Home Improvement

Considerations when Purchasing a Residential Elevator

Residential elevators installed in private homes can make aging in place much easier. They also provide an added convenience for people in wheelchairs or who require assistance due to mobility issues. In a medium to large homes, it is possible to find a location for residential elevators that won’t take up too much space. However, there is more to choosing an elevator than just space. Here are the things to consider when purchasing a residential elevator for your home.

Finding the Ideal Location

Personal elevators require adequate space for the “shaft” or “hoistway” to contain the cab and mechanisms that operate the system. Not only do you need space for the entire elevator itself, but you also need room to easily access the elevator. If your home has a person using a wheelchair, or even a walker, extra space is required so the person can easily maneuver their walking aids. 

Another option for smaller homes is an exterior elevator, but these tend to be more expensive. If you are considering an exterior home elevator, it must not obstruct safe entry and exit to the home. As well, you might not want an exterior elevator installed if it would block out light, or obstruct views. The amount of space available in your home will dictate the type of residential elevator you can install. If space is limited, a stairlift might make more sense.

Small vs Large Spaces

For homes with grander open spaces, you have more choices on models as well as where you wish to install the elevator. You can choose a more centralized location such as the foyer, and include it in the design of your home. For smaller homes, your best bet is to look at a pneumatic elevator, as it uses air instead of the more cumbersome cables and counterweights of a traditional elevator.

The Size of the Cab

The cab is the area where you ride the elevator. Of course, consideration for the size of the cab is important, especially for those with mobility issues. As mentioned above, even a walker requires more space than a single person standing in the cab. If a member of the household requires assistance, then the elevator cab needs to accommodate two passengers and their equipment such as wheelchairs.

Weight Capacity

Elevators have a designated weight capacity which is very important for those that do require medical equipment. It is also a consideration for those individuals who are overweight. Is there anything else you might need to move from floor to floor in your household such as equipment for a home business? This also must be considered when choosing the suitable weight capacity.

Elevator Style

Some homeowners want their elevators to make a statement, while others prefer it to blend into the background. There are many styles of residential elevators available, including customizable options. The higher-end the aesthetic, the higher the price tag. Grand entries with larger foyers for example can present the opportunity for an elevator equally as grand, with decorative features from modern glass and stainless steel to elegant wood and wrought iron detailing. 

You even have choices on the shape of the elevator such as something traditional and boxy or a more modern, streamlined cylindrical design. Open traditional birdcage designs have an art deco/nouveau feel while glass elevators offer a view for the ride. You can also custom design the interior of the cab with specialty paneling on the walls and tailor-made door finishes. You can even add smart features like customized lighting, music, and intercoms.


Consideration for the door and gate configuration plays a major role in the type of elevator you require including:

  • Space: Compact areas require compact configurations such as a single-door model. More space means more options so you can opt for double doors or a wider entry ideal for those in a wheelchair.
  • Double-entry: Larger homes might also prefer entry from two sides so people can access from different areas of the house. This way people don’t have to go all the way around the home to enter the elevator.
  • Wall space: For elevators where the door recesses into the wall, you have to double your width to accommodate the elevator door inside the wall when it is open.

These details all affect how easy it is to access the elevator.  

Manual or Automatic

Last but not least, you have your choice of either manual or automatic operation. While automatic elevators still require an emergency manual operation option, the automatic sliding doors work with the touch of a button. Manual doors are more affordable and come generally in two options: swing doors opening out or accordion-style doors you drag across the entry.

Considering each of these elements carefully will help you find the best residential home elevator for your needs and budget. You can read more blog posts.


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