Basement Elevators

Benefits of Installing a Residential Elevator

Think of the convenience you and your family would experience if your home had a residential elevator to whisk you up a level or down a level. No more carting heavy items down to the basement or up to your attic for storage. Load it onto your residential elevator and the ease of transferring the load is easily appreciated! Having a family gathering and want to utilize the basement? This can cause a problem if you have elderly or disabled relatives. Now, they can easily join in the festivities. In addition, you will experience the convenience of easily transporting food and refreshments.

Residential elevators are not being utilized only for the elderly and disabled. Many homebuilders, architects, and homeowners are consulting with professionals to make space for elevators to be installed during the construction process or even later as the homeowners age. Some homeowners plan ahead for when circumstances may dictate the convenience or necessity of having full access to all areas of the home.

Basement Elevator Residential elevators can be of unique design and do not need to follow commercial codes. They can reflect your own personality.

Residential elevators may only be used in single-family homes. Therefore, they are not suitable to be used in the public space of shared condo units. A commercial elevator would be required for that application. However, having a residential elevator installed in each residential unit is permissible. A residential elevator can increase the home value by approximately 10 percent.

The Basics

Residential elevators cannot be installed by a do-it-yourself homeowner. They must be installed by a licensed installer and must be inspected on a regular basis. The ADA requires that a residential elevator have minimal measurements at least 36" X 48." However, custom-sized elevators have been installed at 30" X 30" and smaller depending on needs and local building code requirements.

Residential elevators are available up to 15 foot square and capacity weights ranging from 500 to 950 pounds. The maximum travel distance is 50 feet and has a possibility of up to six separate stops.

Concerned about operational costs and safety features? Residential elevators are very cost-effective. They only cost pennies a day to operate. The manufacturer you choose will be able to provide a semi-annual or annual estimated operational cost for you based upon the performance of their models. Safety is a major consideration also. The doors/gates are mechanically locked during operation and cannot be opened in-between floors. There are battery backups to ensure that the elevator doesn't get stuck between floors in a power outage. Customized handrails can be installed to ensure proper balance during operation.


The most common concern is whether there is adequate spacing available to accommodate wheelchairs. Most manufacturers recommend at least an interior compartment space of 38" X 50" to accommodate the footprint of the wheelchair. Please have the representative ensure the proper measurement. These professionals are concerned with providing adequate spacing to ensure the fullest amount of independent living for disabled clients.

There are some recycled elevators available for those on a fixed income. Check with the manufacturers about funding any assistance programs if you are disabled. Your social worker or healthcare professionals may also know of some assistance programs. Some insurance companies have assisted in finding this type of equipment for accident victims.

Elevator models are available in shaft and shaftless models. The shaftless model is a great option for spiral stairways because the center space can be utilized. Different manufacturers offer two kinds of drive systems: machine room and machine roomless gearless tractions. Surprisingly, the machine roomless models offer very quiet operations. The machine roomless models feature cable drum, chain-driven, and hydraulic mechanisms.

Another consideration to keep in mind when considering installation of a residential elevator is the space needed for pit clearance and overhead clearance. Most installations can be done with no pit clearance as long as stepping up into and down out of the elevator does not pose mobility problems. It is best to allow a manufacturer representative assist prior to having an architect complete plans.

The space needed will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, the shaft or shaftless models, and machine room or rommless drive systems. The size and number of openings will require special construction at the entryways. Some manufacturers offer up to three openings.

Most elevators do not require three-phase power. It is best to check with the manufacturer so that the proper power source is available. The standard power requirement is 30 amp/220v single-phase power.


Home elevators come in a variety of customized interiors. This is a great option for those that prefer to match the interior features of their home instead of settling for the standard finishes. Multiple wood veneer panels are available in different wood species such as, oak, maple, rosewood, and teak. Matching finished and unfinished flooring is also available. The gate and handrails can also be customized along with the lights. Painting and staining can either be completed at the factory prior to delivery or at the installation site.

There are a few more safety features available other than the mechanical gate locks while the unit is in operation and battery backup systems for power failures. Models are available with manual lowering operation capability, which is useful for mechanical failures.

Emergency stop buttons are located in the pit, on top of the car, and inside the car. Emergency lighting and telephones come standard with a majority of the units. Locked power cabinets are available to deter any tampering. Many models have wiring contained in conduit, which ensures greater tampering protection, wear, and fire hazard protection.

How to Choose

Choosing a manufacturer will depend on how many customized features you want in an elevator. For anything below the standard spacing, you will want to ensure that you find a reputable dealer with nationwide support available. Getting someone licensed to repair such units will be difficult if there is no one available on a local basis to repair and maintain the unit.

Check with your local authorities on required features, size stipulations, and maintenance requirements before choosing the unit. Some local ordinances require only an annual inspection, while others may require more frequent ones. Maintenance contracts are available from the dealers for roughly the cost of semi-annual heating and air conditioning maintenance contracts.

The standard lead time for delivery and installation of the units is between six to eight weeks. Installation normally takes three to five days. You will want to check the manufacturer warranty to ensure that it will not be expensive to maintain the elevator.

Warranties differ between one to two years and some only offer a parts warranty. If you do not wish to pay for labor, make sure you know the warranty offered. In addition, some manufacturers begin the warranty after occupation has been granted. If purchasing a brand new construction home, you will want to be aware of the date, the warranty actually begins.

Overall, there are many features and benefits to having a residential elevator installed. The convenience can be experienced and appreciated by the disabled, elderly, and those without mobility issues. The information above will help to guide you through the selection process! Then you will have the convenience of being whisked from the main floor to the basement, upper level, or attic.

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