What Are the Main Types of Elevators and How Do They Work?

Is it getting harder for you to manage the stairs in your home, but you’re unsure what to do? You don’t want to have to move, so you’re looking at your options. Maybe it’s time to look into installing an elevator.

In 2021, the market size of the elevator installation and service industry was almost 25 billion dollars. Due to our aging population, the market will increase even more.

If you’re thinking about the different kinds of elevators available, it’s helpful to break them down into different types. Here’s a quick guide to types of elevators and how they work.

How Do Elevators Work?

Elevators move people and things from one floor to another using a motor and pulley system. Some elevators use a counterweight to reduce the weight that the motor moves.

Improvements in elevator science include controls to move the elevator from floor to floor and a phone to call for help in an emergency. They usually have a trap door in the ceiling for emergency escapes.

Different Types of Elevators

Elevators used to require a machine room for safety control, but some newer models have built-in safety technology. All elevators require regular maintenance and Auditmate is a great resource.

There are four different kinds of elevators: hydraulic, traction, machine-room-less, and vacuum.


Hydraulic elevators have an electric motor that forces hydraulic fluid into a piston. The piston is at the bottom, and as it releases the fluid, the elevator moves up.

An advantage is they cost less to install and have lower maintenance costs, but the electric motor uses a lot of energy to push up against gravity. They suit smaller buildings of two to eight stories.


These elevators lift using ropes that run over a wheel attached to an electric motor above the elevator shaft. Traction elevators use a counterweight to reduce the load the ropes have to move.

Geared traction elevators have a motor with a gearbox that powers the wheel that moves the ropes. The gear regulates the elevator’s speed, and this type is suitable for medium size high-rise buildings. Gearless traction elevators are much faster and suited to very high buildings.

Machine-Room-Less (MRL)

When an elevator doesn’t have a separate machine room to hold the safety controls, the controls are on the top of the elevator car. This type of elevator uses less energy and takes up less space in the building.

Vacuum or Air Driven Elevators

These small elevators suit residential use as they are smaller and designed for fewer passengers. They use air pressure to move the car smoothly between floors with a vacuum pump.

They don’t need an existing elevator shaft or a machine room, and they’re energy-efficient. Vacuum systems are a relatively new elevator technology.

Select the Right Type of Elevator With Confidence

Once you understand the different types of elevators available, it will be easier to make a choice that meets the needs of your building.

We hope you found the answers you needed in this article. Be sure to use the simple search feature to check out more tips for elevator installations. You can find more helpful advice on the Lifestyle tab as well.


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