The traditional residential elevator is excellent for helping people access all levels of their homes but takes up a fair amount of space. Not everyone has the space to accommodate an elevator shaft, pit, and machine room. Thanks to the development of small residential elevators like the shaftless elevator, even small homes can be modified for people with limited mobility or people planning to age in place.
Anatomy of a Shaftless Elevator
A shaftless home elevator, as the name implies, lacks an elevator shaft or hoistway. The hoistway encloses the car of a traditional elevator and includes a pit beneath the lowest landing, so the car floor sits flush with the landing floor. The shaft and enclosed car connect to a machine room, where the drive mechanism for the elevator resides.
A shaftless elevator has no hoistway. Instead, the car travels along a rail system set against a wall or partial enclosure, with the drive mechanism housed at the top of the elevator making it a much more affordable solution too.
How Does a Shaftless Elevator Work?
A winding drum is a common drive system on shaftless elevators. A winding drum system uses steel ropes attached to a revolving drum to raise and lower the elevator car. Winding drum drive mechanisms are known for dependability.
To operate a shaftless home elevator, you push and hold the control button. The elevator will only move if the button is depressed.
Are Shaftless Elevators Safe?
Shaftless elevators are very safe. A safety pan is present on both the top and bottom of the car. If an obstacle is encountered, the car comes to an immediate stop, preventing damage and potential injury. As noted above, users have to press and hold control buttons for elevator operation. Releasing the control button also stops the elevator.
Shaftless home elevator car doors have their own safety features. An interlock system prevents the elevator from moving unless the doors are closed correctly. Battery backup power ensures users can exit the elevator safely in power outages.
Shaftless Elevator Sizes
As small residential elevators, shaftless home elevators generally have compact car sizes. The standard size for a shaftless elevator car is 33” x 35” x 76” and intended for one to two people, with a load capacity of 400 lbs. Other elevator car sizes are available.
Shaftless Home Elevator Advantages
- Alternative to stair lift
- Easy to install
- Small installation footprint
- Convenient solution to mobility issues
- Fit into tight spaces and open floor plans
- No pit or machine room, which lowers installation costs
- Can be open on three sides or partially enclosed
- Uses a standard 120 VAC outlet
- Includes constant pressure controls and external sensors for safety
Shaftless Elevator Limitations
- Shaftless elevators typically are compact systems. They can only hold one or two people at a time.
- Maximum weight capacity is lower than traditional residential elevators.
- A shaftless home elevator can only access two floors, so it may not be the right choice for multi-story homes.