If you struggle to get up and down the stairs in your home, this can be extremely limiting in the way that you use your home. Short of moving into a new home, people with mobility issues may end up pushing themselves just to manage the stairs. Not only is this not safe, but it can also be incredibly stressful.
However, there is a more appropriate solution in the form of a home elevator and it may not be quite as complex an installation as you had thought.
Best Home Elevators Overview
Here’s a handy reference list of our reviewed home elevator companies. Further below is a more comprehensive comparison and review guide.
|Elevator Company||Quick Overview|
Benefits of a Home Elevator
One of the first things that many people think about when looking at ways to tackle the stairs is a stairlift. While these can be incredibly handy devices, there are significant drawbacks when compared to a home elevator. Of course, which you choose will depend on your personal needs but if you think about the benefits of a home elevator, you may quickly see that it may help you more than a stair lift would.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the major benefits of installing a home elevator:
Types of Home Elevators
When it comes to choosing the right home elevator for your needs, there are many things to think about. One of the most important is the type of home elevator that would benefit you. Modern manufacturers offer a range of options and it is important that you understand each of them before committing to anything.
Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators (PVE)
Many people are concerned that installing a home elevator will mean having the capacity to have a machine room or pit. While this is true in many cases, the innovative PVE can be installed without the need for a pit or machine room. These elevators are installed using the floor space that is already available on the ground floor and have a very small footprint so won’t take up huge amounts of room.
They often feature a clear design with 360º glass which makes them very visually appealing. They are also a good choice for people who do not want to waste energy using a home elevator thanks to their eco-friendly operation. These elevators do not use high levels of electricity and require no annual maintenance.
The pneumatic vacuum elevator operates using an air pressure system which is used to move the cab up and down. They offer smooth operation and a turbine engine that is quiet and requires no oils or cables to keep working.
One of the greatest benefits of the hydraulic elevator is that while it does require a pit, this is minimal and won’t take up a huge amount of space. This makes it ideal for home where the floor space on the ground floor is limited. However, this design can be effectively used in homes where there are up to eight stories.
A significant downside is that they do travel slightly slower but with quiet operation and a smooth ride, this isn’t too much of an issue.
The hydraulic elevator operates using a piston at the base which is pumped upwards as hydraulic fluid is pumped by the engine. This moves the elevator up the upper levels of the home. On descent, the hydraulic fluid is gradually released, bringing the elevator down.
A hydraulic elevator will use more energy than other types so this is something worth considering. However, with much lower annual maintenance, costs may even out. What’s more, a hydraulic elevator is typically much more cost-effective to install when compared to other types. If you are looking for something that won’t break the bank, this could be a viable option.
If you are looking to save on space when installing a home elevator, then a cable-driven system may be most suitable. While a machine room is necessary, these are typically very compact, measuring only around 4×4 feet. These elevators use a gearbox and electric motor that operates a series of cables. These cables wind and unwind, moving the elevator up and down.
Typically, these elevators can cover heights of up to around 50 feet making them ideal for most homes with up to around five stories. They can hold roughly between 500 lbs and 1000 lbs depending on the cab size and you often have the option to adjust this to your needs. A cable driven elevator is very smooth and many modern systems feature self-diagnostic chips to ensure that malfunctions are rare.
However, it is important to keep in mind that despite all of the modern developments, this traditional type of elevator is not without its problems. For example, the yearly maintenance is generally much higher. Furthermore, they do use a lot more energy so may not be ideal if you are very eco-conscious.
Finally, a cable elevator does have the potential to become stuck between floors. As we have discussed, some modern models have intelligent systems to prevent this, but this is not always going to be reliable.
A chain-driven elevator is very similar to a cable elevator, only instead of cables, chains are used. These chains are very heavy duty and reliable in terms of strength. However, in much the same way as their cabled counterparts, these systems do have the potential to fail, leaving home owners stuck between floors.
However, for the most parts, these systems are reliable and will easily move the elevator between floors, smoothly and efficiently. Another consideration is that they do not require a machine room and so are often favored by those who are short on space.
How Much Does a Home Elevator Cost to Install?
One of the reasons that so many people are put off the idea of installing a home elevator is that they fear the cost will be far too much. There is no getting away from the fact that a home elevator is going to cost a fair amount, with the average price falling anywhere between $20,000 and $25,000, but this could be an investment that improves your quality of life and safety. With the addition of an elevator likely boosting the value of your home, you will likely see some sort of return.
The type of elevator you choose will depend on the cost. At the lowest end of the scale, you could have one installed for as little as $18,000. However, this could go up into triple figures for a more high-spec system.
Aside from this, you will also need to think about other aspects of the installation. For example, since the structure of the home will need to be amended, there will likely be some cosmetic and decorative maintenance once the installation is completed.
You will also need to consider whether you will have a phone system installed and other safety features which could cost from $500 to $5000 depending on what you choose. Finally, the elevator will need to be inspected and approved which may cost around $200.
|Type of Elevator||Cost Range|
|Cable Driven Elevator||$20,000 to $35,000|
|Hydraulic Elevator||Up to $50,000|
|Chain Elevator||$20,000 to $50,000|
|Pneumatic Elevator||$35,000 and $50,000|
Home Elevator Buyer's Guide
Installing a home elevator is a big decision and not something that should be done overnight. It is vital that you spend some time thinking about the various factors that will influence and affect your home elevator system. This will help you to ensure that you have an elevator that will meet your needs perfectly.
We have discussed the potential costs of installing a home elevator and it is important to think about your budget. Installing this type of equipment isn’t going to be cheap and many people may find that they have to take out a loan or remortgage their home to fund this. Even if you dip into your savings to install the elevator, you will want to ensure that you are getting the best value for money.
Looking at the pros and cons of each type of system will help you to decide which is best for you but many people find that they are tempted by a system according to their budget. Provided that the elevator will meet your needs, there is nothing wrong with this.
However, you can save money if you need to by choosing different customization options. For example, some elevator companies offer various decor options and going for the basic option is a way to save money without compromising on the elevator itself.
You should also think about whether you plan to have the elevator installed as a new structure or whether it will be retrofitted into your current space. Typically, the latter is more cost effective but you should discuss this with your contractor to see which option will be kinder to your bank account.
Finally, you will need to factor in any annual maintenance costs. Some types of elevator, like the pneumatic vacuum require much less maintenance than a traditional cable system.
One of the first things you need to think about are the local and state building codes and your elevator installation must adhere to these.
You will need to first of all think about the available space in your home. For the most part, a home elevator company will work around your home’s structure and any architectural features to install with minimal disruption. However, there may be times when more significant work needs to take place. As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that you have between 18 and 20 square feet of space to install a system.
There are different sized cabs that can be as small as 38″x48″ or as large as 60″x60″, but again, this will be determined by what space you have available. You should also think about the weight capacity. This should not only account for the weight of the user but also any caregivers or other equipment that may need to be transported.
Another thing to consider is whether you have the space for a machine room which is typically located above or below the elevator shaft and houses the mechanical systems. There are elevators that do not require these but there are some drawbacks, typically that operation is not as quiet.
The best way to determine whether you have the space for a home elevator is to invite a representative for a consultation. They will be able to offer advice on all of the space and sizing aspects according to your home and needs.
As we have already discussed, there are several different types of drive system when it comes to home elevators. Which you choose will be based on various factors. Primarily, you may wish to think about cost since there can be a significant difference between the price of a traditional cable system and a modern vacuum elevator.
However, it is also important to compare your available space with the drive system as well as other things like the annual maintenance and the reliability of the system.
Different systems may also be able to travel varying heights and at different speeds. This can be a major deciding factor for many people. For example, an MRl overhead cable drum system can only travel up to a height of 40 feet whereas a hydraulic system may be able to go an additional ten feet up to 50 feet.
The beauty of installing a home elevator system is that you can blend it in with the rest of your decor. Of course, if you opt for a pneumatic vacuum system, you will have fewer options since these are typically glass and quite the statement piece. However, they are also hugely popular among those who like a modern, almost futuristic look.
With other types of elevator, there is the option to customize the interior to fit in with the rest of your home. Or perhaps, you might like a totally unique statement once you step inside. You will normally find choices for wood finishes, lighting, color schemes, and materials for the handrails and control panels. If you prefer, the installation company will leave the interior blank for you to decorate at a later date in your own way.
If you already have mobility issues and find it difficult to get around your home, the last thing you are going to want is a lengthy installation that limits you even more. The length of the installation can vary from project to project and will largely depend on how much structural work is required.
However, for vacuum elevators where much of the work is on the elevator itself, these installations can be surprisingly short. It is not uncommon for a vacuum elevator to be completed within just a few days. Conversely, a traditional elevator with cables and pulleys and a lot of structural work can take a lot longer. Again, this will depend on your project, since they are all different, but it may take weeks or potentially months to complete.
But this is not simply made up of the time it takes to put in the elevator. This can often be done in between 4 days and one week. But you must also consider the time it will take to prepare for the installation including digging a pit or installing a machine room.
In any event, it may be helpful to organize a short stay with a friend or family member while the work takes place.
One of the main reasons that homeowners decide to install an elevator is for their own safety and prevent falls on the stairs. Therefore, it would be fruitless to install an elevator that didn’t offer safe and efficient operation. There are several safety features that can be installed with your home elevator to give you the most enjoyable and confident experience.
When looking at your installation company, you should make sure that their work complies to call safety standards. In particular, you should ask them about the Safety Code For Elevators and Escalators. Some of the most important safety features that you should be looking for include the following:
- Door sensors to prevent closing when a person is still entering or exiting the elevator
- A back-up battery in the case of a power outage. This will prevent the user becoming stuck in the elevator in such an event.
- The strength of the cables should be sufficient to take the weight of the elevator. There should also be a back-up system that gently halts the elevator in the very unlikely event that a cable should become broken or damaged.
- Fire alarm.
- The elevator should not operate until the doors are firmly closed and a locking function can be useful to assure this.
- There is a minimum space suggestion of three inches between the floor and the elevator which will stop anything or anyone from becoming stuck in the gap.
In modern times, there is more and more focus on conserving energy both for the sake of your energy bills and more importantly, for the environment. For this reason, it is important to look at how energy-efficient the elevator is. Typically speaking, a vacuum elevator will be much more eco-friendly than a cable or chain system.
You will need to consider the cost of annual maintenance and whether things will need to be replaced or repaired throughout the year. There are some things that will not affect the operation of your elevator but require maintenance to keep it looking at its best. For example, replacing bulbs, cleaning the interior and attending to any scratches or other decorative issues.
However, there are also important considerations when it comes to the safe operation of your elevator. You can employ a contractor to annually check your elevator and this might include looking at things such as the door sensors, testing the firefighter’s service panel, and looking at the condition of the mechanics and motor.
If the system uses oil, you should look at the levels and top this up as necessary. Furthermore, the electrical systems should be tested for safe operation to prevent overheating or malfunction.
Best Home Elevator Reviews
We know that choosing the right home elevator can mean the difference between an improved quality of life and being left with a system that doesn’t work and being heavily out of pocket. For this reason, we have spent time researching various home elevators and strongly believe that these are some of the very best.
1. Stiltz Lifts
One of the most attractive draws of Stiltz lifts is that the installation can often be completed in a single day. The company offers elevators in a variety of properties and brings homeowners elevators that take up minimal space, with minimal disruption.
The elevators do not require the use of hydraulics and are freestanding units that are designed to fit into your home effortlessly. They are set up on dual support rails that allow the elevator to move through the floor which can happen in as little as thirty seconds. The elevators run on electrical power and with the installation, you will receive a dedicated power outlet as well as in-cab power to prevent the elevator being out of action in the event of a power outage.
With a beautiful glass design, these elevators fit perfectly into your home without taking up storage space or posing as an eyesore. There are two different options from Stiltz lifts including the Duo Home Elevator and The Trio Home Elevator; each of which come in various models.
- The Duo Alta is a curved, glass design that allows light to flow through and looks incredible in any home. This is a new take on the more traditional Stiltz designs.
- The Duo Classic can move between two floors in just thirty seconds and have the space to transport two people at once.
- The Duo Vista brings the same convenience and features as the classic but with a more contemporary and clear aesthetic.
- The Duo Thru Car is great for wheelchair users as it allows the user to enter and exit from both sides.
The Trio range of elevators from Stilz are designed with larger capacities and are perfect for wheelchair users thanks to the wider dimensions. This range features the same models as the Duo range but with a more spacious cab.
The cost of the Stiltz elevators will largely depend on any additional features you install as well as the type of elevator you opt for.
There is an option to order a brochure on the website or you can simply call the company using the below toll free number to discuss your unique needs and get a hassle-free quote.
2. Savaria Elevators
There are a range of options when it comes to the aesthetics of your home elevator with Savaria. They offer various customization options including the type of finish, colors, and fitting, amongst other things. But much more than this, there are several elevators to choose from depending on your needs.
- The Zenith elevator is the top-spec model and offers quiet operation as well as a weight capacity that can go up to 1400 lbs. This traditional elevator can be installed in an existing closet and can service as many as six stops. There are choices of opening including 90º, straight through or single door entry.
- The Infinity elevator is a hydraulic system that features all the same benefits as the Zenith but does require a machine room.
- The Eclipse is a chain system and one of the most popular offerings from Savaria. This elevator does not require a machine room and offers similar features to the Zenith and Infinity but has a lower weight capacity of 950 lbs.
- The Telecab is a freestanding, through the floor elevator that is great for smaller spaces. With a maximum weight capacity of 500 lbs and the ability to serve two stops, this elevator is ideal for lighter use. There is the option to upgrade to the Telecab 17 which offers greater weight capacity of 845 lbs as well as a ‘vanishing’ through the floor operation.
3. Stannah Elevators
With a choice of home elevators and home lifts, you get a great choice of what would work best for your home.
- The home lifts from Stannah are great if you are looking for a mobility solution that is more cost effective. These are an excellent choice for people who do not have huge amounts of space as they will fit easily into a room using existing floor space. There is no need for extensive structural work as these systems offer through the floor operation. They are quick to install and great for people who are able to make transfers with minimal assistance. Stannah offers pitless home lifts that come with a multitude of safety features including sensors on the descent. There are also many great options for visual aspects.
- A home elevator gives you many choices in terms of design and decor and can be easily incorporated into your home to blend in. Stannah offers a choice of gate styles, options for push buttons and of course a variety of choices when it comes to aesthetics. The only downside is that the installation process can take up to 14 weeks so may cause a significant level of disruption.
4. Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators
A PVE is a great choice for people who want a standalone elevator that is reliable and eco-friendly with very little maintenance. These vacuum elevators are quick to install and come with a range of choices to suit your needs. The elevators are made from high-quality materials and while they may be more of an investment, they have an excellent range of advantages and a modern design.
- The PVE30 is a single person elevator with a maximum weight capacity of 350 lbs. This is the smallest option yet can rise to a height of 50ft. This is the best option for a smaller space where reliability is a must. There is also the option to upgrade to the PVE30 Eco which offers more eco-friendly operation.
- The PVE52 is a great solution for wheelchair users and features a three-person design. It has a weight capacity of 525 lbs.
- The PVE37 is designed with a weight capacity of 450 lbs and can comfortably transport two people.
All of these pneumatic vacuum elevators have a small footprint and a freestanding supported design that is both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional.