If your commercial space is above a certain size, or if you have more than a given number of floors, then your local zoning laws may require you to install a commercial elevator. Even if the law doesn’t force the issue, it can still be in your company’s interest to install something more useful than a dumbwaiter or material lift.
Commercial elevators come in a variety of sizes, capacities, and designs, from simple lifts to more elaborate installations, and each has a role to play in making your customers and employees comfortable and safe. That raises the issue of cost, along with the amount of renovation your space needs to accommodate a commercial elevator that’s up to code. While every installation is different, and you can only get a definitive quote from a licensed and certified lift installer, it is possible to get a ballpark idea of how much installing a commercial elevator costs.
Likely Costs of Commercial Elevator Installation
Commercial elevators in most office and retail spaces are typically priced per landing and range between $50,000 and $100,000 (per landing) to install, plus the costs of operation and maintenance. Elevators located in larger buildings (such as those reaching several stories in height) and within businesses that have complex passenger movement needs can cost significantly more. Other potential factors that can elevate investment costs are customized interior elevator decor and additional installation requirements due to age of the building or power supply needs.
But no matter what, the first thing to decide when you’re shopping around for commercial elevators is what type of lift you want. This largely depends on what you need it for. Hauling simple freight up a short distance is a very different task from bringing customers to the top floor of a skyscraper. The type and specifications of the elevator you need vary with the job you need it to do.
Common Types of Commercial Elevators:
- Traction Elevators
- Hydraulic elevators
- Industrial Elevators
Traction elevators are among the most common models used in commercial spaces. These elevators most often use cables and a winch or pulley system to lift and lower them. Some use a heavy counterweight to reduce load on the lift mechanism. These components are sometimes housed in a machine room at the top of the elevator shaft. Models that do not use this space for machinery are called machine roomless (MRL) elevators.
Traction elevators are fast, smooth and very reliable, making them ideal for passenger and customer use. They’re relatively quiet, and you have your pick of models and decor. Most traction elevators are heavily over-engineered for safety, using between six and eight cables to ensure total safety for the passengers inside. Though a traction elevator can rise as fast as 500 feet a minute, most are limited to just 250 feet (or around 25 floors).
Hydraulic lift elevators use a hydraulic piston to raise and lower their load, which may be inside an enclosed cab or on an open platform. Hydraulic units need a pump and piston to do their work, which usually means you need a pit underneath the elevator to house these components. Hydraulic lifts can usually carry heavy loads short distances, almost always fewer than eight floors, and move at around 200 feet a minute. They can be noisy, which makes them less than ideal for use with the public.
While hydraulic elevators tend to be less expensive to install than other models, it is important to note that they can be more expensive to operate and maintain. This is largely because of the energy it takes to pump the hydraulic fluid against gravity and the entire system has to remain fully pressurized in order to prevent leaks.
Industrial elevators use basically three mechanisms to lift their payloads: climbing, hoist and incline. Climbing lifts vary somewhat in their design, but all carry their lift machinery attached to the cab or platform. This can save a lot of space in confined areas, though it tends to limit capacity, since all of the weight has to be carried by the mechanism.
Hoist and incline elevators are popular choices in warehouses and on loading docks. These models use leverage and counterweight systems to lift very heavy payloads, though they are not generally suitable for indoor or public-facing applications. It is common for hoists to slide or roll along inclined planes rather than to lift straight up vertically. This helps distribute heavy load weights and massively increases the maximum capacity of the unit. Because of the industrial nature of these systems, they are not generally accessible to the public. Even employees at a job site may not be allowed to ride in an incline elevator, since many of them are rated only for cargo. Hoist and incline models may be permanently installed in a location, or they may be highly mobile, as with units used by construction companies.
Planning to Install a Commercial Elevator?
While you can roughly estimate, each installation has so many unique factors that affect pricing so it’s best to work with a licensed and certified consultant. Day Elevator & Lift offers free consultations and quotes for property owners who are thinking about installing a new commercial elevator in their office or industrial space.
Call us today at (800) 758-5438 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with a professional installer, schedule an inspection and get an estimate to install your new commercial elevator.