Can you think of a time when you needed help carrying something upstairs in your home? Or perhaps down the stairs to a basement or garage?
Over the past four decades, many people have asked us for help with this problem. Now, we would like to offer some tips and information that we hope you find helpful.
Here are just a few situations when our customers have needed help transporting items in their homes:
- Aging in place: As we get older, it is normal to have trouble carrying stuff around your house.
- Large home: Of course, it is even more difficult if you are blessed with a large house!
- Tall home: A home doesn’t need to be large to have many stairs!
- Unique or challenging home design: We have installed lifts in ranch homes with a basement, often when the house design makes it challenging to go between floors. One example is if the home’s only staircase goes from the garage to the basement, but, for many of our clients, ANY staircase makes for a challenging home design.
- Personal habits: If you enjoy decorating for the holiday seasons, you might need help transporting decorations.
- Planning ahead: It is becoming more and more common for home owners to prepare for the challenge of moving objects around by purchasing a lift or dumbwaiter, rather than waiting until it’s already very difficult.
What Types of Residential Lifts Are Available?
The situations described above are just some examples of when you might need help moving items around in your home.
Whether it’s holiday decorations, luggage, or everyday items like groceries, a lifting device for your home could be beneficial.
So rest assured, it is very common to need help with this problem. But what are the options for getting help?
Here is a list of types of equipment to assist with moving heavy items up and down stairs in your home:
- Stair lifts, also known as stairway chairlifts
- Commercial grade material lifts
Dumbwaiters are like miniature elevators for carrying stuff, not people or animals.These specialty lifts are not as common as stairway lifts or home elevators. However, they are specifically designed to carry heavy and bulky objects between floors of a home.
The typical footprint of a residential dumbwaiter is about a 3 foot x 3 foot area, though it can be smaller. The weight capacity is usually 100 to 500 pounds.
Common use cases for home dumbwaiters include moving grocery bags, laundry baskets, and travel luggage. Residential dumbwaiters can even move items between multiple floors in a house, unlike some other styles of lifting equipment which are limited to two floors. Keep reading to see the comparison table at the bottom of this page for more information.
Stair lifts, also known as stairway chairlifts, are designed to transport people safely from one floor to another.
Many people who purchase a stairway chairlift also plan to use the chair to move objects up and down stairs in their home.
One advantage that stair lifts have over dumbwaiters and other lifts is that they are compact and require no construction. They are compact because the stair lift rail attaches directly to the stair treads on one side of the stairs and the chair folds up when not in use. This construction-free design also makes stairway chairlifts the lowest cost option compared to other lifts.
Stair lift weight capacity typically varies from 300 to 400 pounds.
Safety Tips for Moving Items with Your Stair Lift
While stair lifts are commonly used to move things as well as people, it is important to keep in mind several safety factors when transporting items:
- Make sure that the items are secured properly using the stair lift seatbelt. This makes it less likely that something will fall over and out of the chair during travel.
- Ensure that nothing is dangling below the seat. The drive mechanism of the stair lift is located underneath the chair, so it is important to keep that area clear from other objects.
- Only transport items that you can safely load AND unload from the stair lift chair at the top and bottom of the stairs. At the bottom, this should be similar to moving something off of an armchair sitting on the ground level. At the top, the stair lift chair must swivel above the top step and lock into place, and then it is like moving something off of an armchair positioned a few inches in front of you.
- Do not use a stair lift to carry material that would be too heavy to safely hand carry up or down the stairs. Instead, you should consider purchasing a dumbwaiter or other lift.
With these stair lift safety tips in mind, the two stair lift models we most often recommend to transport items are the Bruno Elite and the Stannah Siena.
Best Stair Lifts for Transporting Items
Both the Stannah Siena and Bruno Elite stair lifts have configurations that can accommodate straight staircases and turning staircases. The Bruno Elite also comes in an outdoor stair lift version for porches, decks, and outside staircases down to the lake.
Using Home Elevators or Residential Wheelchair Lifts to Transport Items
Much like stair lifts, home elevators and residential wheelchair lifts are designed to carry people upstairs and downstairs. However, it is also very common for them to be used to carry pets and physical items.
As with stairway lifts, caution and common sense are needed to avoid equipment damage and to ensure safety. If you have any questions at all, it is important to consult your home elevator installation and service company rather than take a chance and see what happens.
Some safety tips to keep in mind when moving objects on a home elevator or residential wheelchair lift:
- Always ride the home elevator or wheelchair lift along with the objects and hold them in place if necessary.
- Avoid tall items like broomsticks and folding chairs that might fall over during travel, and get lodged against a gate or door frame.
- Do not exceed the weight limit of the elevator or lift.
- Ensure that all parts of the material stay inside the car or platform as it travels up and down. Any piece or part falling over the edge could trip a safety sensor or interfere with the drive mechanism outside of the elevator car or lift platform.
If there is any doubt whatsoever about being able to follow these safety tips, find another way to transport the items.
Most commonly, our clients will add a wheelchair lift to an elevated entryway such as a garage, or near a porch or deck. These high traffic areas make it a natural choice to use the lift in other situations, such as unloading groceries, or bringing packages into the home. Alternatively, residential elevators are more typically found in high traffic areas within the home’s interior where they can be used to move all types of holiday decorations, boxes, and even pets from one floor to another.
Home elevators and residential wheelchair lifts generally have higher weight capacities than stair lifts, as well as larger areas that can be used to move boxes and other items. If you plan to transport the same items up and down stairs regularly, be sure to share that with your home elevator company so that they can advise you properly when it comes to selecting the right home lift for your needs. When done safely, using a lift to transport items within your home can help you save time and make your home more accessible in the long run.
Residential Material Lifts
Dumbwaiters, home elevators and stair lifts are the most popular equipment choices for people who need help moving stuff upstairs or downstairs within their home. However, there are other, larger lifts designed to move materials, but not people, within buildings.
While they are usually installed in non-residential buildings such as industrial plants, athletic facilities, and retail buildings, it is possible to install a material lift in a residential building.
Typically, we would only recommend this if current and future accessibility is neither a short-term nor a long-term concern. Or, if accessibility is being achieved through other means, such as a separate lift or elevator.
A residential material lift could also make sense if there are specific material handling needs that exceed the capabilities of a stair lift, home elevator, and home dumbwaiter.
Which Type of Lift is Right For Me?
As you can see, there are several types of lifting equipment available for those looking to transport items up and down stairs. It’s important to consider current needs, as well as long- term accessibility needs, when deciding what solution is best for you.
Below is a comparison chart showing the variety of solutions available to move objects within a home:
|Residential Dumbwaiters||Stairway Chairlifts||Home Elevators||Residential Wheelchair Lifts||Material Lifts|
|Can transport |
|Can transport a person in a wheelchair?||No||No||Yes*||Yes||No|
|Can travel |
|Medium||None||Light to |
|Light to |
|100 lbs to |
|250 lbs to |
|400 lbs to |
|750 lbs||750 lbs |
|Cost||$$||$||$$$||$$-$$$||$$ – $$$|
These dumbwaiters, lifts and elevators are all specialized equipment. As such, it is crucial to consult a qualified expert before selecting a solution and making a purchase.
With over 35 years of experience with all of these types of home lifts, Arrow Lift is here to help on your next project. Our goal is to make your home safer, more accessible, and more convenient for you and your loved ones!