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Elevator Plan: What is in an Elevator Design Guide?

An elevator design guide, also known as a planning guide, is a document that contains the details necessary for the inclusion of an elevator into a construction project. Elevator planning guides are an essential step in the planning and construction process. While such guides primarily meet the needs of the architect and general contractor working on the project, guides provide everyone with valuable information on the standard and optional features of the elevator. A home elevator design guide allows homeowners to visualize their finished project and consider elements of elevator installation and use they might otherwise overlook.

The Information in the Design Guide

A design guide will include specifications for elevator equipment, available hoistway configurations, machine room details, and hoistway construction information. Important questions are also addressed, including but not limited to:

What is the maximum travel distance for the elevator?

Maximum travel distance is one of the most crucial elevator specifications to consider when buying a home elevator. The required travel distance is one of the factors which determines the right elevator type for your home. For instance, a shaftless elevator has a maximum travel distance of fourteen feet: enough to service two standard house floors. A hydraulic home elevator is a better choice for multilevel stops, as it has a maximum travel distance of up to fifty feet and can service up to six stops.

How fast will the elevator move?

An elevator for home use usually doesn’t need to move at the same speed as a commercial elevator, but at the same time, you want to reach your destination quickly. Most home elevators have a travel speed of forty feet per minute (fpm), except for shaftless home elevators, which have travel speeds of fourteen fpm.

What is the rated capacity of the elevator?

Your elevator design guide will also list the elevator’s rated capacity or the maximum weight the elevator can safely lift. The rated capacity for home elevators can range from 400 lbs to 1,000 lbs. Elevators intended to transport multiple passengers or heavy items should have high rated capacities.

What pit depth is required for the elevator car to be level with the lowest landing floor?

Some elevators require a pit be dug beneath the elevator car to house machinery or the bottom of the car. Your home elevator design guide will reveal how deep this pit needs to be. On average, pit depth for home elevators ranges from six to eight inches deep, with eight inches being preferred. 

Pit installation is not always possible when installing home elevators in existing buildings. If this is the case, your elevator planning guide will recommend either a shaftless or pitless elevator.

What is the overhead requirement for an elevator?

Home elevator drive systems include winding drum drives, inline gear, and hydraulic drive systems. The elevator design guide will provide all drive specifications. Check out How Do Residential Elevators Work for more information on driver systems.

The design guide is an appropriate location to see typical drawings so that you get a better sense of the layout of the elevator. You will also find standard information for the construction of the elevator hoistway.

How many stops can the elevator have?

Dependent on the model, home elevators can serve two to six stops. For example, the Symmetry Shaftless Home Elevator will only serve 2 stops, with their inline gear drive or hydraulic elevators can serve up to 6 stops.

Home Elevator Interior Design

Give some thought to home elevator interior design during the planning process. You may wish to customize elevators by choosing optional doors, lighting, or accent features. You may also prefer customized car panels, landing gates, and control fixtures. All such choices should go into your elevator planning guide, so you have a record for easy reference.

Additional Questions

Once you review the home elevator design guide with your construction team, they will be able to begin planning your project. The drawings in the design guides are for planning purposes only and should not be used for construction. You should contact your local home elevator company to get the most accurate information for your specific application. These individuals will provide a job-specific set of elevator plans and assist you in identifying resources to ensure your plans comply with applicable codes and the permitting authorities.

Start Planning Your Home Elevator Today

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