern Iteration of This Old-Fashioned Lift Into Your Home

If you don’t want to lug groceries or meals upstairs, bring a modern version of the dumbwaiter into your home. With extra safety features and push-button ease of use, anyone can benefit from having a dumbwaiter installed. Whether you want to free yourself from moving bulky goods between floors or need a way to help you stay in your home, a dumbwaiter can help.

To get started, find your local Inclinator dealer today.

contact inclinator

How to Prepare Your Home for an Elevator

Are you or a loved one seeking more independence after an accident or through the aging process? If so, you may want to consider a home elevator installation. Due to their convenience and customizability, residential elevators are becoming an increasingly common addition to American homes.

Not only can a residential elevator provide you with the convenience you need in your home, but it can also increase the value of your home, save you money and provide enhanced accessibility for years to come.

Whether you’re ready to move forward with installing your home elevator or you’re still on the fence, we have all the tips and steps you’ll need to help you make your decision and install the right elevator in your home.

prepare your home for an elevator

Why You Should Consider a Residential Elevator Installation

More and more Americans are installing elevators in their homes for a wide range of reasons, including:

Improved Mobility in the Home

Many seniors want to live in their own homes as they get older. If you’re a senior who wants to live the remainder of your golden years in your own home, you’ll probably need to make some changes to your property. You’ll want to make your front door more accessible, make modifications to your tub and shower and install grab bars to various spots in your home.

One of the greatest risks that older adults face when they live alone is falling or injuring themselves. As we get older, many of us don’t want to risk walking up and down the stairs. Several older adults sell their two-story homes and move into a single-story home to avoid stairs, even if the two-story property was their dream home.

Fortunately, with a home elevator, you don’t have to give up your dream home. Plus, it will likely be less expensive to add an elevator to your existing home than it would be to purchase a new single-story home.

Customized to Fit Your Home’s Style and Décor

Not all elevators look the same. In fact, you can customize your home elevator to fit the style and décor of your home. This customization includes the door, trim and flooring. A residential elevator can blend in so well with the rest of your home, that the only thing that distinguishes it is the call button.

Increased Resale Value of the Home

While a home elevator installation may cost you upfront, the installation can also significantly increase the resale value of your home. Though a residential elevator can be quite costly, the price can vary depending on your custom options, your location, taxes, the size of your elevator and the type of drive system you choose.

Despite the upfront cost, a residential elevator can also increase your home’s value by 10 percent. With an elevator, you’ll have more equity in your home, and your property will become more appealing to potential buyers, as they’ll be able to imagine themselves in this home long-term.

elevators increase your home value

With the increase in the value of your home, you’ll likely completely recoup the costs of your elevator or even exceed the cost when you sell.

Tips for Preparing Your Home for Elevator Installation

Installing an elevator in your house is an important step in maintaining your independence and remaining in your home following an accident or as you or your family member ages.
In order to ensure a successful, safe and quick home elevator installation, follow these tips:

1. Decide Whether to Add or Retrofit

The first tip for installing an elevator is to decide whether you want to add the elevator onto your house or if you want to retrofit it in. Retrofitting is much less expensive, but you may lose closet or storage space. A new construction project will take longer and cost more, but you have more choices in size and location.

2. Find a Contractor

Your next step will be finding a contractor. You’ll then work with the contractor to determine where you want the elevator and where the power lines need to be.

3. Choose Your Custom Options

Next, you’ll want to customize your elevator to suit your needs and preferences. At Inclinator, we offer five cab styles, three drive systems, various color and design options, 18 gate and door configurations, custom lighting and more.
  • 100 Cab: This cab features laminate flooring with a wood finish, a white ceiling and walls you can paint any color.
  • 200 Cab: This cab features a dark or light style, hardwood walls and two LED ceiling lights.
  • 300 Cab: This cab features light or dark wood, various wood grain options, decorative molding and laminate flooring with a wood grain finish.
  • 400 Cab: This cab features rich wood with decorative trim, panels and molding. Walls include acrylic panels that you can customize with a wide variety of accessories and finishes.
  • 500 Cab: This cab features an elegant appearance, clean lines, maximum visibility and an aluminum frame in black, silver or white.
  • Elevette® Hydraulic: This drive system offers a smooth, quiet ride and uses less fluid than hydraulic elevators from other brands.
  • Elevette® Cable Drum: This drive system is the most compact option we offer, using a monorail-guiding system that saves space. This system can serve as many as six landings, and our product is quieter than other cable drum elevators on the market.
  • Elevette® MRL Overhead Cable Drum: This drive system uses two guide rails that are designed to enhance the stability of the elevator and to ensure a quiet, smooth ride. The MRL doesn’t need a machine room and has the lowest required minimum distance between floors.
With so many customization options, you can design an elevator that’s perfect for your home.

4. Decide When Your Elevator Will Be Installed

Since Inclinator elevators arrive preassembled, the technicians will not need to go through a lengthy assembly process. Installation time depends on the type of elevator and the number of landings. For reference, a two-stop elevator should take about four days with two technicians.

5. Schedule Your Annual Maintenance

Once you’ve decided you want to move forward with installing your home elevator, you may be wondering whether you need to schedule annual elevator maintenance. To ensure the safety, quality and longevity of your elevator, we recommend scheduling maintenance at least once per year.
regular elevator maintenance
Regular maintenance of your home elevator is important because:
  • You’ll save money: You may be able to skip the annual maintenance, but doing so can put the reliability of this complex machine at risk. Preventive maintenance is almost always easier — and less costly — than repairs on a broken machine. A small issue can quickly become a major, expensive problem if ignored too long.
  • You’ll learn more about your elevator: Are you fascinated by the inner workings of a machine? You may be able to learn more about your elevator through yearly maintenance and even gain some knowledge about smaller issues you can address yourself, such as burnt out lights.
  • You’ll form a scheduling habit: Scheduling annual maintenance for your home elevator is no different from scheduling your vehicle’s annual inspection. You’ll find that you quickly form the habit of scheduling the maintenance every year. To help you remember, you may want to schedule both in the same month.
  • You’ll get peace of mind: After your elevator has been inspected by a professional, you can rest assured that you and your family are safe. With regular maintenance, you won’t have to worry about whether the cables are worn or the parts are up-to-date.
Be sure to schedule your yearly maintenance with an Inclinator qualified service team. Our team will keep your elevator running reliably and reduce costly repairs in the future.

How to Choose a Home Elevator

Now that you’ve decided to move forward with installing a home elevator, you’ll need to choose the right residential elevator for your home. Follow these steps to ensure you find the perfect elevator for your property:

1. Choose a Location for Your Elevator

Where do you want to install your elevator? The location should be convenient for your use and should have enough available space for hiding the drive equipment. Your best option may be installing your residential elevator near the stairs. The reinforced structure of the stairs and extra free space is ideal for the installation of a home elevator.

Where do you anticipate entering and exiting the elevator will be most important and convenient? Ideal locations for home elevators include:

  • From your garage to your living area.
  • From your living area to your upper hall.
  • From your lower-level hall to your upper-level hall.

Consider where you travel most to help you determine where the most convenient location for a home elevator may be.

2. Make Your Final Customizations

Do you want a cab style that’s simple or elegant? Do you have the space for a hydraulic elevator, or would you prefer a cable elevator that takes up less space? Do you want your elevator to include one or two openings? What are your preferences for the other components of your elevator? When deciding on your elevator customizations consider the:

  • Ceiling: Depending on your choice of cab, you can choose a standard white laminate ceiling or a wood ceiling.
  • Floor: Choose laminate flooring with a wood grain simulation of your choice or elect to have your flooring unfinished and complete it yourself.
  • Lights: Each of our elevators includes two lights, but you can choose to add more.
  • Handrails: Would you prefer decorative wood or round metal for your handrails? You can also choose from several finishes.
  • Operation panels: You can choose between three finishes and a raised or flushed style for your panels.
  • Walls: Choose from a myriad of wood finishes for your elevator walls, such as cherry, maple, mahogany, alder, red oak, dark oak and walnut. If you’d prefer, you can also request to have your walls delivered unfinished and have them finished on site.

customize your elevator

3. Select the Manufacturer and Dealer

Few steps for installing a home elevator are as important as finding and selecting the right manufacturer and dealer to work with. When you partner with the right vendor, you’ll be able to depend on them for an accurate cost estimate, customization options that suit your needs and a product that fits your budget.

How do you determine which manufacturer and dealer are right for you? Choose a vendor with the following qualities:

  • Experienced: How long has this manufacturer been in business? Does this manufacturer belong to professional organizations, like the National Association of Home Builders or the Association of Members of the Accessibility Industry? Because of the many safety codes involved in home elevator installation, experience is crucial.
  • Reputable: Scan customer reviews and contact previous customers. If this manufacturer has received a lot of positive testimonials, you can feel confident in this company’s reputation and its ability to deliver the product you want.
  • Flexible: Your home elevator should blend in with the rest of your home, so you’ll want to work with a company that can offer you a wide range of customization options. The more options a manufacturer has available, the more likely you are to be satisfied with your purchase.
  • Service plans: What repair service and maintenance plans are offered by this vendor? Knowing you can rely on your vendor for regular maintenance and avoid major problems will give you peace of mind and could also save you money.

You’ll need professionals to perform a home elevator installation. Partnering with a manufacturer and dealer you can trust will ensure your elevator is safe, suits your home and meets your needs.

Order Your Residential Elevator From an Inclinator Dealer

At Inclinator, we manufacture safe, reliable and customizable home elevators. Because our elevators are so customizable, they can fit into just about any space without sacrificing precision.

We’re the first in the industry to bring elevators to American homeowners, and we’ve been providing residential elevators to Americans for nearly a century.

Customizing your elevator is an easy and simple process, as each of our elevators is designed individually by our team of experts. Following installation, you’ll find your home elevator is a valuable investment. In fact, the value of your home will likely increase enough to recoup the costs of the elevator installation. When you’re ready to sell your home, you’ll also be able to sell to a wider market.

Are you ready to schedule your home elevator installation? Locate an Inclinator dealer or contact us with any questions today.

order your elevator from Inclinator

How to Use a Dumbwaiter Safely

Dumbwaiters are small elevators that are designed to transport items rather than people. Dumbwaiters have a valuable purpose, both commercially and residentially. They essentially function as a service elevator for items like laundry, tools, food and more. Residential dumbwaiters can be extremely helpful for people who would have trouble carrying items up and down stairs. A dumbwaiter can make a home a more accessible place. They are also extremely convenient, even if you don’t have any mobility limitations.

While dumbwaiters offer a lot of benefits, you may wonder whether these devices are safe. We are going to answer that question and look at 10 ways you can practice dumbwaiter safety and get the most out of your dumbwaiter.

how to use a dumbwaiter safely

Are Dumbwaiters Safe?

The answer to this question is yes, dumbwaiters are safe to use. Note, however, that older dumbwaiters found in historic homes, hotels and restaurants are more likely to be hazardous than modern dumbwaiters. If you have an old dumbwaiter you still use, you should have it inspected so you can determine whether you need to upgrade it to comply with current standards or potentially replace it entirely with a new system.

Dumbwaiters aren’t only safe to use — they can also make your home or workplace safer. This is because using a dumbwaiter to transport items can prevent hazards like falls on the stairs and overstrain.

Modern dumbwaiters have important safety features and reliable functionality that makes them safe for employees and homeowners to use. While dumbwaiters are safe overall, there are ways you can enhance the safety of your dumbwaiter and exercise caution at the appropriate times so that you have a positive experience using your dumbwaiter every time and enjoy it for years to come.

1. Install a Dumbwaiter With Interlocks

Dumbwaiters have been around for centuries, so some older homes and commercial buildings in the U.S. have antique dumbwaiters. These dumbwaiters may still be functional in some cases, but they aren’t likely to be as safe as modern dumbwaiters. One safety feature, in particular, you should expect to see on a modern dumbwaiter is interlocks. Interlocks greatly enhance the safety of a dumbwaiter, which is why the American Society of Mechanical Engineers requires them.

dumbwaiters with interlocks

The purpose of interlocks is to prevent you from opening up any access doors to the dumbwaiter while it is moving or stationed at a different landing. In other words, with interlocks in place, you can only access your dumbwaiter when it is safely stationed at the correct landing. This prevents the hazards that could occur if you opened your access door to an empty shaft or encountered a moving dumbwaiter. These hazards could be especially dangerous if you have small children in your home.

Modern interlocks are typically electromechanical. This means the dumbwaiter access doors remain locked by default but unlock when the dumbwaiter comes into contact with the access door, completing an electrical circuit. Make sure your dumbwaiter is equipped with interlocks so you can enjoy safe operation at all times.

2. Have Your Dumbwaiter Installed by a Certified Professional

If you’re having a new dumbwaiter installed, make sure you have an experienced professional handle the installation. A certified professional, preferably one from your dumbwaiter’s manufacturer or distributor, will have the expertise needed to install your dumbwaiter correctly. They will also know how to maintain safety during the installation process.

Some homeowners may feel they can take on a DIY installation project. While you may be able to figure out the process on your own, you’ll likely run into some challenges that could end up prompting you to call in the professionals anyway.

The only way to be sure your dumbwaiter is installed correctly is to leave the job to an experienced dumbwaiter installer. A poorly installed dumbwaiter can be unsafe and inefficient. Conversely, a dumbwaiter that has been accurately and securely installed is one you can count on to perform well and maintain a high level of safety.

3. Read Your Manual and Keep It On Hand

Your dumbwaiter should come with a manual that specifies its specifications and capabilities. Make sure you read the manual in its entirety so you understand the ins and outs of how to use your dumbwaiter properly.

Your manual may provide information on important aspects of your dumbwaiter, such as safety procedures, weight limits, maintenance tasks and more. You want to make sure you follow all of these guidelines, even if they are posed as recommendations rather than requirements.

Note that, in some cases, you can void your warranty by ignoring instructions in the manual. Since you aren’t likely to memorize what you read in your manual, keep it handy so you can reference it whenever needed.

4. Observe the Weight Limit

One of the things your manual should note is the maximum weight capacity your dumbwaiter is designed to handle. This one of the most important specifications to be aware of since exceeding the weight limit could damage your dumbwaiter. Residential dumbwaiters from Inclinator have a maximum capacity of 120 lb. (54 kg). Our commercial dumbwaiters have maximum capacities of 200 lb. (90 kg), 300 lb. (136 kg) or 500 lb. (226 kg).

dumbwaiter weight limits

Whatever the weight limit is on your dumbwaiter, be careful to stay under the limit so you don’t put unnecessary strain on your dumbwaiter. Especially when you’re first getting used to using your dumbwaiter, you should weigh items before placing them on the dumbwaiter so you can begin to develop a sense of how much your dumbwaiter can hold at once.

Aside from weight, you may be limited in the amount of space your dumbwaiter affords for items. Be careful not to cram too much in. Your dumbwaiter should be able to close easily and move from floor to floor with ease. Observing your dumbwaiter’s maximum capacity will help you avoid unnecessary repairs or replacements.

5. Allow Time Between Trips

Another way you can lessen the strain on your dumbwaiter and avoid any mechanical issues is by allowing the dumbwaiter to rest a bit in between trips. In other words, you’re typically better off spacing out your loads just a bit rather than constantly send your dumbwaiter back and forth.

An overworked dumbwaiter could become overheated, leading to some problems or even total failure. Your dumbwaiter’s manual may speak to what level of use is normal and what would be considered overuse. When in doubt, just give your dumbwaiter a minute or two before sending another load.

Also note that this primarily applies to residential dumbwaiters, which are not as heavy-duty as commercial ones. A commercial dumbwaiter in a restaurant or hotel, for example, may be capable of handling frequent trips up and down to send many loads within a short timespan.

6. Keep Children From Playing With the Dumbwaiter

Whenever you’re considering the safety of something in your home, it’s important to think beyond the adults in the home. If there are any hazards present, they can tend to be a more significant issue for children. When it comes to dumbwaiters, features like interlocks should keep children safe. However, it’s still important that children use the dumbwaiter properly.

Depending on the size of your dumbwaiter, it may be large enough for a child to climb inside. Children are inquisitive and may see the dumbwaiter as an opportunity to take a fun ride. However, this is not a safe use of a dumbwaiter. Even if children are under the dumbwaiter’s maximum weight limit, that doesn’t mean the dumbwaiter is designed to carry them.

Make sure your children, grandchildren or any other kids who frequent your home know that the dumbwaiter is not a toy and is not the perfect child- or pet-sized elevator. If children want to operate the dumbwaiter, make sure they do so with adult supervision and guidance and only use the dumbwaiter for its intended purpose.

7. Do Not Use Your Dumbwaiter During a Power Outage

For automatic dumbwaiters that run on electric power, your dumbwaiter will not be functional during a power outage, unless you have backup generator power. If a power outage occurs while you are using your dumbwaiter, it will become stuck in place until your power comes back on. Therefore, you should refrain from using your dumbwaiter when you expect a power outage may occur, such as during a storm.

Sometimes, power outages are entirely unexpected, so you can’t always plan for these events. If you’re using your dumbwaiter and the power goes out, you should only experience an inconvenience, not a safety hazard. Still, it’s best to avoid using your dumbwaiter if you anticipate you may lose power to your home.

Note that home elevators—which are similar to dumbwaiters with the key difference that they are intended for transporting people—will not become stuck during a power outage. Home elevators from Inclinator have backup battery power that will kick in if the main power source goes out and will safely lower the elevator to the bottom level of the home.

8. Be Careful When Transporting Hot Items

If you use your dumbwaiter to transport items that are hot, such as food or dishes, make sure you exercise caution to maintain everyone’s safety. Especially in a commercial setting, when plates are coming out of a high-temperature dishwasher that heats the dishes to at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit,  you must be extra careful to avoid being burned. Even when dishes are not piping hot, hot food and drinks can also cause burns if not handled with caution.

Make sure whoever is receiving the hot plates or hot food above or below you is aware that whatever arrives at their landing will be hot and should be handled carefully. Depending on how you pack items into the dumbwaiter, they could shift around during transport, so be sure to cover hot food so that it cannot slosh out.

Whenever opening a dumbwaiter containing hot items, be careful and wear heat-resistant gloves or some other form of protection for your hands when pulling out hot items. In commercial settings, you should already have precautionary procedures in place for handling hot items, but when using a dumbwaiter, the key is to communicate between floors so employees receiving hot items in the dumbwaiter know what to expect. An intercom system can be a great way to stay in communication.

9. Clean Your Dumbwaiter As Needed

To properly maintain your dumbwaiter, you’ll want to clean it as needed. Cleaning should be a more common task if you use your dumbwaiter to transport food. If something spills inside or leaves a residue, you’ll want to clean it up quickly so your dumbwaiter is ready for its next trip and won’t get any items dirty or cause them to slide around inside.

clean your dumbwaiter

Don’t use just any cleaning product you have on hand to clean your dumbwaiter. Some cleaning products may be too harsh to use. Check your manual for approved cleaning agents. A safe option for any dumbwaiter is a damp cloth. Gently wipe out the dumbwaiter with the damp cloth and then wipe it dry or allow it to air dry.

You may also want to have your dumbwaiter professionally cleaned occasionally, especially if you regularly use it to transport food or other items that can leave behind a mess.

10. Have Your Dumbwaiter Inspected Annually

If you ever suspect your dumbwaiter is not functioning as it should, call a professional dumbwaiter repair service right away to inspect your dumbwaiter and diagnose the issue. One of the best ways to avoid issues in the first place is to practice proactive dumbwaiter maintenance. You can do this by scheduling annual inspections for your dumbwaiter.

A service professional will check to see if your dumbwaiter is in good working order and if it needs any repairs to continue functioning properly and safely. They may perform some maintenance tasks to keep your dumbwaiter in good shape, even if you’re not having any issues. For example, they may lubricate the cable system that moves the dumbwaiter.

Make sure you leave inspections to an experienced professional. While you may be able to look inside the car of your dumbwaiter, it is not safe for you to step inside the shaft to look for mechanical or electrical issues. To stay safe, let a professional handle this task. Talk to your installer about how to plan ahead for annual inspections.

Dumbwaiters From Inclinator

If you want to install a dumbwaiter or have one serviced, you can depend on Inclinator. Our commercial dumbwaiters are designed to enhance your efficiency and safety at your restaurant, hotel, lab, medical facility, office building or any other commercial setting where you need to move items from floor to floor. Our residential dumbwaiters are perfect for seniors or people with physical disabilities who want to make their homes more convenient for them. Consider installing a home elevator from Inclinator as well to make your home a fully accessible place.

Our dumbwaiters and home elevators aren’t just practical — they are also customizable and elegant in appearance, so you can be sure your dumbwaiter will fit perfectly in your home. Find a dealer near you today to begin the process of planning your Inclinator dumbwaiter installation.

dumbwaiters from inclinator