Home elevators are an investment and a significant change to any home. However, over the years they have continually improved in safety and compactness, making them more accessible as well as a realistic option for people who may have otherwise not been able to afford them. If you become well-versed in the subject of these products and learn about the available opportunities for savings, then you may successfully open up a new realm of possibilities for yourself, or your loved one’s mobility.
In this article, we will discuss some of the best home elevators that you can find today.
How to Choose a Home Elevator
In homes with multiple levels, one often has to use stairs to go up and down. This proves difficult when someone has mobility issues. Home elevators are used when mobility becomes an issue, and other options are too difficult or not enough. Many people look for stair lifts or hoyer lifts as their first options, but may not always be effective for the long term, or some people may not be able to use them when their mobility problems become too great.
Additionally, devices like hoyer lifts and stair lifts often require a significant amount of help from a caregiver. While it is still recommended to use a home elevator when someone is with you in case you need help, it does allow the option to use the elevator independently if needed.
However, if a home elevator is too big of a commitment, then stair lifts, hoyer lifts or even wheelchair lifts can be alternatives.
As home elevators are large and complex machines, there are many aspects of it that need to be kept in mind so as to get the best and safest home elevator for your needs.
Reasons You Might Need A Home Elevator
- When someone experiences issues with balance, pain, poor eyesight or you fall often. If your loved one is at very high risk of falling and they struggle to see, then an elevator can be prioritized over a stair lift.
- Climbing stairs proves difficult and causes fatigue and pain
- When a system that helps you be more independent around your home, especially when a caregiver is not around, is required
- When helping someone get up and down the stairs proves to be detrimental to the health of a caregiver. The caregiver may, for example, not be constantly available to help with a hoyer lift or chair lift every time the person with mobility issues needs aid.
- When getting up and down the stairs is highly time-consuming and does not seem to be viable in the long run
If you or your loved one identify with any of these issues, it may be time to invest in a home elevator.
Key Parts of a Home Elevator
It is useful to know some of the parts that a home elevator has, as it can help when looking for one on the market. There are certain terminologies that might be new or confusing, so understanding them beforehand can help equip you better.
These are areas that are dug below the elevator on the ground floor to make space for pistons or other machinery that makes the elevator function. These pits are generally not very deep or large. They can be just 6” by 12”.
This is the shaft through which the elevator moves. It is an enclosure that helps keep a lot of the machinery and mechanical parts out of sight as well. Not all elevators have these.
- Engine Room
Some elevators need a room, about as big as a closet where an engine would go, along with some other apparatus.
If an elevator does not have a hoistway it will be moving through holes in the floors as it goes up and down. These holes through which the elevators move cannot always be open however and require a hatch or a lid to go over them when the elevator is not moving. These hatches are usually covered with the same flooring as the home and require safety sensors so that the elevator does not move if someone is standing on the hatch.
Common Types of Home Elevators
- Roped Hydraulic: Hydraulic elevators make use of a motor that pushes oil into pistons that can move the elevator. These lifts require a pit below the elevator on the ground floor for the piston, and a hoistway (the shaft through which the elevator would travel).
- Pneumatic (Vacuum Elevator): These elevators are a more modern design and operate based on the natural laws of physics. The elevator is a tube in a sealed vacuum. The air beneath and above the elevator cab causes movement by changing the air pressure below or above the elevator cab depending on which direction you are going in.
- Winding Drum and Chain Drive: These elevators use a system that involves a counterweight pulley system. A cable that is housed in a drum, winds and unwinds, raising and lowering the elevator cab. These tend to be less expensive than hydraulic or pneumatic elevators. They do tend to be noisier, however, and the stopping point of the elevator can depend upon the weight of the load it is carrying, which can be a safety hazard if the elevator reaches its max weight.
Things to Consider
Of course, getting an elevator is a big choice to make as it takes up a significant amount of space. It cannot take up so much space that navigating a home becomes difficult or it becomes an eye-sore.
Some elevators are specifically designed to be compact and allow only a single person to use at a time while standing. This is not always feasible for those who need to regularly use a wheelchair.
Sometimes companies can provide limited information about pricing and other information about their products that help make customers feel more involved in the process of installing the elevator. Buying from companies that make information accessible is always a good idea.
Not every senior would want a hi-tech sleek elevator that is completely unfamiliar to them. Sometimes an old-fashioned elevator can be the way to go if that is what your loved one feels most comfortable using.
How Much Do Home Elevators Cost?
Prices of home elevators are dependent upon construction costs, permits, and installation costs. If the elevator is customized or has any special design parts these would also be of extra cost. Most home elevators on average however start at $12,000 dollars. Most elevators from the biggest brands cost from $20,000 to $30,000. As home elevators are a product of convenience, they are not covered by Medicare. However, veteran support programs do provide certain plans that can help you with these finances, depending on the state you are in.
The Best Home Elevators for Seniors
Here is a shortlist of some of the best elevators you can find right now. Many elevators have very high costs to begin with, making them seem like a completely out-of-reach option. Considering multiple factors, we have decided these three elevators are worth checking out.
Savaria Telecab – Small Home Elevators
Most people are looking for elevators that move between one floor. If this sounds like what you are looking for, then a shaftless elevator might be a good option. It would free up the space that you would otherwise need for a hoistway. These elevators often operate on a touch and hold mechanism, which means the elevator will only move when a button is being pressed inside the elevator. While this is not highly convenient, it does promote better safety and control for the senior using it. Additionally, these elevators are very easy to retrofit into your home because of the limited space they take up. They don’t require a machine room or pit either. The Savaria Telecab is one of the best shaftless elevators on the market right now. Its average price ranges from $30,000 to $35,000.
- High weight capacity at 845 pounds
- Can accommodate 2-3 riders
- Battery backup
- Comes in four standard sizes, with custom sizes if required
- 36 month warranty on the parts
- Extensive safety features like manual emergency-lowering, LED lights, sensors that stop the elevator when there is an obstruction and a remote manual lowering device
- Wheelchair accessible
- Requires a wall on one side to install
- Relatively expensive
You can find more information about the product and how to purchase it here.
Nationwide Lifts – Most Popular Home Elevators
Nationwide lifts are a well-known retailer for commercial and residential elevators. They are most known for having a very extensive warranty on their elevator products. They come in the hydraulic, cable drive, overhead cable drive, and pneumatic styles. Prices tend to start at $23,000.
- Long warranty period (covers mechanical parts for 10 years, electrical parts for three, and labor for one year).
- Appeals to those who are eco-conscious with its Freedom Green home elevator model
- High weight capacity at up to 1500 pounds
- Large selection of products, as it comes with many elevator designs and customizability.
- Depending on the financing plan you choose (they offer an in-house financing plan with SunTrust Bank), you could end up paying a high interest rate of up to 10%.
You can find more information here.
AmeriGlide – Affordable Home Elevators
This brand is more popular for its stairlifts, but it also caters to customers who require home elevators. We chose to put this on our list because it is one of the brands that are very transparent about its pricing plans, and has good customer service. It comes as a roped hydraulic elevator or a winding drum elevator. The price usually starts at $12,500, (not including installation costs).
- Can hold up to 950 pounds
- 5-year warranty
- Comes with an outdoor elevator option
- Many options for customization for every kind of home and customer
- Wheelchair friendly
- Most models do not require a machine room, saving you some space
- Ameriglide elevators do require a pit and hoistway, which leads to quite an extensive amount of installation procedures. This might require extensive adjustments in your home to make the elevator fit in well.
- While there are many options for customization, there are only two base models that the company offers, and might be a bit old-fashioned compared to modern pneumatic elevators.
Find their products and contact information here.
Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE) – Small Home Elevators
While these elevators are expensive, we decided to add these elevators on our list because they are the latest technology in home elevators. These elevators are known for their sleek, tubular design and do not take up a large amount of space, at least compared to other types of elevators. While the price is not disclosed on their website, Air Elevators such as this kind usually cost over $35,000, but the price could climb up to $50,000 depending on your home, the model you choose, and any physical constraints you might run into during installation.
- Pneumatic elevators don’t require an engine room or pit, so installation is simpler.
- They only require the replacement of a seal every five years, making maintenance minimal
- Great for tight spaces, even with bigger models
- Comes in three sizes, the largest one being wheelchair friendly
- Even though the elevator can fit a wheelchair, its tubular design and overall structure can feel quite small, and make people feel uneasy if they do not like tight spaces. Many seniors might not be very comfortable with such a design.
- Noisy, almost as noisy as a vacuum cleaner
- The website does not disclose the price on their website, but the company can be contacted to find out.
You can find information about these elevators, as well as information about home elevators in general here.
DIY Home Elevators
Many people also consider having a ‘DIY home elevator’ that can be installed yourself, to minimize the costs of installing. In this case, knowing the parts mentioned above as well as the different types of elevators is crucial. However, this requires a lot of manual work, so if you are confident in your ability and resources to do this then it is not a bad option.
DIY home elevators are built using actuators. This is basically a machine that moves and controls a mechanism. It requires a power source. A basic guide to follow can be:
- Figure out the best design for your needs (size, where it will be fitted etc.)
- Make sure you have the parts and materials you will need
- Buy or build the frame of the elevator, and construct the cabin
- Create a moving path for the lift
- Make a control panel and connect the actuator
- Make final checks for safety
- Connect power source
If you are able to build a home elevator by yourself the cost can come down to even $500 which is significantly lower than the prices of readymade ones.
Even if you are able to build the elevator yourself, it is recommended to have a specialist on call when needed for added safety, especially if you are unsure of something.
Home elevators are a great addition to many multi-level homes for the ease they bring. Even though they are a large commitment to make, they have become more and more accessible and compact, making them an option that many can begin to consider.