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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Dumbwaiter?

Average range: $8,000-$12,000
Low
$3,000
Average Cost
$10,000
High
$20,000
(Motorized dumbwaiter installation in a new shaft)

Get free estimates from elevator contractors near you
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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Dumbwaiter?

Average range: $8,000-$12,000
Low
$3,000
Average Cost
$10,000
High
$20,000
(Motorized dumbwaiter installation in a new shaft)

Get free estimates from elevator contractors near you
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Dumbwaiters provide many advantages to both residential and commercial locations, making them a very popular investment. Some of the advantages include reducing the risk of injury, easily transporting material between floors, improving efficiency, increasing security by keeping expensive material out of reach, decreasing spending by eliminating jobs, and requiring little maintenance.

The national average cost for installing a dumbwaiter is between $8,000 and $12,000, with most people paying around $10,000 for a motorized dumbwaiter installed in a new shaft. At the low end of the spectrum, however, you can opt for a manual dumbwaiter installed in an existing shaft for $3,000, while at the high end you can pay up to $20,000 to have a custom motorized dumbwaiter installed in a new shaft.

Cost to Install a Dumbwaiter

Residential Dumbwaiter Cost
National average cost$10,000
Average range$8,000-$12,000
Minimum cost$3,000
Maximum cost$20,000


Updated: What's new?

Dumbwaiter Installation Cost by Project Range

Low
$3,000
Manual dumbwaiter installation in an existing shaft
Average Cost
$10,000
Motorized dumbwaiter installation in a new shaft
High
$20,000
Custom motorized dumbwaiter installation in a new shaft

What is a Dumbwaiter?

A dumbwaiter is an automated lift intended to carry a variety of objects up and down multiple floors. The lift is connected to a pulley mechanism that works to transport the items inside of a shaft structure. They are a very popular option for transporting goods from floor to floor and can help to reduce the likelihood of physical strain due to carrying heavy loads and drastically improve the ease of transporting. There are two different classifications of dumbwaiters: residential and commercial. These two types differ in their use and location and are explained below.

Residential Dumbwaiters

These types of dumbwaiters are installed in homes and are used to transport items such as foods, laundry, and files from floor to floor. Outdoor versions can also be installed to transport larger/heavier items including firewood and groceries into the home. A basic residential car has a weight capacity of approximately 100-200 pounds and features two stops. The standard size measures 20”w x 20”d x 30”h. These measurements and weight capacities can certainly be changed or customized, however. The most important criteria when determining the location of installation is your intended use for it. If you are looking to transport laundry then it would make sense to install the dumbwaiter in or near the laundry room or bedroom(s). For the purpose of transporting groceries, it would be best installed in the kitchen or pantry.

Commercial Dumbwaiters

These types of dumbwaiters are installed in settings including warehouses, manufacturing plants, restaurants, hotels, medical buildings, etc., and aid in transporting heavier items such as machinery, products, and boxes. A basic commercial unit has a weight capacity of up to 500 pounds and features up to 6 stops. The size of the unit can be customized up to 36”w x 36”d x 48”h. These measurements and weight capacities can be changed to suit your needs. The same criteria apply when installing commercial cars in that the location of the installation should be close to the point of use. If the purpose is to transport boxes of food or cooking supplies, then, naturally, it should be installed in the kitchen.


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Dumbwaiter Cost by Size

Dumbwaiters come in a variety of sizes and weight capacities to accommodate different spaces and uses. The smaller the car and lower the weight capacity, the less you can expect to pay, and vice versa. There are 4 standard sizes of cars including mini, standard, mid-, and oversized models. Weight capacities range from 100 pounds up to 500 pounds maximum. The 4 sizes of dumbwaiters are illustrated in the chart below with their respective cost.


Dumbwaiter Cost Chart

Dumbwaiter Cost Chart


SizeCost (Labor and Materials)
Mini car - 14” x 14” x 20”$3,000-$7,500
Standard car - 20” x 20” x 30”$8,000-$12,000
Mid-sized car - 24” x 24” x 30”$12,000-$17,000
Oversized car - 36” x 36” x 48”$18,000-$20,000


Dumbwaiter Installation Cost by Type

Dumbwaiters transport food and goods between building levels either manually or with the help of an electric motor. They can be classified by their type including manual motorized cars. Both types perform the same function but differ in their characteristics, weight limits, cost, pros, and cons. The biggest difference between the two is their method of operation. These two types of dumbwaiters are explained in detail below.


Dumbwaiter Installation Cost Chart


TypeCost (Labor and Materials)
Manual Dumbwaiter$3,000-$8,000
Electric Dumbwaiter$10,000-$20,000


Manual Dumbwaiter Cost

Manual dumbwaiters, also referred to as hand-operated dumbwaiters, are often found in older homes or historic remodels. These types of small cars are operated using a rope and pulley system. The pulley is attached to the top of the shaft, and the car is moved by pulling the rope to lift or lower the car. Manual types hold considerably less weight compared to motorized types and can generally only withstand up to 50 pounds.

The advantages of manual dumbwaiters include their cheaper cost, minimal maintenance requirements, automatic braking system that can prevent the unit from accidentally dropping, and the fact that they do not require electricity and therefore can continue to run during a power outage. Additionally, the smaller size opens up many options of where they could be installed . The disadvantages include the manual work it takes to move the car, the smaller capacity and weight limits, and the fact that they do not have interlocks so the doors can be opened even when the car isn’t there. The installation cost for a manual dumbwaiter is between $3,000 and $8,000, including materials.

Electric Dumbwaiters Cost

Although manual dumbwaiters are still on the market, the most predominant and common type today is powered by electricity. Electric dumbwaiters, also referred to as modern dumbwaiters, are raised and lowered by the push of a button. The motor is found above or below the unit and can drive it up and down. Some models in commercial buildings have the motor housed separately. Motorized cars can hold up to 500 pounds.

The advantages of the electric type include the capability of transporting items with a lot of weight, reducing the amount of strain put on workers and thus their risk of injury, they are very easy to use, and they use an interlock system that prevents the doors from opening when the car isn’t at a particular level, increasing safety. While there are great advantages, modern dumbwaiters have a few disadvantages, including their increased cost and their inability to work during a power outage. The installation cost for an electric dumbwaiter is between $10,000 and $20,000, including materials.

Dumbwaiter Cost by Use

There are many types of dumbwaiters on the market, each suited to meet a different purpose or location. Depending on your required use for the dumbwaiter, you will want to have it installed in a practical location in order to perform its duties efficiently. The most common uses for these cars include laundry, dogs, and firewood, and common locations include the kitchen, garage, stairs, attic, or exterior. The chart below lists these common uses and locations along with their respective installation costs. Each is then explained in detail.


Dumbwaiter Cost by Use

Dumbwaiter Cost by Use


Use/LocationCost (Labor and Materials)
Laundry dumbwaiter$8,500-$11,000
Dog dumbwaiter$8,500-$11,000
Firewood dumbwaiter$12,000-$15,000
Kitchen dumbwaiter$12,000-$15,000
Garage dumbwaiter$12,000-$15,000
Dumbwaiter for stairs$12,000-$15,000
Attic dumbwaiter$12,000-$15,000
Exterior dumbwaiter$12,000-$15,000


Laundry Dumbwaiter Cost

Having to bring your laundry up and down the stairs can be much less of a headache with a dumbwaiter. These are designed to move piles of laundry, or even the whole laundry basket itself (depending on its size), to and from the laundry room with ease. The best location for this is right in the laundry room. This can help to reduce the risk of carrying a basket up and down multiple flights, while speeding up this timely chore. The cost of installation for a laundry dumbwaiter is $8,500-$11,000, including materials.

Dog Dumbwaiter Cost

For those older dogs or those with a disability, a dumbwaiter can make their lives easier by helping them to get up and down levels in the home. These types of cars are not fully enclosed and give the dogs open air so they can ride in comfort. Make sure to opt in to a unit that is suitable for the size of your dog. The cost of installation for a dog dumbwaiter is $8,500-$11,000, including materials.

Firewood Dumbwaiter Cost

Hauling firewood up and down the stairs to power your woodstove or wood fireplace can be a difficult task. With the help of a dumbwaiter, you can easily transport your firewood from the top floor to the basement and can help reduce any stress on the body. The car can be installed in a location that is most practical for where you need the firewood. If you have a fire stove or fireplace in the basement, then a close surrounding would be the best spot. The cost of installation for a firewood dumbwaiter is $12,000-$15,000, including materials.

Kitchen Dumbwaiter Cost

A kitchen dumbwaiter is very common and found in many residential kitchens. These are beneficial in multi-level households to assist in bringing your groceries to the kitchen. This type of unit can help to reduce the risk of injury due to strain or injury in carrying in your groceries, especially for those with strength or mobility issues. The cost of installation for a kitchen dumbwaiter is $12,000-$15,000, including materials.

Garage Dumbwaiter Cost

Having a dumbwaiter in the garage can be helpful in transporting items into your home. Whether you are looking to bring in materials, groceries, or heavy items, having a unit in the garage can be ideal. This greatly reduces the risk of tripping or falling while trying to bring items indoors. The cost of installation for a garage dumbwaiter is $12,000-$15,000, including materials.

Dumbwaiter for Stairs

Stairs can be an obstruction for those individuals with mobility issues. Lack of accessibility should never be an issue in a home. A dumbwaiter for stairs, however, can solve this issue by enhancing mobility and equalizing accessibility for everyone. These units are installed right on the stair railing and are designed to lift a person up and down the stairs. The cost of installation for a dumbwaiter for your stairs is $12,000-$15,000, including materials.

Attic Dumbwaiter

An attic dumbwaiter is an increasingly popular addition to homes. These types of dumbwaiters provide a convenient, back-saving solution to moving household items and boxes in and out of the atti. Just place your item onto the car, secure it, and with the push of a button it can be brought up and down between levels. The cost of installation for an attic dumbwaiter is $12,000-$15,000, including materials.

Exterior Dumbwaiters

There are various types of exterior dumbwaiters that serve different purposes. Some assist in bringing items from the exterior to the interior, while others are solely located outside and assist in transporting items onto a deck or higher platform. These units are great for transporting things such as firewood, groceries, or even cocktails. The cost of installation for an exterior dumbwaiter is $12,000-$15,000, including materials.

Residential Dumbwaiter Cost by Manufacturer

When conducting your research on residential dumbwaiters, you will find multiple manufacturers on the market. Depending on the manufacturer and brand, you will notice that some are more expensive than others, but the same products are fairly competitive between manufacturers. Below is a chart comparing residential dumbwaiters across some of the top brands:


Residential Dumbwaiter Cost by Manufacturer


BrandCost (Materials Only)
Matot dumbwaiter$2,000-$6,000
Inclinator dumbwaiter$3,500-$6,000
Harmar dumbwaiter$4,000-$7,000


Matot Dumbwaiters

Matot has been a manufacturer of dumbwaiters since 1888, providing efficiency, reliability, and ease with the most advanced lift solutions around. They offer a wide range of standard and custom-built dumbwaiters to suit your needs. The cars come in a variety of sizes and weight requirements. The average cost for a Matot dumbwaiter is $2,000-$6,000.

Inclinator Dumbwaiters

Inclinator offers a variety of dumbwaiters for the purpose of transporting groceries from the garage to the kitchen, bottles and cases to and from the wine cellar, laundry from bedrooms, and hauling wood to your wood-burning fireplace or oven. Their dumbwaiters offer time-saving features, safety, and reliability. Inclinator can add a car to your existing house or include it right in your new construction plans. The average cost for an Inclinator dumbwaiter is $3,500-$6,000.

Harmar Dumbwaiters

Harmar believes that safety in the home isn't just about locking doors and securing sharp objects, but that it also includes how you transport your items between levels. Their dumbwaiters can make an impact on your daily life by helping you move items throughout various levels of your home. They also help increase the property value of your home. The average cost for a Harmar dumbwaiter is $4,000-$7,000.

Cost of Installing a Dumbwaiter

The process of installing a dumbwaiter is very similar to that of residential elevator installation. The process begins with building a shaft for the car to travel in. Some older homes may already have a shaft installed, but for newer homes, this involves either opening the wall and possibly rerouting electrical wires and plumbing, or building the shaft into your new construction. Other options include moving an existing duct and using that area or converting an unused closet. Constructing the shaft is the hardest part of labor, and installation from there is fairly simple. A track is then installed at the back of the shaft with a motor. The dumbwaiter car is installed on the track and control panels are installed at each level. The process of shaft construction can take anywhere from 1-7 days depending on the complexity of the project and location. The installation process for the car itself only takes a few hours to complete.

Labor makes up the largest portion of the total cost of dumbwaiter installation. Installing a dumbwaiter in an existing shaft averages $750-$2,500, while installing a dumbwaiter in a new shaft is approximately $5,000-$6,000 for a total of $10,000 for new shaft installation with a motorized dumbwaiter. Approximately 60% of the cost of the project is for labor and the other 40% is for materials. This project includes rerouting electrical, moving plumbing, installing the shaft, and finishing the exterior. If needed, this would also include new drywall and paint for the area as well as access door installation.


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Dumbwaiter Doors

There are many different styles of dumbwaiter doors on the market to choose from. In most cases, the standard model includes slide or swing doors. There are also other options, including bi-parting or motorized door options available for an upgrade. The cost of upgrading the door averages between $500 and $1,000.

Corner Elevator for Home

Exactly as the name implies, this type of dumbwaiter is built in a shaft without opening any walls and located in the corner of the room. In residential homes, you can often find these types on countertops, where people would transport items such as groceries. Due to the location, the interior size of the carriage is restricted. The cost of installation for a corner dumbwaiter is $4,000-$6,000.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • If you feel comfortable or have the knowledge for building a shaft yourself, then you can opt to purchase a dumbwaiter kit that allows you to DIY the installation or even use a garage door opener to power a dumbwaiter wholly of your own design.
  • All dumbwaiters should be equipped with a lock for safety when not in use.
  • A typical dumbwaiter travels at around a speed of 20-30 feet per minute. If you have a higher speed model then you can expect it to travel up to 50 feet per minute.
  • The warranty on most dumbwaiters does not cover installation by anyone other than the licensed dealer.
  • Most manufacturers require the dumbwaiter to be serviced by licensed elevator technicians.
  • The interior finish of most dumbwaiters is powder-coated metal. In some instances, a stainless steel finish may be an option, but at an additional cost for the upgrade. The option of wood paneling is sometimes available and would make a great upgrade for a historic home.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to install a dumbwaiter?

A new, motorized dumbwaiter installed in a newly built shaft costs around $10,000 on average.

  • Are dumbwaiters dangerous?

Dumbwaiters do pose a safety risk if not used properly. It is vital that people recognize the potential dangers, especially when it comes to children and pets. All dumbwaiters come equipped with a lock to help limit any unfortunate incidents from occurring.

  • How much weight can a dumbwaiter hold?

A basic residential car has a weight capacity of approximately 100-200 pounds, while a commercial car can hold upwards of 500 pounds.

  • Why is a dumbwaiter called a dumb waiter?

The name ‘dumbwaiter’ originated from its function–dumb meaning silent, and waiter, acting like a waiter carrying things from place to place.

Cost to install a dumbwaiter varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Updated:
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.
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Cost to install a dumbwaiter varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.