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The inner workings of a residential or commercial elevator may not be something most people have a deep understanding of, so today we’re going to discuss the type of motor that’s used in a lift elevator. We’ll also cover how to choose the right residential elevator to meet all of your needs.

The most common types of elevators for residential or commercial use are traction (geared or gearless) or hydraulic (holed or holeless) elevators. Now, let’s explore how these two types of elevators work as well as what kind of motor you tend to find with them. 

These are the three most common types of elevator motors:

  • AC motor (commercial/residential): Usually used in commercial and residential settings, but they typically use a higher voltage than your home electricity
  • Diesel/gasoline powered motor: Used when electricity is unavailable 
  • Pneumatic/hydraulic actuators: These are usually used for very heavy loading and low-rises, like in car repair shops or for cargo lifts 

What type of motor is used in a lift elevator? 

Traction elevators are operated with a counterweight that offsets the weight of the cab and its passengers. The motor doesn’t have to move as much weight which means traction elevators are much more energy-efficient than hydraulic systems. 

Geared traction elevators are controlled or “driven” by AC or DC electric motors. With the electric motor in this design, it drives a worm-and-gear-type reduction unit, which turns the hoisting sheave. In a geared elevator, the gear reduction offers the advantage of requiring a less powerful motor to turn the sheave.

For a machine roomless traction elevator, a smaller gearless traction motor is required. This means it can be placed inside the shaft to take up less space than a larger motor. 

Hydraulic elevators also use electric motors, and these elevators are powered by a piston that travels inside a cylinder. The electric motor pumps hydraulic oil into the cylinder which moves the piston, then the piston smoothly lifts the elevator cab. 

Recently, more homeowners are choosing to have pneumatic elevators or vacuum elevators in their homes. They don’t require a motor, or any gears or cables, which is a big reason they’re becoming so popular — they’re very low maintenance! 

Rather than relying on this equipment, pneumatic elevators use air pressure to move up and down. When the vacuum is “told” the elevator is going up, it uses its powerful pumps to reduce the air pressure above the elevator car. When this happens, the pressure under the car pushes the car upwards. When it’s time for the car to descend, the pump begins to work, reducing the pressure below the car. As the pressure is reduced, the car slowly falls.

What is an elevator drive system?

When you talk about the different types of elevator motors, a phrase you’ll often hear is “elevator drive system.” 

The drive system refers to the mechanisms the elevator uses to go up and down as well as the speed controlling mechanisms. In most cases, this is referring to the motor. But it also includes other important components like the brakes, the speed reduction unit, sheaves, and encoders.

How to choose the perfect elevator for your home

Now that you know a bit more about the different types of elevators and their drive systems, let’s discuss how to pick the right elevator for your home. 

For some homeowners, a vertical lift like a wheelchair lift or a stair chair lift is the perfect solution for getting from floor to floor. A stair chair lift is a seat attached to a track installed  along a staircase. An electric motor moves the chair up and down the track. A wheelchair lift, on the other hand, is a platform that a wheelchair and its occupant can be placed on and lifted up and down. 

Rise Above Elevator offers several different options for direct drive vertical platform lifts if you’re in need of a wheelchair lift or stair chair lift.

All of our lifts are the highest quality in the industry with the smoothest and quietest ride available! We also offer both indoor and outdoor units to handle any climate or weather conditions.

Our direct drive wheelchair lift units have a battery backup system that allows you to use it even during a power outage. Every lift is also equipped with an emergency stop switch for your safety.

Give Rise Above Elevator a call to install your new platform lift. 

Hydraulic elevators for the home

For many homeowners, the two vertical lifts we just discussed are the most economical option. But in some cases, a traditional elevator is the right choice. 

Our hydraulic elevator options include the QRL “Quiet Ride Lift” and the MRL “machine roomless” elevator. 

Our Quiet Ride Lift ‘QRL’ basic standard package travels at 40 feet per minute, but we also offer faster speeds depending on overhead and the clearance of the hoist-way. Additionally, our quiet ride lift is built to fit your hoist-way which allows for the maximum amount of square footage for your cab.

Our MRL elevator also travels at 40 feet per minute, and has a winding drum overhead motor. This elevator uses two ⅜  of an inch top grade cables to lift and lower the elevator, as well as a variable frequency drive to ensure the quietest and smoothest ride you can get. 

Hydraulic elevators are a good choice for a home because they are the quickest to install and they’re less expensive to build and maintain. Usually, they can accommodate heavier weights than traction elevators, and above-ground models are available with or without machine rooms. Crane or roof access is not required for their installation. Hydraulic elevators also have lower pit and overhead requirements with standard travel than traction elevators. 

If you’d like to learn more about how elevators work or find out what kind of elevator is the best choice for your home, give us a call today! 

We also offer 24/7 emergency service because we know some of our customers rely on their home lift as a means to get around their home. There’s always a trained technician monitoring the phone on  nights, weekends, and holidays, so just give us a call! If you don’t receive an answer right away, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.