Choosing a Home Elevator: Hoistway vs. Through Floor

If you are one of the millions of Americans with mobility issues and you live in a multistory home, you may have considered having a residential elevator installed. When considering a home elevator, there are two distinct elevator classifications that homeowners should consider.

  1. Hoistway Elevator
  2. Through Floor Elevator

Hoistway Elevators

A hoistway elevator is what most people envision when they think of an elevator. It requires an elevator shaft or hoistway and is lowered and raised using a traditional elevator drive system. These include roped hydraulic, winding drum, counter weight, vacuum and gearless systems.

The advantages to a hoistway system include the ability to make more than two stops (typically up to 50’), higher weight capacities (typically up to 1000 lbs), the ability to customize the features and finish in the elevator cab, and added home value.

While traditional residential elevators are no longer a luxury solely for the rich and famous, they are the costlier home elevator option. Having a hoistway elevator system installed starts at about $50,000 based on the make, model, and home layout. This will include $20,000 to $30,000 for shaft construction and prep work and $30,000 for the elevator unit and installation.

One reason for the higher price tag is the added electrical and construction costs. To install most styles of hoistway elevator, an elevator shaft must be built into the home with additional space at the bottom for an elevator pit and at the top for mechanicals. In some cases, a separate mechanical room may also be required. All of this adds up to space that many existing homes simply don’t have. The extensive renovation required for a hoistway elevator also means the entire process including shaft construction can take weeks to be completed. The actual installtion of the elevator should take approximately 5 days.

Through Floor Elevators

For those with a smaller budget or limited space in their home, a through floor or two-stop elevator may be the solution. This type of home elevator usually requires less space and renovation work and typically starts at about $29,000 with installation.

As the name suggests, these elevators work by passing through a cut-out in the floor using a guide rail system and can make two stops. Sensors are used to detect objects above or below the elevator cab, to protect from injury. For through floor elevators, no shaft or hoistway needs to be constructed, which often shortens installation time to days rather than weeks.

However, the lower cost and easier installation come with drawbacks. Through floor elevators have lower weight capacities (typically 550 lbs) and are limited to two stops. So if you need to transport more than 500 lbs or require access to more than two levels of the home, this type of residential elevator may not be right for you. Other drawbacks include limited customization options and the loss of usable floor space.

Two examples of a through floor elevators are the Wessex Elesse Lift and Savaria Telecab which are both available with expert installation from Freedom Lifts.