Comparing Drive System Options for Your Home Elevator

Elevette® home elevators have more standard features and custom options than any other home elevator brand, and that’s why we’re so proud of our banner product here at Inclinator. We also know that navigating all the customization possibilities for your new home elevator can be overwhelming.

While choosing design features and finishes for your elevator’s cab and exterior may be fun, there are also numerous mechanical and operating system-type elements to consider. And for those of us “non-techy” people, making decisions about how a new home elevator will work mechanically doesn’t seem all that exciting, though it is essential.

To make the process easier, today we’re taking a closer look at one of the primary “behind the scenes” options you’ll need to select before installation of your new Elevette home elevator can begin — the drive system. There are three distinct home elevator drive system options from which you can choose.

While each offers similar travel speeds and can be used with all Inclinator Elevette cab styles, features within your existing home or upcoming construction projects may affect the choices available to you. You may also simply prefer one configuration over the others once you have all the information.

1. Cable Drum Drive System

Compact is the name of the game with our popular cable drum drive system. This system features an electric motor and gearbox that wind and unwind heavy-duty cables to move the car up or down safely. Our cable drum home elevator is built around a patented, space-saving monorail guide. Additionally, it is powered by a proprietary controller with serial communication and a high-tech self-diagnostic microprocessor.

The Elevette cable drum elevator offers smooth starts and stops, along with numerous advanced safety features. The winding drum drive system can accommodate up to six landings and allows you to travel up to 50 vertical feet in your home at speeds of up to 40 feet per minute. It is also extremely flexible and allows for smaller capacity configurations of up to 500 pounds with a 12 square feet cab, or larger cab sizes of up to 15 square feet with a 1,000-pound capacity.

The cable drum elevator drive system requires additional machine room space to house the hoisting machinery and equipment outside of the elevator’s shaftway. Many customers ask why a machine room is necessary for this equipment. The main reason is that it provides easy access to components for repairs and maintenance by professional technicians. By housing the machine outside the hoistway, you also get a quieter elevator ride.

Don’t worry — a machine room does not have to be very large. Approximately four by four feet is usually adequate. This installation is easier to plan for if your home is being designed for initial construction than retrofitted with an elevator. However, you might be surprised where a machine room can fit within your existing floor plan.

Our cable drum elevators come with various safety features, including battery-powered emergency lowering, cab gate and door safety devices, two Type-A safety devices, an overrun switch and a slack cable disconnect mechanism. Planning guides, specification sheets and drawings are available for download to help you and your building contractor or architect include an Elevette with a cable drum drive system in your home.

Some of the advantages of a cable drum drive system are:

  • It’s flexible regarding capacity, cab size and more.
  • It’s relatively easy to install.
  • It offers advanced safety features.

The potential drawbacks include:

  • It requires a separate machine room.
  • It’s not as quiet or smooth of a ride as with a hydraulic drive system.
  • It requires slightly more maintenance than hydraulic systems.

2. Hydraulic Drive System

Our hydraulic drive system has many similarities to our cable drum system, but it uses a hydraulic ram and piston to move the car up and down. Hydraulic systems offer an exceptionally quiet and smooth ride. Elevette hydraulic drive elevators are powered by our patented HydraRide system, which uses substantially less hydraulic fluid than the systems other elevator brands use.

Like our cable drive system, the Elevette hydraulic system features a monorail guiding system and a proprietary control system that features serial communication and a self-diagnostic microprocessor. The drive system, including our lightweight and corrosion-resistant hydraulic tank, must also be housed in a machine room. This setup enables easier access to the drive system components for maintenance and repairs — although these systems are relatively low-maintenance.

Our hydraulic elevators allow you to travel up to 50 vertical feet at up to 40 feet per minute and access up to six landings. They have a 1,000-pound capacity with a cab size of up to 15 square feet — or more if codes accommodate it. You can use our hydraulic drive system with all Inclinator cab styles.

Our hydraulic system includes safety features, such as emergency battery lowering, cab gate and door safety devices, two Type-A safety mechanisms and an overrun switch. You can download planning guides, specification sheets and drawings from our website.

Some of the reasons to choose a hydraulic drive system include:

  • It operates quietly and smoothly.
  • It’s relatively easy to maintain and repair.
  • It offers advanced safety features.

Some of the potential disadvantages of a hydraulic system are:

  • It requires a separate machine room.
  • Its installation is slightly more involved than that of a cable drum drive system.
  • It uses more energy.
  • It requires hydraulic fluid.

3. MRL Overhead Cable Drum Drive System

If you take many of the features of our standard cable drum drive system and eliminate the need for a machine to house system components, you get our MRL overhead cable drum drive system. MRL stands for machine room-less.

Thanks to advances in elevator motor technology that enable reduced electric motor size, the mechanicals for this elevator drive system are located above the elevator cab, directly in the shaftway, rather than in a machine room. Eliminating the need for a machine room can be especially useful for people with smaller homes, such as townhouses.

Our MRL overhead cable drum drive system also features a dual guide rail setup, which provides increased stability and a smoother ride. The system’s three-horsepower motor is also sufficiently powerful yet quiet. You also get the same proprietary control system with this style as you do with our other home elevator drive systems.

The minimum distance between floors for the overhead cable drum drive system is only 12 inches, which makes the system perfect for split-level homes. It requires over eight feet of space for overhead distance, but this number is slightly flexible, depending on your elevator’s top speed capabilities. For a standard cab at 40 feet per minute, the required overhead distance is eight feet, nine inches. At 30 feet per minute, it is eight feet, six inches. The required pit depth is only eight inches.

The system offers a travel distance of up to 40 feet and speeds of up to 40 feet per minute. It can accommodate up to six landings and has a capacity of 1,000 pounds with up to 15 square feet — or more, if code allows it.

It comes with numerous safety features, including emergency battery lowering, cab gate and door safety devices, two Type-A safety instruments and an overrun switch. You can access planning guides, specification sheets and drawings on our website.

The advantages of MRL overhead cable drum drive systems include:

  • It doesn’t require a separate machine room.
  • It’s ideal for smaller homes and split-level homes.
  • It uses less energy than other systems.
  • It offers advanced safety features.

Some potential disadvantages of these systems include:

  • Maintenance and repairs may be more difficult due to the lack of a control room.
  • Its travel distance is lower.
  • It’s noisier because the motor is attached to the elevator.

Reliable Home Elevators From Inclinator

At Inclinator, we have almost a century of experience providing our customers with safe, reliable home elevators. All our home elevators come standard with various safety features and devices, including emergency lighting and battery-powered lowering that will come to the rescue if you’re using your lift during a power outage. Cab gate and door safety devices are built-in. All our elevators meet or exceed the requirements of ASME A17.3, the international safety standard for residential elevators.

Our elevators can be custom-designed to fit seamlessly into your new or existing home. With a two-year limited warranty on all of our Elevette models, no matter how you choose to customize or configure them, you can feel confident your home elevator is worth the investment.

Here at Inclinator, we believe that every customer and home is unique. Working closely with your local Inclinator dealer, as well as coordinating with architects and building contractors, is the best way to make informed choices. Doing so will ensure you get the most out of your investment, with expert advice through the entire journey of purchasing, installing and using your home elevator. We encourage you to find your local dealer for guidance through the decision-making process as you plan for and customize your new home elevator.


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