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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.

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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.

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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

How Safe Are Home Elevators?

Home elevators have been around for a long time, but in recent years, they’ve become an increasingly common and convenient way for people to enjoy mobility in their homes. If you’re considering installing a home elevator, you may wonder about the safety of these devices. Perhaps you’ve heard from friends or family members that home elevators can be dangerous, or you just aren’t sure whether there are any hazards involved with operating an elevator in your home.

how safe are home elevators

We’re going to explore this question and give you the answers you need to be informed on this issue and feel confident in your decision to equip your home with an elevator that is attractive, convenient and ⁠— most importantly ⁠— safe.

What Safety Codes Apply to Home Elevators?

There are standards and codes that are meant to ensure all home elevators adhere to certain safety protocols. For example, elevator codes dictate the safe weight limit, speed, travel distance and safety features home elevator manufacturers should factor into their designs. You may be wondering who sets these standards.

safety codes for home elevators

Two standard-setting bodies collaborate to create many of the codes that govern the engineering of all sorts of products, including home elevators. These standard-setting bodies are the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The standard that applies to elevators is ASME ANSI A17.1/CSA B44-2016 National Safety Code for Elevators. Section 5.3 of this code applies specifically to private residence elevators.

As engineering experts become more aware of potential dangers and innovate new ways to make elevators even safer, the standards can be updated to require new safety features and design elements. The most recent update to the National Safety Code for Elevators came in 2016. This update was aimed at making elevators safer for small children by minimizing the space between the hoistway door and elevator car door. The update also created a requirement that doors be able to withstand 75 pounds of force without warping or displacement to prevent small children from getting stuck between the doors.

In addition to the national safety codes that apply to all home elevators in the U.S., individual states may have their own building codes that speak to the requirements for elevators. These codes may enforce more stringent requirements about the safety features a home elevator should include. So, if you’re building a home and including an elevator in it, you’ll need to make sure your elevator is up to code for your area.

Note that national and state standards for elevators apply to elevators that are being manufactured or installed. This means that older elevators in older homes likely won’t offer the same level of safety as newly manufactured home elevators. As we’ll see, the safety issues that have arisen from some home elevators would not be an issue for modern elevators that are equipped with all the required safety features.

At Inclinator, we ensure our elevators adhere to or exceed safety codes. We stay on top of the latest industry trends and features to ensure our elevators are as reliable and safe as they come. Safety will always be a top priority for us at Inclinator.

Why Do Some People Think Home Elevators Are Unsafe?

You may be wondering, if home elevators are manufactured according to carefully created safety standards, then why do some people believe they are dangerous? On the whole, home elevators have been very safe for a long time. However, one design flaw that some elevators contained up until recently caused a significant degree of concern, particularly for parents of small children.

The problem was the gap between the two doors used to access the elevator — the door at the landing and the door or gate on the elevator itself. This gap was hardly noticeable to adults, but for a small child, it was enough space to become trapped if they stepped into the space and the elevator was called to another floor and started to move. This problem sadly resulted in some injuries and even fatalities, which caused organizations like the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and advocacy groups like the Safety Institute to point out the problem.

Though the most recent update to the National Safety Code for Elevators was focused on addressing this issue, many homes still contain elevators that were manufactured before 2016 and, therefore, may contain large enough gaps to be problematic for small children. The CPSC urges homeowners with residential elevators to have their elevators inspected by a professional who can recommend solutions to bring the elevator up to the current safety standards.

In summary, safety issues associated with home elevators have been largely limited to one design flaw that is present in older elevators. Modern elevators, such as the ones available from Inclinator, are safe for every member of your family, including children. If you have an older elevator, you may want to update it or replace it with a new home elevator that will offer all the modern safety features you need, along with design elements you’ll love.

What Features Help Make Modern Home Elevators Safe?

Let’s look at some of the features that enhance the safety of modern elevators. All of these features are meant to head off any potential problems that could occur while someone is operating an elevator, such as a power outage, for example. As you’ll see, modern safety features help prevent the hazards involving small children as well.

With the following features built into your home elevator, you can be confident that your elevator is more than just convenient or attractive — it’s also safe. All of these elevator safety features are available with Inclinator home elevators.

safety features in home elevators

1. Gates

One feature that all home elevators should have to maintain safety is a gate. These gates are attached to the elevator cab, meaning they travel with the cab wherever it goes. To enter your home elevator, you would open the door to the hoistway and then open the gate to access the elevator cab. Commercial elevators have a similar setup, but instead of a door and a gate, they have two sets of doors, one that opens into the hoistway and one that opens directly into the cab.

You may wonder, why not just enter the elevator directly through one door and leave out the gate? The reality is that gates are a necessary safety feature. Gates aren’t just there for looks. Your elevator can tell when a gate is open and closed, which keeps it from moving when someone is only partway into the cab. Your elevator will only operate if the gate is completely free of any obstruction and has been closed. This keeps elevator passengers safe

While gates are primarily there for safety and not looks, they can still add charm to your home elevator. Gates come in a couple of different styles. One traditional style is the accordion gate, which can be finished with a variety of materials. Another option is a collapsible scissor gate, which comes in various metal finishes.

2. Interlocks

Interlocks are another important way modern home elevators maintain safety. To understand what interlocks are, it’s helpful to look at the dangerous scenarios they prevent. Imagine someone were to open a door to their elevator on the ground floor, not realizing that the elevator is already in motion, descending from the second floor. Or, what if you open the door, and the elevator is stationed at a different landing in your house? In this case, you’d be opening the door to an empty elevator shaft.

Either of these situations could be dangerous, but you never have to worry about them occurring when your elevators are equipped with interlocks. Interlocks keep you from opening a door to your elevator when the elevator isn’t stationed securely at that landing. In other words, your elevator doors will remain locked whenever the elevator is in motion or at a different landing. This keeps you from opening the door and encountering a dangerous situation.

How do the locks know whether the elevator is present or not? Interlocks are comprised of two components, a lock and a keeper bracket, which need to be connected for the door to open. If they are disconnected, the door will remain closed. These components connect mechanically, electrically or both.

3. Lighting and Indicators

It’s important that home elevators have sufficient lighting so that you can see where you’re going at all times. This lighting can help prevent trips, slips and falls that could cause injury. At Inclinator, all of our home elevators have two bright, low-temperature LED ceiling lights that turn whenever the door opens or the elevator is running. We also offer upgrades to our standard lighting setup.

Our elevators also feature operating panels with illuminated floor indicators. There is a panel in the cab and one at each landing near the elevator door. On the panel in the cab, there is an overrun switch that you can use to turn off your elevator if needed.

3. Backup Power

A power outage could prove dangerous without the proper safety features. Since home elevators operate using electricity, a sudden loss of power when you’re riding in an elevator could mean getting stuck in the elevator cab, which is a situation no one wants to experience. The good news is that you won’t have to worry about this scenario with modern home elevators.

That’s because of an important safety feature — backup battery power. In the event of an electrical outage, your backup battery power will kick in and safely move the elevator to the lowest landing. If you lose power because of a storm, this is a helpful feature since you’ll typically want to seek shelter in the lowest level of your home.

You also won’t have to worry about suddenly finding yourself in the dark in your elevator if the power goes out. Another safety feature intended for outages is emergency lighting.

4. Handrails

One safety feature that doesn’t need to be high-tech is a handrail. Handrails may be simple features, but they play an important role in making home elevators safe.

Handrails give you something to grip if you ever feel unsteady and need some assistance to maintain or regain your stability. This feature can be especially helpful for senior citizens or anyone with balance or mobility challenges. Home elevators from Inclinator come complete with either flat wooden handrails finished to match the color of the cab walls or round handrails in a sleek, sophisticated metal finish.

5. Emergency Bells and Phones

If an emergency situation, such as a health crisis, injury or other problem, occurs while you’re in your elevator, you may need a way to call for help. Emergency bells and in-elevator telephones can provide this vital capability.

An emergency bell can help family or emergency personnel locate you if you’re ever in the midst of an emergency and are in or near your elevator. It’s essential that this alarm is easy to find and use.

An optional feature you can add to your home elevator is a telephone. Elevator phones are also considered a safety feature since they provide a way for you to call for help in an emergency. This phone features a flush-mounted speakerphone, an easy-to-operate manual dialer and two-way conversation.  If your home is equipped with an analog telephone line, then including a phone in your elevator is simple. If you don’t carry a cellphone with you and prefer to have a landline telephone placed conveniently in your elevator, these phones are a great option.

The Final Verdict

So, considering what we’ve learned, are home elevators safe? The answer is yes, modern home elevators are very safe. With national safety codes, local building codes and extra safety measures, home elevators today are designed to ensure a high level of safety.

Older elevators may require updating or replacing so you can take advantage of the many safety features that have developed to ensure safety in your elevator in every situation. Even if you have small children or grandchildren, you can rest easy knowing your home elevator will never put them in danger.

update safety features in older home elevators

Safe Home Elevators From Inclinator Company of America

For nearly a century, Inclinator has been a pioneer in the world of home elevators and has embraced advances in technology, particularly regarding safety. Our elevators adhere to all safety codes and standards. In addition to being safe, our home elevators are sophisticated, convenient and customizable. If you’ve been considering installing a residential elevator in your home, you can now move forward with confidence in your decision, knowing that your home elevator will enhance your mobility without posing any safety issues.

To get started, find an Inclinator dealer near you. Our dealers can answer your questions and help you determine the best home elevator style, system and features for you and your home.

safe home elevators from inclinator

How to Maintain Your Home Elevator

A residential elevator provides convenient mobility between floors so you can get where you need to go safely. However, like any piece of mechanical equipment, home elevators experience wear and tear through years of consistent use. If this wear and tear isn’t monitored closely enough, it can result in needing system or structural repairs.

As more and more people choose to enjoy the convenience of an elevator at home, the question “Do I really need maintenance?” is becoming more common. In short, the answer is yes. Scheduling regular residential elevator maintenance at least annually is the best way to ensure the continued safety and effective operation of the machinery.

We’ve put together a guide to help you understand the benefits of regular home elevator service and general elevator maintenance requirements.

Problems That Can Occur In Home Elevators

Many issues can cause a residential elevator to malfunction, most of which can be chalked up to skipping basic maintenance. The following are common issues you might see with your home elevator over time.

1. Misaligned Motor Drives

One of the problems that occurs most frequently in home elevators is motor drives shifting out of alignment. A misaligned shaft is a hazard and can cause severe, uneven wear on the elevator that may require premature replacement of components. Elevator repair services use laser measuring equipment to check that your motor drives are aligned and that the motor bearings are in good condition.

2. Contaminated Elevator Oil

Like a lot of machinery, your home elevator uses oil to lubricate components to enable smooth movement. Problems like misalignment can cause small pieces of metal to contaminate your elevator’s oil, hindering proper movement and locking the elevator in a cycle of increased wear and tear. Maintenance companies can analyze the oil in your elevator to detect contaminants that can point to different problems with the elevator.

3. Power Failures

When the power to a home elevator fails, it’s not usually a dangerous situation because all Inclinator elevators have a backup that slowly lowers the cab so you can exit during an outage. However, not being able to use a critical part of your home mobility system can cause frustration and derail your plans for the day, so having the power to your elevator examined regularly can keep your life running smoothly. Elevator maintenance technicians can conduct a power quality survey to uncover any electrical faults that may affect your elevator in the near future.

4. Worn Sheaves

Sheaves are part of the cable system of an elevator. They grip the ropes, and when they rotate, the ropes move to bring the elevator up or down. For an elevator to work safely, sheaves must be inspected with regularity. If your home elevator maintenance service sees that the sheaves are wearing down, they will either replace them altogether or re-groove them to prevent damage to the hoist ropes and keep them in good shape for longer.

Regular maintenance can help prevent all of these common issues. It’s best to leave the job to the professionals unless you have extensive experience with how to fix an elevator.

How Elevator Maintenance and Inspection Works

When you purchased your elevator and completed the process of installation, your elevator company should have recommended a maintenance schedule of service every six months to one year. This is a standard service interval that economically preserves the function of your home elevator.

During a maintenance visit, a technician will come to your home to perform a thorough inspection of all the elevator’s critical components. The technician will have a checklist to work through, but inspection appointments are an excellent time to point out any special concerns you have about the elevator or service. The typical points of inspection include:

  • Elevator gate
  • Hoistway door sensors
  • Car operation controls
  • Buttons in the hall station
  • Emergency systems

The systems above are checked to ensure continued functionality. The following systems and components should be checked to evaluate wear:

  • Rail system
  • Travel cables
  • Fastening anchors
  • Drive system

If small fixes like adding more lubrication are necessary, the technician may be able to complete these preventative repairs on the spot. If components need replacement, you will receive a quote for the parts and service required and set an appointment to make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

If you have any questions about the function of your elevator or how to best use it, this is the perfect time to ask. Don’t hesitate to bring up your questions. Quality elevator maintenance companies like Inclinator will go the extra mile to ensure you understand how to keep your elevator in tip-top shape.

How Often Do I Need Home Elevator Maintenance?

Most reputable elevator maintenance companies strongly suggest that homeowners do not go more than a year without home elevator maintenance, and the more frequent your service, the better. A lot can happen in a year, and something that starts as a minor problem can quickly escalate ⁠— causing damage to your elevator and making it more costly to repair. There are a variety of factors that affect how often you need service. These are three of the most important.

1. Model and Type of Elevator

You likely chose your home elevator model and type based on a combination of features and cost. Depending on the type of elevator, you may be dealing with more moving parts that need more frequent attention than other models. As part of your pre-installation consultations, your elevator company should clearly communicate any extra maintenance needs associated with your elevator model.

2. Existing Service Contract

Your elevator may have come with a service contract that has a certain number of inspections per year attached, for a certain number of years. If you do have a contract, not taking advantage of it is a big mistake. Pre-scheduled service appointments mean you have one less thing to keep track of in your busy life.

3. Local Regulations

When you were researching home elevator installation, you may have come across local laws that affect how often you need to have your elevator serviced. These regulations may seem unduly strict in some areas, but the rules are put in place to help homeowners minimize risks associated with improper elevator care.

Benefits of Regular Home Elevator Maintenance

Still unsure about the importance of regular maintenance for your home elevator? Think of it as a way to protect your investment. Giving your home elevator the attention and service it needs up front has significant benefits in the long run. These are just some of the reasons to commit to consistent maintenance.

1. Save Money on Repairs

If you’ve ever owned a vehicle for more than a few years, you know how important maintenance is for preventing costly repairs. Machinery like a home elevator can continue working when it has one small issue, but once you have more than one of these issues at a time, the risk of a more complex problem continues to increase. In the end, an issue that could have been fixed if spotted early ends up becoming a repair that can cost hundreds of dollars or more. Prevention truly is the best medicine, and catching problems early makes them easier on your wallet.

2. Stay Safe

Trying to DIY elevator service can be dangerous. When you’re handling electrical systems and other complex systems, making a mistake can endanger your life directly and make the elevator less safe for you and your family’s use. Professional home elevator service allows you to eliminate the risk of injury or accidentally damaging the elevator. Leave the hard work to the professionals.

3. Increase Your Peace of Mind

No one wants to spend precious time and energy worrying about one of the key fixtures in their home. If you’re hearing a strange sound or the motion of your elevator doesn’t feel quite right, don’t waste time worrying about what the problem could be. Regular maintenance is the key to feeling confident about the function and longevity of your investment.

3 Steps to Keep Your Elevator in Top Shape

Although you shouldn’t attempt to repair or service your elevator yourself, there are things you can do during daily operation to keep the elevator in good condition between service appointments.

1. Keep Track of the Elevator’s Operation

In terms of diagnosing potential problems in your home elevator, keeping a basic log of operations is extremely helpful. You don’t have to keep a tally of every time you go up and down, but having a general schedule that estimates the number of uses on a typical day can be beneficial. If you notice any issues, jot down some details like what time of day the problem occurs and whether it is more pronounced on upward or downward trips. These details can help you and your service company spot patterns, making diagnosis and repair easier.

2. Do Not Use Industrial Cleaners

You might assume that a piece of machinery like an elevator is something that needs industrial cleaners to look its best. However, industrial cleaners are so harsh that they can corrode your elevator’s internal components, especially if you’re using a spray bottle that may distribute cleaner into nooks and crannies. Be sure to contact your elevator maintenance company before using anything more powerful than basic household cleaners.

3. Be Aware of the Weight Limits

Home elevators can typically handle hundreds of pounds, but knowing the exact weight limit of your model is crucial to proper long-term use. A rule of thumb is not to overload the elevator with more than a quarter of its max capacity. Depending on the size and primary use of the elevator, you may need to give weight limit more consideration. For example, an elevator that is used to transport one or two people at a time may not have the weight capacity to handle someone on a heavy electric scooter.

Even a one-time abuse of your home elevator’s weight capacity can lead to issues. For example, an elevator designed for individual use should not be loaded up with a bed, couch and dresser while moving in or out of the home.

Choosing the Right Elevator Maintenance Company

While maximizing your elevator’s function and lifespan through maintenance is essential, it’s important to remember that not all elevator maintenance companies are created equal. The technicians that service your elevator are responsible for ensuring its continued functioning, so it’s imperative to know that they are up to the task. Look for these three qualities in your elevator service company.

1. Customer Service

A company’s service should extend beyond elevator maintenance and repair to making sure you feel comfortable. Do they pick up the phone promptly? Are they willing and able to answer your questions surrounding the service you’re paying for? Do they show up on time for appointments and treat your home with respect? If the answer to any of these is no, you may want to consider choosing a more reputable company.

2. Quality of Field Service

If you are at home when your home elevator service occurs, you have the opportunity to observe the way the technician works. Does the tech look like he or she is just racing through the inspection checklist so they can move on to their next appointment? Maintenance technicians should give every part of the checklist its due attention, carefully inspecting each component to make sure nothing slips under the radar.

3. Safe and Compliant Practices

Unfortunately, some elevator companies engage in dubious or even illegal corner-cutting practices such as back-dating inspections. Before selecting a company, check their reviews on various sources to ensure there’s no evidence of shady practices. The longer the history of reviews, the more accurately you will be able to gauge whether the company does everything safely and by the book.

Get Started With Home Elevator Maintenance

Your home elevator should serve you for years to come, and preventive maintenance is the surest way to make that happen. Scheduling regular maintenance can help give you peace of mind that your elevator will continue to operate safely and reliably. It can also help prevent more expensive, complicated repairs in the future.

To properly maintain your elevator, you need to find qualified professionals you can trust. To get started, find your local authorized Inclinator dealer here and contact them about maintenance and repair services.

Why You Should Install a Home Elevator

how to choose the right home elevator

Residential elevators are quickly becoming a common fixture and a convenient addition in American homes.

Choosing a home elevator that’s perfect for your home can provide you with an asset that offers convenience for years to come. A home elevator can save you money, increase your home’s value and provide accessibility in later years.

Why Install a Home Elevator?

More and more families are choosing to install residential elevators for reasons that include:

1. Improves Home Mobility for Aging in Place

“Aging in place” refers to seniors who want to enjoy the security and independence that comes with living by themselves in their own houses for as long as they can. Opting to do this is becoming quite common. AARP reports that 87 percent of seniors would prefer to live out their golden years in their own homes. Doing so can often mean changing your front door’s accessibility, adding grab bars throughout the house and making modifications to your shower and tub areas.

One of the most significant concerns about older adults living by themselves as they age is the increased risk of falling and injuring themselves. Millions of seniors go to the emergency room every year due to falls. Because many people do not want to risk going up and down stairs when they grow older, they end up selling their two-story dream homes and moving into single-story houses where they no longer have to climb stairs.

Adding a home elevator is an alternative mobility option that can allow you to stay in your home — while also being less costly than moving into a one-story home of the same size. Moving to a whole new home instead of staying in your current home often comes with financial, logistical and emotional costs.

2. Increases the Resale Value of Your Home

Installing an elevator in your home can significantly boost its resale value. Prospective buyers are often drawn to homes with elevator access, as they are also thinking about the future and if and when their mobility may be limited.

Even if you do not plan to take advantage of the equity your home elevator offers, you can still consider the positive boost it brings to your home’s value.

3. Fits With Home Decor and Style

Conveniently, your residential elevator finishes can match the rest of your home, including the trim, flooring and door, which can look just like the other doors in your home.

With the door closed, the call button may be the only hint that there’s an elevator behind it.

How Do You Choose a Residential Elevator?

Finding the perfect home elevator requires you to make many decisions, including the right manufacturer and vendor, the right drive system and the right style for every component.

steps to choosing a residential elevator

Step 1: Find the Right Manufacturer and Dealer

Connecting with a manufacturer and vendor early in your process sets you up for a successful project from the start. Partnering with a reliable vendor means you can rely on them to guide you through customization options and give you a pretty accurate cost estimate. Knowing your budget and what options will work with your budget is another way a professional, reputable vendor can serve as your buyer guide for a home elevator.

When shopping for a reliable residential elevator brand and dealer to perform your elevator installation, choose one that is:

  • Reputable: Read customer reviews of home elevator manufacturers in your area, read contractor listings and ask previous customers for references. The more positive testimonials you receive from past customers, the more confident you’ll feel about your choice. Pick a reputable manufacturer that has a history in the industry.
  • Experienced: Again, confirm they’ve been in business for many years. Home elevator manufacturing and installation requires that many local and national safety codes are met — which means experience is critical. One good indication that a business is experienced is that it belongs to professional organizations such as the Association of Members of the Accessibility Industry (AEMA) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The NAHB provides a designation known as Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS), which means that the representative from the domestic elevator company is well-versed in the modifications required for homeowners who want to age in place.
  • Customizable: When looking for a home elevator, regardless of whether it’s for a new house under construction or an existing home, you’re searching for a special new addition to your home. You’ll want your elevator to blend seamlessly with the house around it, so you’ll want every detail to be right — including the flooring, cab material, lighting and gate. The more customization options available to you for each elevator component, the more likely you can design an elevator that matches your house perfectly.

One important feature to look for is the maintenance or repair service plans offered by the company or vendor, and what those plans cover. While a total break is unlikely, knowing you can get reliable, trustworthy and quick service should you have an emergency repair need is a valuable offering. If you install a home elevator and come to depend on it for mobility and access between the floors of your home, having it out of commission becomes more than a minor inconvenience. Preventing more substantial repairs can best be done by regular tune-ups and maintenance. Catching potential problems early often leads to reduced repair costs because you are focusing on proactive maintenance instead of reactive repairs. And even before you get to a repair stage, knowing you’ve selected a professional who can install the elevator safely and properly — in the right location in your home and with features and sizing appropriate for your space — helps ensure efficient and safe functionality for many years of use.

Look up your manufacturer in the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB is considered to be an unbiased source of information on the reliability of local businesses and has information on over three million organizations in North America. The BBB’s job is not to assess the quality of a business’s services or products or recommend one company over another. Instead, its role is to make information about businesses available to consumers. By looking up your manufacturer and dealer in the BBB, you can find out whether or not they respond promptly and satisfactorily to the complaints of their customers, whether they’ve ignored or mistreated them and whether they’ve received BBB accreditation.

The installation of a home elevator is a process that professionals should perform — it requires the coordination of multi-disciplinary tradespeople and proficiency in various code requirements. By hiring a licensed, experienced elevator technician, you can be sure that your home elevator installation will meet all local and national codes, which is necessary for your safety.

Step 2: Choose a Cab Style That Matches Your Home Style and Decor Preferences

The next step you want to take when building your elevator is picking the perfect cab style.

inclinator offers five custom configurations to their home elevators

At Inclinator, we offer five configurations that you can customize to suit your tastes and meet your needs:

  • 100 Cab: The 100 Cab style features walls that you can paint any color you wish to match the decor of your home. It also comes with a white ceiling and high-quality laminate flooring with a beautiful wood finish.
  • 200 Cab: Featuring hardwood walls, which add texture and warmth to the elevator, the 200 Cab style is available with both light and dark styles.
  • 300 Cab: Available in dark or light wood and with decorative molding — including a chair rail, picture frame, baseboard and crown — the 300 Cab offers an elegant appearance. Various wood grains are also available, making it easy to match the decor of your home.
  • 400 Cab: The luxurious 400 Cab features solid rich wood with decorative molding, trim and panels. 2-panel and 4-panel designs are also available, as well as a vast array of custom accessories and finishes.
  • 500 Cab: The modern 500 Cab stands out for its clean lines, maximum visibility and elegant appearance. Its aluminum frame comes in white, black and silver.

All Inclinator Cabs are compatible with our offered drive systems.

Step 3: Pick the Right Drive System Based on Your Available Space and Location

Although you often don’t see it, your drive system powers your elevator and is one of its most essential components.

Drive systems usually fall into one of the following categories: hydraulic or cable. The drive system you choose depends on what you need and how your home is laid out. Make sure to speak with your dealer, builder or architect to figure out which system is most suitable for your home.

Hydraulic Elevators

A hydraulic elevator pumps hydraulic fluid through a valve into the hydraulic arm’s cylinder. Then, the fluid’s pressure causes a piston to rise, pushing the elevator up with it. Rides are smooth, and quiet.

Hydraulic elevators need space for a reservoir and hydraulic pump and need to be serviced and maintained more frequently — maintenance usually involves making sure the hydraulic fluid level is appropriate, the electric pump stays in good condition and the valves allow for proper flow of the hydraulic fluid.

Cable Elevators

Cable-driven elevators use a motor and drum unit, which is found at the top of the shaft, and two cables, which are connected to the drums to transport the cab. The purpose of the drums is to wind up the cable to pull up the cab and spool the cable out to let it down. The motor turning the drums is controlled by a variable-frequency drive, which can control the speed of the elevator smoothly.

Cable elevators have dimensions that are similar to those of a hydraulic elevator, but they don’t a large space for a machine room.

Here are some of the specifications for the drive systems we offer at Inclinator:

  • Elevette® Cable Drum: The Elevette Cable Drum uses a space-saving monorail-guiding system and is the most compact drive system we offer. It’s also quieter than any other cable drum elevator available today and can serve up to six landings.
  • Elevette® Hydraulic: This hydraulic drive system features our patented HydraRide system and provides a quiet, smooth ride. It uses considerably less fluid than other brands of hydraulic elevators.
  • Elevette® MRL Overhead Cable Drum: This cable drum drive system was designed for a smooth, quiet ride and runs on two guide rails that are custom-formed, enhancing the elevator’s stability. This drive is highly suitable for split-level homes, as it features the lowest minimum distance required between floors. As well the MRL does not require a machine room.

drive systems for your home elevator

The ability to choose any one of our drive systems for your elevator install means you have yet another way to truly customize your home elevator and pick a system that works best with your home configuration, budget and preferences.

Step 4: Select a Gate and Door Configuration

To customize your home elevator, one of the simplest decisions you need to make is picking a safety gate, which comes in many colors and materials. You also need to choose the number of openings in your elevator so you can accommodate the traffic patterns in your house.

At Inclinator, our residential elevators are designed to accommodate one or two openings and are available in a maximum of 18 configurations. We build our elevators to adhere to the strictest safety standards, and our fold gates are no exception. In fact, our home elevators won’t even operate if the gate isn’t completely closed and free of obstructions.

Our gates have been styled to complement the style of your cab and your home. For this reason, we offer a wide variety of accordion and collapsible gate styles. Our accordion fold gates even come with automatic gate operators to make them safer and easier to use.

Step 5: Finalize Your Home Elevator Customizations

customize the interior of your cab

Inclinator is proud to offer the most customizable elevators of any brand on the market. We provide options for every single aspect of your cab, so it’ll be easy to get creative with your design.

Below are examples of the options we offer for each component of your cab:

  • Walls: Your elevator walls can be customized with practically any wood finish that you can imagine. These include everything from the popular hardwoods to the most exotic varieties. Although most of our cabs are finished in our factory, you can choose to have them delivered unfinished so that you can finish it on site.
  • Floors: Our elevators all include high-quality laminate floors with wood grain simulation. You can also choose to have the flooring unfinished so that you can finish it yourself.
  • Ceilings: The 100 Cab comes with a white standard laminate ceiling, and for our 200, 300 and 400 cabs, you can choose between a white or wood ceiling, allowing you to match the wood on the elevator walls.
  • Handrails: For the handrails, you can choose between round metal or decorative wood. Many different finishes are also available.
  • Lights: By default, your elevator will be lit up with two lights, although you can add more if necessary.
  • Operation Panels: For your hall station and cab operating panel, you have a choice between one of three finishes. Raised and flushed styles are available.

lights in your elevator

Tips for Shopping for a Home Elevator

When it comes time to pick out the perfect home elevator, here are few useful pointers:

  • Request an in-home consultation: As mentioned above, the most suitable elevator for your home in part depends on the layout of your home. Have a representative from the company come to your home and determine which elevator type is most suitable for your space.

match your cab to your home's style

  • Match an elevator to your home’s style: Before deciding on the style of your elevator, make sure to identify the style of your home. Is it modern or traditional? Romantic or vintage? Regardless of what the style is, make sure that your home elevator matches or complements it. For instance, do you want a modern appearance, and would a glass shaft with metal trim work best? Perhaps solid wood with recessed or raised panels is a excellent option for the foyer of your colonial-style home.

find an inclinator dealer to install a home elevator

Order Your Home Elevator From an Inclinator Dealer Today

Inclinator manufactures the industry’s safest, most reliable and most customizable home elevators — allowing them to fit into practically any space with a high degree of precision.

But Inclinator isn’t just the leading manufacturer of customizable elevators — it was also the first to bring them to American homeowners. For almost a century, we’ve been providing American-made residential elevators to homes across the country — and plan to continue to do so for many years to come.

As every one of our elevators is crafted individually with great skill, customizing your elevator is simple and worry-free. Home elevators are a valuable investment, and the increase in home value that results is often greater than the costs of installing the elevator. And when the time comes to sell it, a home elevator will allow you to sell it to a bigger market.

Browse the styles and resources on our site, find an Inclinator dealer today or contact us with any questions.

How to Make Home Wheelchair Accessible

how to make your home wheelchair accessible

You can improve the accessibility of your home with minor modifications. Many updates do not require drastic changes to your home’s appearance. Make sure you cover all the areas that need modification with this wheelchair accessibility through this checklist.

Steps to Make a Home Wheelchair Friendly

A wheelchair-friendly home allows a person in a wheelchair to go through their daily routine as efficiently as possible. You can hire someone to make these changes or take a DIY approach, depending on your level of home improvement skills.

steps to make home wheelchair accessible

Applying universal design principles to your home will ensure everyone, including wheelchair users, can use the home for years to come. As the name suggests, universal design principles create spaces for everyone, regardless of height, ability or age. Universal design can help people to remain in their homes even as they age.

The major areas that need changes include doorways, corridors, stairs, kitchens and bathrooms. Focusing on these places maximizes the mobility around the home for the wheelchair user and others. For all these areas, always measure the alterations to ensure they meet recommended guidelines for accessibility.

Making your home more accessible increases safety and livability. Just a few changes to the design will be valuable investments in yourself and your home.

How to Make Doorways Wheelchair Friendly

Making your doorways more accessible may require you to expand the space. Doorways need to be wide enough to ensure ample space for a wheelchair to maneuver through openings. Some codes require 34-inch-wide exterior doors and 32-inch-wide interior doors. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires doorways to have a minimum of 32 inches of width with the door open. Always check with your local building regulations before beginning any remodeling projects.

Standard doorway widths may not fulfill minimum accessibility requirements. For example, while the International Residential Code mandates 36-inch-wide by 80-inch-tall opening for the main entry door, these measurements do not apply to the back or side doors. Commonly found exterior doors measure anywhere between 28 inches and 32 inches. You may need to widen the back or side door of your home.

Inside the home, standard doors for hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms measure 34 inches wide. However, half-bath doors generally are much narrower, with a distance between 25 and 30 inches wide. Small doorways will need widening because their existing width is too small for a wheelchair to maneuver through them.

If you need to resize the door openings, you will have to remove the existing frame as well as the door. When cutting a new doorway, add two inches to the door width you want to add to account for the size of the frame. For example, if you need to install 32-inch-wide doors, cut the opening to 34 inches wide.

When widening doorways, also look at the new doors you will install and their hardware. The ADA outlines requirements to make businesses and public places fully accessible to all. Included in these guidelines are instructions for doors and doorways. Doors should not have hardware that requires twisting or firm gripping. Replace doorknobs with handles that a person can open single-handedly. For example, lever handles are easier to open than knobs.

Thresholds across doorways need to have a rounded surface to allow a wheelchair to smoothly pass over them. Do not build thresholds higher than 1/2-inch to adhere to ADA regulations. The exception to this rule is for sliding glass doors leading to the outside, which may have a maximum height of 3/4-inch for the threshold.

Widening doorways makes your home more accessible, but you will need to make additional modifications throughout the rest of the home, especially for multi-story buildings that may require wheelchair access to upper floor bedrooms and other spaces.

How to Make the Whole Home Wheelchair Friendly

To make the rest of the home accessible, you must examine hallway widths and how you will get people and goods to the second floor. Check the lighting levels throughout the home in all rooms. Do not allow light to cast shadows along corridors or in the moving spaces of rooms. Exchange incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. These lights will last longer and offer more light while using less electricity, so you can choose higher wattages for increased brightness in darker areas.

Universal design principles recommend corridors measure at least 36 inches wide. Keep the floor clear of obstacles and do not allow any furnishings to impede movement. This means tables and bookcases must still allow for at least three feet of maneuverable space on the floor along the entire length of every corridor or hallway.

To facilitate the movement of wheelchair wheels over the flooring, replace all carpeting and throw rugs that could bunch and catch wheels with smoother options. Hardwood floors, ceramic tile, laminate flooring or vinyl can make using a wheelchair easier through the home. Reassess the flooring throughout the home, not just in the hallways. Bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and corridors all need smooth flooring.

In addition to moving throughout each floor of the home, you also must consider means to move between levels. Home elevators fit into almost any home design and provide a safe, convenient way to move in a wheelchair to another level. Dumbwaiters raise items between floors, making daily chores easier.

home elevators for wheelchairs

1. Home Elevators for Wheelchairs

Home elevators offer several benefits over other means of changing floors. Unlike stair lifts, elevators can fit inside an easily hidden closet. They also have numerous customization options, while you cannot alter the appearance of stair lifts. Because anyone can use an elevator, adding one increases the value of the home; however, a stair lift does not raise your home’s value. Stair lifts also impede progress up the stairway for those who choose to walk.

You have three choices for the drive system of your elevator, depending on the availability of space. All three systems — cable drum, hydraulic and MRL overhead cable drum — offer similar safety features such as an overrun switch, emergency battery lowering and a self-diagnostic processor.

The differences between these drive systems include the amount of space the motor requires and how far the elevator can move. Cable drum systems take up the least amount of space and operate the quietest. MRL overhead cable drums have the smallest space between floors, making them ideal for split-level homes or those with half-stories. Hydraulic systems from Inclinator use much less fluid than competitors. All three elevator types have similar speeds of 40-feet per minute and reach up to six stories.

To customize the elevator, you choose from five cab styles and 18 cab configurations, including the gate type and the number of openings. These gates are safety features, holding the occupant securely inside until the elevator reaches the desired floor.

A home elevator enhances mobility for those who use wheelchairs as well as everyone else in the home. Unlike stair lifts, home elevators provide a more universal accessibility option for all people.

2. Dumbwaiters

Carrying food, laundry or other goods throughout the home becomes easier with dumbwaiters. Our residential models from Inclinator support up to 120 pounds and make as many as four stops. A dumbwaiter runs off your home’s electricity using a standard 120-volt power source, and you can choose the style of the exterior door to match the décor of the home.

Dumbwaiters have a fascinating history that highlights these appliances’ usefulness. These devices originated as hand-powered lifts to move merchandise, ore and similar goods from basements and mines to upper levels. Later, these lifts migrated to the homes of the wealthy where they moved food from the kitchen to dining areas. They served the same purpose in restaurants where they silently brought food to the level of patrons, giving them their outdated name of dumbwaiters.

Though many have forgotten the origin of the name, the dumbwaiter still performs the same task in homes today. Instead of using manual power, though, electricity automatically moves the loads between floors. While older versions had weight limits based on what the user could hoist, today’s dumbwaiters can carry up to 120 pounds in homes, and even more for commercial models.

Install a dumbwaiter between the basement and kitchen to bring groceries up. You can use it to move dirty clothes from an upper floor bathroom down to the laundry room. Once washed, dried and folded, you can move the cleaned towels and clothes back upstairs via the dumbwaiter.

A dumbwaiter allows a person in a wheelchair to move items between floors without needing to worry about trying to balance them on their lap. These devices also make moving things between floors safer for those who use the stairs. Children and others will have less chance of tripping if they have both hands free to hold the stair rail instead of carrying things in their arms.

How to Make Home Entrances Wheelchair Accessible

You must do more than just make the exterior door accessible when it comes to making the front wheelchair friendly. You need to have a way to get from the driveway to the front, side and back doors either walking, from a wheelchair or using any type of mobility aid.

Ensure footpaths are flat and smooth the entire extent and have a width to accommodate wheelchairs. Replace gravel or paving stone walkways with smooth concrete or continuous outdoor tiles. You will also need a way to reach the door since most homes have a door built higher than the front lawn.

While you can build a ramp, you must use the lowest slope possible and make it at least 36 inches wide to accommodate a wheelchair. Depending on the rise the ramp needs to make, it could be extremely long. A more space-saving option is adding a wheelchair lift.

Select a wheelchair lift based on the vertical distance it needs to cover. For instance, our Inclinator Serenity standard model has lifting heights of 28, 52, 72 and 105 inches. The premium version offers lift heights of 52, 72 and 105 inches. Like our elevators, these lifts have several features to ensure their continued reliability and safety.

Both models have an emergency stop that includes an alarm to alert others that the user needs assistance. Additionally, the ramps on both models fold up automatically to hold the user safely inside. The premium model automatically detects objects under the lift and stop the device from descending.

How to Make Bathrooms and Kitchens Wheelchair Friendly

The hardest working places in the home are the kitchen and bathroom. Making these rooms wheelchair friendly may cost the least and be the easiest because accessories to adapt these spaces are not expensive and are readily available.

bathroom upgrades for wheelchair accessibility

Inside the bathroom, install grab bars for the tub, shower and toilet. The bars will likely require you to reinforce the walls because they must hold at least 250 pounds, regardless of the weight of the user. Though bathrooms, especially half baths, are small rooms, ensure at least a 30-by-48-inch clear space on the floor for a wheelchair to move around in.

Depending on the wheelchair user’s level of mobility, consider a roll-in shower that allows the user to get inside the shower stall from their chair. A handheld showerhead makes it easier to bathe when seated.

Raise the toilet seat and lower the sink to improve accessibility. If the sink uses knobs, replace them with easy-to-use handles that do not require gripping strength to turn. Don’t forget to make similar changes to the kitchen sink. While focusing on plumbing, lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature saves energy while preventing scald burns, especially in children or those who cannot quickly move away from the water stream.

In the kitchen, allow for multiple users by lowering several work surfaces to allow for those in a wheelchair to use them, but leave other working areas for standing users. Have at least one sink in the kitchen at a working height for someone in a wheelchair. Consider a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer unit to allow for access to both sides while seated. Choose a stovetop with controls on the front for easier use.

Making a home wheelchair accessible also makes it easier for everyone to move through it. With additions such as home elevators and dumbwaiters, you will also increase the home’s value. Greater value for a home that adapts to everyone’s needs is a combination that benefits all those in the home.

inclinator can help make home wheelchair accessible

Find the Components You Need to Improve Mobility at Home

Specialty components, such as elevators and dumbwaiters, require finding knowledgeable dealers who stock quality brands. If you want to incorporate an Inclinator elevator, lift or dumbwaiter into your home, find a dealer near you. For a multi-story home, safe and reliable lift systems that help with the mobility of people and items should be priorities for making your home wheelchair friendly.