Electric Shelving or Mechanical Shelving – Power of Reliability

Powered Shelving or Hand Crank?

The Power of Spacesaver Reliability

Here’s our guide to choosing the best option for your team.

You already know that Spacesaver’s compact storage systems allow you to store more in less space, which makes room for work areas or even more storage capacity. You also know that you can use new or existing shelving, cabinets, or racks on mobile carriages, and that Spacesaver systems are safe and fully customizable. Now you want to decide whether to go with a mechanical assist control (aka hand cranks) or electronic controls. Let us help you make the right decision for your team.

Requirements Mechanical Assist Recommended Electronic (Powered) Recommended
Reliability X X
Safety Options Available X
Increase Storage Capacity X X
ADA Compliance X X
Productivity X
Small System (fewer than 10 carriages) X X
Public Access X
Large System (10 or more carriages) X
Restricted Access / Audit Trail X
Storing Fragile Items X
Hands-free Access X
Speed / Efficiency X
Wireless Diagnostics X
Automatic Movement X
Overhead Lighting X


Worried that you may not be able to count on our powered systems for decades to come? For more reasons than we can include in this article, you can trust that Spacesaver’s powered systems are the most reliable in the industry. We offer a ten-year warranty and many of our systems have performed reliably for 25 years or more without needing an electronics update. When these systems do need servicing, wireless diagnostics let your local technicians assess the situation quickly, with minimal downtime and disruption. And if your system loses power, a battery backup kicks in to ensure reliable operation.

Still not convinced to go powered?


Both control options have safety systems, with a manually operated lock on mechanical assist systems and a variety of advanced safety options with electronic systems. An electronic system’s safety beams sweep open aisles, similar to an automatic garage door opener, to detect when someone enters an aisle or when an object is blocking an open aisle.

Line Drawing of Zero Force Sensor - Safety Option for Powered Operation

All powered systems come standard with redundant built-in safety devices. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend powered systems, depending on the application. For example, we recommend that systems accessed by the general public be equipped with electronic control because of their additional safety features. Open-access libraries often choose powered shelving to add more safety precautions because untrained people will be using the system. Learn more about our safety features.

Speed / Efficiency

Electronic systems can move many carriages at once, and users enter an aisle as soon as it begins to open. The time savings add up when aisles are opened many times a day.


Touchless Access

Electronic shelving opens with the press of a button or LCD screen. If you’re concerned about high-touch surfaces, you can easily open powered systems with your own mobile device via the TUSC app.

moveable shelves mobile app controlled

Soft Start – Soft Stop

If you’re storing fragile items, a powered system’s “soft start – soft stop” feature eliminates the risk of shock damage. This feature also reduces wear and tear on the system’s drive components and reduces electric draw.

Restrictred Access & Audit Trail

Electronic shelving offers PIN- or badge-operated security and an audit trail. The system won’t open for unauthorized users, and it generates a report of who accessed any aisle, and when.

electric shelves secure acess

powered wireless diagnostic system

Wireless Diagnostics

Although service calls are rare, our powered systems allow technicians to use a wireless diagnostic system to minimize downtime.

programed ventilation setting electric shelving

Automatic Movement

Electric shelving systems offer a variety of pre-programmed automatic movement modes for optimal efficiency. Do you have an aisle that’s accessed more frequently than all the others? Set the system to default to keeping that priority aisle open. Need to avoid fully closed aisles to promote ventilation? Set the system to “ventilation park.” You can also choose a “fire park” mode that connects to your building’s alarm system.

What’s the cost difference?

So now that you know more about an electric shelving system’s features, you’re probably wondering how much they cost. And the answer? It depends.

Cost depends on the size of your system, any aesthetic add-ons you might want, and other factors. In general, electronic shelving systems do cost more than our mechanical assist systems but when our clients consider the value they’ll get day after day, they decide it’s worth it.

Time to Decide

No matter which Spacesaver system you choose, you’ll gain the ability to store more supplies or equipment in less space. If you’re looking for optimal efficiency, choose powered systems for their safety, ease of use, efficiency, reliability, and other features.

Choose the Power of Reliability

Contact us for more help in deciding which system is best for you. Your local Spacesaver consultant can analyze your space, answer questions, and help design a system that’s a perfect fit for your space.