You have your dream home on a beautiful lake. Views for miles. The smell of the lake, mixed in with forest scents and a hint of a bonfire. Your friends are envious of your home. The only way to make it better would be to eliminate the steps to the lake. An inclined elevator, also known as a lake tram, hillside lift or residential funicular, will solve your problems.


The perfect inclined elevator installation starts with the right installation location. You want your inclined elevator to be handy and useful. It should start close to your home and end close to your dock or entertainment center. You don’t want to walk long distances to access your lift. Also, you may want it offset so it’s not impeding your view. You also want to consider how the lift will impact your landscaping and make sure to help it blend into the environment.


The right inclined elevator system design will help ensure the ideal installation. The right system can mean several things. Your system should fit your physical needs, it should have an adequate load capacity and carriage size. It has the options to keep you and your guests comfortable: canopy, lights and windscreens are a few options available. The tram should fit the terrain: pin piles or rock anchors for a strong foundation, adequate bracing for stability, heavy track to prevent flexing, self-leveling (if needed) to keep the carriage level over changing slope angle and the right drive system for efficiency, dependability and reliability.


Safety should always be a key factor in selecting an inclined elevator. You should review the manufacturers to see how they stack up. You want a system that will have safety gates to prevent access when the carriage is not at a landing, carriage controls with an emergency stop system, overspeed braking system and slack cable safety system, just to name a few. Make sure your system is built and installed to your local residential elevator code.


Your inclined elevator should be comfortable. Comfort can mean different things to different people. But your tram should be smooth riding, quiet and stable. A correctly built and installed system should be rock solid as you enter and exit the carriage. It shouldn’t rock or sway when moving or when you move in the carriage. Gates and doors should slide or swing smoothly with a firm latching mechanism. Smooth acceleration and deceleration with your carriage landing precisely at your landing makes for easy entrance and exit.


The perfect inclined elevator installation will be reliable. Reliability matters for safety and long-term dependability. It is determined by the quality of components and parts and the quality of manufacturing processes. You should ask your manufacturer some questions to help you make an educated decision. Some questions could include:

  • How long have they been manufacturing? Experience matters! You want someone with decades of experience, not someone that started two years ago and is still trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Ask your potential builder how long they have been manufacturing, not just installing someone else’s systems.
  • How many systems do they have in service? Maybe you’re talking with a company that’s been in business for ten years, but they only build two or three systems per year. Their system may look ok, but they don’t have the experience to build with efficiency and gain economies of scale. If inclined elevators are only a limited sideline, they probably don’t have time to keep up with code compliance and industry trends.
  • Do they have references you can call or visit? How proud are they of their systems? Will their customers (beyond a few select website testimonials) give you a positive or negative appraisal of that company’s product, installation and service? Ask for references! Call the references and ask for their feedback. You might learn a great deal in a short time.
  • Do they build to ASME elevator code? The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) sets standards and codes for a wide variety of topics, including elevators. Not every location enforces strict adherence to ASME elevator code, but you should insist your inclined elevator manufacturer follow the code to ensure your system is safe. ASME inclined elevator code demands a safety standard to protect you and your passengers.
  • Can you visit their facility? It may not work for every client, but a visit to your inclined elevator manufacturer’s facility will give you a handle on if they are a true manufacturer or only assembling parts made by others. You can see what they are building themselves and what they are buying. Are they employing professional engineers, welders and machinists? You can ask how long the employees have worked there. A visit will either raise more questions or bring you confidence in their business.

You will have other questions, but these are a few to get you started to help determine if a manufacturer will provide you with a reliable, life-long inclined elevator.

Locations, system design, safety, comfort and reliability. These are five factors you should seriously consider before selecting an inclined elevator manufacturer. Correctly built, installed and maintained, your inclined elevator should last decades, truly a lifetime system. Contact us today and ask these questions. Compare us to any other manufacturer you’re considering. With Marine Innovations you can relax, because you can enjoy your view and your lake, too.