If your garage does double duty as both a parking/storage space and a woodworking shop, you know how valuable your floor’s footprint is. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to store bikes, lawnmower, containers of “overflow” and so forth somewhere else, so you could dedicate even more area to your woodworking needs?
Jerome Miles decided to take this conundrum head-on a number of years ago with a solution that doesn’t involve putting up a shed or building an addition. Instead, Miles just looked up and saw opportunity as close as his garage’s ceiling. That was the inspiration for MYLIFTER, a new electric winching device designed to expand garage storage.
“(Miles) noticed that cars were being parked outside and garages were being filled with big and bulky items like bikes, kayaks, canoes, kid’s ride-on toys and hardtops,” says Matt Sumsion, MYLIFTER’s director of sales. “These things are hard to store on traditional shelving, and garages are valuable real estate. … He created MYLIFTER as a device that’s safe and convenient and can be used with a smartphone.”
MYLIFTER is a DC-powered electric motor that weighs about 3 lbs. and can fit in the palm of a hand. It mounts to a steel track that attaches to the ceiling joists of a garage or other storage area. It can deadlift up to 50 lbs. using its steel cable or as much as 100 lbs. when used with pulleys and an additional steel track.
Sumsion says that a Kickstarter campaign, begun in December 2013, preceded the mass production of MYLIFTER. But, unlike most Kickstarter initiatives that are focused primarily on raising development funds, the goal here was also to gauge interest and get feedback about the product.
“Early on we had interest from big box retailers like Home Depot, Costco and Sam’s Club, but we didn’t want to release a product that hadn’t had beta testers’ feedback before mass production,” Sumsion explains.
It took only one week to raise $50,000 from backers willing to invest in MYLIFTER. The company ended up raising about $106,000 in just under a month, with 568 backers. In May 2014, those folks received their first-generation MYLIFTERs.
Sumsion says the Kickstarter campaign proved its worth, garnering substantive feedback from its backers. “People on Kickstarter are more prone to give good constructive criticism that helps improve the product instead of (those) who troll social media platforms and leave bad impressions,” he says. “As long as you fix the mistakes appropriately, there’s a margin for error that Kickstarter backers are OK with.”
One of those “mistakes” was cable tangling. That Kickstarter feedback prompted MYLIFTER’s cable guide to be redesigned so the cable pushes out of its spool but still remains snug on the spool grooves.
Sumsion points out that MYLIFTER isn’t the only ceiling lift on the market, but it offers some unique benefits that other versions don’t. For one, it’s a “smart” device. Instead of a hand-operated controller that’s tethered to the lifter, MYLIFTER is Bluetooth-equipped and can be operated using a free Android and iOS app. The app enables users to raise or lower a load as well as set MYLIFTER to stop at a predetermined height. It also can be controlled by voice commands using an Amazon Alexa (sold separately).
MYLIFTERs can be synced wirelessly to work together, too. One app can control up to four MYLIFTERs, extending the load-lifting capacity to as much as 400 lbs. For added safety, the lifter also has weight sensing technology built into it: it will automatically shut off and not lift loads that exceed 100 lbs. per device. The app reports how much weight a load contains so users can plan accordingly.
“We’ve also engineered the MYLIFTER gearbox to automatically lock when not moving so heavy hoisted items can be secured,” Sumsion adds. Another MYLIFTER benefit is that it can be daisy chained together. Since most garage ceilings have just one or two outlets, only one receptacle of a 110-volt outlet is required to power multiple lifters.
Currently, MYLIFTER sells as a base kit with one lifter for $199. The company offers three other kits: two that are specialized for lifting bicycles or Jeep hardtops and one for a kayak or more universal purposes. A platform and hooks are available too, as accessories.
MYLIFTER is the first component among a suite of new Garage Smart products that are coming this fall. All of them will mount to the ceiling and can be daisy-chained to work from a single outlet. They will include a reel-down air hose and extension cord, a pan-and-tilt camera, oscillating fan, a Bluetooth speaker, a spotlight and a laser-guided assistant for parking a vehicle in the same spot.
In the meantime, MYLIFTER should come as welcomed news for those who feel the crush of too much “stuff” packed into too little space. Sumsion says that even at these early stages, he’s seen some creative storage solutions being offered by MYLIFTER owners.
“Its options are endless,” he adds. “There’s almost anything smartphone-controlled these days. We saw an opportunity in the garage space and decided to make something so simple to install yet dynamic in functionality that everyone could find a need for it in their garage.”
Learn more about MYLIFTER by clicking here.