Using Commercial Dumbwaiters

Dumbwaiters have been used for thousands of years to help make it easier for goods to be moved between a multi-story structure. Early dumbwaiters utilized animal or people power, which was made easier through the use of a pulley system. Eventually water dumbwaiters were developed, but the first electric dumbwaiter would not be seen until the late nineteenth century.

The nineteenth century was an exciting time for the elevator and the dumbwaiter in America. Many innovations took place during this time, including the first passenger elevator and the first hydraulic elevator. It was also during this time that the first electric dumbwaiter was created. Dumbwaiters had been incredibly popular in America for some time and were found in virtually all buildings and structures that spanned several floors. One of the major downfalls though, was that if the rope or cable supporting the dumbwaiter broke, the dumbwaiter car would fall.

This changed in early 1850’s as Elisha Otis developed several commercial dumbwaiters that were designed to catch themselves instead of falling. By the end of the nineteenth century, most electric dumbwaiters would include safety features that protected it against a sudden fall.

These early commercial dumbwaiters were incredibly popular in New York, which is also the birth place of the modern elevator. Since space was limited in New York, many multi-level buildings, manufacturing plants, and factories, were constructed. These plants needed a way to move their products from one floor to the next, so dumbwaiters were extensively used. While the electrical dumbwaiter was becoming popular, many people still relied on a steam powered dumbwaiter.

Elisha Otis, ever an innovator of the elevator industry, created a special elevator that included its own steam power plant. These became very popular, because it was no longer necessary for buildings to have their own power plant.

Some of the earliest dumbwaiters were used in the production of transportation vehicles. One inventor named Jasper Murtaugh greatly helped to improve the technology that powered the early dumbwaiter. Using a system similar to the one designed by Elisha Otis, Murtaugh created a dumbwaiter for a carriage manufacturer, which could support over two thousand pounds. The Murtaugh dumbwaiter could have all four of its cables cut, while fully loaded, without risk of falling.

People today use dumbwaiters in many settings. They are still popular in residential settings, but less so when compared to the early twentieth century. Many easy to install electric dumbwaiter kits are available today, which has helped increase the popularity of these devices over the past years. They are also commonly added to new homes to help make it more attractive to potential buyers, but they can usually be retro-fit into a home as well.

While dumbwaiters in residential settings might not be as popular as they once were, commercial dumbwaiters are more popular then ever. Businesses of all types use them as an easy and cost effective alternative to an elevator. Since the dumbwaiter is not designed to carry people, building codes are often more relaxed with regards to a dumbwaiter, but it is important to check with your local ordinance before installing a commercial dumbwaiter.

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