Based on the request of so many architects and consultants, we are pleased to list below the most common questions asked about choosing the right kind of elevators, and other questions related to the installation of elevators. We have tried our best to answer the most of the frequently asked questions, however, as every question & answer cannot be incorporated below, and that every project situation is unique to site conditions and customer requirement, we strongly recommend contacting our sales department for a comprehensive reply from our engineering department. Typically, any query posed to us can be answered in 1-2 business days. We welcome your questions, and we will be pleased to answer in a timely manner. Therefore, please send us an email at sales@expresselp.com, or feel free to call us at +1 (647) 505-0023.

Passenger Elevators

Machine Room Less (MRL) Elevator

Please note that typically for up to 5 or 6 stop buildings with a travel of 15.24 m (about 50 feet) a Hydraulic design is preferred as it allows for flexible location of the machine room, thus lowering the height of the hoistway shaft and the total height of the building. Hydraulic equipment is self-lubricating and easier to install and maintain. For travel more than 15.24 m (50 feet) Machine Room Less elevator is preferred. Although both Hydraulic and MRL are reliable and can provide similar level of performance, however MRL elevator has more starts per hour and thus is more robust machine. Since the final choice of type of machine depends on various factors like the usage of building (commercial/ residential), number of elevators in the building, traffic rate & pattern, duty load (load capacity and speed), it is always advisable to consult our sales department, where in after considering all the variables, we should be able to give you a prompt response.
The machine for the MRL (machine room less) elevator is located at the overhead area at the top of the hoistway, therefore it is always preferred to have the controller at the topmost landing adjacent to the hoistway shaft, thus minimizing the extent of wiring and conduiting. Furthermore, the close vicinity of the controlled to the machine also allows for speedy installation and subsequent maintenance and trouble shooting.

Hydraulic Elevators

Both Buried and Non Buried designs are equally reliable and give the same level of performance if installed and maintained properly. It is always easier to install a buried cylinder for a new construction where the building is just at the grade level of construction, thereby the boring machine can be brought very close to the proposed hoistway pit. PVC lining with the buried cylinder ensures that the buried design is completely environmentally friendly. However, where a building is already existing, due to access reasons and structural reasons, it can be a challenge to bore a hole for a buried cylinder. Therefore, a Non Buried Design, whether Telescopic or a Roped Design could be preferred. Feel free to contact our design department with specific project details for further information.
A Telescopic design requires a deeper pit and taller overhead height. It also allows for direct coupling between the hydraulic sling and the car platform assembly, thus giving a robust design. Due to the direct coupling, no rope break safety device or rope slack safety device is required. This also eliminates the need for certain tests to be performed periodically. Telescopic cylinders are reliable and available with the oil seals, lasting many years before requiring replacement. However, in case pit depth and/ or the over head height is not sufficient, then a roped design would be the way to go. Both options perform equally well if installed and maintained properly. These days the available cylinders are extremely reliable, and the oil seals are reliable as well, lasting many years before requiring any replacement.
Yes, it is always preferred to have the machine room constructed just adjacent to the hoistway shaft at the bottom most landing. Ideally, there should always be a common wall between the hoistway shaft and the machine room so that the length and scope of the hydraulic, electrical and the communication lines can be minimized. However, if there are any building functional constraints, then the machine room can be located remote to the hoist way shaft as well. There have been instances where the machine room has been located as far as 50 feet away from the hoistway shaft. However, this will result in certain head loss in the hydraulic pressure, and will also result in turbulence and eddy currents in the hydraulic line. Besides distance between the hoistway shaft and the machine room, care should be taken to minimize the number of bends and turns in the hydraulic lines, as otherwise this results in the further increase of turbulence in the hydraulic line.

Accessibility Devices

As the name suggests, a LULA elevator is called Limited Use Limited Application, wherein the capacity of the elevator is limited to 1,400 lbs, and the speed is limited to only 30 feet per minute. If the primary intent is to provide barrier free access to the building without speed and/ or elevator cab size of the elevator of being any consequence, then a LULA elevator could be installed. However, if this elevator will be significantly used with higher levels of traffic in the elevator lobby, then a passenger elevator is preferred. Although a LULA elevator offers significant savings as it has a shallower 14” pit, with no requirement for a drain and a sump pump in the shaft, it offers limitations of speed, cab size & area and load capacity. Therefore, the final selection of the product should be carefully done after considering all the variables and doing a traffic analysis in consultation between the end user and the elevator consultant.
A LULA Elevator and an Accessibility Lift both fulfill the barrier free vertical transportation between two or more levels. For a LULA elevator, the maximum speed of the elevating device is limited to 30 feet per minute, whereas an accessibility lift the speed may vary between 15 feet and 30 feet per minute. However, the two distinctions which add a major difference to the end user are that the LULA elevator does not have restricted access, and it moves with momentary push button operation. Furthermore, the entrances for the LULA elevator are automatic sliding doors, just like any other passenger elevator. As per the code requirement, an Accessibility Platform Lift, always has restricted access typically provided by a key override switch. Therefore a means to obtain assistance is required in order to allow for use of an Accessibility Lift. The doors are either manual or power operated swing doors. Above factors need to be considered before arriving at the decision on the choice of the suitable product. In our opinion, it is best to contact our sales department for a project specific consultation.
A Vertical Platform Lift is usually preferred over an Inclined Platform Lift, provided there is dedicated vertical space between the levels to provide a hoistway shaft for the platform lift to move vertically up and down. Many times, in an existing building, it is difficult or even impossible to create a vertical column of space between two or three levels due to the existing building plan limitations at various levels, or due to existing amenities on various floors. In those situations, an Inclined Platform Lift is installed over a flight of stairs to provide barrier-free accessibility between the levels.
A chairlift requires a person to sit on the seat of the Chairlift and climb up and down on an inclined path above a flight of stairs. So the rider if he/ she is on a wheelchair would have to physically leave the wheelchair to hop of the Chairlift. This may not be possible for some people in wheelchair. The advantage that the Inclined Platform Lift offers is that the rider does not have to leave his/her wheelchair, as that the wheelchair can move (roll) onto the platform of the Inclined Platform Lift, and can be carried up and down above the flight of stairs. Installation of the Inclined Platform Lift is more elaborate as it requires greater magnitude of reinforcement to the building support. Comparatively, the installation is more time consuming and the project cost is more expensive for an Inclined Platform Lift.

Freight Elevating Devices

In the province of Ontario (and some of the other provinces & territories for that matter), the Elevator Act allows for installation of a Materials Lift (commonly known as a Freight Lift or Freight Platform Lift) between levels with a maximum travel of 7.62 m (25 feet). However, if the travel is higher than 7.62 m (25 feet), then it mandates the provision of a Freight Elevator to carry goods between two or more fixed levels.
As compared to a Freight Elevator, both Materials Lifts and Dumbwaiters require a smaller footprint. However, a Dumbwaiter can carry a maximum load of 227 Kg (500 lbs), with a maximum Dumbwaiter cab size of 914 mm (36”) wide X 914 mm (36”) long X 1219 mm (48”) high. In case the goods to be carried are heavier than 227 Kg (500 lbs), or larger than the size mentioned above, then a Dumbwaiter would not be a suitable choice. In that situation, a Materials Lift would have to be provided. We would like to further mention that a Material Lift can only travel up to a maximum of 7.62 m (25 feet) of travel distance. However, there is no travel restriction for a Dumbwaiter. Hope above helps you in making the suitable choice for your project.
Based on our experience each freight vertical transportation application is unique and requires consideration of following factors: • The size & magnitude of the load • Traffic pattern, frequency usage & speed of the elevator • The method of loading into the elevator cab • Type of hoistway shaft and enclosure construction • Fire separation between the levels and habitable space beneath the pit slab • Is it possible to cut the slab and form a pit at the bottom landing • Type of entrances required • Special conditions like water-tight, exposure to elements of weather, flame-proof, and explosion-proof equipment We strongly recommend contacting our sales department for a project-specific design proposal. We will be happy to suggest the most suitable solution after considering all relevant variables.
Yes, this is correct. Materials lift is available in both Canada and the US. Materials lift, commonly known as a Freight Lift in Canada, is governed under Elevator Code CSA B44, and hence is an elevating device. However, in USA, Material Lift, commonly known as a Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor (VRC), is governed by the B20 material handling code of the USA. The Material Lift in Canada may or may not allow a rider on the platform, whereas the Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor available in the US strictly do not allow for any rider on the carriage. A Vertical Reciprocating Conveyor may not be permissible by jurisdictions in various provinces & territories of Canada to carry loads between two fixed levels with 2 meters or more travel. Therefore, it is very important to qualify the product very carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our design department or the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) of that province.
Type A Materials Lift are meant strictly to carry goods with no rider on the platform of the lift. Type B Materials Lifts allow for a freight handler to ride inside the elevator. Since there is no rider permissible, a Type A Materials Lift can travel faster and higher than a Type B Materials Lift. However, a Type A Materials Lift may require a pit. Only after understanding the end user requirement and other site conditions, a decision should be made between the type of Material Lifts.
Considering the safety of the freight handler and to enable safe transportation of goods, the Elevator Code stipulates the use of a legal freight elevating device to transport goods between two fixed levels. Therefore, any other means, such as an unguided hoist arrangement from the top, or an unguided scissors lift, is not considered a legal means of freight transportation. Every time an elevator inspector finds such an arrangement, he/she is liable to shut and seal such an installation. Therefore, the use of such arrangements is not permissible, as it can often lead to unsafe situations.
As mentioned in the reply to the question above, this is not a legal arrangement as it does not meet the criteria laid down in elevating code, and therefore, this arrangement is considered illegal. Such arrangement can lead to an unsafe situation, wherein the management and the end user can be held liable, therefore such an arrangement can’t be used.

Automobile Elevators

Please note that any automobile elevator is designed with class B loading. Considering the axle load and the wheel base of a typical automobile (ranging from a sedan to an SUV), the loading of an automobile elevator is of moderate nature, and is not suitable for point concentrated loading designed for a freight elevator meant to carry a forklift truck with a load on it. Therefore, an automobile elevator is simply not designed to carry a heavy, concentrated load such as a transformer or a forklift truck. As a matter of fact, it is considered illegal to load a forklift truck beyond its rated load capacity and its class of loading. Any elevator which breaks down due to excessive loading needs to be reported immediately to the elevating contractor servicing the elevator, and they may be obligated to report it further to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). Therefore, we strongly recommend loading any elevating device as per its permissible loading. When in doubt, ask the elevator contractor who manufactured or installed the unit, or who is currently maintaining the unit. Feel free to contact us for any specific installation.
As the name suggests, Parking Stackers are used to stack one automobile above the other, thus reducing the footprint and enabling a larger number of automobiles to be parked on a certain footprint. Depending on the available Ceiling Height or available Pit Depth, two or more automobiles can be stacked vertically, one above the other. More complex designs allowing horizontal movement of automobiles enables faster & efficient storage & retrieval of automobiles which can be provided as Semi or Fully Automated Systems, thus enabling auto-parking and auto-retrieval of the vehicle. An Automobile Elevator is used to transport the automobile between 2 or more fixed floors. In line with Elevator Code CSA B44, any Automobile Elevator needs to be provided with a guided platform and other features required for any Freight Elevator as stipulated in the Elevator Code CSA B44 .
As mentioned above, the purpose of stackers is solely to park one automobile above the other. Therefore, a stacker cannot be used to deliver cars from one floor to the other. Only an automobile elevator can be used to transport automobiles between levels, as they are provided with a guided system and have other required features from the Elevator Code.

Hoistway Shafts & Machine Room

A hoisting beam allows for a safer installation as any elevator part & component can be safely and legally hoisted, supported/ tied off from the top (to the hoisting beam) before it gets anchored to the shaft walls or the pit floor. The installers working on the scaffold inside the hoistway shaft are wearing body harnesses, the lifelines of which are typically secured to the hooks coming out of the hoisting beam. In line with Ministry of Labour and OSHA requirement, it is essential that any mechanic or person working on heights is wearing proper PPE (personal protective equipment), including a legal, CSA approved body harness, and his/ her lift line is tied off safely to the secured hoisting hooks/ points. Furthermore, during the course of the usage of the elevator, major repair work or modernization might be required to the elevator. At that time the hoisting beams available at the top of the shaft, are used to secure and tie elevator car or other major components like the machine, cylinder, and crosshead. This helps in major parts repair or replacement. Therefore, it is essential that a hoisting beam of suitable load carrying capacity, as determined by the structural engineer, is provided by the owner before the start of installation.
Material of the hoistway shaft construction is chosen by the architect on the project after considering the magnitude of the forces from the elevator equipment on the shaft walls and pit floor. As an elevator contractor, we would always specify the magnitude of the force from guide rails, cylinders/ elevator machine, pit buffers. Based on these forces your structural engineer would make the choice ofmaterial for hoistway shaft construction. For certain light load applications, such as for home elevators or accessibility lifts, a stack of 2” x 10” lumber or 2” x 12” lumber planks with plywood layering can be used for hoistway construction. For moderate to heavy loading masonry blocks are provided. The hollow blocks to be carefully filled with rebar, mortar, and concrete, to provide adequate strength to the wall. Through bolting to secure the rail bracket to be done on the filled masonry walls. For heavier passenger and freight elevators, precast concrete walls or reinforced concrete walls are most suitable. The advantage of using precast concrete walls or reinforced concrete walls is that besides providing strength, they also provide the fire separation required between floors. In some instances where a metal fabrication is preferred, structural engineers typically design the shaft using a 150 mm (6”) x 150 mm (6”) or 200 mm (8”) x 200 mm (8”) hollow structural steel tube (HSS), and then a site certified welder (provided by others), welds the rails bracket to these tubes. Later, glazing panel or solid or expanded metal enclosure can be provided to enclose the hoistway shaft. The final composition of the hoistway shaft takes into account structural integrity, fire separation, any other variables as determined by the owners, therefore the final decision on the choice of the shaft is carefully made by the architect and the structural engineer of the project.
As mentioned in answer above, the final composition of the hoistway shaft is determined by the architect and the structural engineer, after taking into account the rail bracket loading and considering other factors such as fire separation, structural integrity of the shaft.Also we would need to determine if 1 of 3 elevators to be a dedicated fire fighters elevators and therefore might require a fire rated separator wall. Please forward us a set of building drawing for further review.
If there is access directly beneath the hoistway shaft, then that space is called a habitable space below the shaft. In order for this space to be legally accessible and usable, the pit floor slab needs to be reinforced suitably with an added factor of safety. The magnitude of thisforce is determined by the reaction force on the buffers installed on the pit floor. Therefore, it is very important to contact the elevator contractor, and determine the magnitude of force on the pit floor slab to enable the structural engineer to design the pit floor. If the pit floor is adequately reinforced, and pit buffers with the required stroke are provided by the elevator contractor, then the space directly beneath the hoistway shaft is usable. Otherwise, you may be forced to enclose the space directly beneath the hoistway shaft.
Machine room equipment, whether for hydraulic or for traction equipment, have a certain heat dissipation. This impacts the PLC control of the controller of the elevator, and can also impact the viscosity of the oil in case of hydraulic equipment. Furthermore, the elements of the weather and the resulting ambient temperature in the building also have an impact on the elevator equipment. Therefore, it is very important to know the required ambient temperature range and the relative humidity range suitable for the elevator equipment, both for the hoistway shaft, and for the machine room. Also after taking into account the heat dissipation of the unit, adequate heating and/ orcooling needs to be provided in the machine room and hoistway shaft. The means could be as simple as providing a louvre in the machine room door or as elaborate as providing an air conditioner and/ or a baseboard heater with a thermostat & fan assembly in the machine room. Furthermore, heating might be required for hoistway shafts exposed to the elements of the weather. This subject is further addressed in the next question.
Elevator code and building code may allow for an entrance to open to the exterior, provided there is no conflict with fire separation or any other conflict with the elevator and/ or building code. Furthermore, it is very important for the elevator equipment that none of the elevator parts or components are exposed directly to the elements of the weather, such as temperature variation, condensation, humidity, various types of precipitation, excessive wind etc. In case any of these elements directly impacts the elevator equipment, then either water-tight or NEMA 4X equipment needs to be part of the elevator, or a vestibule should be provided in front of the elevator. Typically, it is possible to provide NEMA 4X weatherproof equipment for certain passenger elevators or larger freight elevators, but it may not be possible to provide such provisions for smaller equipment, like dumbwaiters. Therefore, please qualify the site conditions very carefully, so that a suitable elevating device can be proposed and installed for your project.
Please note that every passenger elevator and freight elevator is provided with firefighters service phase 1 & phase 2. In case if any ofthe fire alarm initiating device (FAID) is triggered, then the elevator moves to the fire recall level, and then if required, the phase 2 firefighters service can be initiated by a firefighter. In the phase 2 fire service mode, firefighters have exclusive access to the elevator, and can run the elevator up and down in the building to rescue any trapped occupants. In case of a building fire, the sprinklers get triggered and the hose pipes are also activated. There is always the fear of water accumulating in the lower portion of the building and the hoistway shaft pits are usually one of the lowest levels in the building. Accumulation of water in a pit is a very serious hazard. Therefore, it is mandatory to provide a pump of a certain minimum capacity to drain out water at a certain minimum rate in order to maintain a safe condition.
For heavier elevators with machines more than 5 horsepower, 3 phase power supply is required. It is always recommended to choose higher voltage as it results in lower amperage, lower GA wiring, lower rating for disconnect box, and lower fuse ratings. This eventually helps in lower material cost and running cost for the elevator.