Home elevators have been around for almost a century. Like many other things that were once considered a luxury and are now becoming available to an increasing number of people, home elevators are finding their way into people’s homes. Whether as a necessity, or just for convenience, they can make life easier and add value to your life and property.
In a nutshell, a home elevator is a compartment attached to a lifting system that offers vertical transportation. Of course, underneath this simplicity lies a very complex mechanism.
Modern residential elevators need systems that make sure the elevator can handle the weight of the car and the cargo it carries. They also need control mechanisms that make the operation easy, and reliable safety systems to avoid any potential accidents.
Based on the size, materials used, lifting mechanism, and their placement in a home, there’s a variety of different types of home elevators to choose from. The best elevator system depends on the application and code requirements.
To help you find the best solution for your home, we will investigate some of these types and show you their benefits and other factors that you should consider when purchasing and installing a home elevator.
Corner Elevators for Home
If you don’t want the elevator to be the center of attention in your home, or just want to save some space, a corner elevator could be your best choice. Instead of bulky elevators that can take up a big part of your precious home space, corner elevators could take as little space as an average armchair. It’s safe to say that this is one of the most convenient types of home elevators.
Another benefit is that, because of their size and placement, these elevators can be installed without the need to build a shaft or floor pit. The hydraulic mechanism allows some types of home elevators to be installed using just a pair of rails stationed flush against the wall. The elevator car can hide the same hydraulic mechanism, so you don’t have to worry about it being an eyesore in your room.
The installation process itself usually doesn’t take more than 2 days. Certain preparations are often needed. Here’s a simplified list of the steps required to install a hydraulic corner elevator, so you’ll know what to expect
- Downstairs and upstairs area should be cleared prior to the installation.
- The downstairs ceiling will be supported with adjustable props.
- The carpet will be rolled down and some of the floorboards on the upstairs floor will be removed to create space for the aperture.
- The floorboards will be replaced by the fit for the aperture.
- A piece of the carpet will be cut around the aperture and refitted to the top infill panel.
- A fused spur adjacent to the power pack location at the lower level will be provided.
- Your elevator will be assembled, and the area will be cleaned.
- A power pack will be installed either internally or externally.
- You will be taught how to operate the elevator.
- The final adjustments will be made, and your elevator will be ready.
Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators
Another option is pneumatic vacuum elevators. These home elevators use air to run. Vacuum is generated in a closed space when air pressure is less than atmospheric.
When the air is sucked through the top section, the difference in air pressure makes the elevator go up. When the air balance is restored, the cylinder gently falls back down. A pneumatic elevator is basically just a cylinder inside a tube.
The advantage of this technology is that it doesn’t use a lot of energy, since it’s just air and gravity doing most of the work. Not only will you save money on electricity, but because of the low maintenance, this is one of the most cost-effective types of home elevators.
Pneumatic elevators are also very eco-friendly. Using air for vertical transport means that there are no harmful oils included in the process. It also means that the electricity level required for operation is about the same as that of an average washing machine. It saves resources.
As for the convenience, pneumatic vacuum elevators make everything simple. Like the hydraulic elevators, they don’t require a hoist-way and are not built into the framework of your home. The installation process takes just 1-3 days. They are easy to operate and don’t take up much space.
No matter what corner elevators technology you decide to go for, you can customize it to fit your style. Residential elevator manufacturers offer a variety of features and finish options to choose from, so apart from being compact, they are often also eye pleasing.
Safety of Corner Elevators
You’re probably wondering about the safety aspect of these types of home elevators. Residential elevator manufacturers included all kinds of safety measures in their products to put your mind at ease.
They use reliable and safe materials such as steel and different kinds of reinforced glass to ensure high quality. Features such as pressure-sensitive panels, safety switches, and emergency telephones are added to make sure your elevator works without incidents.
As these elevators are very compact, you should have in mind the number of people that will be using them before buying. Most corner elevators can fit and transport 1-2 people and can carry a weight of up to 550 pounds. And if an elevator is a necessity for you or someone in your household because of mobility issues, larger elevators can also fit in a wheelchair.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Corner Elevators
If you’re interested in having a corner elevator in your home, the good news is that, out of all types of home elevators, they are the most affordable. Small size, low maintenance, and low energy consumption make them very cost-effective.
There is a wide variety of manufacturers to choose from, with different solutions having different advantages, so you can choose one that best fits your needs.
Glass Home Elevator
If you’re looking for an elevator that will not only make living easier, but also give your home a modern, futuristic look, a glass elevator could be an inspired choice. From the most simple, minimalistic models, to jaw-dropping masterpieces, these elevators could be a perfect addition to your home. The glass design offers a panoramic view and complements almost every home style.
There are several things you should take into account before deciding to install a glass elevator, and the first is the size. The smallest elevators have a diameter of around 30 inches. They are suitable for smaller spaces, can be installed almost anywhere in a house. They can fit one person, with a maximum transport weight of around 450 pounds.
If the elevator is intended for an individual who needs a wheelchair, you need to consider a wider elevator of at least 50 inches in diameter. These elevators can usually carry heavier weights of up to 550 pounds, so they are a good solution for anyone with mobility problems.
An advantage of smaller types of home elevators is that they usually don’t require any kind of pit to be built and can even be built around existing staircases.
In case you want your elevator to be the centerpiece of your home, you can go for the larger versions of 60+ inches in diameter that can carry up to 830 pounds. They also come in different shapes and styles, so you can choose one that enhances your home’s decor.
The next thing you should think about when it comes to glass elevators is the technology and mechanism they use. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you should familiarize yourself with them before purchasing.
Hydraulic Glass Home Elevators
Hydraulic elevators use a hydraulic pump to make the elevator rise and fall by pumping oil in and out of a cylinder. The advantages of this system are that it makes the elevator run quietly. It also makes rides smooth with gentle starts and stops. The installation doesn’t usually require a pit. The main disadvantage is that they tend to be a bit more expensive than other solutions.
Cable Glass Home Elevators
Unlike the hydraulic types of home elevators that push the elevator car using a pump, cable elevators use braided steel cables and a motor to raise and lower the car. To reduce the amount of energy used, cable elevators use counterweights.
The main benefits here are that it’s easy to install and can carry heavier weights. The downside of having a cable-driven elevator is that the cable needs to be replaced every 3-5 years. Cable elevators can also be noisy.
Pneumatic Glass Home Elevators
The third system used in glass home elevators is the pneumatic system, which was previously explained. Since it’s tube-shaped, it offers a panoramic view of your home, and doesn’t require a lot of space to be built. It’s usually suitable for smaller spaces.
When it comes to the cab itself, most glass home elevators are made of transparent polycarbonate that resembles glass. Polycarbonate is a very resistant material, so most elevator manufacturers use it for glass elevators. Some companies offer to make them out of true glass, but this can significantly increase the installation cost.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Glass Home Elevators
One of the biggest disadvantages of most types of home elevators, especially the smaller ones, is that they can be a bit claustrophobic. Glass home elevators solve this issue by offering a complete view of your surroundings. Also, if you are a caregiver, being able to see if someone is inside can make an important difference.
To make sure you and your home residents stay safe inside a glass elevator, manufacturers offer many different security features. Here are some of them:
- Top and bottom sensors that stop the unit in case of an obstruction
- Sliding door that can be opened if the elevator stops between floors
- Built-in phone
- Emergency stop button
- Key switch to start and stop the elevator
- Continuous-pressure up and down buttons
- Battery-powered backup
- Grab rails inside the car
- Emergency unlocking devices
People are usually concerned with the longevity of anything made from glass. But the truth is, installing a glass elevator is a good long-term solution. The tempered glass is practically unbreakable, and with proper maintenance, glass elevators will last 20 years or more.
So, as you can see, there are multiple reasons people go for these types of home elevators. Added functionality, modern design, and quality build are only some of the numerous advantages of glass home elevators.
If you’re concerned about the price, don’t be. The basic models start at around $15,000, which could be considered a smart investment, due to all the benefits you get. And if you’re able to spend a bit more and are looking for the more luxurious options, there are plenty designs to choose from.
Hydraulic Home Elevator
In the 1950s, oil-hydraulic elevator solutions were introduced in both the U.S. and Germany at about the same time and quickly became popular. Initially, hydraulic elevators were not used for transporting passengers, but as the result of improvements and economic reasons, they started being used for this as well.
According to statistics by the National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII) in 1986, approximately 70% of the all elevator units sold for new buildings in the U.S. were hydraulic. Hydraulic elevator production continued to grow, and until 2000, there were three to four times as many hydraulic elevators than their traction counterparts. Today, they are being installed in an increasing number of homes.
We already scratched the surface of this type of home elevators, but now it’s time for a more detailed explanation on how they work. Let’s start with the hydraulic system itself.
How a Hydraulic Home Elevator Works
In simple terms, hydraulic systems use a fluid under pressure to drive machinery or move mechanical components. The major function of a hydraulic fluid is to provide energy transmission through the system which enables work and motion to be accomplished.
Hydraulic elevator systems lift a car using a hydraulic ram, which is a fluid-driven piston mounted inside a cylinder. When the car approaches the floor, the control system gradually shuts off the pump. With the pump off, there is no more fluid flowing into the cylinder, but the fluid that is already in the cylinder cannot escape, so the car stops.
There are several reasons why hydraulic elevators are among the most popular types of home elevators. First, they come in many different sizes and styles. They’re usually quiet and discrete and can easily fit into different home decors.
Also, the installation process is often easy. We already covered the basics of small elevator installation, but if you decide to go for a larger elevator, there are some thing you should know about the installation.
Installing a Hydraulic Home Elevator
Larger hydraulic elevators require a pit and landings. A pit must be dug a few feet below the foundation or ground floor, after which an additional hole must be dug to house the piston cylinder. When the pit and cylinder hole are reinforced, the landings are made by cutting holes in the walls where the elevator will make each stop.
The next step is building a hoist way, and there are two ways this can be done. A modular hoist way is built prior to the installation, and then brought to the site in one piece. The second way is building a hoist way on site, which is more reliable, but takes more time.
After the hoist way is finished, the cylinder, piston, and pump can be installed. Depending on available space and the elevator model, the pump can be installed in the pit, or in a separate machine room.
The final steps include securing the elevator and hooking up the hydraulic power. Hydraulic oil is added to the pump and the additional pipes are installed. After all systems have been checked, the elevator is ready.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydraulic Home Elevators
There are numerous advantages to having these types of home elevators. They are safe to install and operate, since no heavy machinery is installed overhead. Unlike cable elevators, they don’t use counterweights, so there is no risk of collision or oscillations.
Most hydraulic elevators are very energy efficient. Both drive and stand-by consumption are low. When you add this to the relatively low installation costs, it also makes them fairly cost-efficient.
Most manufacturers offer a wide range of elevator styles, since this system can support different kinds of elevator cars. They can be made of various high-quality materials such as wood, metal or glass. There are also numerous finishes to choose from, so you can customize them to your preferences.
However, these types of home elevators are not perfect. The oil used in hydraulic systems can leak and become a risk for the environment if it reaches the groundwater. Some users have reported an unpleasant smell of oil coming from the pump. Also, the performance and speed may vary according to changes in temperature. This is why regular maintenance is needed.
Despite the downsides, the answer to the question of whether you should go with a hydraulic elevator is still ‘yes.’ The advantages surpass the disadvantages, and it’s still a good solution for most people. Hydraulically operated elevators have established a strong market position due to their high level of safety, easy installation, and service-free running characteristics.
You can find leading manufacturers of these types of elevators online. Should you decide to install one in your home, give them a call and they will guide you through the entire process. Just make sure to go over all the important details with your manufacturer of choice before purchasing.
Single Person Home Elevator
While many people decide to install a home elevator out of a need for added convenience or to give their home a makeover, for some, it’s a necessity. Statistics by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show that one of the most frequent cause of death by injuries for those older than 65 is falling on the stairs.
Apart from that, simple tasks such as grabbing a bite or moving groceries or laundry can be especially troublesome for the elderly or the disabled if they live in a multi-level home. Moving to a different home can be very stressful and remodeling your own home can be very expensive. Thanks to the different types of home elevators available, there is no need for that. A single-person home elevator is a solution which is far more convenient and affordable.
So, in case you’re planning to install an elevator that will only serve an infirm or an elderly person, or you simply don’t think that more than one person will need to use it, there are a plenty single-person elevator options to choose from. Here’s everything you need to know if you decide to go for this solution.
Advantages of Single Person Home Elevators
The first good thing about owning a single-person elevator is that, out of all types of home elevators, they require the least space to be installed. One-person elevator sizes start at around 30 inches in diameter, which means that they can be built anywhere in a home, even if the home isn’t big, while still providing a comfortable ride to their users.
Another advantage is the simplicity of their installation, thanks to the modern technology used. While most large elevators may require a significant amount of changes in a home’s structure due to the need for a shaft or a pit, single person elevators are usually self-contained. The building process just takes up to three days with minimal home alterations.
The size of the house and the number of its levels will not be a problem since these elevators can travel up to five floors. The weight capacity is 350+ pounds, which is enough for one person to move between floors safely.
Cabs for these types of home elevators can be made out of different materials, such as steel, aluminum, glass or polycarbonate. These options offer you an opportunity to fit the elevator to the style of your home.
If you prefer a rustic home decor, you could perhaps go with a wooden finish. And if you’re looking or a more modern, contemporary option, glass tube elevators that blend seamlessly into the surroundings and offer a 360° panoramic view may be the perfect choice.
Types of Single Person Home Elevators
Single person home elevators are based on different mechanisms. The most common are cable, hydraulic, and pneumatic systems, which are among the newest types of home elevators that grabbed people’s attention due to their style, low energy consumption, and eco-friendly operation. The ways in which these systems operate have been explained in previous sections, so you can find the system that works the best for you.
Home elevators are more than just pods that travel vertically, and manufacturers know that. This is why they add different features in order to turn something as simple as switching floors into an interesting experience.
Many types of home elevators include features such as elevator phones, remote controlling, or ambient LED lights that make them more attractive and useful.
Home elevator companies also make the safety of their users a priority. Like all the other types of home elevators, single-person elevators have high-quality security features that make them reliable.
These features include emergency brakes, manually operated alarm switches, door sensors, emergency exit latches, and many other ways of making sure incidents are avoided.
As far as the price goes, due to their size and simplicity, these elevators are quite affordable. Starting at around $15,000, for all the benefits you get, they are definitely worth it. Most of them don’t use a lot of energy and are pretty low maintenance. Another important thing is that they can also significantly increase the value of your property.
Finding the Right Single Person Elevator
In case you decide to install one in your home, here are some tips to help in your search for a single person elevator.
- Make sure to do thorough research on elevator manufacturers to see what the customers are saying about them
- Go for a top-quality elevator. You will never regret purchasing a quality product
- Elevators are sophisticated pieces of equipment. The installation of an elevator is a serious job that must always be done by trained and licensed professionals. Don’t try to do it by yourself or anyone other than an elevator journeyman
- Most elevator companies offer maintenance services, but in case your manufacturer doesn’t, make sure to find a maintenance provider on time. Usually, it’s best to choose a product that comes with some form of maintenance included
Thanks to many different types of home elevators, and a wide variety of customization options and features, your elevator can be a simple, convenient way of transport, or the main attraction of your house. Home elevators are not just for the wealthy anymore, and you can join the increasing number of homeowners who have recognized their value.
You can now understand why home elevators are a rising trend. In terms of future-proofing your home, they are a great investment that can make life easier.