Posts Tagged "universal design"

9Nov

Commercial accessibility lifts, and their limitations under the B-355 code

by Andrew @ Uppercut

Commercial accessibility lifts are a cost  effective solution when it comes to making public buildings accessible. Vertical platform lifts or VPL’s can eliminate barriers for wheelchair users or those faced with mobility issues. Their relatively small footprint and minimal contractual requirement make them ideal for existing public buildings where accessibility is a concern. They do however have their limitations under the B-355 code, which they are inspected.

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Enclosed lift

The first consideration is platform size. Public accessibility lifts are mandated to have a platform that is no greater the 21 square feet. A typical “large” wheelchair lift would have a 48″x 60″platform. This size of platform is big enough to accommodate a wheelchair user doing a 90-degree turn. A more common size would be in the range of 34″ x 54″ where the user enters and exits on the same side, or travels through the platform and exits on the opposite side.

Next, we must look at the  travel restrictions that are imposed within the code. Enclosed  B-355 accessibility lifts can travel no more than 7000mm or 23.1 feet. Unenclosed wheelchair lifts can travel up to 2500mm or 98.25″. Enclosed units will require a hoistway constructed around the device with a door at the lower landings and the minimum of  a gate at the uppermost landing. Unenclosed units travelling more than 500mm (19.65″) will require a gate or a door at the upper landing. It should be noted that any lift penetrating a floor will be required to be an enclosed vertical platform lift needing a hoist-way constructed.

The weight capacity  of wheelchair accessibility lifts varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most unenclosed vertical platform lifts have a capacity of either 550lbs or 750lbs. Enclosed units usually have a capacity  somewhere between 750lbs – 1400lbs.

 

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Unenclosed lift

 

 

Perhaps the biggest drawback of public accessibility lifts is the requirement for them to operate using constant pressure. This simply means you must hold the button for the device to operate. This is partially due to the fact the lift platform has no gate or sliding elevator door.

As universal accessibility for all members of society  is now considered the norm , the popularity of these barrier free lifts has increased. You can find barrier-free accessibility lifts  in most schools, community centres and places of worship.

 

For more information on commercial accessibility lifts please contact us for a free consultation

 

 

 

 

 

23Jun

Advantages of (Machine Room-less) MRL Elevators

by Andrew @ Uppercut

This article is not referring to passenger elevators and is intended to discuss the advantages of MRL Elevators in a residential or commercial accessibility lift setting. A machine room-less elevator or an MRL Elevator is a device that typically houses the drive mechanism at the top of the hoistway. By doing this the need for a machine room is eliminated, as the entire device is contained within the elevator footprint.MRL elevator

Units that require a machine room( like most hydraulic drives) will also require the electrical and hydraulic hoses to run through a wall from the machine room to the elevator hoistway. In cases where the machine room is not adjacent to the elevator, a remote machine room will be required.  This can be costly and create logistical problems with the running of hydraulic hose through the floor, ceiling or in the walls. It also poses several maintenance concerns; What if a hose ran through a ceiling for instance and it starts to leak? Will it be possible to do a scheduled hose replacement? What type of ongoing costs should you expect in this application? This is a definite advantage of an MRL, having the entire elevator in one contained space.

The second advantage is quite simple; with an MRL elevator, you do not have to allocate the additional space to house the drive mechanism. Depending on the drive system and whether the installation is residential or commercial (B-355),  a machine room could require anywhere from 12  to 20 square feet.  This is space that could be used for storage, a larger elevator car, or a revenue opportunity (like a couple of extra tables in a restaurant).

Finally look at all the costs associated with constructing that machine room. If you think about it,  its equivalent to the cost of half the elevator hoistway  (2 stop). On top of the basic room construction, you will need to provide lighting, possible drains, sump pumps or oil separators, additional sprinkler/smoke detectors, and an additional door (fire rated in a public application).  These costs can add up quickly, and should be considered when calculating the overall cost of the elevator.

To recap MRL Elevator units will:

  • Save you money when it comes to maintenance
  • Require less space
  • Reduce the initial cost of construction

For more information on Commercial MRL Elevators click here For more information on Residential MRL Elevators click here

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.

 

 

 

 

9Mar

Planning for a Residential Elevator

by Andrew @ Uppercut
Home Elevators

Planning for a Residential Elevator

People install a residential elevator in new home construction for many reasons. Some folks implement an elevator into their design for luxury, others out of necessity, but the vast majority of people I see do it so they may age in place. It is very important to do your research and understand your options.  As the saying goes “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”. This statement certainly applies to your aging in place elevator. There are several factors you must consider to ensure that your home elevator will meet both your needs today, and in the future.

Elevator in home

Elevator in home

 

The first thing to consider is car or platform size. I have heard numerous times ” we don’t need the elevator to fit a wheelchair” , my answer is always “we hope for the best but plan for the worst” If you are going to the expense of adding an elevator to your home, we need to consider wheelchair accessibility. My experience working with home medical companies tells me that we need a minimum platform size of 34″ x 54″. Many standard platforms are 48″ long, please try to resist going with the smallest platform available.

Home elevator with a gate

Home elevator with a gate

Next we must decide on the aforementioned gates, elevator doors or light screens. As you travel in your home elevator we need to ensure that you cannot come into contact with the hoistway that houses the device. While all mechanisms will accomplish this, they vary in ease of use, aesthetics, and cost. An automatic elevator door is probably the most aesthetically pleasing and is very easy to use (it automatically opens and closes) but it is by far the most costly option. Next in the cost category would be an accordion gate. You won’t break the bank by adding gates to your residential elevator car, but they don’t have a great reputation when it comes to looks or ease of use – especially for wheelchair users. The final and most cost effective option would be a light curtain. This “virtual gate” ensures that if any object comes into contact with the residential elevator hoistway the elevator instantly stops. They operate using a series of light beams that shoot across the entrance way, if the beam is “broken” the elevator ceases to operate until the obstruction is removed and a floor is selected. From a wheelchair users perspective or anyone with limited mobility not having to reach back and close a gate eases the use of your home elevator.

Home elevator with a light curtain

Home elevator with a light curtain

Elevator in home Elevator car 1 e1424535547307 Home elevators residential lifts commercial lift

The best way to ensure all these points are considered is to consult a professional. Many elevator companies will offer no cost or obligation consultations. They should be able to address your needs and answer your questions prior to you paying a deposit or making a commitment. Don’t base your elevator design from the back of a brochure, or from a generic drawing. Remember, site specific drawings will ensure that your elevator will meet both your needs today and allow you to age in place.

For more information on a residential elevator call us today.