The 3 Types of Elevators in Buildings

The 3 Types of Elevators in Buildings

The 3 Types of Elevators in Buildings 1280 850 CBA Consultants

3 Types of Elevators and How They’re Used

Have you ever wondered how different types of elevators work in specific buildings? Some buildings might not require a vastly huge elevator system if they’re only a few stories high. Meanwhile, high-rise buildings depend on well-structured elevators so people can travel between floors.

There are three main types of elevators in buildings: hydraulic, traction, and machine-room-less. Read to learn about how each has its own maximum speed and height to fit specific types of buildings.

Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators have a piston positioned at the bottom, which helps push the elevator car up. An electric motor will release hydraulic fluid, such as oil, so the piston can move. For the elevator to move down, a valve releases fluid from the piston.

Hydraulic elevators are typically used for low-rise buildings that are around two to eight stories tall. They can travel up to speeds of 200 feet per minute. There are also three sub-types of hydraulic elevators: conventional, hole-less, and roped.

Conventional Hydraulic

A conventional hydraulic elevator uses a sheave located in the floor of the elevator pit. Whenever the piston retracts, the pit supports it so the elevator can descend smoothly. This type of hydraulic elevator can travel up to 60 feet.

Hole-Less Hydraulic

A hole-less hydraulic elevator only uses a piston at the base of the elevator’s pit, rather than a sheave. If it has a telescopic piston, it can travel up to 50 feet. A non-telescopic piston can only travel up to 20 feet.

Roped Hydraulic

A roped hydraulic elevator simply uses ropes and a piston to move up and down. Its maximum distance is up to 60 feet.

Traction Elevators

Traction elevators function by using ropes that pass over a wheel that’s connected to an electric motor located above the elevator shaft. As the wheel moves, the rope raises and lowers the elevator car.

Traction elevators are typically used for mid and high-rise buildings. There are 2 types of traction elevators: geared and gearless.

Geared Traction

A geared traction elevator has a gearbox that is connected to the electric motor. This helps the wheel move and allows for the elevator to move up to 250 feet. This type of traction elevator can also travel up at 500 feet per minute.

Gearless Traction

A gearless traction elevator has the wheel and motor directly attached to one another, so there is no gearbox present. This type of traction elevator can travel at 2,000 feet per minute, with a maximum distance of 2,000 feet as well. Because of their speed and capability, gearless traction elevators are often used for high-rise buildings like skyscrapers.


Machine-room-less (MRL) elevators can be traction or hydraulic, just without a dedicated machine room located above the elevator shaft. Instead, there is a machine that sits in the override space. Whenever repairs or maintenance is needed, the space can be accessed from the top of the elevator car. MRL elevators can travel up to 250 feet and at 500 feet per minute.

Pick the Best Types of Elevators in Buildings for You

Once you’re aware of the types of elevators in buildings, the next step is finding the perfect one for you. Working with a trusted elevator consulting firm, such as CBA Elevator Consultants, can help you pick the best elevator for your building. Contact us today to get started!