Residential Lifts Vs. Elevator


Residential lifts and public elevators have similar features, but there are many characteristics that set them apart. Although both carry people and goods from one level to another, public elevators must follow specific rules.

State codes

  • Commercial elevators must follow state codes set by each individual state. Some states, like Iowa, don't require residential lifts to follow state codes, according to elevator service technician Mark Dahlstrom.


  • Elevators built for use in a public setting require permits before construction. They also require yearly state inspections, where residential lifts do not.


  • Although residential lifts can be any size the homeowner wants, typically they only carry one or two people and have a weight limit of 500 to 1,000 lbs. Typically, commercial elevators can hold at least 2,000 lbs., says Dahlstrom.


  • Most commercial elevators must have automatic doors, with the exception of limited use limited access (LULAs) elevators. Residential elevators usually have manual doors resembling a closet.

Fire service

  • Public elevators must have a fire service option where the elevator only goes to floors without smoke. Residential elevators don't need this feature, and rarely have it.

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  • Mark Dahlstrom; International Union of Elevator Constructors Service Technician; Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Photo Credit elevators in lobby with door closing image by Stephen Orsillo from
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