Hydraulic Vs Traction Elevators for Homes

hydraulic versus traction elevators comparison

Residential elevators, both hydraulic and traction, are great mobility solutions for traveling between floors of your home safely. Which you choose depends on your space availability, budget, and how you plan to use it.

Each elevator type has pros and cons. The information below summarizes the differences between hydraulic elevators and traction elevators to help you clearly understand how these elevator types work and why they may or may not be a good fit for your situation. Once built, these elevator types can look much the same as they are both traditional hoistway elevators. Use these details to familiarize yourself with their systems so you can be prepared to discuss the options for elevator installation with your local residential elevator company.

Download Hydraulic vs Traction Elevators Guide

Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators are tried and true for home use. This traditional elevator type continues to be a great solution for mobility and accessibility needs.

The elevator cab is moved up in the shaft by an arm (sling) that is forced upwards using a fluid-filled piston that is filled from a submerged pump in the fluid tank. For lowering the cab, a controller releases pressure from the piston cylinder smoothly and slowly until meeting with the lower floor position. Operation is very “quiet” which is often an important consideration when installing a hydraulic model in your home.

Hydraulic Elevator Benefits

Top benefits of hydraulic elevators include:

  • It can be large enough to hold a wheelchair with multiple passengers.
  • Capacity to carry 1,000+ pounds (making it a good choice for light commercial applications as well)
  • The mechanical parts are located in a separate machine room which reduces noise in the home.
    Hydraulic home elevators can access up to 6 floor levels (50′ vertically), further than some other elevator types.

Hydraulic Elevator Disadvantages

Disadvantages of hydraulic elevators include:

  • The machine room requires more space which may reduce storage or living space, often challenging for older homes that already have smaller rooms with less storage.
  • Regular maintenance by a professional elevator technician is required. The fluid must be checked and treated to prevent travel failures and pump noise.
  • May experience higher electrical bills, as the elevator needs power for the hydraulic pump for both ascending and descending.

Chain-Drive Traction Elevators

Residential traction elevators operate using motor in coordination with counterweights attached to the cab by chains. The chains are driven by a gearbox attached to the motor which are at the top of your elevator shaft. With today’s technology, having the motor in the hoistway is not as noisy as it sounds. It’s almost as quiet as hydraulic elevators that require more maintenance.

Chain-driven traction elevators and their use of counterweights use less energy than hydraulic elevators. With proper maintenance, chain-driven traction elevators can last decades. Home Elevator of Houston recommends chain-driven as it is better than steel ropes which are known to stretch and require replacement increasing costs of ownership. Traction elevators have no oil in their systems unlike hydraulic drive systems that can develop messy leaks over time that are not environmentally friendly.

Traction Elevator Benefits

Top benefits of chain-driven traction elevators include:

  • The cab can accommodate a wheelchair and multiple passengers.
  • They have a load capacity of 1,000 pounds.
  • Their compact chain-drive system makes it compatible with 8′ ceilings.
  • The Savaria Eclipse traction elevator is modular in design making it a quick, less expensive installation than hydraulic elevators.
  • They offer a smoother ride than many other types of elevators.
  • The machine room less MRL design leaves more room for living in your home.
  • Traction elevators can have up to 6 stops (50′ vertically).
  • Energy-efficient and less maintenance required than hydraulic elevators as traction elevators do not use oil.
  • Entry and exit openings can be flexibly configured for front, side, and rear to accommodate the existing layout of your home.
  • Hideaway gate systems maximize the entry width and cab’s interior space.
  • The cab, doors, and interior are 100% customizable. Visit the Savaria configurator to see the many options and to design your own home elevator.

Traction Elevator Disadvantages

Disadvantages of traction elevators include:

  • Installation of a traction elevators require a pit. This is a recess in the foundation of at least 8″.
  • A traction elevator requires an elevator shaft which typically takes up 25 square feet per floor, so they are taking up living or storage space.
  • They require regular maintenance by a professional elevator service technician, though not as much as a hydraulic elevator.
Whether you are buying an elevator to age in place or for convenience, our Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) can visit you at your home to help you learn more. Or come by our elevator showroom in Houston, centrally located in the Memorial/Spring Branch area.

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More Residential Elevator Type Comparisons

There is a lot to consider when choosing an elevator for your home from your home’s structure to your mobility needs to your personal style preferences. We’ve compiled other elevator comparisons like the one above to help you prepare to ask the right questions when you chat with your elevator specialist. Perhaps one of the below downloads will be a better fit your for interests.

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