ELEVATORS FOR THE HOME
The Ultimate In Home Convenience
ELEVATORS FOR CONVENIENCE AND HEALTH
"Monsieur, Madame your car is waiting." No, it's not an automobile but some cost as much as an expensive one. Its maximum range of travel is only 20 to 60 feet! More and more high-end homes have one or have plans that provide for the future installation of one. Some are installed for show, some for convenience and some to meet real physical needs. And what is mysterious car with the limited range? An in-home elevator. This article only concerns elevators. Other types of body movers or lifters include stair lifts, ceiling lifts, wheelchair porch lifts and incline wheelchair lifts. These types deserve their own time and space and will be covered in a later article.
PRICE: The general price range of elevators for private homes ranges from $5,000 to about $30,000. Custom crème de la creme elevators can get really pricey and START at about $50,000! These classic coaches can be crafted from rare imported woods, have pastoral scenes (or whatever) in them painted by well fine artists; in short they can be whatever ones mind can conceive and wallet can handle.
CAPACITY: The weight your body hauler can handle is usually somewhere between 450 and 1500 pounds. I think you will find that 900 to 1000 pounds will meet most needs.
CAR SIZES AND USEAGE CONSIDERATIONS: Common sizes are 36 x 48, 36 x 60, 40 x 54, and 42 x 60, The size needed should be worked out with the home's plan designer/architect and builder. There can be many construction factors involved. Where can it most effectively be placed? How many floors will it service? Will it need to haul furniture items? If so, of what size and weight? What areas will be needed to handle the elevators lifting mechanism and servicing needs? Then there are the personal usage needs to consider. What are the weights and heights of the people who will most often use it? Can a wheelchair be moved in and out of it easily? Will another person be needed to accompany the wheel chair and the person in it? Where do the elevator controls need to be placed? How do people get out if there is a power outage and how do you call for help if needed?
WARRANTY: A one-year warranty on materials and workmanship is what most companies offer. The builder or home renovator should also be asked if he w provide a one-year warranty the installation.
AVAILABILITY OF SERVICE: A builder can bring an elevator to a home and either install it or have it installed by service representatives of the company that manufactured the unit. Fine. Now, it's two years later and, for whatever reason, the car won't go up or down, the builder gives you that "who, me?" routine, your favorite mechanic is great with your Ferrari but hasn't a clue about your elevator so - who do you call? Which brings up next item.
SERVICE CONTRACTS: The provider of the elevator of choice needs to be asked if they offer a service contract, exactly what it covers, how quickly the service will be provided, the availability of replacement equipment, the price of service and a price list of most generally replaced parts and equipment. Much of this they don't like to provide but it should be provided or you go elsewhere. This should NOT left up to the builder. All of this should be discussed between the builder, representative of the elevator company and homeowner. You might even have your attorney review the purchase contract, maintenance, and service agreements. This isn't necessary with the warranties involved with a washing machine, dryer, refrigerator, range, etc. However, an elevator is not a household appliance. As it is certainly not an item you expect to find in most homes and is not one that most homeowners and builders have "care and feeding" experience with, take care of yourself accordingly.
CODES: To be blunt, cover your - - backside all the way. See to it that your builder provides you will all the local and national codes that apply to residential elevators. Prior to installation a building permit is required. Do you know what it says? Of course not so go over it with your builder. Again, if you feel uneasy about it have your attorney go over it. Speaking of your attorney, when you use an attorney for these purposes he should be one with experience in building and/or development. Most areas have them. If you don't know one or there isn't one in your area you would do well to find one in a city near you to handle this for you. If you can afford to put an elevator in your home you can afford the price of the legal help needed to see that you are covered going in and that you don't get "had" later on.
TYPES OF RESIDENTIAL ELEVATORS: There are four types of residential elevators: Hydraulic, Pneumatic, Traction and Winding Drum. The most commonly used are Winding Drum and Hydraulic. There are no monks turning a big crank to get your cage up and down. The Winding Drum has a set of cables attached to the car. Winding the cables in one direction raises the car and unwinding lets it down. In the case of power failure a backup battery provides the power to move the car. Pros: The system has the advantages of being a proven system and it doesn't need a separate room to house it. Although it doesn't cost as much as a hydraulic system it comes out about the same because of the price of the backup battery system. Cons: First of all, many winding drum systems have the motor in the shaft which can make it noisy. Since the motor is in the shaft it is more difficult to repair. Next, a relatively large motor is necessary to carry the car's weight. Finally, room is needed above, below or to the side of the car to house the motor and the backup battery.
The Hydraulic system moves an elevator by pumping oil in and out of a cylinder. Cable hydraulic is the most used technology. In this system the car is pulled up and down from above. The pump (which is the motor) is only needed for pulling the car up. Gravity takes care of letting the car down. As with the winding drum system a battery is needed when there is a power outage. However, it is a smaller one since gravity provides part of the "power". This system's advantages are (1) - Smoother ride (2) - Quieter because the motor is surrounded by oil which butters the sound (3) - The motor doesn't have to adjoin the car (4) - It can be placed in any area that is temperature controlled and away from the core living space. About the only disadvantage the system has is that it needs a separate room for the battery and hydraulic pump.
The type and brand of elevator used or recommended usually depends on the builder's experience with them, his local suppliers and/or where it has to be ordered. Below is a partial list of elevator manufacturers. I could include some nice photos of elevators for this article but if you check the websites of any of these manufacturers they will show you all kinds of photos and photos that relate to their specific products.
There is a manufacturer I have not listed that I would suggest you go to as a starting place for information with regard to size, safety and luxury. The address is: http://www.tkaccess.com/residential-elevators. ThyssenKrup has an elevator they call the Windsor that is quite interesting on the economy side and the have a place to click with regard to luxury elevators that gives you interesting information as well. As March madness is underway I will give a plug for the ACC by suggesting that you take a look at the work Virginia Tech is doing on elevator safety in their PERTS linear propulsion technology. Look it up on Google.
MANUFACTURERS INCLUDE: (1) - Accredited Home Elevator Co. - http://www.accelevator.com/ (2) - Carolina Home Elevator Co. - http://www.carolinahomeelevator.com/ (3) - Cemcolift - http://www.cemcolift.com/ (4) - Elevator Concepts - http://www.elevatorconcepts.com/ (5) - Inclinator Co. of America - http://www.inclinator.com/ (6) - LEV Home Elevator - http://www.dreamelevator.com/ (7 ) - National Wheel-O-Vator - http://www.wheelovator.com/ (8) - Savaria Concord Lifts - http://www.concordelevator.com/ (9) - Schumacher Elevator Co. - http://www.schumacherelevator.com/ (10) - Terry Lifts USA - http://www.ashleycorporation.com/ The Elevator Company - http://www.advancelifts.com/ (11) - Universal Elevator - http://www.universalelevator.com/ (12) - Waupaca Elevator Co. - http://www.waupacaelevator.com/
May all your ups and downs be smooth ones.