Elevators vs. Dumbwaiters

Elevators vs. Dumbwaiters

If you want to make your home more accessible, consider having an elevator or dumbwaiter installed. A residential elevator transports people up to multiple landings, increasing mobility throughout the house. On the other hand, a residential dumbwaiter carries bulky or heavy household items up different floors, helping you avoid injury and muscle strain during chores. Both lift systems add value to your living space and keep you safe during your daily routine. This guide can help you decide which systems are suitable for your lifestyle.

Dumbwaiter vs. Elevator Use

Each lift system can serve a unique purpose in your home, depending on your mobility and lifestyle needs.

Dumbwaiter Use

You may want to use a dumbwaiter in your home to transport items that are challenging to carry, such as household supplies, groceries, trash bags and boxes of office records. By putting these items in a safe, reliable lift system, you can avoid pulling out your back or falling down the stairs.

A dumbwaiter is useful for the following purposes:

  • Bringing groceries upstairs from your garage to the kitchen counter.
  • Transporting your holiday decorations down from the attic.
  • Carrying wine bottles and cases to or from a cellar.
  • Hauling firewood from the ground level to your indoor fireplace.
  • Bringing laundry from bedrooms to the utility room.

Elevator Use

A residential elevator can carry a few people to another floor in the house, including those who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. By having an elevator in your home, you’ll have a reliable, safe alternative to walking up the stairs.

You may want to install an elevator in your home if you’d like to age in a familiar place instead of moving into a more convenient residence. This system is also helpful if you or someone in your family has physical disabilities that make it difficult to go up the stairs. Even if you suffer from a sprained ankle or sore hip every once in a while, an elevator gives you a safe and healthy way to access your whole house.

Dumbwaiter vs. Elevator Size

Both lift systems are available in custom sizes that can accommodate your home’s available space.

Dumbwaiter Dimensions

We offer dumbwaiters at custom sizes up to 24 inches long, 24 inches wide and 24 inches high, providing you with plenty of space to transport food and other household items. A dumbwaiter is usually about the size of a cardboard box. Its small configuration allows you to access your belongings without straining your back to reach inside.

As you think about where to place your dumbwaiter, keep in mind that you may need to allow a minimum of 6 inches of space for the pit if you want the unit to stop at floor level. If you’re planning on installing it at counter height, you won’t need to worry about leaving pit space.

Elevator Dimensions

Since it has to be big enough to carry at least one person, a residential elevator is much larger than a dumbwaiter. Our elevators are available in several custom sizes to fit within the space you have in your home. Cabs can be up to 15 square feet, and we provide elevators with heights up to 96 inches and widths up to 50 inches. A residential elevator is accessible, with enough space for someone who uses a wheelchair.

As you plan the space in your home for this addition, keep in mind that you’ll also need a pit of 6 to 10 inches, depending on the drive system.

Dumbwaiter vs. Elevator Weight Capacity

Discover how much weight each lift can hold to find out if they can benefit your unique lifestyle.

Dumbwaiter Weight Limit

The Homewaiter® has a 120-pound (54-kilogram) capacity, which is typically more than enough for groceries and laundry. When you’re first getting used to your dumbwaiter, you may want to weigh items and find out what you could put in the lift. To maintain your safety, make sure you adhere to the weight limit and follow what the manufacturer’s instructions suggest. Exceeding the recommended weight capacity could damage your dumbwaiter and reduce its lifespan.

Elevator Weight Limit

An elevator has a sufficient weight capacity for holding several people at once. A 15-square-foot cab can hold up to 1,000 pounds, but one with a 500-pound capacity can be 12 feet at most. However, their exact weight limit depends on the drive system:

  • Cable drum: The Elevette® Cable Drum drive system has a maximum capacity of 1,000 pounds for 15-square-foot cabs and 500 pounds for 12-square-foot cabs.
  • Hydraulic: The Elevette Hydraulic drive system has a maximum capacity of 1,000 pounds for 15-square-foot cabs.
  • MRL overhead cable drum: The Elevette MRL Overhead Cable Drum drive system has a maximum capacity of 1,000 pounds for 15-square-foot cabs or more.

Dumbwaiter vs. Elevator Cost

You can find a dumbwaiter or elevator within your budget. Find out what each system costs before speaking with an authorized dealer.

Dumbwaiter Cost

A dumbwaiter tends to be more affordable than a residential elevator. The exact price varies based on the specific unit, installation location and size. It also depends on the personalized features you wanted to add, such as the number of stops and openings. You might not be able to negotiate the installation or permit costs, but you can speak with a local dumbwaiter dealer to find a product at your price point.

Elevator Cost

An elevator tends to be more expensive than a dumbwaiter because of its size. The cost you’ll pay for your elevator depends on several factors:

  • Custom add-ons: Anything you’d like to customize on your residential elevator could increase the price.
  • Cab style: If you invest in a bigger unit, you’ll have to pay more money.
  • Hoistway: A complex hoistway configuration involving multiple components tends to cost more money than a simple design.
  • Drive system: A hydraulic system is typically more affordable than a traction elevator because it doesn’t use overhead hoisting machinery.
  • Permits and regulations: You may have to pay for the paperwork and inspections required to ensure your unit is up to code.
  • New build or retrofit: If you’re building a brand-new house and want to add an elevator to your floor plan, you may have to pay less money in installation costs than trying to find space for one in an existing property.

Find an Authorized Inclinator Dealer and Installer

Whether you need a dumbwaiter or elevator, we have a vast inventory of safe and reliable residential lifts. We offer designs that fit every home and style preference. Our products are safe to use and comply with local and state regulations. Find a dealer near you to discover the lift system that best suits your home.


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