Home elevators are essential for seniors with limited mobility who live in multi-story homes, as they give them an alternative to using a staircase. Wheelchair or mobility scooter users in particular will find home elevators very helpful.
Why Home Elevators Are Important
The US Census Bureau reports that there are 49.2 million adults above the age of 65 living in the United States. Out of this number, about one fifth have difficulty walking or climbing.
At some point, most of these seniors will find that they can no longer move freely in their homes, especially when they live in a home with multiple floors. In these instances, a home elevator could help the senior regain their independence to some degree.
Why Home Elevators Are Worth It
The diversity and competition in the market has pushed home elevator prices down and they’re becoming cheaper and cheaper.
While remodeling your home by relocating bedrooms and bathrooms to the ground floor can be helpful, it is more economical in the long run to install a home elevator. Leaving everything as it is may also be preferable to the senior, as they probably have memories attached to different parts of their home. Relocating rooms will also leave you with less living space, which can be a waste.
The other option is to sell your multi-story home and move to a home that only has one floor, but this is also inconvenient, expensive, and usually unappealing to the senior for a variety of reasons. Consequently, installing a home elevator has become the best solution for seniors struggling with mobility challenges.
Types of Home Elevators
There are numerous types of home elevators that are designed to cater to the needs of the user. Home elevators are usually classified based on the drive system and how the cabin rises and lowers. Regardless of the drive system in use, though, home elevators come in varying styles, designs, and sizes.
Cable-driven elevators are usually the most affordable. On the other hand, pneumatic elevators are generally the most expensive. Other home elevators that fall in between in terms of cost include chain driven, traction units, and hydraulic elevators, all of which are discussed in further detail below.
Compact elevators are designed to fit into small spaces, while larger models are spacious and can accommodate a wheelchair. Compact elevators can be a discreet part of your home and can also enhance your home’s décor.
Cable-Driven Home Elevators
Cable-driven elevators have a shaft, car, control system, and counterweights, and some larger models require a mechanical room. They resemble the elevators that are found in commercial buildings, and they obviously consume a lot of space due to their large shaft and mechanical room.
As a result, this kind of home elevator is most easily installed when the home is built with its installation in mind, as opposed to installing it into an already existing home.
Chain-Driven Home Elevators
Chain-driven elevators are not much different from cable driven elevators. Instead of having a cable that raises and lowers the cabin, they use a chain that is wound around a drum. Chains are great because they are more durable than cables and do not require frequent replacement. They also don’t require a separate machine room, which helps save space.
Traction Home Elevators
Traction elevators are designed to slide up and down a track with a counterweight. They are an excellent choice for existing homes because they do not require the installation of a machine room or pits that extend into the ground.
That being said, a traction elevator will need additional space, preferably above the elevator, to house essential parts that are necessary for raising and lowering the car.
Hydraulic Home Elevators
Hydraulic elevators are operated by a piston that moves inside a cylinder. The entire power system is housed inside the elevator shaft, therefore a machine room is not needed. The controller easily fits into the cabinet that should be placed near the elevator.
Cylinders for holed hydraulic systems need to extend into the ground to the same depth as the feet of the elevator. On the other hand, hydraulic systems without holes do not require a pit.
Pneumatic elevators require a vacuum system to power their movement but do not require a pit or machine room. This means it’s relatively easy to fit one into an existing home.
Home Elevator Costs
The cost of installing a home elevator will vary based on a number of factors. Although they’re not cheap, they add value to a home and make it possible for seniors to safely get around their homes.
Installing a home elevator to your home comes with construction costs. This may include relocating wiring, ductwork, and plumbing. Alternatively, a shaft can be built on an exterior wall to reduce labor costs.
Retrofitting a home elevator can cost thousands of dollars. Making interior upgrades, such as modifying wall panel materials or changing the flooring and lighting system, can also add to the cost.
Note that home elevators are usually intended for two-story homes. When a home has three or more stories, the cost of installation may greatly increase because most home elevators are only designed to handle one or two levels.
Costs that accompany home elevators of different types include:
- Installation costs: Regardless of the elevator type, the average cost of installing a home elevator is around $19,000 to $20,000
- Hydraulic elevators: The cost of installing a hydraulic elevator is around $30,000 to $40,000
- Pneumatic elevators: On average, for the elevator itself, the cost of installation is around $40,000
- Cable-driven elevators: The cost of installing a cable driven elevator is around $20,000
- Chain-driven elevators: The cost of installing a chain driven elevator is around $25,000
- MRL elevators: On average, the cost of installing an MLR elevator is around $10,000 to $18,000
A House Should Be Designed with a Home Elevator in Mind
Whenever possible, it is more cost effective to install a home elevator on a new building as opposed to retrofitting the elevator into a home. That’s because, when they’re building the house, the architects can factor the elevator shaft into the home plan. This will provide the homeowner with options and make installation easy in the future.Retrofitting an elevator shaft may require demolishing some walls and excavating concrete, which pushes the cost of installation through the roof. If retrofitting is your only option, though, hydraulic elevators, pneumatic elevators, or electric motor elevators are your most ideal options.