Residential Home Elevators’ Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How Much Will it Cost?

Many factors affect the final installed cost of an elevator. You really need to contact the sales staff at Premier Lift Products, Inc. to get accurate cost estimates. Listed below are some of the parameters that factor into the pricing of your home elevator:

  • The number of floors (stops) the elevator will serve.
  • The kind of machine to be used (Compact winding cable drum, Overhead winding cable drum, Overhead traction, roped hydraulic or vacuum).
  • The total number of feet the elevator will travel.
  • The number of door openings there will be in the elevator cab.
  • Cab size: standard size (36″ wide x 48″ deep) or larger cab sizes.
  • Cab interior: Standard or optional custom cab interior upgrades.
  • Any other options such as raised panel cabs, power gates, power doors, etc.

Another big variable in completed project cost is the construction of the hoistway. The cost of a hoistway constructed in a new home is usually minimal.  The cost of a hoistway constructed in an existing home can vary dramatically based on site conditions.  Construction costs can range from minimal to more than the cost of the elevator.
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What is the Difference Between Cable Drum, Traction, Pneumatic Vacuum, and Hydraulic Drives?

Most home elevators use cables or chains to move the cab from one level to another, the difference is in how those cables or chains are driven…

  • Hydraulic units use a hydraulic piston or jack to push on a loop of cable connected to the car that moves the car up & down at a 2:1 lift ratio. Simply put, as the piston extends or retracts 1 foot, the cab moves 2 feet.  Because of the 2:1 lift ratio, a jack hole is not needed like you may see on some direct drive commercial elevators.
  • Winding drum units simply have the support cables wrap on a large spool or drum to move the car up and down.
  • Traction drive units use counterweights to balance the weight of the car.  The motor simply moves the weights down as the car goes up via the cables or chains.
  • Pneumatic Vacuum units use a powerful vacuum to actually suck the car up the hoistway tube – YES, just like at the bank drive up! The system uses mechanical latching mechanisms to hold the car in place at each floor. To go down, the unit uses the vacuum for a few seconds to draw the unit up off the latches, then the car just floats down to the desired floor.

Other differences: In years past, a big difference between the machine types for the home owner was that hydraulic elevators offered two features that others elevator drives did not… “Emergency battery lowering in case of power failure” and “variable speed for soft starts & stops”. That has changed! Today, all home elevators have an emergency battery lowering device & variable speed as standard features. The standard VVVF (variable speed variable frequency) drives on winding drum and traction drives elevators softens the starts and the stops… the feel is nearly identical to riding in a hydraulic elevator.  Even though the VVVF drive on traction and winding drum units is relatively quiet, the hydraulic units are usually still the quietest. See “How big does the machine room need to be?” for additional differences.
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What Kind of Guarantee or Warranty is Available?

Most residential elevator manufacturers provide a 2 or 3-year limited parts warranty. Premier Lift Products, Inc. compliments the manufacturer’s warranty by including a limited 1-year labor warranty on all our installations.
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What Kind of Interiors Can I Get?

There are a lot of interiors to choose from.  Base car finishes typically include a selection of melamine finishes or unfinished hardwood veneers such as birch, oak, maple or Alder. If you want a step up, choose one of our Premier Lift Luxury cab wood interiors. A variety of beautiful raised panel cabs are available. Your interior choices are all solid hardwoods and can be clear-coated or unfinished, Wood species include: oak, cherry, walnut, mahogany, maple, alder, ash and others. Lastly, let your own taste be your guide. If you choose a standard cab with an unfinished hardwood veneer you can paint it or stain it any color you want. You can also use your own finish carpenter to add architectural details to truly personalize your home elevator. The modern look of glass a car is also available.
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What Will the Elevator Look Like in My House?

Typically, the outside of the elevator hoistway looks like all of the other interior walls and doors you have in your home.  Except for the hall pushbutton station which will be located on the wall adjacent to the door handle and the interlock which is located on the interior of the door itself, you won’t even be able to tell it’s an elevator until you open the door!
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What is Standard on an Elevator and What is an Option?

Except for the construction & site preparation, everything you need to have a code compliant, safe, working elevator (including freight, sales tax, installation, wiring of the elevator controls and permit fees) is included in the price you will be given by the Premier Lift Products sales staff.  It is strictly up to the home owner if any options or upgrades are desired.
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What Options are Recommended?

Any option you choose is at your discretion. Working closely with the Premier Lift Products, Inc. sales staff will help you understand what options are best for you, your lifestyle, and your home design. The most important thing is to make sure the elevator size and features will meet your needs today and into the future.
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How Big Does the Hoistway Need to Be?

For a standard 36″ wide x 48″ deep (clear inside) elevator, with all doors on the same side a 52″ wide x 56″ deep clear inside shaft is typically needed.
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How Long Does it Take to Manufacture an Elevator?

After we release the unit for production by sending the “approved” elevator shop drawings back to the manufacturer, it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks to manufacture. Some special order models can take longer

Full “approval” requires the home owner or contractor/builder and Elevator Project Manager to field verify all the hoistway dimensions and confirm all of the elevator features & selections. All of these selections are documented on the elevator blue prints called “shop drawings”.  Then “approval” is signed by the builder, owner & elevator project manager.
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How Long Does it Take to Install an Elevator?

This answer is dependent on the progress of the construction or remodeling of your home. Quite frequently, our installers can get most of this work done quickly, typically a total of 3-5 days on site.  However, these may not be consecutive days if site preparation work remains that prevents us from finishing the elevator, at which point we will return at a later date. Some examples of such items would be: hoistway doors not being hung, wall finishes not complete or the electrical power & phone service are not ready.  Additionally, the elevator cannot be placed into operation until it has been inspected and approved by the local or state elevator inspector.  The inspection itself is typically performed near the end of the construction project, just before the “final inspection” by the local building inspector.  In addition to the elevator installation being completed, all construction work related to the elevator (such as electrical fixtures or floor covering) or work adjacent to the elevator hoistway needs to be done before we can schedule the inspection.
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How Deep Does the Pit Need to Be?

Most home elevators require the pit to be 9”-12″ deep – below the top of the basement floor, but that depends on the style, model and brand of elevator. Although, too deep is always better than too shallow.  Contact the sales staff at Premier Lift Products, Inc. for details.
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What Size (Hoistway and/or Cab) Does the Elevator Need to Be for a Wheelchair?

That really depends on the size of the wheelchair.  The minimum recommended cab size is 36″ wide x 48″ deep.  However, we have seen a trend of wheelchairs becoming larger over the years, so bigger is better where wheelchairs are concerned.  Elevator code allows the cab to be up to 15 square feet in size. Today, our most common cab size (wheelchair or not) is the 15 sq. ft. 40″ wide x 54″ deep. Remember, the size of the hoistway will vary according to the cab size, drive style, the number of door openings in the cab, and where the openings are located (in-line, opposite or 90 degree adjacent). Never begin construction without the actual lay-out drawings for your specific application.  This is a big mistake we see all too often!
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Is a Machine Room Required?

Yes and No.  It depends on the **type of drive** and your specific situation … for a more detailed answer, read the answers to the next question regarding elevator machine rooms.

How Big Does the Machine Room Need to Be?

That depends on the **type of drive** and your specific situation…

**Standard winding cable drum elevators with the machine is typically located at the lowest level to the side of the elevator, but the location is also very flexible and can be located on the second floor or even the third floor in certain applications.  All that is required for what we call the “Compact Side Drive” is an 18″ deep enclosure called the “Machine Build Out” at one level of the home.

**Overhead machines, whether a winding drum cable drive or traction drive, does not require a “machine room”.  All that’s required is 9’ of overhead clearance at the top landing and a location outside of the hoistway to locate the elevator’s control cabinet – typically in a storage or utility room. The machine mounts to the top of the guide rail and can be serviced from an access door typically located above the elevator entry door.

**Hydraulic elevators typically require a machine space that is 4’ x 4’ and can be located just about anywhere – typically the basement or garage (depending on ambient temperature). Using a lockable pump unit and controller allows us to place the elevator equipment in a store room or the utility room with-out the need for a “dedicated machine room” (assuming proper working clearances are provided in accordance with NEC regulations).

Pneumatic Vacuum elevators do not need a machine room.  All that’s required is 9’ of overhead clearance at the top landing with clear access to the vacuum motors and controller located on the top of the elevator

Site conditions, local elevator codes & building codes dictate the machine space requirements so contact the sales staff at Premier Lift Products, Inc. for details.
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How Do I Need to Frame the Walls to Support the Elevator?

Framing requirements vary with each model of elevator.  Typically, support blocking (such as LVL posts) will be added into one hoistway wall to support the elevator structure. Support blocking requirements & details will be provided with the shop drawings for the elevator. Contact the sales staff at Premier Lift Products, Inc. for more details.
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What is the Difference Between Premier Lift Products, Inc. and the Competition?

Premier Lift Products, Inc. is a family owned and operated business specializing in home elevators for more than 20 years.  We have a wealth of experience, knowledge and a rich heritage of customer service. We work with you to make sure the elevator you choose is the best one to meet your needs. Read more about the background of Premier Lift Products, Inc.
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Also see our general Frequently Asked Questions page for information on code compliance and funding sources.