Electric Dumbwaiter, such as those made by AmeriGlide, are a type of elevator that is designed to make carrying goods between floors easier. They are very similar to elevators, but in most cases they are a good deal smaller and support less weight than a traditional elevator. They are also not rated to transport people and should only be used to move inanimate objects.
Dumbwaiters have been used in homes for hundreds if not thousands of years. Almost all castles had at least one dumbwaiter and almost all apartment buildings of the early twentieth century had a dumbwaiter that was made available for their tenants. These early dumbwaiters were almost predominantly manual dumbwaiters, but the electric dumbwaiters first appeared towards the end of the nineteenth century.
Today most people who choose to install a dumbwaiter opt for an electric one. There are several easy to install electric dumbwaiter kits that are available. These are very popular among builders, who want to add some extra value to their homes, but they can also generally be retrofitted into a home with ease.
The one major requirement for retrofitting a dumbwaiter is that there is a straight shaft that is accessible on all floors. Frequently a hallway closet can be used, because this many times provides a space that is empty between floors.
While electric dumbwaiters are more common, manual dumbwaiters are still used and installed. Some people decide to build their own, which can be done using a pulley system that is securely bolted into a well framed beam. The pulley system is then attached to a box that is raised and lowered between floors. A simple manual dumbwaiter can be constructed fairly easily, but in most cases a manual dumbwaiter kit is a better option.
The main advantage of using a manual dumbwaiter kit is that they make use of a tracked system. Originally dumbwaiters were simply suspended by a rope and then lowered or raised. The track system greatly improved the stability and safety of the device. Today easy to install metal tracks are available that snap together, so they can be installed quickly and can be customized to fit any height.
If you decide to build one on your own, it it possible to build a wooden guide rail, but getting them aligned properly can be difficult. It is also possible to utilize rails that are similar to those used in cabinets, but finding ones that are long enough can be difficult and you again run into alignment problems when fitting them together for extended distances.
One of the other advantages of using a manual dumbwaiter kit is that the pulley system provided features safeguards and is designed to minimize the amount of force needed to raise the dumbwaiter. They also usually have built in stops that prevent the dumbwaiter from rapidly falling if you take your hand off of it.
The manual dumbwaiter is still used in many residential settings, but the electric dumbwaiter is much more popular. There are several electric dumbwaiter kits available that can be installed quickly with little home modification.