If asked to sketch an “elevator,” most people would probably come up with something like a winding drum system, where the elevator cab is suspended with thick steel cables from a reel at the top of the shaft. This is the most basic elevator setup, and the one typically advertised by price-conscious installers due its comparatively low cost.
The outstanding drawback of winding drum systems is the one common to all systems that use cables: Every cable, no matter how thick, twisted and tough, will eventually stretch and have to be replaced – typically every three to five years in the case of a winding drum elevator. In many cases, the attending higher maintenance costs more than counterbalance the initial savings over the life of the elevator.
In addition to the drawback of maintenance, winding drum elevators generally deliver a ride that’s less than smooth. Some folks don’t mind this, but it’s good to find out about it before making a purchase decision, rather than discovering it the first time you use your home elevator.
Noise quality is another big issue with this system. A winding drum requires a big 220V motor – larger and louder than other types. And, while it might seem like cables should be smooth and quiet, they’re actually quite noisy compared to other systems.
If initial acquisition price is the all-important factor and you can put up with some noise and roughness on the ride, a winding drum system may be right for you. For a long-term investment, however, a winding drum drive system is not usually the best choice for your home elevator.
- Moderate intial acquisition price
- Consumable parts (the cables)
- High maintenance costs
- Less smooth ride than other systems