Hydraulic Elevator System: Here’s How They Work

Most people think that elevators became popular and commonplace in the mid to late 1800s, but the history of elevators goes back way further. The elevator concept was first designed by Archimedes in Ancient Greece circa 336 BC. The Roman Empire then expanded the concept, using primitive elevator platforms in their arenas, prisons, and other infrastructure.

Though those early lifts were powered by people, animals, or water wheels, modern iterations use the pulley (traction) system or hydraulics. In this article, we are going to discuss the marvels and benefits of a hydraulic elevator system.

Hydraulic Systems

A hydraulic system works by taking advantage of changes in pressure to create movement or to hold a form. Modern hydraulics are made of two or more pistons with hollow chambers. Pipes and valves connected to the pumps connect these chambers together and the entire system is filled with hydraulic fluid or oil.

The pumps make the oil flow between the piston chambers and the valves help maintain the system’s desired pressure. The resultant change in pressure generates an equal amount of force. The system can then move or compress whatever is connected to the hydraulic mechanism.

How a Hydraulic Elevator System Works

A hydraulic elevator uses a piston hydraulic system to move up and down, differing substantially from a conventional traction elevator. The piston, or ram, sits in a hole under the cab and shaft. Somewhere near the base of the piston is an oil reservoir, a pump, and a motor to run the pump.

When the piston is empty, the elevator cab is at its lowest point. When the elevator operator wants it to rise, a valve opens and allows hydraulic fluid into the hollow chamber of the piston. The pump will then pump the hydraulic fluid into the chamber, creating more pressure.

The increased pressure causes the piston to extend, which drives the cab upward. Once it reaches the desired floor, the valve will close and the pump will switch off. The closed valve ensures that the pressure cannot decrease because that would cause the piston to collapse again.

When the user wants to come down again, the whole process happens in the opposite direction. The pump pumps fluid out of the piston and the decreasing pressure lets the cab come down as the piston collapses.

Why People Choose Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators are popular for low-rise buildings with less room for equipment. Traction elevators need a separate machine room, whereas hydraulic lifts can have all the essentials in the pit under the shaft. Their elevator installation costs and maintenance are also cheaper than traction elevators.

The only downside to hydraulic elevators is that they can only go up to 7 stories, which is why traction elevators are more common in high-rise buildings.

Learn More About Elevators With Us

Hydraulic elevators are wonderful for projects with limited cash and space budgets. Because they use hydraulic pistons to move, they only need a shaft and a pit to house their essential equipment.

A power or system failure can also never cause a dead drop. A malfunction can only ever allow the elevator to descend as fast as the pressure drops in the piston.

If you want to install a hydraulic elevator system or learn more about elevator types, then check out our blog today. We can help you with installation, maintenance, elevator operation, and more!