Dumbwaiters and Material Lifts: What’s The Difference?

On first impressions there may not seem to be much difference between a dumbwaiter and a material lift; they both share the responsibility of transporting items, they both have multiple level options, and are both used in a number of different settings, by a number of different industries.

It is true that both dumbwaiters and material lifts are both used for transporting heavy items between floors, however, these products have variations when it comes to their applications, configurations, and capabilities.


As well as being used in commercial settings, dumbwaiters have the added benefit over material lifts of being available for residential applications too. Dumbwaiters are capable of traversing up to 50 feet thanks to the winding drum drive system; the system is equipped with heavy-duty steel guide rails that are designed for longevity and efficiency.

For those looking to transport medical/legal records, prepared food, wheeled carts, firewood, groceries, laundry, essentially anything weighing 500lbs or less, dumbwaiters have the capacity for most tasks.

Material Lifts

Unlike dumbwaiters, material lifts are used solely in commercial settings. They are capable of carrying heavier and larger loads (up to 1000lbs) higher (up to 23ft) than dumbwaiters can. Intended for use inside a shaftway, material lifts operate on a different system to the dumbwaiters winding drum drive system.

Material lifts come in a choice of standard sized, roll-on platforms or customised platforms with manual or power swing doors.

As well as being easier to install than dumbwaiters they are also a simpler way of moving heavy freight in commercial settings.

Is your domestic property or commercial set up in need of a lift system to ease the operation of transporting items between floors? Contact Sheridan Lifts now and take a look at some of the lifts we provide.