Hydraulic Elevators: What You Need To Know

Photo Mar 14, 10 29 06 AM

While you’ve likely ridden in a hydraulic elevator more times than you could count, are you familiar with how these systems work? Hydraulic lifting systems are common not only in commercial settings but for residential use as well. 

Today, we’re going to cover how hydraulic elevators work. We’ll also touch on some of the important differences between hydraulic lifting systems and other types of elevator systems. We’re also going to discuss their use in both residential and commercial settings to help you get an understanding of whether this system might be right for your home or business. 

How Do Hydraulic Elevators Work? 

Unlike roped or traction elevators, hydraulic lifts use what’s known as Pascal’s Principle to operate. According to Pascal’s Principle, “when there is an increase in pressure at any point in a confined fluid, there is an equal increase at every other point in the container.” 

So, what does that look like when applied? Well, a hydraulic lifting system uses a trapped, incompressible fluid (like oil or water) to transmit force. When force is applied to some of the trapped liquid, that force can, in turn, be transferred to a larger surface area on the other side of the container. In the case of a hydraulic elevator, the force can be applied to lift and lower the elevator cab. This motion is completed using a fluid-driven piston which is mounted inside of a cylinder.

You may have also heard of pneumatic or vacuum elevators. These lift systems also use hydraulics to operate. In this case, trapped air is used to lift and lower the elevator. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of elevator systems, we cover them in detail in this blog post. 

Hydraulic Lifts and Elevators for the Home

Hydraulic elevators are best suited to low-rise buildings, which makes them an obvious choice for use in the home. Conveniently, they also tend to be less expensive to install, and require less maintenance than other systems. Homeowners can also choose from models without a machine room, because hydraulic elevators have lower pit and overhead requirements with standard travel than other systems. No crane or roof access is required either, which means less of a disruption in and around your home. 

Commercial Use for Hydraulic Lifting Systems

The same reasons hydraulic lift systems are ideal for the home can apply to many businesses. While high-rise buildings usually require a traction elevator because of the greater lengths of travel that are required, many buildings up to five stories are suited for a hydraulic system. 

In addition to being cheaper to install than other systems, they’re also capable of carrying heavier loads than traction elevators tend to be. In a commercial setting, this has obvious advantages! Whether it’s for carrying more passengers or heavy loads of materials and goods, hydraulic elevators are built to transfer heavier weights. 

You can learn more about the differences between hydraulic and traction elevators here. 

In a commercial setting, it’s not uncommon to see a hydraulic lift as opposed to a hydraulic elevator with a cab. A hydraulic lift uses a platform that’s moved in the same manner as an elevator, but they’re often used for transporting cargo, including vehicles and other heavy shipments, as opposed to passengers — although they can be used for raising and lowering people, too. Some of the most common uses for hydraulic lifts include in automotive body shops, waste removal, shipping, warehouses, and mining. 

Hydraulic Wheelchair Lifts

One of the other common uses for hydraulic lifts, both in the home and in businesses, is for hydraulic wheelchair lifts. This is a convenient and reliable method for raising and lowering a wheelchair and its occupant from one level to the next. At Rise Above Elevator, we’re pleased to offer the smoothest hydraulic elevator in the industry. Our residential hydraulic elevator lifts are 2 to 1 roped hydro-systems with the most structurally engineered slings to move your platform seamlessly. 

Hydraulic Elevator Installation 

During the hydraulic elevator installation process, you’ll come to find that there are a few different types of hydraulic elevators: holed, holeless, roped, and machine roomless. 

Holed Elevators: In a holed hydraulic elevator, hydraulic cylinders are placed inside of a drilled hole and they typically allow for up to 60’ feet of travel. 

Holeless Elevators: Because holeless elevators don’t require a hole to be drilled during installation, they’re an ideal choice for elevator installation in an existing building. However, if more than 40’ of travel is required, a holed elevator might be required. 

Roped Hydraulic: Using cables and a piston attached to a sheave, a holeless elevator can reach up to 60’ of travel, while a traditional holeless hydraulic elevator typically can’t travel more than 40’.

Machine Room-Less (MRL) Hydraulic: When saving space is a concern, a machine roomless (MRL) hydraulic elevator is a great choice. Rather than a separate machine room, the lifting mechanisms are located in the hoistway, meaning less room is required for installation and operation. 

Depending on the height of the building your hydraulic elevator is being installed in, its intended use, and many other factors, the right type of elevator for you will vary. It’s important to discuss all of these things with your elevator installation company before moving forward with the installation process. 

Rise Above Elevator

When you choose Rise Above Elevator as your trusted elevator installation, repair, and maintenance company, you’ll know you’re getting not only the best quality service, but also the fastest response times in the industry. Our state-certified technicians will work with you for all of your vertical transportation needs to ensure a safe, efficient, and visually appealing outcome every time. 

We work alongside contractors and architects for custom cab designs to ensure every client gets just what they pay for. We provide contractors with all the requirements needed to ensure your elevator is built and installed to meet ASME A17.1.5.3.

If you’d like to learn more about the right type of elevator to suit your needs, give us a call today! 

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