Hillavator Buying Checklist - Marine Innovations

Your home is on a hill.  Your dock (or maybe your garage) is a down a treacherous hill. There are steps, but they are wearing you out.  You think a hillavator is the best solution to tame your hill.  They are known by many other names, inclined elevator, hill tram, funicular, but they serve the same purpose, to make it easy to get up and down your hill.

Where to start?

Research! That’s right.  You need to do your homework, because this is a serious investment. The right decision will improve the value of your home, last for decades and safely get your family and friends up and down your hill with ease. We emphasize the word safely because safety should be a huge part of your decision.  You need to make the right choice because you will trust your most precious cargo to it with every use. Don’t pick the lowest cost hillavator just to save a little, sacrificing quality and safety. Here is a list of some items to compare:

  1. Look for ASME A17 compliance. A hillavator is an elevator and there are rules for the proper construction and installation of a system to ensure your safety.  You don’t have to read and understand all the regulations, but just like you want an elevator in a high-rise to be rule compliant and safe, you want your inclined elevator to be built and installed with a level of code compliance that protects your safety. Our residential systems are ASME A17.1-2010, Section 5.4 compliant.
  2. Check the warranty! Make sure you read the warranty policy for any hillavator company you’re considering. Make sure they back their work. If they don’t mention it on their website, their warranty might not be very good. Our industry-leading residential warranty is 15 years on structural components, 3 years on non-structural components and 1 year on drive and brake cables and electronic components.
  3. Look at the longevity of the companies you’re comparing. That warranty is only as good as the company that wrote it.  A company that has been in business for 25 years or longer has experience and is better suited to meet your challenges. If they have changed hands and names several times, they might not have the depth of knowledge to provide you with the best solution. Marine Innovations has been in business since 1991, giving us one of the longest track records in the industry. Most of our systems are still being used today, some almost three decades after installation.
  4. Compare the structure. It might not be the first thing anyone thinks of, but the foundation of the system is key to the entire hillavator system. You wouldn’t want your home built on ball bearings and moving every time you take a step! Look at the way the track is connected to the ground. You want a carriage that is solid when you step onto it and as it travels, not one that rocks around.  We use 2” diameter galvanized SS40 pipe for our proprietary pin piles driven to an engineered resistance. If warranted or required by code, we recommend a contractor pour concrete footings.
  5. Can you get the options you want? Look at the options you really want or need: canopy, landing gates, carriage lights, multiple landings, self-leveling carriage, different colors. Can the hillavator manufacturer match a system to your wants and needs? We have the options to truly customize a system to your desires. Although our standard hill tram is well appointed, we have a long list of options to customize your lift to your needs.
  6. Durability is key! Your hillavator is a major investment and you want it to last. Take a deep look at the components of a system. Make sure they are designed for the long haul.  Our structural components like frame rails, cross-members and support pipe are zinc galvanized, not just externally painted. If only the outside is painted, they can rust from the inside out. Other moving components are yellow zinc plated for a durable, precision finish.  The carriage and trolley are powder-coated aluminum for strength, weight-savings and corrosion-resistance. Make sure you buy a product that will last!
  7. Look for a company with in-house engineering. From providing drawings to designing new, exclusive features, having access to in-house engineering is an irreplaceable asset. Our engineer can provide drawings for an architectural presentation or permit application. They are instrumental in designing production and custom parts for seamless, progressive systems.
  8. The Hillavator should be comfortable so you enjoy the ride. Comfort can be subjective and hard to pin down, but you need to consider it.  Comfort can be as easy as how the bench seats in the carriage feel or if the carriage sides are tall enough, so you feel secure.  It can also be the sturdy floor as you step into the carriage or the controls being properly placed. You should think about how you will use the tram and compare photos and specifications to make sure you will be comfortable seated or standing, by yourself or with company, empty or carrying gear down to the boat. Maybe you can even find a system close by to personally see and test. We have a long list of satisfied customers that will give you their honest opinion and even take you for a ride to show how their system operates.

Texas Hillavator at Dock

Your Next Step

We’re glad you’re doing your homework. A hillavator is a major investment and needs to be well thought out.  Take your time and make sure you find a manufacturer that is following the code, designing them with your best interest in mind and building them for a lifetime of enjoyment.  Check out our website by clicking the button below for more information or call us at 888-334-4666 and take the next step to see how a Hillavator can help you avoid your steps.