Residential Elevators: Guide to Home Elevators for the Disabled
Residential elevators can provide more mobility and help to avoid the isolation that a handicapped person often feels when living in a two story or multi-level home. Caregivers love them, too!

Residential elevators are excellent home mobility aids that are sometimes necessary to install in two story or multi-level homes, that make it possible for the 
disabled or elderly to move easily and safely between the two 

Home elevators also provide an effective way for caregivers to 
adequately and conveniently provide for those who are 
physically challenged.

Activities such as eating in the kitchen, using a downstairs
accessible bathroom or spending time in the living room with 
friends and family, can be easier to accomplish when a small 
residential elevator is available.

Also, a home elevator can help avoid the isolation that a 
handicapped person often feels when having to remain on the 
second floor of a home, simply because of mobility issues. 

What are Residential Elevators?

Residential elevators, not to be confused with stairlifts, are 
motorized devices designed to carry a disabled or elderly person from one floor to another in a house. They are operate much like a typical elevator system that is placed in a public place like an office building, except they are smaller and specifically built for a residential setting. 

They are relatively small and designed to carry anywhere from 500 to over 1,000 lbs., depending on the system you choose. The interior square footage is also dependent on the design, but common sizes offer from 12 to 15 square feet of floor space.

Many units offer a variety of entrance areas, such as one, two or three sided openings for easy access in any direction. This makes it easy to carry the disabled user, transport wheelchair, any handicapped equipment and the caregiver to the top floor of a home, without any problems. You can also choose a custom home elevator with the features and design that you prefer.

Types and Features

In-shaft residential elevators

When an elevator is incorporated into an original house design, it is much like a typical elevator but smaller, and is placed in an enclosed shaft that is built into the home at a convenient location, sometimes near a traditional staircase. 

Some home owners actually have just an elevator shaft built during the construction of a new home for future installation of an elevator when needed. Until then, the installed shaft area can be used for extra closet space and thereby providing a useful function in the meantime.

In-shaft home elevators can be finished with beautiful building materials such as wood paneling and ornate trim. Crown molding, center paneling and chair railing are common finishing trims that add beauty to this type of home mobility aid. They are aesthetically pleasing and designed to fit in with whatever decor you may prefer. 

You can also install an in-shaft elevator in an existing home, but a lot of remodeling will be required to install the shaft and wiring for additional electrical requirements in an older home. It also takes up space and unless the home is quite large, some people opt for a shaftless or no shaft residential elevator, which is less complicated to install.

In-shaft elevators are often called 'machine room elevators' because they usually require an extra area other than the shaft, to house the drive system. This requires extra square footage, extra installation requirements and is more expensive. 

The newer designs of this type of system is generally operated by either a hydraulic drive or a cable drum drive, both with a monorail system. They also offer an additional battery for lowering the car, in case of a power outage. New units operate quietly and very efficiently.

Elevator cars include a control station on the interior and another remote station is generally placed on the exterior wall, near the landing door. 

No shaft home elevators

Shaftless elevators, commonly called, inclinators, are increasingly popular as the residential elevator of choice for many new or existing homes. They are easier and quicker to install, generally cost less, and offer a variety of home decor options that fit in nicely with any house interior. 

This type is installed in a completely open area, usually placed up the center of a winding stair case, alongside a straight stair case or placed in homes where no stair cases even exist. 

Most are designed to be open and airy which provides a better look for elevators that are installed alongside a stair case. Some are enclosed with see-through glass walls, others are simply enclosed with lattice type, enclosures that are stylish and interesting. 

They are operated with a drive system that is placed completely within the elevator shaft itself. The 'hoistaway' makes it possible to do away with an additional machine room, and is operated by a gear motor chain drive that uses the newest technology to provide a quite, reliable lift to the next floor.

A control is placed inside the elevator car area and an additional remote station is placed near the exterior landing area. You can select decorative faceplates to match your home decor as well.

Each system provides a battery for emergency lowering in case of a power outage. 

Advantages for the Disabled

Of course, the main advantage for the disabled is the freedom that the user has to enjoy coming and going from the first floor to any upper floor in the home without assistance. This handicap aid also makes it possible for the disabled to continue to enjoy the company of others on the main floor at any time.

Residential elevators are safe and move slowly so that a person has nothing to fear while riding in the elevator car. The various systems are always equipped with security features to avoid any possible accidents. 

Disadvantages or Problems

The main disadvantages to installing home elevators are the fact that these systems are expensive, require professional installation and require professional servicing whenever there is a malfunction. Also, most insurance companies, as well as Medicare, do not view handicap elevators for the home as a necessary mobility aid, so most people cannot get financial assistance to install a system. 
Buying Tips

Before purchase, be sure to consult with several reputable residential elevator companies to get the installation requirements and specs for you particular home. You should also consult a builder, architectural designer or engineer to insure that you place the correct system in your particular type of house. 

You should also discuss this option with a doctor or physical therapist, who may also provide pertinent advice to your situation. 

Many companies that specialize in these systems can provide important information on selection and placement of elevators in homes.  They also provide total installation and servicing. (Always verify the reputation of a company with the Better Business Bureau before dealing with them.) 

Here are some of the top home elevator companies:

Be sure to compare prices, payment options, types of systems, extended warranties and information about upkeep and repair of residential elevators, before making a final selection the best one for your home.

For more information:

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