Attic Elevators: Cost, Safety & Convenience
Updated April 8, 2021
Attic elevators come in a wide variety of styles and capacities. This article covers the most popular type. These attic elevators are smaller units meant to carry freight only; no people allowed on board. Also called attic lifts or storage lifts, they are motorized platforms that carry storage items and other cargo between floors in homes, garages and businesses. They act like mini freight elevators to carry storage into your attic. They’re dumbwaiters for your stuff. They generally range in capacity from 200 to 500 pounds per trip.
Attic elevators carry storage items from living spaces and garages into,
and out of, attic storage. (Shown is a SpaceLift™ attic lift. Note attic ladder in background.)
Popular attic elevators designed to carry storage items cost from $1,895 to $3,797 (2021 pricing).
On the lower end of the price range, SpaceLift Products offers the SpaceLift™ attic lift Model 5222-SC for $1,895 with free shipping and a two-year warranty. The unit is 22 inches wide by 57.5 inches long and 7 inches high. Capacity is 200 pounds and 24 cubic feet per trip. It comes with two controls, one mounted on the unit and another for wall mounting. (SpaceLift Products offers a second model 28 inches wide with the same length and height for $100 more.)
VersaLift Systems lifts start at $2,397 for a unit 20 3/4 inches wide by 44 inches long, carrying 15 cubic feet per trip and up to 200 lbs. Its largest model goes for $3,797 for 34 inches wide by 69 inches long and 60 inches high. Capacity is 250 pounds and 35 cubic feet per trip. (The difference between models is whether it has a wireless remote or wall-mounted control.)
Installation costs for these attic elevators or attic lifts start around $500. Some models like the SpaceLift are often installed as do-it-yourself, DIY, projects. It is designed to fit between floor joists in the attic. Installation requires basic carpentry and electrical skills.
Of course there are full-size home elevators that can carry people and freight. But the average cost of this type of home elevator is $10,000 to $40,000 plus $20,000 or more to install it, according to Retirement Living.
There are many good reasons to install an attic elevator. Safety is a big one. Carrying boxes, storage containers, bins, clothing, furniture and more up and down a pull-down attic stairs or ladder is dangerous and difficult. Instead, the attic elevator carries all those items in and out of storage. The only thing going up and down the attic stairs is the homeowner.
As described in a SpaceLift Products blog on Ladder Safety at Home, half a million people fall from ladders annually, about 400 of those accidents are fatal.
The National Safety Council stresses always maintaining three points of contact with the ladder or stairs at all time: two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot. Carrying anything makes it nearly impossible to have one or both hands free for stability and climbing.
As with any mechanical appliance, safety is a consideration in operation. Some attic elevators like the SpaceLift attic lift have built-in, computer-controlled, safety features. SpaceLift storage lifts detect any obstruction to movement and stop automatically. They also detect if too much weight is placed on the platform and will not operate, thereby protecting the unit and user from overload.
Not all attic elevators stop automatically if something – or worse yet someone – is in the way. One company’s user manual warns of broken bones and amputation danger.
Not all attic elevators detect load weights beyond motor capacity. Overloads can damage or burn out the lift motor.
The essential challenge: moving items in and out of attic storage safely and conveniently. Carrying on those rickety attic stairs is not the safest choice.
While the function of all attic elevators is similar, their designs vary widely. Some lifts have high loading platforms, which require you to lift storage items up onto, and again out of, the lift. All but the SpaceLift have framing or straps protruding into the attic space. This limits where in the attic your lift can be located depending upon roof pitch and available height above the attic floor.
The largest seller, VersaLift uses a platform topped by a four-post upper frame connected to a center overhead bar. Two cables on either end of the center bar pull it up into the attic. In the attic is a slightly larger receiving frame protruding into the attic space that houses the motor.
That overhead bar restricts how high a load the user can stack on the lift. Something tall like an artificial Christmas tree or clothes rack will not fit. Load height on the most popular model is limited to 39 inches; however at 29 inches the four sidebars begin to bend toward the center overhead bar. It also uses a chain around three sides of the frame to contain items. Working around the fixed frame restricts loading and unloading the unit with access from one side only.
SpaceLift attic lift offers a concealed elegance design. Its compact housing fits between attic floor joists and below the attic floor. It pulls from all four corners with microprocessor-controlled, poly-web straps rated at 500 pounds. It comes in two sizes, 18 and 22 inches wide, both 57 ½ inches long. The box housing the motor and computer controls is just 7 inches high. Its low profile means there are many placement options in your attic.
The SpaceLift attic lift has no vertical height restriction for loading storage items. You can stack items as high as ceiling clearance allows. Its low profile loading platform can be easily accessed from all four sides.
SpaceLift attic elevator drawing showing entire mechanism. Motor and controller fit between attic floor joists.
Aladdin Storage Lift has a very large raised deck with a metal box frame around the bottom. The attic opening required is 82 by 46 ½ inches. It pulls from all four corners with cables. In the attic space, one must install ceiling support straps and the motor box sits above the attic floor. Its high deck and railing mean loading and unloading items requires extra lifting to move items on and off the lift. Aladdin even sells a loading ramp as an accessory.
The Attic Lift Company makes semi-custom lifts, mostly of larger sizes and capacities. Models use either steel frames or posts that protrude into the attic space. They have only one side open for loading a high deck platform; some come with a built-in loading ramp.
Retirement Living Home Elevators Guide:
SpaceLift Blog Ladder Safety
Aladdin Storage Lift
The Attic Lift Company