Posts Tagged "aging in place"

9Dec

Greener Elevators and Lifts can save you money

by Andrew @ Uppercut
Commercial Accessibility Home Accessibility Home Elevators News and Such

When I think of making an environmentally sound decision, especially if it pertains to green elevators or a lift purchase, I can point out 3 contributing factors .

 

                          alberta               #1 Where is the device  manufactured?

This seems pretty obvious but if you can purchase a locally manufactured elevator or lift, the transportation impact can be minimized. Buying local not only reduces emissions it saves you money on shipping costs associated with replacement parts.

 

 

#2 What impact could the drive mechanism have on the environment?

Devices that utilize large hydraulic pumps and reservoirs may need to have precautionary measures were taken, such as oil separators in the event of a hydraulic oil leak. This is to ensure that the oil cannot seep into the ground or water table. Some jurisdictions in the past have asked that food grade oil is used in order to alleviate this concern. Elevators and lifts that utilize a Traction Home elevatorCounter Weight or Screw Drive don’t actually pose this risk, as no hydraulic fluid is used. These greener solutions only require a 2″-3″  pit (or no pit at all) so there is less concern with disturbing ground water. You may even be able to save some money on your site preparation as hydraulic elevators can require anywhere from a 6″ to 60″ pit.

#3 What are the ongoing energy costs?

This cost is two fold; the energy consumed as it relates to the environment and the monetary cost directly to you. Do your research on how much energy your elevator or lift will require operating. Devices with a mechanical advantage such as a traction counterweight drive will be up to 50% more energy efficient that a comparative hydraulic unit. Hydraulic elevators have to pump fluid into a cylinder which is often located in a separate machine room.

It doesn’t matter if  your goal is to consciously protect the environment or simply save some money (energy costs, site preparation , and maintenance), it’s apparent that the two can go hand in hand.

 

For more information Elevators and Lifts please click here or contact us for a free consultation.

 

11Sep

Free Tickets to the Calgary Home + Design Show

by Andrew @ Uppercut

The Calgary Home and Design Show is just around the corner, and we would love to see you there!

The show runs from September 17th – 20th at the BMO Center. Show hours are:

Thursday – 4pm-9pm20150227_141223

Friday – noon – 9pm

Saturday – 10am – 9pm

Sunday 10am – 6pm

We have 4 sets of tickets to give away to the first 4 people to email Andrew – Simple as that!

Send Andrew an e-mail and the tickets are yours.

We are located in booth #324 so stop by and say hello.

What does a stair lift cost?

by Andrew @ Uppercut

Well what does a stair lift cost? Before we can answer the question you need to be aware of what is included in the quote.

What does a stair lift cost?

Stair Lifts – for straight stairways

Along with a detailed quotation specifying the product offering it is important to know if the quoted price includes:

  • Shipping (especially if you buy on-line)
  • Installation
  • Warranty
  • A custom device build specifically for your stairs (for curved stair-lifts)

Once you have determined what is included the next step will be to evaluate the company who you are purchasing the lift from.

  • Do they have an office and a showroom where you can view the product?
  • Do they have factory trained technicians on staff?
  • Do they have staff specifically dedicated to lifting devices?
  • Can you reach them after hours?
  • Do you get directed to a 1-800 number or a call center, or do they have a customer service department?
  • Is the product they are offering you the only choice they have, or is it the best choice?

Now you are ready to make an”apples to apples” comparison. We would offer a straight run Stair-Lift for approximately  $3000.00 +- 10% depending on the installation. Our price would include an installation by a factory trained technician. It would also include the warranty and shipping. We invite our clients to call us and book an appointment in their home or to come and visit us in our showroom. Our knowledgeable sales team is supported by a group of skilled technicians who deal solely with lifting devices.

For  more information on Stair Lifts contact us or click here for a brochure.

 

 

 

28Aug

Custom Curved Stair Lifts

by Andrew @ Uppercut

custom curved stair liftsMany people are unaware that a stair-lift can accommodate stairs which bend or turn. While straight run units are more common, as home designs change, custom curved stair lifts are raising in popularity. There are a variety of quality chair lifts on the market. The following post will outline some of the things to consider when choosing a stair-lift provider.

 

Custom built VS off the shelf

Our preference is to use a manufacturer that builds their stair lift exactly for your stairway. This ensures the tightest possible fit to minimize any obstruction on the stairs. This process requires a trained individual to measure your stairs using a special camera and a series of tiles. These pictures are uploaded into a program, and then site specific drawings are created. Once the drawing is approved the lift can go into production. This entire process usually take 4-8 weeks.

 

Alternatively some manufactures offer standard “off the shelf ” bends. It is our experience that when a track is not built specifically for your stairway you run the risk of wider turns or uneven spacing where the track winds around  landings. It’s like if you went to the shoe store and needed a size 9 shoe but all the clerk could offer you was a size 8 or a 10. While the size 10 may work, it’s not the best possible fit. An advantage of “off the shelf” units is that they can typically be provided in under 4 weeks.

Both Custom and off the shelf curved stairlifts sell for approximately the same price.

Experience

It is important to know how long the company you choose to deal with has been selling and installing stair lifts. I personally have close to 18 years of experience specifically dedicated to accessibility lifts. Our technical support team has installed a multitude of curved and straight run lifts over the years. With all this experience we can ensure your lift is quoted to meet your needs, is measured correctly, and installed in a professional manner.

Detailed Quotations

Make sure you examine your quotation closely. Does it detail the path of your lift? Did the sales person provide a drawing or a sketch? If you accept a quotation from a vendor that is not detailed , you run the risk of having the device not function as you may of thought. For instance was the stair-lift meant to bend 180 degrees at the bottom landing to clear a hallway? Would you benefit from having the device over-run at the top landing and possibly park 90 degrees around a corner? It’s very important to have all the bends detailed to ensure you are making an “apple to apples” comparison.

For more information on stair lifts contact us or click here

For information on straight run stair lifts click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5Jun

New Government Funding for Home Accessibility

by Andrew @ Uppercut
Home AccessibilityThe government is proposing a new, non-refundable home accessibility tax credit for seniors and persons with disabilities that will provide tax relief of 15 per cent, up to $10,000 of eligible expenditures per calendar year, per individual, to a maximum of $10,000 per dwelling. The credit could be used on costs incurred to renovate or alter a home in order to provide better access to or inside the dwelling. Items could include vertical platform lifts ,wheelchair ramps, stairlifts (or stair chair lifts) as well as exterior porch lifts. The program would also cover home elevators if they are installed due to an accessibility need.
                                                             
Elevator in home Elevator car 1 e1424535547307 Home elevators residential lifts commercial lift
The information is listed on page 245 of the budget

 

26May

Choosing a drive mechanism for your elevator

by Andrew @ Uppercut

While many of our clients seem to spend a lot of time selecting elevator car finishes and aesthetic options , very little time appears to be allocated to discussing the drive mechanism. I can’t really blame them; after all talking about what moves that fancy box you just designed can seem  quite boring.  We however, feel it is important for our clients to get as much information as possible, especially when it concerns such an important aspect like the drive of your elevator.

In this blog I will be discussing the strengths and weakness of the following drive mechanisms.

  • Hydraulic
  • Traction Counter Weight

Hydraulic

This system utilizes a pump motor and oil reservoir, to force hydraulic fluid through a hose to a cylinder. The pump motor and reservoir are usually located in a separate machine room. If you areHydraulic Drive unable to provide a  borehole at the bottom of the pit you can use a roped hydraulic system.

Strengths

  1. Price point for the equipment will be in the mid-range when comparing other drives
  2. Machine room is easily accessible for servicing
  3. Manual lowering is inside the machine room
  4. Smooth ride and landing function providing the valve settings are adjusted correctly
  5. Usually, incorporates battery lowering in  the standard product offering
  6. Many manufacturers to choose from

 

Weaknesses

  1. A machine room will be required which equates to extra construction costs
  2. Hydraulic fluid temperature can affect performance
  3. Typically a pit of 8″ – 14″ is required
  4. Some jurisdictions may require a pit drain and an oil separator to ensure leaking fluid can’t enter the water table
  5. Power consumption will be 2-3 times higher than a traction counterweight system – Therefore more ongoing costs
  6. Maintenance costs on hydraulic units will be 2- 4 times  higher (over a 10 year period) due to the potential of leaks and issues with valves , gaskets, and the pump.
  7. Variable usage patterns can accelerate fluid degeneration
  8. If hydraulic fluid leaks there is the potential for the smell to permeate throughout the building
  9. Levelling and re-adjusting (anti-creep) issues

Traction Counter Weight

A traction counterweight drive operates the elevator by having  the mass of a series of  weights counter the elevator car and its occupants. If the user selects a command the elevator motor powers a cable (through a sheave) past the balance point and the device travels at a regulate rate in that direction.

   Strengths  

  1. Lower power consumption than hydraulic or winding drum systemsHome elevator
  2. Minimal  maintenance due to simple design with lower repair costs
  3. No machine room required
  4. Minimal 3″ pit required (or no pit at all with a small threshold ramp)
  5. No worry of hydraulic leaks or smells over the life of the elevator
  6. Variable speed drive for soft stop and start
  7. Low standby power
  8. Minimal issues with levelling even with variable capacities

Weaknesses

  1. Typically the equipment cost will be 10% – 15% higher than Hydraulic units (overall cost may be less when you consider construction and maintenance)
  2. Access to the motor is at the top of the hoistway (for the service technician)
  3. Manual lowering crank is accessed from the top landing
  4. Auto car lowering (similar to battery back-up) can be added for an additional cost
  5. Not a lot of manufacturers to choose from in the Alberta marketplace

A PDF summary of this document can be found here ——> Hydraulic vs Traction

15Apr

What’s the difference between a residential elevator and a residential vertical platform lift

by Andrew @ Uppercut

The short answer is vertical platform lifts are typically installed due to an immediate accessibility requirement, while elevators are usually incorporated for luxury or ageing in place purposes. Of course, there are always exceptions, so it is important to understand the limitations  and features of each device.

Trus-T-Lift™ enclosed – Vertical platform lift

Trus-T-Lift™ enclosed – Vertical platform lift

Code

While residential elevators and lifts are not inspected in Alberta, there are governing codes that exist. Elevators fall under the B-44 code while accessibility lifts are built to meet the B-613 code. Ultimately it is these codes that provide the distinction between the products.

Constant pressure or automatic operation

Elevators utilize automatic operation, while a lift will require that you hold the button for the device to function. Holding the button or constant pressure operation limits your risk for pinching or shearing hazards. I go into more detail below.

Elevator car or lift platform

An elevator will always have an enclosed car usually complete with a ceiling. Your entrances will have either a light curtain, accordion gate or a sliding elevator door. This is due to the above mentioned automatic operation. A lift, on the other hand, will have an “open platform” so the hoistway around you is exposed, thus the requirement for constant pressure operation.

 

 

Speed 

Lifts will have an operating speed of 8ft/min – 18ft/min. An elevator usually functions between 20ft/min – 40ft/min.

Capacity

Crystal – Residential Elevator

Crystal – Residential Elevator

Capacity usually isn’t a factor as platform sizes are limited, but lifts will start at 550lbs (most are 750lbs) and elevators will range from 800lbs – 1400lbs.

Flexibility and features

While I have installed  some pretty fancy lifts in my time, most of the  upgrades people look for are usually only offered with an elevator purchase. These can include, automatic homing, hands-free phone systems, and custom interior finishes. We can usually make an elevator fit into the desired space while a lift is more of a “cookie cutter” design.

Cost

For the purpose of comparison let’s use a 2 stop with 10′ of travel, and entrances on the same side. A lift will cost you approximately $13,000.00 and an elevator will land around the $17,000.00 mark.

This obviously is general information and is based on specific product offerings, but should give you the tools to differentiate between an elevator and a lift.

Drawings and the corresponding site preparation for these devices can be found here

More information on residential elevators can be found here

More information on residential lifts can be found here

 

 

31Mar

Residential Elevators – What do they cost?

by Andrew @ Uppercut
Home Elevators

This is by far the number one question we get asked at Uppercut Elevators and Lifts. How much for an elevator? There is no straight forward answer, as many variables come into play. In this blog post however,  I will attempt to give you the tools to determine a reasonable estimate for your elevator  including the installation . Please note that these prices are product specific, and are based on our current pricing structure. This article is only attempting to give you a reasonable “ballpark” figure for your home elevator. Obviously, prices will vary depending on your supplier.

Elevator in home

Elevator in home

Cost Variables

For the purpose of simplicity we will base the elevator specification on the following:

2 stops ( we will use basement and main floors as an example)

Automatic operation (otherwise it is an accessibility lift)

Entrances on the same side

Standard finishes

11 feet of travel (from top of basement floor to top of the main floor)

Light screen protecting the entrance side

Machine-room-less application

Small ramp or 2″ pit requirement

20 feet/ minute speed

800lb Capacity

40″ X 54″ car size

Installation of your elevator in Calgary

 

I thought it necessary to mention the pit depth and the lack of a machine room as these are contractual requirements  that affect the overall cost. We will address these variables later on.

More detailed information on this product offering can be found here

Elevator Cost

It would be reasonable to expect the cost of the above-mentioned device to sell for around $17,500.00. Adding a third stop, say to a mid landing garage at grade would involve the additions of a second light screen, another interlock and call station. You could expect this to add about  $1,000.00 to your overall cost. A smaller car will save you money while a larger one can add $400.00 – $500.00. If you reduce the  travel of your elevator (less than 9 feet) the device could cost up to a $1000.00 less ,while the opposite may occur if your home elevator needs to travel up to 14 feet. Devices travelling more than 14 feet usually utilize a different drive mechanism, which involves a per foot charge and a different product offering such as the RAM Crystal.

Contractual Costs or Site Preparation

Stratus – Residential Elevator

Stratus – Residential Elevator

Knowing the cost of your elevator only gives you half the information. The work required prior to a factory trained technician installing your device is the other cost you will have to account for. The following is a brief summary of contractual work that may have to be done.

  • Pit or ramp – we typically  ask for a 2-3 inch pit but some models (usually hydraulic) require up to a 14″ recess in the floor. In some jurisdictions, you may need a pit drain and/or a sump pump, as well as a hydraulic oil separator. If a pit is not possible you will need a small ramp granting access up to the elevator car floor.
  • Electrical – this varies but most devices require both 120 VAC and 220 VAC brought to the appropriate disconnect.
  • Machine room – Hydraulic units and some cable drives typically  require a machine room. This is not only a cost you will have to absorb, it’s also space you will have to part with. I personally prefer machine room-less elevators for this reason.
  • Hoist-way Structure – These are the walls around your elevator which include the rail wall blocking. They are usually built using wood construction (2×4 or 2×6). Standard household doors (solid core) will also need to be provided.

For a complete list of the contractual requirements please click below.

Drawings and contractual requirements for this device can be found here

 

If you require any additional information on home elevators or  lifts please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

 

 

19Mar

Stair Lifts – an affordable solution for residential accessibility

by Andrew @ Uppercut
Stair Lifts - for straight stairways

Stair Lifts – for straight stairways

 

 

Stair lifts or chair lifts have been around for some time now. Over the years they have become more reliable, compact and quieter.  They can be a great accessibility solution for individuals who have trouble with the stairs, due to balance, mobility or fatigue.    The following is a list of questions we are commonly asked.

What is the weight capacity ?

Capacities vary, but most products can accommodate a 300lb individual. Bruno makes a stair lift that is capable of transporting a 400lb user.

Can my stair lift go around bends and accommodate a curved stair way ?

Yes it can. It’s important to have a professional come out and measure your stairs. Most lift providers will do this for no cost or obligation. Getting a quote on-line, or over the phone can often end up causing you grief in the long run. You should also be aware that not all manufactures utilize rails that are built specifically for your stairs not all curved stair lifts are custom-built!

 

What powers my stair lift ?gallery-SRE-3000-07_small

Most units are battery operated and utilize a rack and pinion drive.  This ensures a smooth ride even if there is a power failure. All we require is a standard outlet where we can plug in our power supply. This  supplies power to an on-board charger that automatically re-charges your batteries when the device is not in use. Manufacturers such as Bruno incorporate a charging strip into the track. This ensures that you are never out of a charge position, even when travelling on the device.  Stair lifts typically draw about 3 amps through a “trickle charge” so the power usage is minimal.

What is the warranty ?

Like all products warranties vary – you will find everything from 1 – 5 years. If a manufacture offers a lifetime warranty on a component you can assume it’s for a part that will never break. For instance I used to deal with a manufacturer the would give a life time warranty on the track. In 17 years, I have never seen a track that required a warranty replacement.

What is the cost of a stair lift ?

Around Calgary a straight run stair lift sells for approximately $3000.00 – $4000.00. Factors that determine price are:

  • length of rail
  • location
  • capacity needed
  • required options

Curved units sell for more money as the are custom-built to fit your stairs exactly. I am always leery of “one size fits all” solutions and suggest you ask for an engineered drawing before your lift goes into production.

Who services my lift after it is installed ?

My personal belief is that I would never buy anything from someone if I couldn’t go back o that individual with questions or concerns. Being re-directed to a web site or  1-800 number for service in my opinion is unacceptable.  Sales people should be held accountable to clients after the sale has takes place. I prefer to deal with companies that  service  what they sell. Ideally they do this locally with factory trained professionals.

gallery-SRE-3000-05_smallHow much space will the lift take up on my stairs ?

Again this varies depending on the make and model of the unit. Our most common selling unit for a straight run stairway is the Bruno Elan.  The Elan  rail installs within 5 inches of the wall, or nearest obstruction. When it is in a folded position it takes up approximately 12 inches.

How is the stair lift secured, and do I need extra blocking ?

It should be noted that stair lifts mount directly to the stair tread not the wall. No additional blocking will be required.

How long does the installation and do you have units in stock ?

Straight run units take about 2 – 3 hours to install and are always in stock (we order them in 10 at a time) Our commitment is to have a standard unit installed within 3 days maximum of a client confirming an order. Custom curved units can take about 4-6 weeks to manufacture and we usually allow for a 6 hour installation time.

If you require more information on home accessibility lifts please click here

You may qualify for the Residential Access Modification Program (RAMP) . Click here to download the application

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11Mar

Residential Lifts – What is a Porch Lift?

by Andrew @ Uppercut

Residential Lifts – What is a Porch Lift?

My career into the world of elevators and lifts started out as a technician, primarily installing and repairing residential lifts such as porch lifts. In my 17 years I have I have sold, repaired and maintained a multitude of different devices. I have leaned what products stand the test of time, and which ones fall short. The following is a list of things you should consider before you purchase a porch lift.

                                                                      Drive Mechanism

reslifts_5

 

There are really only two choices in Alberta , ACME  Screw drive or hydraulic. Both mechanisms are safe and incorporate the required safety redundancies, but there is a big difference when it comes to how they function in the cold weather. When hydraulic fluid gets cold it thickens, which can cause the porch lift to operate slower, or not function at all . For this reason (along with an increased costs) I would typically never offer a hydraulic unit in an outdoor application.

Features like a Zero Load Start will lessen the strain on your porch lift during the  initial start up. This offering allows the motor to cycle prior to picking up the load and lessens the chance of blowing  the house breaker. Having a device with a direct drive (no gearbox) will also aid in your lifts functionality during the cold weather.

 

 

Platform Size

Most manufacturers make several platform sizes so it is important that your quote specifies the

Trus-T-Lift™ unenclosed – Porch Lift

Trus-T-Lift™ unenclosed – Porch Lift

size that will meet your needs. While a 48″ long platform may meet a portion of the populations requirements, I recommend a platform the is 54″ long. This longer platform will be able to accommodate most wheelchair users and an attendant if necessary. Widths are pretty much standardized in the industry with a typical size being between 34″-36″. If your porch lift needs to be configured to have adjacent access or a 90 degree turn, it is important to have a platform size of 40″ wide x 54″ long. This will ensure that the individual using the device can make the turn with ease.

Solid or Steel Mesh Platforms

If you choose a porch lift with a solid (non-see though) platform you will be required to purchase a device with an under-pan sensor. This sensor is necessary to ensure that you will not crush objects that you can not see under the platform when moving in a downward direction. The good news about under-pan sensors is that they work. The bad news is they can be temperamental  and cause the lift not to run. I remember one of my first service calls; I was dispatched to a lift that had gone up but would not come back down. Upon examination I had discovered that the under-pan had dropped down as it is intended to do, but the plunger switches that monitor the pan were frozen in the engaged position. The lift “thought” there was an obstruction, and therefore would not operate in the downward direction. For this reason I prefer lifts that have steel mesh platforms where the user can see any obstructions below the lift. I find it to be a simpler solution to this safety concern. The mesh also allows the rain and snow to fall through the platform, lessening the chance for ice build up and platform warping.

                                                                                                   Controls

Upper landing gate

Upper landing gate

Due to code restrictions, residential lifts such as porch lifts or vertical platform lifts are required to operate under constant pressure. This means you have to hold the button for the lift to run. For this reason it is recommended that the buttons on the device are both large enough and easy to access. You want a control that does not protrude into the platform area like a joystick, as these are easily bent or broken if a  wheelchair user drives into it. You also need  a controller that is weather resistant will not become stuck. I prefer a “paddle style”  control with soft touch operation.

Site Preparation

This is the work required so that  your residential lifts provider can install your device safely. All porch lifts need some form of foundation for the device to be mounted to. This can be accomplished with a variety of methods but the most common would be concrete sidewalk blocks or a poured concrete pad. Next we need to ensure that there is no risk of a pinching hazard, so we ask that a sheer plate is added the deck side of the lift. Finally we need to minimize the risk of someone falling off the deck area if the lift is in the down position. An upper landing gate will need to  be constructed to meet this safety requirement. Another option would be to have your lift provider include a porch lift gate for an additional cost. For applications where the lift is directly in from of a door (like in a garage) we need to monitor the door with an interlock to ensure that the door will not open if the lift is not at that level.

More information on porch lifts and residential lifts can be found here

A complete list of contractual requirements can be found here —–> Porch Lift Contractor Requirements

A summery of this document can be found here ——>Porch lift features

You may qualify for the Residential Access Modification Program (RAMP) . Click here to download the application