Home Business Real Estate The Main Types of Elevators: A Simple Guide

The Main Types of Elevators: A Simple Guide

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types of elevators

Looking to elevate your knowledge about different types of elevators? Well, the search is over!

Whether you’re hoping to install one in your place of business, home, or just up your trivia night ante, we’ve got you covered with this quick and dirty guide to the main types of elevators that you see on the daily.

Types of Elevators You Can Identify

There are tons of different types of elevators that we use for a variety of purposes. We’ll start with different types of lifting methods, which create the foundation for elevators.

Lifting Mechanisms of Different Types of Elevators

Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic Elevators use hydraulic fluid to push a piston up, which is what makes the elevator go up.

These are less expensive and usually used for smaller heights. Hydraulic elevators mainly rely on electricity to pump the fluid and push the piston up, because these elevators use an electric motor.

Traction Elevators (Machine Room and Machine Room-less)

Traction elevators are raised an lowered through a pulley system of steel ropes and belts—hence the term, “traction.”

These types of elevators can come with or without gears and are less energy efficient compared to hydraulic elevators.

They also have the ability to come with or without a machine room (hydraulic elevators come with machine rooms). The standard elevator usually has a machine room, but machine room less elevators (or, MRLs) are starting to become more popular, and you can find out more about how MRL elevators work with this helpful guide.

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Uses of Different Types of Elevators


Passenger elevators are used for, you guessed it, passengers! You see these in shopping malls, museums, and residential passenger elevators in people’s houses.


Freight elevators are used for big and heavy loads. You might see these in places like museums, where they need to transport big materials for an exhibit or move a painting with enough space so that it doesn’t get damaged.


A dumbwaiter is a baby version of a freight elevator—one that you might have seen in old houses on field trips. These guys are built to move very small loads like laundry or books.


Sidewalk elevators, interestingly enough, are not meant to transport sidewalks! Rather, they help get cargo to sidewalks, as these elevators are usually built to open up right next to a sidewalk.

They act in the same way as the freight elevator in that they are much larger and meant to mover large or space-dependent things. Their location is what makes the main difference, as sidewalk elevators are really good for moving things efficiently from one place to another outside.

Achieve New Heights

Hopefully, you’re a regular mini-expert on the ways that different types of elevators function and what they’re used for. Lifts as a mechanism have a vast expanse of uses (like for moving cars, or pieces on a stage, or even boats), so we’ve covered the main types of elevators that you might see more regularly.

If you liked this post, dive into our page to discover more—and keep coming back to find new content!

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