Elevator Types



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Hydraulic Elevators

Elevator types include hydraulic. Hydraulic elevators are supported by a piston (or pistons) located at the bottom of the elevator pit. The piston or jack pushes the elevator car up as an electric motor forces hydraulic oil into the piston.  The elevator descends as a valve releases the fluid from the jack. Hydraulic elevators are used for low-rise applications of 2-6 stories and travel at a maximum speed of 200 feet per minute. The machine room is typically located near the pit of the hoistway.

Conventional In-Ground Hydraulic Elevators – These elevators have a hole drilled below the floor of the elevator pit, which accepts a hydraulic jack and the retracting piston as the elevator descends.  Some configurations have a telescoping piston that collapses and requires a shallower hole below the pit.  The maximum practical travel distance is approximately 100 feet.

Holeless Hydraulic Elevators – These elevators have a hydraulic jack on either side of the cab, and the pistons rest on the pit floor. Telescoping pistons are used if travel is over 14 feet. The maximum practical travel distance is approximately 60 feet.

Roped Hydraulic Elevators – This is a hybrid hydraulic/traction drive system.  These elevators have the piston attached to a sheave with a rope passing through it. One end is attached to the car, while the other is secured at the bottom of the hoistway.  It acts as a pulley, allowing two feet of car travel for every one foot of jack travel. Roped hydraulic elevators extend the total rise of a hydraulic system to approximately 60 feet without installing a jack below the pit level.


Geared and Gearless Traction Elevators with Machine Room

Traction elevators are lifted by ropes that pass over a sheave (pulley) attached to an electric motor above the elevator shaft.  The other ends of the ropes are attached to counterweights. They are used for mid and high-rise applications and have much higher travel speeds than hydraulic elevators.  These make the elevators more efficient by offsetting some of the weight of the car and occupants so the motor doesn’t have to move as much weight.  An electrically controlled brake between the motor and the reduction unit stops the elevator, holding the car at the desired floor level. The machine room is at the top of the hoistway and contains the machine and controller.

Geared Traction Elevators – A motor drives a worm-and-gear-type reduction unit, which spins the hoisting sheave. While the elevator rates are slower than in a typical gearless elevator, the gear reduction offers the advantage of requiring a less powerful motor to turn the sheave. These elevators typically operate at speeds from 125-500 feet per minute and carry heavy loads.

Traction Elevators  – These are some of the most used elevator types for tall buildings. The sheave is directly attached to the motor, and there is no reduction box or gears. Gearless traction elevators are capable of speeds up to 2,000 feet per minute. Also, they have a maximum travel distance of around 2,000 feet so they are the most common choice for high-rise applications.


Machine-Room-Less (MRL) Elevators

Machine-Room-Less Elevators – These elevators do not have a dedicated machine room above the elevator shaft.  The machine is much smaller. It sits in the override space at the top of the hoistway and is accessed from the top of the elevator cab when maintenance or repairs are required. Oftentimes, MRLs will have an access door at the top of the hoistway. The controllers are located in a controller space that is typically adjacent to the elevator shaft on the highest landing.

Machine-room-less elevators have a maximum travel distance of 250 feet and can travel at speeds up to 500 feet per minute.

Click the link below for help selecting the best elevator type for your project.


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