The 6 Different Types of Elevators

The 6 Different Types of Elevators

Elevators are complicated systems and we can help to explain the different types of commercial elevators and their respective operations.

Looking back into history it used to be dangerous to ride an elevator. During the mid 1800’s several buildings and structures were being constructed with higher levels and elevators became a common item. Elevators gained significant design safety with a device that could prevent a passenger elevator from falling if its rope broke with a mechanism created by Elisha Otis. Soon, nearly all building designs were expected to have more than a single access point to a floor of a building. This became a standard to have access to building floors along with a standard staircase. 

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Modern Elevator Design

The six variations of elevators utilized in many buildings are as follows:

  • Traction Elevators
  • Hydraulic Elevators
  • MRL Elevators
  • Pneumatic Elevators
  • Climbing Elevators
  • Industrial Elevators

Gearless and Geared Traction Elevators with Machine Rooms

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Gearless and Geared Traction Elevators

These types of elevators such as geared and gearless traction use ropes to lift them. The rope passes over a sheave attached to an electric motor that is located on top of the elevator shaft. These are common in midrise to high rise elevators and typically have faster travel times than hydraulic elevators.

The elevators will utilize a counter weight to help them run more efficiently by offsetting the load inside the elevator car that may consist of passengers weight or equipment. The elevators utilizing geared traction will use a gearbox that is attached to a motor. The gearbox purpose is to drive the sheave and operate the ropes. The geared traction elevators may have the ability to move up to 500 feet per minute. Travel distance for a geared traction elevator is around 250 feet. 

Gearless traction elevators have a sheave that is directly attached to the motor. The gearless traction elevators may have the ability to travel up to 2000 feet per minute. Maximum travel distance for a gearless elevator is around 2000 feet which is optimal for high rise buildings. Typically gearless traction elevators have a higher price point for the initial cost of installation. Maintenance cost on a gearless traction elevator may stay consistent since they are often more efficient than geared traction elevators. 

Inspecting traction of the elevator sheaves and ropes for wear and tear on a regular basis is vital. These items such as cables and sheave may wear down and cause slipping and reduce traction of the elevator components. This can reduce the efficiency of the elevator and increase the danger of using the elevator. 

There is a restriction on height with traction elevators since they are designed with a specific length of rope, cable, and weight. New materials such as carbon fiber used with traction elevators help make them stronger and lighter and achieve new heights. 

Machine Room-Less Elevators
Machine Room-Less Elevators

MRL Elevators (No Machine Room)

Machine Room-Less Elevators is a traction elevator that does not have a machine room over the elevator shaft. The machine room is typically located in another space and can be accessed through the cab near the top of the elevator for repairs. The control room hosts the control boxes and is typically on the highest landing adjacent to the elevator shaft. 

Machine room less elevators have a maximum travel distance of 250 feet that may boast speeds up to 500 feet per minute. The MRL elevator has similar startup and maintenance cost as with geared traction elevators, but the MRL elevator will have lower energy cost than a geared elevator. MRL elevators are very popular for mid-rise buildings which require travel distances of 250 feet or less. 

One of the major factors in the US is the slow adoption of MRL elevators is due to building codes. The provisions are in regards to the motor and location within the hoist way of the elevator. The building codes are changing and best practice is to check with your local code enforcement regarding MRL types of elevators. 

Hydraulic Elevator

Hydraulic Elevators

  • Holed Elevators
  • Hole-less Elevators
  • Telescopic Elevators
  • Non-Telescoping Elevators
  • Roped Elevators

The design of a hydraulic elevator includes a piston that is found at the base to support it. The piston utilizes hydraulic pressure to push the elevator upwards in sync with a motor that manages oil (hydraulic fluid) within the piston. There is a speed valve that operates to relieve pressure inside the piston when the elevator descends.

Typically these elevators are only used in buildings that are limited to 8 floors or less and travel speeds average 150 feet per minute.

The machine room will typically be on the lowest level across from the elevator. The hydraulic elevator will have a piston that extends underneath the elevator floor inside the pit. When the elevator descends the piston retracts. There are different variations but most will have a telescoping piston that will collapse and requires only a shallow hole within the pit.

The hydraulic elevator travel distance is approximately 60 feet and may have a piston on either side of the cab if it is designed without a hole in the pit. Telescoping pistons may allow the elevator to travel 50 feet, whereas a non-telescoping piston may only rise up to 20 feet. 

Sometimes combinations of a rope hydraulic elevator and piston operate the cab but have a limitation of around 60 feet.

Compared to other elevators the initial cost and maintenance cost may be lower but the hydraulic energy cost can be higher. This is due to the electric motor operating heavily against gravity while forcing hydraulic fluid into the piston. One of the downsides to hydraulic elevators is the potential for fluid to leak and hazards to the environment.

Pneumatic Elevators

Pneumatic elevators are raised and lowered by air pressure within the shaft. The air pressure difference is created between the above area and below area of the elevator cab. This creates a vacuum that transports the elevators by air physics. The elevator is operated by turbines or a vacuum pump which pulls the elevator up and releases pressure to allow the elevator to descend. Pneumatic elevators are compact by designed and good fit for residential elevator applications. There is no need for a hoist way or excavate pit to install pneumatic elevators.

Climbing Elevators

This type of elevator is commonly used within construction or commercial work areas. Most of these elevators are driven under its own power device, which are electric or combustion powered. Temporary climbing elevators are commonly used within construction of high-rise buildings to move personnel and material before a permanent elevator is installed.

Industrial Elevators

  • Hoist Elevators
  • Incline Elevators

The industrial elevator is designed to hoist/lift extremely heavy weight and is typically used in construction, warehouses, and shipyards. They are designed to withstand extreme conditions in some of the world’s most hostile environments. Custom height requirements and quality material are used to construct industrial elevators to withstand heavy-duty usage.

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Island Elevator is Ready to Help

Island Elevator is here to help you understand all facets of your Elevator Repair, Maintenance, & Modernization costs in the new year.  Our team is here to help ensure your home and business vertical transportation equipment receive the regularly scheduled maintenance necessary to help you avoid a major catastrophe, reduce the possibility of a costly repair, and ensure the safety of your passengers, tenants, and family.

Call For Your Free Estimate Today! 631-491-3392

Click Here For More Information On Home Elevators

Top 6 Tips for Commercial Elevator Maintenance

Top 6 Tips for Commercial Elevator Maintenance

The elevator industry regulators take health and safety extremely serious and explains why commercial elevators are undoubtedly the one of the safest forms of mechanical transportation. Owners should keep a schedule for maintenance and plan on elevator maintenance servicing to maintain safety standards, extend the life of elevators, and reduce commercial elevator downtime.

Our company elevator Installers on routine maintenance.
Elevator contractors facilitate routine maintenance for passenger safety

Always Keep Up with National Elevator Regulations

Elevator rules and regulations are constantly evolving to improve the commercial elevator industry and its help owners to focus on safe maintenance practices. The strict code enforcement and effective commercial elevator guidelines allow facilities managers to maintain safe commercial elevator systems across the nation, adhering to not only current protocol, but also new and developing standards. New government legislation continually increases commercial elevator safety for passengers and employees.

Commercial elevators installed after the year (2001) require features such as improved strength and durability of elevator car walls, roofs, and doors plus higher requirements for fire resistance material of car interiors and mandatory elevator control panels including a “Stop” button in the lower pit. New commercial standards will further uphold the elevator and its reputation for excellent safety practice and regulations.

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Regular maintenance on elevators and equipment can keep your business running smoothly

Be Proactive with Commercial Elevator Repairs and Upgrades

One of the main goals of elevator repairs is to provide a facilities manager with a commercial system they can rely on. The commercial elevator service and consumer safety should be priority number on. As with nearly every aspect of facilities management, one of the most important actions to take in keeping elevators in prime condition is to inspect them regularly. Not many owners realize that elevator maintenance is mandatory for their building; in addition to an inspector reviewing an elevator system once every six months so the owners are covered by law.

Recommended practice is to have a elevator system serviced every month. Neglected elevators can result in long delays while waiting for repairs, lead to premature aging, create huge financial expense and, worse still, become a danger to both passengers and service personnel.

Planning Routine Commercial Elevator Maintenance
Planning routine commercial elevator maintenance is vital for safety of passengers

Planning Routine Commercial Elevator Maintenance

Facilities managers should always have a planned preventative maintenance schedule in place with their chosen elevator service provider. This takes into account issues such as elevator-system peak times, impossible dates for servicing and so on. A mobilization plan should also be crafted to cover any risk assessments, method statements and health and safety procedures in relation to elevator maintenance.

The age of a elevator system and size of the building are both factors that need to be taken into consideration when planning maintenance, as older systems with more floors to cover may require a more thorough service, which will take more time. Also, the amount of usage an elevator endures may mean the system wears faster, so there will need to be a discussion about the level of predicted elevator use with the service provider. It is important that a facilities manager is able to rely on the elevator service provider and trust it implicitly. A strong partnership should be made during the planning stage to ensure the contractor will deliver excellent ongoing service and support.

Commercial & Residential Elevator Modernization
Commercial & residential elevator modernization of cabs

Commercial & Residential Elevator Modernization

Technological advancements in the elevator industry are vastly improving health and safety for both passengers and engineers. Facilities managers should embrace fast-changing trends to take advantage of the many benefits. Modernizing an elevator system will result in a faster elevator with a smoother ride, reduce overall costs and make an elevator more reliable and less prone to breakdowns.

For elevator maintenance specifically, customer-management portals (new online tools growing in popularity with many elevator servicing companies) offer a bespoke and reliable service, which both reduces downtime and improves communication between clients and servicers. Online systems deliver clients detailed elevator-portfolio information, including real-time updates, electronic exchange of orders and proactive maintenance reporting. The booking of engineers for maintenance, viewing of arrival times and specific work undertaken is now easily accessible, allowing facilities managers to plan elevator maintenance well in advance and alert people using the elevators.

Commercial & Residential Elevator Thermal Image
Commercial elevator maintenance and inspection plans

New thermal-imaging technology, for example, provides engineers with the ability to locate, troubleshoot and fix impending issues to prevent costly shutdowns. Furthermore, there are several technological developments that can drastically reduce an elevator system’s energy consumption. It is vital that service providers notify clients of changing environmental legislation and offer advice on product innovation and environmentally efficient technologies during the term of their contract.

New thermal-imaging technology provides engineers with the ability to locate, troubleshoot and fix impending issues to prevent costly shutdowns.

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Elevator installers can help educate owners on maintenance and repair

Education of Commercial Elevator Operations and Procedures

It goes without saying that, despite a facilities manager’s best efforts, accidents can still occasionally happen. For passengers, a common hazard is being struck by closing elevator doors, and, although it is essential to ensure your elevator system’s detection system is updated, this type of accident is largely the result of user error — for instance, a passenger may attempt to run for a elevator and stick his or her hand or arm between the doors to prevent them from closing.

Early education for elevator passengers by providing visible signs and aids will detail elevator best practices and is a facilities manager’s best hope for the prevention of accidents.

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Island Elevator is Ready to Help

Island Elevator is here to help you understand all facets of your Elevator Repair, Maintenance, & Modernization costs in the new year.  Our team is here to help ensure your home and business vertical transportation equipment receive the regularly scheduled maintenance necessary to help you avoid a major catastrophe, reduce the possibility of a costly repair, and ensure the safety of your passengers, tenants, and family.

Call For Your Free Estimate Today! 631-491-3392

Click Here For More Information On Home Elevators

Understanding Local Accessibility Requirements for Elevators

Understanding Local Accessibility Requirements for Elevators Within ADA Policy

It is vital to understand how the federal law applies throughout the United States in reference to the ADA enacted in 1990 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination by private entities which operate within places of public accommodation.  The ADA also requires new construction and modernized or altered locations of public accommodation, along with commercial facilities or buildings to provide ADA compliant accessibility means.

Examples of buildings that fall within the ADA:

  • Businesses that are generally open to the public
  • Restaurants
  • Movie Theatres
  • Schools
  • Day Care Facilities
  • Recreation Facilities
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Privately-owner, non-residential facilities
  • Factories
  • Warehouses
  • Office Buildings

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Overview of ADA Requirements Regarding Elevators

The ADA requirements for elevators found within section 407 of the ADAAG chapter four accessible routes. As Section 206.2.3 reads, there are some specific exceptions to the elevator requirements.  For example, private buildings that are less than three floors do not have to provide an elevator unless they are a shopping center, professional office, or other specified type of use.

Every local building location must have at least one passenger elevator to meet the accessibility requirements and service elevators may be used to comply with the standard accessibility requirements if certain elements are included as a part of the design.

Owners must comply with door sizes and door placement to allow wheelchair users to gain entrance, easily maneuver to reach the controls, and easily exit the elevator. Braille floor designations must be located on both jams and call buttons and are required to be either raised or flush at least 3/4 (three-quarter) of an inch in diameter.

  • Call registration and emergency communication buttons both inside and outside of the elevator must be within the regulation specified for reach in human range for a wheelchair user.
  •  All elevator buttons with numbers must be in ascending order along with being raised and Braille designations shall be placed to the left of the control button.
  • There should be visible and verbal signals to indicate which elevator car is available and the direction it is moving when it has reached a designated floor.
  • All elevator doors must remain fully open for at least three seconds in response to a call and the two-way communication device in the elevator cannot be more than 48” inches from the floor.
Understanding Local Accessibility Requirements for Elevators Within ADA Policy

General Dimensions for ADA requirements

An elevator must have the proper minimum elevator dimensions to allow wheelchairs easy access and maneuverability within the car.

ADA elevator must have several minimum dimensions:

The minimum clear door opening with an elevator car is 36 inches wide x 80 inches high

The depth of the car must be at least 61” inches

The width must be at least 68 inches, unless the elevator has center opening doors, and then openings of at least 80” inches are required.

When installing an ADA compliant elevator, it is essential to ensure an automatic elevator will stop at the designated floor upon pressing the button. The elevator will be self-leveling, meaning it will automatically lift/raise to the current level of the destination floor.

The elevator floor should line up with the seam in an even position so that people and equipment, such as wheelchairs or ADA compliant equipment, can easily enter and exit the elevator.

  • If carpet is installed it must be firmly attached
  • The floors inside the elevator should be slip resistant
  • Transitions or openings should be smooth for any equipment such as a wheelchair
  • Minimum distance between surface openings must be ½ inch or less

Private residential elevator’s may be designed to provide an ADA compliant space saving solution for homes up to six stories. Residential elevators are similar in many ways to a traditional elevator with an enclosed cab that travels between each floor and typically a limited use elevator is designed with a main purpose in providing accessibility for handicap access within the home.

Limited Use/Limited Application Elevators

 A limited use/limited application elevator (also known as a LULA) is a slower and smaller elevator compared to a traditional passenger elevator you would find in a large office building or hotel.

A LULA can be added to improve accessibility in existing buildings and are typically only designed for low occupancy locations that will take an occupant up one or two stories. They are often found in library’s, churches, schools, and small businesses.

Whether you want to renovate, alter, or expand your building to meet the ADA 2010 standards for accessible design (recent version) requires the removal of “accessibility barriers and existing places of public accommodation when doing so as readily achievable” to be compliant.

US department of justice (DOJ) states on the ADA website “One effective approach is to conduct a self-evaluation of the facility to identify existing barriers“ and a building owner can have a difficult time deciding what really needs to be done.

Elevator access self-assessment isn’t required by the ADA, but it can be effective in identifying the most efficient ways to provide access that is required and preventing a liability or violation. If you’re unsure whether or not the elevators in your building are compliant you can check with existing codes or have an evaluation completed to ensure that your elevator is in with an ADA compliance.

Island Elevator is Ready to Help

Island elevator is here to help you understand and navigate the ADA codes and regulations that help make your home or business accessible and safe for the disabled and homeowners seeking an accessible ADA compliant option which will allow them to remain in their home.

Call For Your Free Estimate Today! 631-491-3392

Click Here For More Information On Home Elevators