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How do Residential Elevators Work?

How do Residential Elevators Work?

Residential elevators are comprised of 3 primary functional elements; the car, rail structure and the drive system.

The car is the most visible portion of the home elevator. It can be made in a variety of sizes and configurations and there are a number of ways that you can customize your home elevator car to match the décor of your home. The elevator car is the piece that transports passengers from landing to landing.

The car is carried to its destination on a rail structure. The rail structure is mounted to the hoistway and is integral to the stability and safety of the system.

The final portion of a residential elevator is the drive system itself. The drive system is what actually makes the car move on the rail structure. When planning for your elevator, there are several key drive systems to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the Inline Gear Drive, the Winding Drum Drive and the Hydraulic Drive.

Inline Gear Drive

The Inline Gear Drive has a motor located at the top of the rail structure, and is counterweighted to enhance the power transmission. When the elevator is moving up, the counterweight is moving down and vice versa.  The advantage of this system is that the motor and controller can be mounted in the hoistway. It is available as a machine room-less elevator, thus saving space within the home.

Symmetry Home Elevator Inline Gear Drive System

General

  • Overhead minimum of 8’0″ (96 inches) with remote controller; minimum of 9’0″ with controller in hoistway with a 7’0″ interior car height

Mechanical Equipment

  • 208/230 VAC, 60HZ, 20 amp, single-phase power supply for motor controller
  • Two #60 roller chains
  • Inverter-controlled variable speed Inline Gear Drive unit with counterweight and 2 hp motor
  • Manual lowering device

Safety Features

  • Slack chain safety device
  • Two upper and one lower final limit
  • Machine stop switch

Winding Drum Drive

A Winding Drum elevator works similar to a big winch.  With a mandatory machine room, the drive is located directly adjacent to the elevator shaft and, with a series of pulleys to change the direction of the ropes (pre-stretched galvanized aircraft cable), lifts the elevator up and down.   

Symmetry Home Elevator Winding Drum Drive System

General

  • Overhead minimum of 7’10” (94 inches) with a 7’0″ interior car height

Mechanical Equipment

  • 208/230 VAC, 60HZ, 30 amp, single-phase power supply for motor controller
  • Two 3⁄8″ 7 X 19 galvanized aircraft cable [14400 lbs. breaking strength]
  • Inverter-controlled variable speed Winding Drum Drive unit and 3 hp motor
  • Manual lowering device

Safety Features

  • Slack rope safety device
  • Two upper and one lower final limits

Hydraulic Drive

The Hydraulic Drive, also requires a machine room, which houses the electrical components and the hydraulic tank and pump. A piston in the hoistway, connected to the hydraulic pump, raises or lowers the elevator to the desired landing. You will find the Hydraulic Drive is the quietest of these drive systems. 

Symmetry Home Elevator Hydraulic Drive System

General

  • Overhead minimum of 7’10” (94 inches) with a 7’0″ interior car height

Mechanical Equipment

  • 208/230 VAC, 60HZ, 30 amp, single-phase power supply for motor controller
  • Two 38” 7 X 19 galvanized aircraft cable [14400 lbs. breaking strength] with wedge rope shackles
  • 80mm diameter piston/102 mm diameter cylinder including 34” reducer brushing
  • 3 hp submersed motor with 2-speed valve assembly
  • Manual down valve for emergency lowering

Safety Features

  • Slack rope safety device
  • Line rupture valve

How do I Decide Which Elevator Drive System Will Work Best for My Application?

Each of the drive systems for residential elevators brings with it a unique set of advantages. The drive system you choose will ultimately depend on your personal preference. In order to understand the nuances between the drive systems, talk to a local elevator company. Ask questions about not only the differences between the types of elevator drive systems, but about the ongoing maintenance required. Your local home elevator company can assist you in determining which type of drive will provide you with the best possible end result.

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