The Difference Between Elevators and Dumbwaiters

Here at Sheridan Lifts, we have an extensive working knowledge of everything there is to know about the lift industry. In fact, despite the major differences between the two machines, we often find that people get confused between elevators and dumbwaiters. In order to clear up any confusion, we have decided to address the topic once and for all. Read on to find out a few key characteristics that separate an elevator from a dumbwaiter…


A passenger elevator is a large piece of machinery that is often installed inside public buildings like shopping centres, hotels and even hospitals. Whilst they vary in size themselves, an elevator is equipped to carry 5 to 50 people at any given time. On the other hand, a dumbwaiter is no bigger than a large cardboard box which means that it is unsuitable for people to use. In fact, they wouldn’t even be able to fit inside.

dumbwaiter-kitchen1Weight Capacity

Since elevators have to carry heavy loads of people, the weight capacity can range between 500 and 1,000 pounds. In addition to this, elevators are also equipped with 8-12 strong steel ropes that are able to support the weight of passengers, even in the event of an emergency. On the other hand, since a dumbwaiter only has to transport small items like food or laundry, they tend to have a weight limit of 250 pounds.


The biggest characteristic that separates an elevator from a dumbwaiter is their purpose. After all, an elevator is made to carry passengers which is why they are so big and come with a sturdy weight capacity. On the other hand, a dumbwaiter is a type of service lift which means that they are made for restaurants and hotels in order to improve the efficiency of food transport between floors. With this said, it is not uncommon for a dumbwaiter to be installed inside a home with many stories too.

The dumbwaiter is one of the most misunderstood types of elevators. After all, very few realise that they aren’t meant to be used by people! Here at Sheridan Lifts, we are familiar with every kind of lift on the market and we believe that our range of dumbwaiters are the best of the best! To query your own installation, get in contact with a member of the Sheridan team today.