Minimum ceiling height for a garage lift? | FerrariChat

Minimum ceiling height for a garage lift?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by Birdman, Nov 30, 2003.

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  1. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2003
    North shore, MA
    Full Name:
    THE Birdman
    Hi Guys,
    This question is only somewhat related to Ferraris but I know you guys are going to have a good answer for me. I'm building a garage in the spring and I hope to eventually have a lift in there to work on not just the Ferrari but my other cars. Obviously, I would like a really high ceiling to accomodate the lift, but there are realistic limits on this considering that the garage is attached to the house and there will be a room over the garage. What is the minimum height of a ceiling for a garage with a lift so I have enough decent space to work under a car?


  2. Steve King

    Steve King F1 Rookie

    Feb 15, 2001
    I would say about 11'-12' is good enough.
  3. AEHaas

    AEHaas Formula 3

    May 9, 2003
    Osprey, Florida
    Full Name:
    Ali E. Haas
    My Baer lift goes to 13.5 feet at the crossbar. The problem is that an open car hood as on my Mercedes can extend another foot higher. My new garage is at 14 feet and is just enough. I have to pay attention if I have a hood up.

    I am describing my service lift. Car storage lifts are often of a lesser overall height. If you are making your garage to accommodate a lift, do it right. We are talking pennies of a difference.

    Make sure you get a "high lift" garage door arrangement. It MUST hug the ceiling. Take this into account for overall clearance. Also, a shaft driven motor is out of the way.

  4. TCM

    TCM Formula Junior

    Nov 10, 2003
    Tyngsborough, MA
    12' is sufficient for a lift. My garage has 12' ceilings and my two Bishamon lifts are fine even with trucks on there. You are welcome to come up and take a look at it if you wish. May help you with some ideas for your "new favorite room";).
  5. Mike Florio

    Mike Florio Formula Junior

    Jun 19, 2003
    NW Rural Nevada
    Full Name:
    Mike Florio
    Congratulations! you are making a good decision, you will love having a lift - one of the best investments I ever made!. I have a Bend-Pak MX-10AC. Its a two-post, 10K lb., asymmetrical. I strongly recommend you make some decisions about your lift, and get an installation manual BEFORE you design your garage.

    Decision points:
    Asymmetrical vs. Symmetrical: Symmetrical will block your doors when the vehicle is on the lift, with an Asymmetrical you position your vehicle with the center of gravity on a line between the posts. With most vehicles, this is just where the front door hinges. There is a long lift arm and a short lift arm. The short lift arm should go to the heavier end, which means you may have to back your Ferrari into the lift. Make sure you have sufficient clearance in front of the lift to do this!

    If you have a peaked ceiling and have to position the posts anywhere but in the very center you may have to make your ceiling higher. Mine ended up being placed 1 ft. away from, and parallel to the ceiling center line, so I had to build for a 13' interior ceiling height. Scissor trusses did the job for me.

    Control cables: May run either on the floor between the posts or overhead. If you want an unobstructed floor, get the overhead ones.

    Lifting arms: Make sure you lwill be able to slip them under your car when they are fully down. Nothing worse than getting a lift and then having to use a floor jack to get the arms under it.

    All the other good comments about garage door track heights, etc. should be considered.

    Once you decide on the characteristics of the lift, then design your garage around it. Get some graph paper or a good CAD package and draw everything out, including positioning a vehicle on the lift and measuring clearances on the ground and up in the air.

    You can contact me off line and i can recommend some sources for price/features benefits.

    I have no affiliation with any vendors, etc, blah, blah, blah...
  6. Verell

    Verell F1 Veteran
    Consultant Owner

    May 5, 2001
    Groton, MA
    Full Name:
    Verell Boaen
    Mike's suggestions are pretty close, but I differ with some of them.
    A 10' ceiling is pretty close to bare minimum, 9' ceiling can work w/o being too restrictive. Absolute minimum is about an 8' ceiling, and you'll
    not be able to stand up under the car, but it'll still be lots better than jack stands & ramps.
    With proper planning the posts can actually be higher than the ceiling as they can:
    a) Protrude almost a foot into the opening between joists & still be below the next floor.
    b) Protrude up thru the floor and be enclosed inside of a cabinet or even concealed within a conveniently placed wall.

    My posts are abut 12' high, and my ceiling is 10' so I've got a small 6" square cabinet inside of an upstairs closet.

    In all cases you'll have to find a lift, with fairly short posts. I've seen a several lifts with 8' posts, and 10' posts are pretty common.

    Some further comments:
    RE: Asymmetrical vs. Symmetrical
    Strongly recommend an assymetrical lift, The lowest capacity lift I've seen is 6,000 lbs. (My lift is 7,000 lbs) A 308 is about 3300lbs wet, so that's over a 50% safety factor. With that much safety room, you really don't have to worry about which end of the car is slightly heavier.
    You definitely want to have the room to orient the 308 either way, and to accomodate anything up to a full size car or SUV oriented either way.

    If I remember correctly, a standard dealer shop bay is 24' long (at least 12' on each side of the post-post centerline, and 16' wide.) (I believe I've got 10'/8' and you know how tight my bay is. You can barely squeeze by on each end of my 308. Also my width is now bare minimum now that Cindy has taken over the 2nd bay. The bay's width will determine how much to increase the spacing between your garage doors.

    There is a 2nd thing to watch out for: Cable/hydraulic connections between the posts can either be overhead(strongly preferable), or run on top of the floor (real PITA). I recommend going with a hydraulic lift with an overhead hydraulic line, and a over-head cross-support between the posts. If necessary the cross-support & lines can be run between floor joists.

    BTW, hydraulics require much less maintenance than cable systems and IMHO are more reliable.

    On most lifts the steel bottom plate on the posts prevents the lifting arms from dropping all the way down to the floor. With new construction this is easy to compensate for by having the contractor mold recesses in the floor. He can even cast the bolts for the posts in the floor when it's poured. BTW, lifts have minimum floor thickness & strength requirements. Luckily they're pretty close to std practice in MA, or at least were when my house was built. Extra rebar in the post mounting area never hurts. Again,having the installation documentation when designing the floor is important.

    The floor recesses can also be used to reduce lift post height by several inches!

    BTW, there are several lift vendors that take used lifts in trade & resell them. One of them is very near you: Garage Supply in Woburn,MA (where I bought my lift.)

    Next time you're over I'll point out a few of the tricks I used with my lift's installation. Will also try to remember what other considerations
  7. RDS

    RDS Karting

    Nov 1, 2003
    Elmwood Park, Il
  8. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2003
    North shore, MA
    Full Name:
    THE Birdman
    Thanks everyone, this is good stuff. I know that in an ideal situation, a 12' ceiling would be optimal, but there is no way I can give up the living space over the garage in exchange for a lift. ("Yeah honey, forget that new master bedroom and bath, I think I'm going to put in a lift for the Ferrari.")

    I can definitely pull off a 10' ceiling though I think. It sounds like I should defiitely pick out a lift before construction and make arrangements in advance!


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