Stairs are the most common way to connect different levels in a building, but they can be a frustrating barrier to people with disabilities or mobility challenges. If you’re seeking an effective way to improve accessibility in a low-rise commercial or residential building in New York or New Jersey, consider installing a LULA, or /Limited Application elevator.
LULA elevators offer more features than a wheelchair lift, but are smaller and cover shorter distances than a conventional elevator. These compact elevators are an ideal choice for smaller, low-occupancy buildings such as schools, libraries, and churches.
What’s a LULA Elevator?
LULA elevators are similar to a commercial passenger elevator but are smaller in size. They’re fully automatic with enclosed cabins and horizontal, sliding doors. They can be integrated into existing two- or three-story structures to make them more accessible or incorporated into design plans of new construction.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers sets out requirements for LULA elevators in the Handbook on Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. As outlined in the code, LULA elevators are limited in their use and application to:
- Vertical travel of up to 25 feet, which is suitable for low-rise buildings
- Speeds of up to 30 feet per minute
- Capacity of 1,400 pounds — in comparison, a wheelchair lift has a capacity of between 450 and 750 pounds, depending on whether it’s a vertical lift or installed on a staircase rail
LULA elevators are designed for wheelchair accessibility and not general public use.
Why Choose a LULA Elevator?
When you don’t have the space, need, or budget for a full-sized elevator but want more features than a wheelchair lift, LULA elevators are a smart, cost-effective solution.
LULA Elevators Take Up Less Space Than a Commercial Elevator
The maximum floor space in a LULA elevator car is 18 square feet. The actual measurements vary according to the model you choose, but typical platform dimensions are 48 inches by 54 inches, 42 inches by 60 inches or 51 inches by 51 inches for a 90 degree configuration.
LULA elevators are more compact than conventional elevators and operate with less shaft room. They have modest installation requirements, including:
- Pit depth of 14 inches below the lowest landing — a commercial elevator requires a pit depth of 4 feet
- Overheard clearance of 114 inches above the top landing for existing buildings and 134 inches for new construction
This type of elevator also uses less machine room space as it’s limited in the speed and distance it travels.
LULA Elevators Are Cost-Efficient
LULA elevators are an affordable accessibility solution for many construction projects. They’re more economical than a passenger elevator in terms of initial cost, installation, and long-term maintenance.
- Construction requirements are less intricate because of shallower pit depth and overhead clearance.
- Hoistways, or elevator shafts, can be made of wood or drywall instead of concrete, helping to reduce costs.
- Hoisting beams are not required.
- Hydraulic cylinders are placed on the pit floor and don’t require excavation. Commercial elevators require hydraulic cylinders to extend underground.
- Elevator maintenance is required every six months, compared to monthly maintenance of a commercial elevator.
Features of a LULA Elevator
Brand name manufacturers such as Savaria, Garaventa Lift and Wurtec make LULA elevators that are ADA-compliant and meet national and state codes. Our experts can help you choose a product that fits with the architecture of your building and comes equipped with options that meet your particular needs.
Although a LULA elevator has less involved installation requirements than a commercial elevator, the safety and comfort of passengers remain a priority. These products offer the same standard user features and professional styling as a commercial high-rise elevator.
Emergency and Safety Features
Elevators are safe and reliable but can occasionally be disrupted by a power failure. Here are some of the major safety features found in LULA elevators to ensure the security of passengers.
- Door sensors that alert passengers if an obstruction is blocking the doorway or to prevent doors from closing if extra time is required for loading or unloading
- Stop button in case of emergency
- Call button to request assistance
- Emergency battery-powered or manual lowering system to help safely evacuate passengers at the lowest level in case of power failure
- Emergency lighting to illuminate the cab during an electrical outage
- Hands-free ADA phone
While most LULA elevators have the same basic safety components, design details vary by model. Make an appointment to visit our showroom in West Hempstead, New York, to see what options are available and customize a LULA elevator to suit your needs.
Here are some common features offered by different manufacturers.
- Two-speed, horizontal sliding car doors that open and close automatically
- Floor selection buttons that light up when pressed
- Automatic control
- Key control when needed
- Audio/visual car direction and floor indicators
- Energy-saving lights that activate when passengers are in the elevator and turn off when the cab is not in use
- Braille markings on control panel to allow for tactile reading by visually impaired passengers
- Stainless steel handrail for safety and convenience
- Attractive recessed ceiling lights
- Hydraulic drive system for a smooth, quiet ride
LULA elevators have a functional purpose but are also attractively designed to integrate into any professional, commercial, or residential space. Choose from a variety of finishings for the interior cabin and doors to complement your decor, such as steel panels or laminate in assorted colors and textures.
The architecture of your building impacts the layout of your elevator. You may need passengers to load and unload on different sides depending on where the elevator is situated and available space. LULA elevators offer multiple configurations to fit your needs.
- Entry and exit through the same doors
- Entry and exit through opposite doors
- 90º exits to the left or right of the entry
What Kind of Buildings Use a LULA Elevator?
LULA elevators offer accessibility solutions for a variety of low-rise buildings in New York and New Jersey.
- Schools: Students, teachers, and staff with disabilities can use a LULA elevator to move easily between classrooms, libraries, and computer rooms on different floors.
- Places of worship: Congregants who have difficulty climbing stairs can access vestries, Sunday school rooms, offices, social halls, kitchens, and restrooms on different levels.
- Municipal Buildings such as Libraries, community centers, and small galleries or museums: Patrons can access exhibits, collections, meeting rooms and services on upper and lower floors of buildings without requesting staff assistance.
- Condominium, multifamily housing, and small care homes: Residents and visitors can move independently between the lobby, second- or third-floor apartments, community lounges, and other amenities.
- Restaurants and pubs: Customers can use a LULA elevator to travel to a restaurant on an upper or lower floor of a building. Some establishments may also have dining areas and bars on separate landings.
- Boutique hotels, small offices, and retail or medical buildings: LULA elevators are an efficient, attractive way to improve access in many low-rise structures and provide a welcoming environment to people of all abilities.
Work With Our Team of Experts to Install and Maintain Your LULA Elevator
LULA elevators offer space-saving, budget-friendly solutions for existing architecture and new construction. There are many factors to consider when choosing an elevator, and Day Elevator and Lift can help select the right product for your space and make sure it’s installed to code.
Once your elevator is up and running, you can depend on us for ongoing service and maintenance to ensure safety and optimal performance. We have a 24-hour customer support line and emergency service.
Contact us online or call toll-free at 1-800-758-5438 to arrange a free consultation with our experts about your specific project requirements.