Residential elevator question

OaktownJuly 12, 2013

Would you knowledgeable folks kindly help me out with a residential elevator decision? I am trying to choose by Monday so as not to further delay the building schedule.

We are selecting a 2-stop elevator, the question is whether we use a hydraulic or traction system.

The hydraulic elevator would allow us to keep our current plan. On the other hand, I'd prefer not to worry about a leak with a hydraulic system.

With a traction system, we will have to do some redesign of the floor plan. The redesign is not the end of the world but might cause a short delay, and we do prefer the current design.

Our preference would have been to use the traction elevator originally designed in by the architect but the builder can't get it (please disregard the issue of who's responsible for this problem).

Any thoughts on the elevator selection would be appreciated (brickeye? Renovator8?) I looked through the old threads but could not find any on this particular question. My general understanding from online info is that the hydraulic is cheaper up front but the traction is more energy efficient. My main concerns, however, are safety, service, and leaks. We're not considering a pneumatic elevator for various reasons.

Thanks in advance for any opinions.

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Your description is confusing. Is the current house designed for a hydraulic or electric elevator. Doesn't the hydraulic require a machine room and cost more? Why would a gearless electric elevator not fit in the electric elevator shaft? Is there insufficient overhead for it? Do you have bids for the two systems?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:02PM
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What are the 2 brands & models of equipment you're looking at for the hydro and traction?

Hydraulic elevators need a smaller shaft than traction (no counterweights), so perhaps that's the layout issue. They're also typically less expensive than hydraulic because there's less equipment involved (safeties, sheaves, brakes). In the residential world there's also cable/drum systems, which can be less. That's why I asked the brand/model question.

There is a potential for leaks, but it's from the top of the jack, as the seal (called "packing") wears. The installer should put a plastic tube at the seal that runs down into a bucket in the pit area. That will collect any leaks, and you won't have a big mess down the road. You check the bucket regularly, and when you see oil start to collect, you know the packing needs replacement. It's a slow deterioration, so it won't just burst all of a sudden or anything.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 6:12PM
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It is difficult to discuss residential elevators without first limiting the choices because there are 5 or 6 different types, not all manufacturers make all of them and they have very different design requirements, advantages and disadvantages.

A hydraulic residential elevator can have a cylinder and piston BELOW ground (centered in the shaft) or ABOVE ground (centered or off-center and to one side of the shaft) with cables (roped). This type of elevator requires a machine room that might be required to be next to the shaft or located remotely.

An electric motor-driven, roped, counter-weighted residential elevator can be gearless with cables (traction) or it can be geared with a chain neither of which require a machine room and the motors are at the top of the shaft often increasing the required headroom. It could also be a motor driven drum type in a machine room nest to the lowest stop.

The shaft size of the electric motor driven and the above-ground hydraulic models is often similar since a counter weight assembly and a piston assembly take up about the same amount of space (7 to 10 inches).

So, to help you without writing a design manual we first need to know the manufacturer and the specific kinds of elevators you are considering. A plan with overhead and pit limitations noted would also help.

As I often ask, why is your architect not taking the lead in resolving these issues? No offense intended; I'm just curious.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 9:32AM
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No offense taken, I really appreciate your responses!

The primary architect we have been working with has been on vacation. His colleagues have been trying to help but I think we really need his input. He's back on Monday and we now have a meeting first thing that morning with him and the builder. We'll be looking at all the dimensions and specs for the elevator options then. We should be able to work through this one way or the other.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to provide all of that information, lots of it has been changing and in the past three days I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about residential elevators.

I think we've gotten ok with the concept of redesign using a roped hydraulic elevator (yes, there is a place planned for controller equipment) and losing a bathroom if needed since theoretically this should save us some money. We'll have to ask the architect about other potential consequences such as whether changes will impact our permits. Anything else you would suggest we ask about?

Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 5:21PM
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There are several electric motor driven elevators that might cost less and not need the machine room. Since the elevator only rises one floor why is hydraulic important?

At this point an elevator installer should be involved.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Sun, Jul 14, 13 at 8:22

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 8:20AM
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Hi Renovator8, just wanted to let you know that our architect is working on shop drawings with the elevator company and it looks like things will work out. We will be using a roped hydraulic elevator because they are able to "cheat" the overhead clearance except where the hoistway track(?) is located. Apparently they can't cheat in the same way with the machineroomless inline/traction(?) elevator because those require the overhead space for service access.

As an aside, after reading some of the other threads, I wanted to say thank goodness for all the architects and other professionals out there! (And to those building without an architect or being your own GC, hats off to you as well, I certainly wouldn't be able to do it!)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 12:12AM
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