Symmetry Elevators Blog: Articles About Home Elevators & Lifts

What are the Different Types of Residential Elevators?

With the increased popularity of aging-in-place, home elevators are more popular than ever. Once considered a luxury for the wealthy, home elevators are now affordable investments that improve people’s ability to live independently in their homes. The many types of residential elevators available offer solutions whether you plan to age in place, improve your existing mobility, or add value to your home.

Choosing between types of elevators can be confusing without help from residential elevator professionals. What’s the difference between an inline gear drive and a hydraulic elevator? Do you need a shaftless elevator or a winding drum elevator? Which types of residential elevators can you install in older homes, and which are best-suited for new construction? Here we’ll look at the types of elevators on the market today, list their distinct features, and help you make the best decision for your needs.

What are the Different Types of Home Elevators?

Symmetry offers five types of residential elevators:

  • Shaftless Home Elevator
  • Pitless Home Elevator
  • Inline Gear Drive Elevator
  • Hydraulic Drive Elevator
  • Winding Drum Drive Elevator

Shaftless Home Elevator

A shaftless home elevator provides travel to two floors through a single floor opening, making them an excellent choice for a two-story home. Shaftless elevators require only minimal home alterations as they do not require a shaftway, machine room, or elevator pit. The drive system for the elevator — usually a winding drum drive — sits above the elevator and pulls the elevator car up and down rails attached to a supporting wall.

Unlike most other types of elevators, shaftless home elevators use hold-to-run operation, giving you complete control over your ride. Safety sensors at the top and bottom of the elevator car’s path stop the car In the event of an obstruction in the elevator’s path.

Sleek and compact, a Symmetry shaftless home elevator provides full access to existing two-story homes and takes up minimal space. A shaftless elevator is definitely something to consider if you’re renovating your existing home as you prepare to age in place.

Why You Should Choose a Shaftless Elevator for Your Home

Pitless Home Elevator

Many types of residential elevators require a pit installed at the bottom of the elevator hoistway. The pit is an extension of the hoistway that allows the elevator car to sit level with the floor at its lowest landing. the typical depth for an elevator pit is 8”.

Excavating an elevator pit is not always possible in existing homes. Even when space exists for an elevator pit, excavation is expensive. Besides, you may not want to dig into your finished floors.

A pitless home elevator, as the name implies, operates without the need for a pit. At Symmetry, we offer pitless features on two types of elevators: Our Inline gear drive and winding drum drive applications with front-opening elevator cars.

Inline Gear Drive

Some types of residential elevators require a machine room to house the drive unit, controller, and electrical equipment, including the main disconnect switches. The average machine room has a footprint of 38” by 48”, or just over 12.6 square feet. Finding space for a machine room can be challenging in an existing home.

The Symmetry inline gear drive home elevator does not require a machine room, allowing you to save space. Our inline gear drive elevator houses the drive unit at the top of the elevator shaft instead of in a machine room and has a capacity of 1,000 lbs. Inline gear drives are available in pitless models and models that require 6” to 8” elevator pits. Check with your local authority having jurisdiction to confirm that the controller is allowed to be installed in the hoistway. Your local dealer may also be able to help with this.

Hydraulic Drive Home Elevators

Hydraulic drive elevators offer some of the quietest rides of all types of elevators. Unlike an inline gear drive, which uses a counterweight to raise and lower the elevator car, a hydraulic drive works by filling and releasing fluid into an airtight cylinder attached to a ram or piston. 

Hydraulic drive elevators require a machine room and elevator pit but can serve up to six stops, making them ideal for homes with more than two levels. The Symmetry hydraulic drive elevator includes emergency battery-operated lowering as a standard feature, making it unique in the market. includes Symmetry in The Best Home Elevators of 2022

Winding Drum Drive

Winding drum drive elevators operate by wrapping and unwrapping heavy-duty aircraft cables to a rotating drum located at the top of the elevator hoistway. One of the most time-tested types of residential elevators, winding drum drives are known for their reliability. While older winding drum drives often produced rough, uneven rides, the Symmetry winding drum elevator uses a variable speed motor to ensure smooth stops and starts.

Like the hydraulic drive, a winding drum drive is may be used for multi-story homes and can accommodate up to six stops or 50’0” of travel.

How Do You Know Which Elevator is Right for Your Needs?

You need to evaluate many considerations when buying a residential elevator, and deciding on an elevator model without help can be difficult. Talking to a home elevator professional helps you make the right choice for your home. Contact your local Symmetry elevator dealer today, or check out our online home elevator resources.

Start Planning Your Home Elevator Today

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