Design Help

Step 1 - Cab Size, Capacity and Layout

Our standard models for hydraulic elevators are shown in the table below.  For traction/MRL, please contact us.

Standard Footprints
Model Description Capacity Cab Width Cab Depth Hoistway
WF Wheelchair
Door Front
2500 lb 5'8" 4'9¼" 8'3¼" 7'7½" 36"
WFR Wheelchair
Door Front & Rear
2000 lb 5'8" 4'3" 8'3¼" 7'7½" 36"
SLF Stretcher IBC Current
Door Front
3500 lb 7'4" 5'2" 10'1¼" 8'0¼" 42"
SLFR Stretcher IBC Current
Door Front & Rear
3500 lb 7'4" 4'8" 10'1¼" 8'0¼" 42"

All designs are ADA compliant and are available in one or two hour fire rating (for 2-hour add 1 ¼” to the hoistway outside width and depth).  International Building Code requires two-hour fire rating for elevators serving 4 or more stories or if the elevator penetrates a 2-hour-rated floor.

Models SLF and SLFR are gurney compliant for a 24” x 84” gurney with 5” radius corners. Most jurisdictions require that for a building of 4 or more stories at least one elevator accommodate an ambulance gurney so that EMTs can efficiently remove patients.  Some jurisdictions also require gurney compliance for shorter elevators.  Check with your local authority having jurisdiction to confirm requirements.

We can also make custom car sizes to meet most needs.  To get more design help contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your specific project and design something that works for you. If you have a project in mind, click the button below for a free quick quote.

Free Quick Quote


Step 2 - Type of Conveyance

We manufacture hydraulic and traction elevators, including machine room-less versions for both, pre-installed in a hoistway.  Less frequently, we make roped hydraulic and LU/LA elevators.  The decision is typically based on overall travel distance, however there can be other factors including elevator use patterns and volume.  We will not try to talk you into an elevator that does not fit your needs. For design help, here’s a summary of the differences.

Help Choosing



If you’re unsure, contact us and we’ll help you evaluate your project and help you determine the one that is best for you.

Step 3 - Machine Room Placement

Hydraulic elevators require machine rooms, and Phoenix Modular Elevator offers design help and flexibility in machine room placement.  Most commonly and it is recommended that they are adjacent to the hoistway at the lowest stop.  However, they can be on a higher or lower floor, and remote from the hoistway.

Remote machine rooms add to the cost, because they require wires and piping to be run through floors or ceiling. Therefore, we work closely with customers to ensure economical, convenient placement for each project.  Note that some jurisdictions require that the machine room be within 10 feet of the hoistway.

Size is governed by code-required clearances around equipment.  In general, the minimum clear interior space must be approximately 4’x10’ or 6’x6’, depending on the door placement and location relative to the hoistway. If you have a preliminary design, contact us and we’ll be happy to sketch up a quick equipment layout to make sure it will work and meet all applicable codes.

Phoenix Modular Elevator also offers a modular machine room which is an ideal option for exterior elevators.  It comes with all of the electrical pre-installed, including overhead lights, electrical disconnects and even climate control units. The tank and controller are also installed and wired.  Our machine rooms are the same footprint as the hoistway, allowing flexibility in placement on the left, right, or rear of the hoistway.  They have no floor when produced so a slab will be needed. They bolt to the concrete slab with epoxy anchors.

Overhead traction elevators require a machine room at the top of the hoistway.  It must be 7’ clear height, and requires roof access.   We build them integral to our hoistway.

Machine room-less traction elevators do not require a machine room, as the motor and sheaves are serviced from the car top. This makes the total hoistway height less than an overhead traction. Keep in mind some jurisdictions require full bodily access to the machinery. MRLs do require a controller space, typically a closet located adjacent to the hoistway at the top landing.  However, they can be placed on any floor.

Machine room-less hydraulic elevators contain the machine room equipment inside the hoistway in a compact formation, with a door in the side wall to enable maintenance access.  These elevators require about 20″ additional width, and 12″ additional pit depth to accommodate the equipment.  They are also limited to 24 feet of travel because of the smaller tank size.

Machine Room Info


Step 4 - Cab Interior Design

Phoenix Modular Elevator offers a variety of off-the-shelf interior options (Interior Brochure) to fit many budgets. In addition, PME designers are available to help architects specify custom finishes and fixtures for one-of-a-kind projects. We have produced everything from glass elevators to ones with reclaimed barn wood.

Interior Options

High-pressure plastic laminate walls in your choice of Wilsonart® colors.

Panelized walls, with your choice of laminate background and panels.  Any configuration of panels and laminate patterns can be designed.

Stainless steel, either #4 satin (the most common selection) or any Rigidized® pattern.

Raised wood paneling.

Mirrors and glass can be incorporated into the car, though they are installed on site.

The transom (door jamb/casing) around the car door is usually stainless steel.


We supply standard a plywood subfloor set ¾” below the car sill.  This is finished by others onsite to match the building design.  The subfloor will accommodate any flooring, but the finished floor needs to be at the level of the sill to avoid a tripping hazard.

Sample Interiors


Step 5 - Exterior Design


Our standard exterior finish is fiberglass gypsum type X sheathing, which is water resistant for up to a year in the event a construction project necessitates exposure to the elements.  Plywood sheathing is an alternative.

If your elevator is placed on the exterior of a building, or is free-standing and connected via balcony or catwalk, there is an opportunity to make it a design element in your project.  Once erected, the hoistway can be finished with any typical exterior product such as brick, stucco or siding.

If your elevator is placed on the interior of a building, it can be skim-coated or sheeted with 1/4″ drywall, and the hoistway walls can serve as interior walls.


Our standard roof is EPDM (black) or Duro-last (white) rubber roofing.  This is glued to a plywood roof and tacked around the sides for shipping.  Once the building finish has been applied at the jobsite, the roofing can be terminated. Custom roofs can also be constructed, either in our factory or onsite, to add a high-end look.

Some finishes such as wood or steel siding can be factory installed.  The determining factor is whether they can be strapped to a truck and shipped.

Step 6 - Structural Considerations

PME modular elevators minimize required building modifications for retrofit projects and simplify the design process for new construction.

For travel up to 30′ (3-4 stops), the elevator fits into a single tower.  This structure is self-supporting, making it ideal for retrofit/renovation projects.

For travel over 30’ we construct multiple-piece towers in our factory, and separate them for shipping, where they are reassembled onsite and bolted together.  This design is typically not self-supporting and must be tied to the building.   If this is not feasible, we can engineer a multi-piece tower to be self-supporting for your application.

If needed, our hoistway can provide some gravity loads for the surrounding building structure. Our elevators are not designed to carry sheer loads. Our engineers can coordinate with your engineers to design building attachments.

PME includes all structural engineering required and supplies stamped structural drawings that can be used to obtain building permits.

Step 7 - Design the Tie-Ins to the Building

Roof – Most elevator shafts extend above the building roof.  If the elevator is interior, flashing around the modular elevator at the roof penetration is needed.  If the elevator is exterior, it typically butts up to the building.  The wall that abuts the building must be flashed to the roof, and gutters or other drainage systems need to direct water around/away from the shaft.

Walls – The building wall must have an opening for the hoistway door.  This can be as narrow as the door, as wide as the entire hoistway front wall, or anywhere in between.

  • If it is just big enough for the door, the hall stations will need to be mounted in the building wall onsite.
  • If it is at least 12” wider than the door on the hall station side, the hall stations are factory-installed in the hoistway wall.

The hoistway wall and building wall need to be tied in onsite.  This can be done with simple drywall mud and tape, or with an expansion joint.

Note that in seismic areas, the hoistway needs to either be attached to the building so they move together, or separated seismically so if they move separately, they won’t crash into each other.  We can provide calculations for the required seismic separation if you choose not to attach them.  In this case, a larger expansion joint is used to bridge the gap.

Floors:  The elevator sill is set to the finished floor level that is provided to us.  There is a 4” beam between the sill and the building floor that is set ¾” below the sill which allows you to bridge the gap with a plywood subfloor and continue the flooring up to the sill.


Part of getting design help includes dealing with the gap before the installation is complete can be easily accommodated.

The gap before the installation.

A tread plate installed in this fashion is one way to bridge the gap. Design help can assist you in dealing with this step of the process.

A tread plate installed.










We also offer an optional threshold plate that attaches to this beam and bridges the gap.  This is designed for use in seismic areas, to bridge a seismic gap, but can be used in any application. Flooring in the building and in the car should be installed flush with the sills to avoid trip hazards.

Sheltering Exterior Doors:  If the elevator doors open to the outside, they should be sheltered.  Rain and snow can blow in through the cracks around the door and damage equipment inside the hoistway (primarily door equipment and hall stations).   Rain can also get into the hall stations and short out the buttons.  Wind can blow in debris that can gum up equipment.  And direct sunlight can interfere with the door’s safety edge and keep it from closing.

If you can’t or don’t want to build an enclosed lobby, then make sure you have sufficient protection from the elements with overhead canopies, partial side walls, or something similar.

Special hall calls can be included that prevent water damage.

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