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Dumbwaiters are small, enclosed lifts used to transport items between floors within a building. Multi-story buildings, such as restaurants, hospitals, and hotels often incorporate dumbwaiters to help employees move supplies, dishes and laundry from floor to floor.

Dumbwaiters are typically made of stainless steel or other durable materials, and they are equipped with safety features such as doors, interlocks, and emergency stop buttons. The size and capacity of a dumbwaiter are determined by the intended use and the space available for installation.

Where are Dumbwaiters Used?

Today, dumbwaiters are used in a wide variety of settings like the ones mentioned above – these are:

  • Restaurants

    For restaurants, dumbwaiters can help to improve efficiency by allowing servers to quickly and easily transport food and drinks between the kitchen and the dining room.

  • Hospitals

    In hospitals, dumbwaiters can be used to transport medical supplies and equipment between floors, reducing the need for staff to carry heavy loads up and down stairs.

  • Office buildings

    In office buildings, dumbwaiters can be used to transport documents, packages, and other items between floors, yet again saving time and effort.

  • Hotels

    When it comes to hotels, dumbwaiters are used to transport bedding, pillows and laundry to each floor of the building. Especially useful considering your average hotel has dozens of floors and larger ones have hundreds.

  • Care homes

    Care home employees will use dumbwaiters to transport laundry to the laundry room and some may use dumbwaiters to transport food and medication.

  • Schools

    In schools, dumbwaiters are mostly only used to transport supplies and documents similar to a typical office would.

A lift elevating
A lift component

It is important to carefully consider the specific needs and requirements of the building and its residents or employees when choosing a dumbwaiter. A reputable manufacturer or contractor can provide guidance and assistance in selecting the right dumbwaiter for your needs.

Types of Dumbwaiters

There are several types of dumbwaiters available, each designed to meet the specific needs of the user. Some dumbwaiters are manual, meaning they are powered by a hand crank or a rope pulley system. Others are motorised, using electric motors to lift and lower the platform. Some dumbwaiters are small enough to fit in a standard doorway, while others are larger and can transport larger items or multiple people at once.

As mentioned, the two main types of dumbwaiters are manual and motorised (although nowadays you’re far more likely to find motorised dumbwaiters rather than manual ones):

Manual dumbwaiters are powered by a hand crank or a rope pulley system, and they are typically smaller and more compact than motorized dumbwaiters. These lifts are often manually operated by turning a crank or pulling on a rope to raise and lower the platform. Manual dumbwaiters are a good option for small spaces or for those who only need to transport light loads.


Motorised dumbwaiters, on the other hand, use electric motors to lift and lower the platform. These lifts are generally more powerful and can handle heavier loads than manual dumbwaiters. Motorised dumbwaiters also typically have more advanced features, such as automatic doors and control panels, and they may be equipped with safety features such as overload protection and emergency stop buttons.

Benefits of Dumbwaiters

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, there are several other reasons why a dumbwaiter can be a useful and practical addition to a building. Here are a few additional benefits of using a dumbwaiter:

Reduced Risk of Injury

Carrying heavy items up and down stairs can be physically demanding and can lead to injuries such as back strain or slips and falls. A dumbwaiter allows employees and residents to easily transport heavy items without having to lift them, reducing the risk of injury.

Increased Productivity

By reducing the amount of time and effort needed to transport items between floors, a dumbwaiter can help to increase productivity in the workplace or at home. This can be especially useful in busy environments where time is of the essence.


A dumbwaiter can be a convenient and practical solution for transporting items between floors, especially for those who have difficulty climbing stairs or for those who are unable to carry heavy items.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Modern dumbwaiters are designed to be sleek and unobtrusive, and they can be installed in a variety of locations within a building. This allows them to blend in seamlessly with their surroundings and adds a touch of convenience and luxury to the building.

Control panel on a lift
Control panel on a lift
Lift component

There are also several options available when it comes to customising a dumbwaiter to meet the specific needs of the user. Some dumbwaiters are equipped with features such as temperature control, which can be useful for transporting perishable items or medical supplies. Others are equipped with security features, such as keyless entry, to prevent unauthorized access.

The History of Dumbwaiters

Dumbwaiters can be traced back to ancient Greece and besides advancements in technology, were mostly the same compact, service-based lifts we know today.

Of course in modern times, dumbwaiters are made of durable steel and composed of advanced lift components like motors and cables that allow for a quick and smooth operation. However, when first conceived, dumbwaiters were simple machines made from wood and ropes that were operated by hand, making them a far cry from today’s dumbwaiters in terms of efficiency.

Other Types of Lifts We Install

Passenger Lifts

The most common type of lift, passenger lifts are used to transport people from floor to floor. Nowadays, passenger lifts are used in all sorts of buildings throughout every industry and are seen as the standard type of lift.

Platform Lifts

Platform lifts are used to add or increase accessibility in buildings. Nowadays, platform lifts can be a legal requirement if ramps and other forms of accessibility can’t be installed. Typically, platform lifts are small in size and are just large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

Service Lifts

Typically used in commercial and industrial buildings, service lifts are designed to carry heavy loads that help businesses carry out everyday operations more efficiently. If it’s cargo that needs transporting from floor to floor, it’s service lifts that’ll do the job.

Glass Lifts

Glass lifts are just another form of passenger lifts. As the name suggests, glass lifts feature large panes of tempered glass that make for a nicer, more aesthetic-looking lift compared to your average steel passenger lift.

Car Lifts

Making use of any vertical space within a parking lot or garage, car lifts are designed to carry the heavy weight of a vehicle and unlike their name suggests, car lifts are built to accommodate vans and heavier vehicles as well as cars.

Overall, a dumbwaiter can be a useful and efficient addition to any multi-story building. Whether you are a restaurant owner looking to improve efficiency, a hospital administrator in need of a reliable way to transport supplies, or a homeowner looking for an easy way to move items between floors, a dumbwaiter may be the perfect solution.

If you’re looking to have a dumbwaiter installed, inspected, maintained, repaired or refurbished, give us a call at 01744 395028 or send us an email at [email protected].

We’re on call 24/7 to react promptly to your lift breakdowns.

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