Picture yourself living in a house that has a private elevator. Does that amenity seem like an extravagance reserved for the wealthy? It doesn’t have to be. Although residential elevators are the most expensive in-home mobility option, they can be a practical upgrade for individuals who want to ensure they can move comfortably and safely between floors at their home.
On another page on our site, we discuss the differences between in-home mobility options. This blog post will expand on that information and focus on the types of residential elevators. We’ll also discuss how to prepare for a residential elevator installation if you choose this product.
Types of Residential Elevators
For people who want to stay at their current residence even while their mobility declines because of aging or illness, residential elevators offer many advantages. Elevators are safe and simple to board and exit. Individuals who use walkers or wheelchairs can often use elevators without assistance from others. Elevators can also increase the value of your home.
If you decide to install an elevator at your home, you’ll likely choose one of the following three types.
Winding Drum Elevator
In this type of elevator, the car moves up and down when a steel cable or rope winds or unwinds around a drum. A counterweight attached to the other end of cable balances the weight of the car and improves the elevator’s efficiency.
The winding drum setup works best for elevators that move at slow speeds between only a few floors. Winding drum elevators were more common during the early 20th century, but this style now mainly occurs in private residential elevators or dumbwaiters.
Rather than using ropes and drums to lift and lower a car, basic hydraulic elevators have a hydraulic ram, or piston. This platform moves up and down within the elevator shaft, moving the car to the desired floor. This design presents a few disadvantages, though, such as the need for a large pit beneath the main elevator shaft.
Because of these design limitations, engineers have come up with more advanced forms of hydraulic elevators. For example, most residential hydraulic elevators are actually roped hydraulic elevators. These elevators use both ropes and hydraulic systems to lift the car. This dual-action lifting mechanism improves the efficiency of the system and makes installation more practical.
Shaft-Less, or Hoistway-Less, Elevators
Some people are wary of installing an elevator because it represents a significant home improvement project. You have to identify an unobstructed area the size of a small room that extends through several floors. The elevator shaft, or hoistway, fits in this area, along with the elevator car and the other mechanical elements. Both winding drum elevators and hydraulic elevators require a hoistway.
If you want an elevator but would prefer a less extensive remodeling process, you can chose a simplified, hoistway-less elevator style. This elevator type looks like a large phone booth. These elevators can only move between two floors, but they take up less space and can typically be put in faster than other elevator types.
Prepare Your Home for an Elevator
Once you settle on which elevator style you want installed in your home, you can take the following steps to prepare for the actual installation:
- Choose the company you’ll work with. Look for a company with a contractor’s license in your state, an elevator constructor’s license, or, ideally, both. Companies with those qualifications can usually perform every step of the elevator construction, including building the elevator shaft and machine room (if required).
- Have your home evaluated. During this phase, the installation crew will examine your house, determine the best place to put the elevator, and draw up plans for your approval. They will also provide a quote on the entire installation.
- Schedule the installation. Depending on what type of elevator you choose, installation could take anywhere from one to eight weeks. Your contractor can give you a more specific estimate and schedule the days when the crew will work at your home.
- Clear the rooms where construction will take place. Before the crew arrives, remove all furniture from the room where the crew will work, or move it out of the way as much as possible. You should also take down anything on the walls and ensure the floors and ceilings where the elevator will be are clear. This step ensures the crew has an open, unobstructed workspace that allows them to work efficiently.
- Keep out of work areas. While construction takes place, keep yourself and your family members away from the work site. This step ensures your own safety and allows construction to proceed on schedule.
If you want to continue living in and enjoying your home despite decreasing mobility, consider adding a residential elevator. Ask a home modification specialist for more information about this beneficial home addition.