5 Basic Considerations When Buying a Home Elevator
Home elevators and lifts help improve mobility for seniors and others who have difficulty moving around in a multilevel dwelling. Whether you’re a wheelchair user or just need assistance getting from room to room in your two-story home, these accessibility devices improve your ability to age in place and make life more comfortable for family members and visiting friends. A home elevator can be installed in both new construction and existing homes.
When you’re searching for a quality residential elevator in the New York area, you have several brands to choose from. Day Elevator & Lift carries models from Savaria, Garaventa Lift, Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators, Wurtec, Nationwide Lift, and Cambridge Elevating, giving you plenty of options. If you’re ready to buy a home elevator, here are five basic considerations you should think about when choosing the right model for your needs:
1. Shaft Location
The shaft of your personal elevator, also known as the hoistway, houses the platform and drive mechanisms. The location of your elevator shaft is one of the first things you need to consider before installing an elevator in your home. Consider how far you need the elevator to travel and make sure you have room on every floor for the shaft and a convenient landing area.
If your home doesn’t have room for a shaft inside, you might need to add it to the exterior of the building. For exterior installation, find an area where the shaft doesn’t obstruct scenic views you enjoy or block natural light coming into your home.
Some home elevator models, such as the Telecab by Savaria, can be set up without a hoistway. Instead of a pit below the elevator floor, the entire apparatus sits on a small platform on the floor. A few steps or a ramp lets you get from the floor to the elevator entry point. For moving smaller distances, such as up a small landing or from the ground to a porch, consider a stair lift as another option.
If you have a large space, such as a grand foyer, you might consider putting a personal elevator in a centralized location in the room instead of along a wall or at the end of a corridor. In a more compact area, you might consider a pneumatic elevator, which uses air to move the cab up and down in the shaft instead of a set of cables and counterweights.
2. Cab Size
The cab of a home elevator is the part that actually moves up and down between floors, so the size of the elevator cab should be large enough to accommodate everyone in your household, including any wheelchair users. In general, cab sizes for personal home elevators are much smaller than commercial elevators.
On some models of personal elevators, the cab size is customizable, so you can choose the exact dimensions you need. Other models are designed to minimize the space that your elevator takes up in the room, but these models often have a smaller cab that doesn’t fit as many people at a time. When looking at cab sizes, also take the weight capacity of the home elevator under consideration, especially if you plan to move medical equipment or bulky items between floors as well as people.
3. Elevator Aesthetics
Decide whether you want your personal elevator to be a noticeable fixture in your home or something that blends into an existing aesthetic. For minimal disruption to your existing home layout, look for an elevator with a door that sits flush against the wall without taking up floor space. A centralized elevator that features a column in the center of a foyer or larger room creates a dramatic visual impact while making access convenient for residents and visitors.
If you opt for a more centralized personal elevator location, you might want to choose an artistic design. Rounded elevators come in a variety of styling options, including models with a traditional birdcage look and glass elevators like Savaria’s Vuelift Home Elevator that let riders enjoy the view while traversing between floors.
Traditional rectangular elevators feature an enclosed interior space, but you might also opt to include a window that lets you see out of the cab during use. Transparent acrylic windows or walls keep you safe while offering a view outside of the cab. Options for interior walls include classic metal, laminate paneling, or hardwood veneer paneling. You can also choose from a variety of door finishes, including exteriors that resemble a household door or classic stainless-steel elevator doors. Automatic lighting that turns on when someone enters the cab provides comfortable illumination and saves energy by not remaining on all the time.
4. Door and Gate Configuration
Personal elevators include a variety of door configuration options. Single-door models offer a compact configuration, ease of use, and an economical design while double doors often offer a wider entryway. Personal elevators with two doors on opposite sides let users enter and exit the cab facing forward without having to turn around or maneuver backward through a single door.
Consider where the doors move when open as well as the size and configuration of the door and gate area. You may need space on each floor for the door (or doors) to move into the wall or along the side of the elevator when opening.
When it comes to door operation, you have a choice of manual or automatic. Automatic sliding doors make operation simple since they open at the touch of a button and close without any manual effort. Manual doors are generally less expensive and include swing doors that open outward or accordion-style doors.
5. Safety Features
Any home elevator you choose should have safety features that protect users from potential harm. Doors and gates need a safety interlock mechanism to keep them closed and latched while the platform is in operation. The doors should only open when the platform is fully stopped at the desired floor. Safety gates at each level prevent anyone from stepping or falling into an empty chute when the cab is not at that level.
Some general safety features in a personal elevator include handrails on the platforms and efficient lighting both inside the cab and at elevator entry points. Under-platform sensors stop the motion of the carriage if there is an obstruction underneath, and a slack chain safety mechanism halts the elevator if the chain tension isn’t at the right level for safe operation. Some models include battery-powered lowering that brings the cab down to the lowest level using a built-in emergency battery if the power in your home goes out.
Your home elevator should also include a manual operation option in case of a power outage or mechanical malfunction. Inside the cab, a two-way communication system or emergency telephone lets you call for help if the elevator stops working. Make sure this emergency communications device is in a place accessible to both standing and seated users.
Regular elevator inspections help ensure that your home accessibility devices are operating properly. Make sure you have your personal elevator inspected annually to detect any potential issues before a safety hazard develops.
Choosing the right home elevator for your needs involves sorting through a lot of different options. Let the professionals at Day Elevator & Lift help you find the best personal elevator for your home. Contact us at (800) 758-5438 or fill out our online contact form for more information about your home elevator options in the New York area. On-call support is available 24 hours a day.