Everything you need to know about Dumbwaiters & Service Lifts

Everything you need to know about Dumbwaiters & Service Lifts

In this blog post, some of the most common questions about Microlift dumbwaiters and service lifts will be answered.

What is a 'service lift'?

These lifts go by various names including dumbwaiter, kitchen lifts, catering lifts, service lifts, trolley lifts, roll cage lifts and the microlift!

The term service lift refers to a lift that helps you move goods around your workplace or home that are too dangerous or cumbersome to lift manually, carry up multiple flights of stairs or a change in level. These are small goods lifts that can be loaded at waist-height or floor level and do not carry people.

What are service lifts used for?

A service lift can range from a dumbwaiter or 'microlift' in a home to move groceries, crockery etc. They also operate as catering lifts or kitchen lifts for a restaurant that has one or more floors - aiding in the serving and clearing of meals. Or for floor-level service a trolleylift that moves roll cages in a supermarket, delivers catering trolleys, or helps move boxes, kegs and crates between floors.

How do I know whether I need a service lift?

A service lift will improve efficiency and safety if you repeatedly move goods over two or more floors by hand. If you are a business owner, you're legally responsible for the welfare of your staff during their working hours and for the health and safety of everyone on your site. You can read more about how to assess your workplace and see how helpful a lift could be to you in the blog on Manual Handling Regulations.

Can I install a dumbwaiter in a private dwelling?

Yes. Stannah have installed many Microlifts, or dumbwaiters, in townhouses where carrying goods such as shopping, over several stairways is challenging. Historically most grand houses had a dumbwaiter from the kitchen to the dining room.

How do I take goods in and out of the lift?

If you have a small service lift or dumbwaiter, working as a catering lift, then you will usually have this installed at waist height for loading/unloading plates and cutlery. Larger service lifts such as a Trolleylift will be loaded at floor height and take the goods to another floor level, so your goods would be on a trolley or a pallet.

I run a business where we serve meals. Is there a way to keep the food hot?

Yes, Stannah offer a heater in the Microlifts. There are two options, the first is to go for an infrared heated lift car, the second an option to have some or all of the shelves heated. A lot of the time customers typically have two lifts, one for service and one for clearing, either side by side or stacked (double-decker arrangement of two lift cars using one shaft).

How far can a service lift travel and how much can it carry?

Dumbwaiters can travel up to 30 metres or 12 stops and in 50kg or 100kg loads. Trolley lifts can travel up to 18m with up to 6 stops and carry loads of up to 300kg. Stannah are also able to supply bespoke options too.

What configurations and sizes are available? Do I have room?

These little lifts are very compact, so you'd be surprised at how small a space is required and the range of entrance configurations. There are also service lifts designed to overcome low headroom on the upper floor. A goods lift provider, such as Stannah, can conduct a survey to advise you of the best position and product for your needs and walk you through the process.

Can these lifts withstand being used all day?

These lifts are workhorses built to last and be well used. The average loads are typically 360 per day for a dumbwaiter and 180 per day for a trolley lift. The longest serving Microlift on Stannah’s service records is over 39 years old and still going strong! Like a car, the key to longevity is proper care and regular maintenance.

How much does a dumbwaiter cost?

Service lifts can cost from £6,000 upwards. However, they vary depending on travel, configuration, number of floors and options. It's also important to consider any building work required and how that will add to project costs.

How long does it take to install a service lift?

Most of the Stannah service lifts are from warehouses in the UK, meaning they can be supplied and installed in just a few days. Stannah always do their best to minimise interruption time to your business, working on weekends and evenings if needed.


If your commercial premises, school, kitchen, restaurant or shop has two or more catering/serving floors, then you'll likely require some sort of service lift. At Stannah, they offer a broad range of goods and service lifts and can advise you on the best product to suit your needs.

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Stannah Lifts

In 1867 Joseph Stannah began engineering lifts and cranes for London’s dock yards. Five generations on, this family owned, British business still uses its engineering expertise to keep people and goods moving. Today the business sells passenger lifts,...
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