5 Main Types of Elevators and Their Functions

Many people are surprised to find that elevators come in such a wide variety of styles and options. For example, certain elevators are used exclusively to move freight and goods instead of transporting people. On a smaller level there are home elevators designed primarily for the disabled. A commercial elevator can come in many sizes depending on the building structure and design. Office complexes, hospitals, government buildings and businesses are usually required to have an elevator system to ensure accessibility for everyone.

When it comes to selecting elevator systems, the primary difference is the way the operating mechanism works. The hydraulic elevator has consistently been rated as a safe option and is very reliable in emergency situations. This is due to its excellent earthquake and fire proof qualities. They are also user-friendly and easy to work with when performing elevator maintenance. Although the installation of a hydraulic elevator system can be time-consuming, once in place they provide a smooth ride.

In addition to hydraulic elevators, other systems include pneumatic, winding drum, counterweight and traction. Some of these require a machine room which is either below or above the hoist way. These rooms are for storing the hydraulic pump or electric motor along with the controller cabinet. There are smaller elevator systems that don’t use a machine room as all components fit inside the hoist way and car. In small commercial systems a cabinet with a computer is often added above.

A vacuum or pneumatic elevator is self-contained with a hoist and doesn’t require a machine room. Suction is generated through a pneumatic vacuum that transports the elevator between floors. Load capacity is somewhat limited and restricted to several people at a time. However, without a machine room needed the installation cost is lower when compared to a hydraulic model.

The electric or counterweight elevator is a widely used system. Strong counterweights keep the elevator suspended within the shaft. However, the roped elevator design remains as the most popular. The cab is lowered and raised with traction steel ropes looped around a pulley connected to a high-powered motor. Regardless of the elevator you are considering, it’s important to have it professionally installed by an expert and ongoing elevator maintenance performed.