Home elevators have gained in popularity due to their increasing affordability. Seen typically as a luxury item, home elevators are one modification used in homes for the handicapped and those needing more mobility between floors. Options in the past have included moving into a one-floor ranch home or adding a stair lift, but adding a home elevator is less cumbersome than installing a stair lift or moving everything to a new home. If you're considering purchasing a home elevator, several types are available, some of which may be better suited to a home than others. Planning for a home elevator isn't as simple as installing the device. By yourself or with a contractor, a space of twelve to fifteen square feet needs to be set aside from the elevator car, and, for the shaft, an additional six inches needs to be added around all edges. For some designs, space for a machine room needs to be taken into consideration.
One common design for many homes in a hydraulic elevator. A hydraulic elevator is considered to be more safe and reliable in emergencies like fire or earthquakes, as the machine room is located in the basement and the design has a manual lowering system. The machine room, in addition, is installed as part of the foundation for the house.
Another type of home elevator is an electric, or traction elevator. This design of elevator operates by a counterweight that keeps the cab suspended in the shaft. While this design uses no oil, the suspension makes passengers more vulnerable. If your area is more prone to earthquakes, an electric home elevator may not be as stable and does not have a machine room. Another design that doesn't use a machine room is a pneumatic lift elevator. This home elevator uses a pneumatic vacuum that moves cars between floors by suction. As this elevator only holds one to two people, it's not recommended for handicap use. As both of these designs don't use a machine room, the cost of installation is less.
A fourth type of home elevator is an overhead winding drum. As this design doesn't use a machine room or oil, it's often used for "green" elevators. As the overhead winding drum is usually installed into the roof, the elevator cab doesn't rely on counterweights to move.
After the elevator best suited to your home is installed, the design and operations should continue to comply with ASME codes. In addition, an inspection of the home elevator and machine room should be done every six to twelve months.