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Hydraulic Elevator vs. Traction Elevator: What's the Difference?

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Elevators have come a long way since their conception, and there's no denying that we are all thankful for it! Elevators have enabled the growth of buildings and the convenience of travelling within them. Two types of elevators are commonly used: hydraulic and traction. But, what are the differences between these two elevator types? In this post, we answer your questions and explain the difference between hydraulic and traction elevators. From understanding their pros and cons to space requirements and cost differences, we have everything you need to know before deciding which elevator to install in your building. Read on to become an elevator expert!

Traction Elevators

Traction elevators are the most common type of elevator found in mid-to-high-rise buildings. They are driven by alternating (AC) or direct current (DC) electric motors, and as such, they tend to be more energy-efficient than hydraulic elevators. Traction elevators can be geared or gearless and utilize counterweights to offset the weight of the elevator and its occupants. The cab is raised and lowered by traction steel ropes or belts on a pulley system. The technology in traction elevators has developed over time, and modern traction elevators are designed with safety mechanisms, speed governors, and emergency brakes to enhance safety during operation.

Traction Elevators - Delfar

Pros of Traction Elevators

Traction elevators are a type of elevator that have several advantages over traditional hydraulic elevators. One major benefit is their increased travel and vertical rise capability, allowing them to move people more quickly and efficiently. Traction elevators can reach speeds up to 2,000 feet per minute, making them ideal for high-rise buildings.

In addition to their speed, traction elevators also provide a smoother ride quality. This is due to their regenerative power capability, which allows them to save energy and generate less heat during operation. Another advantage of traction elevators is their higher five-minute handling capacity, which means they can move more people in a shorter period of time. Overall, traction elevators are a smart choice for any building owner or operator looking for an energy-efficient, high-performance elevator solution.

Cons of Traction Elevators

Traction elevators are a popular choice for multi-story buildings due to their smooth ride and increased speed. However, they do have some drawbacks to consider. One potential drawback is that traction elevators have limited cab weights and capacities compared to hydraulic elevators. Additionally, they can be more expensive to install and maintain than hydraulic elevators.

Another consideration is that installation time for a traction elevator can take longer - typically 4-6 weeks - and a crane may be required for installation. Structural considerations of the building roof may also be necessary. Despite these challenges, traction elevators remain a popular option for their speed and smooth ride.

Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators have a simple mechanism that uses hydraulic fluid to power an electric pump, thereby enabling movement of the car from one level to another. They are commonly used for low-rise buildings of up to 8 stories, with a maximum speed of 200 feet per minute. As the machine room for hydraulic elevators is located adjacent to the elevator shaft at the lowest level, it requires less space compared to a traction elevator. Hydraulic elevators come in two types: conventional and hole-less. Conventional hydraulic elevators have a sheave that extends below the floor of the elevator pit, while hole-less hydraulic elevators are comprised of pistons mounted inside the hoistway to raise and lower the car. Overall, the system in hydraulic elevators is simple, making it cost-effective and easier to maintain.

Hydraulic Elevators commercial elevator cost- - Delfar

Pros of Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators utilize a liquid piston to raise and lower the car, and have several advantages over other types of elevators. One of the main pros of hydraulic elevators is that they have a low initial cost, making them an affordable option for many buildings. Additionally, they can be installed rapidly, which makes them a good choice for construction projects where time is of the essence.

Hydraulic elevators also have a much higher lifting capacity than traction elevators. This means that they can handle heavier loads and are suitable for use in buildings with many floors. Additionally, the smaller footprint of hydraulic elevators makes them a good choice for buildings with limited space. They are available in above-ground models with or without machine rooms. Overall, hydraulic elevators are a reliable and efficient choice for many buildings, offering a range of benefits over other types of elevators.

Cons of Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators are a type of elevator that operate using a hydraulic pump to lift and lower the elevator cab. While they are popular in low and mid-rise buildings due to their cost-effectiveness, there are several cons associated with hydraulic elevators. For one, they require a machine room for in-ground applications, which can add to the overall cost of installation and maintenance. They also require greater structural considerations, which can make them more difficult to install in existing buildings.

Moreover, hydraulic elevators often produce increased audible noise and reduced ride quality. There are also potential environmental issues due to hydraulic fluid leakage or disposal. Because of these drawbacks, some building owners opt for other types of elevators instead of hydraulic ones.

Difference between Traction Elevators & Hydraulic Elevators

The choice between the two elevators should be based on the unique requirements of the building and the specific needs of the occupants. When considering between traction or hydraulic elevator, a few factors such as space, cost and how it will be used may simplify the decision-making process.

Hydraulic vs. Traction

The main difference between hydraulic and traction elevators lies in their mechanism of operation. Traction elevators are powered by traction steel ropes or belts on a pulley system and are generally more energy-efficient than hydraulic systems, making them a popular choice for high-rise buildings. They come in two main designs, geared and gearless, and are driven by AC or DC electrical motors.

On the other hand, hydraulic elevators have greater efficiency and superior speed and performance than traction elevators. They use a fluid-driven piston to lift the car and do not rely on steel ropes or pulleys. Hydraulic elevators are commonly used in low-to-medium rise buildings and are also popular in residential homes, as they are affordable, compact, and require less installation space.

Geared traction elevators have a gearbox that is attached to the motor and can reach speeds up to 500 ft./min. Residential elevators, hydraulic, and traction, are excellent mobility solutions for traveling between floors of a home.

Hydraulic Elevator - Delfar

Space Requirements

When it comes to choosing between a hydraulic elevator and a traction elevator, one important factor to consider is the amount of space available for installation. A hydraulic elevator can be a better choice in situations where space is limited, as it can be installed with the machine room at the top of the shaft. This not only saves space, but also ensures that the temperature of the oil remains high enough to function properly.

On the other hand, traction elevators, particularly the newer machine room-less style, require more space due to their components such as the gearbox attached to the motor that drives the wheel and moves the ropes. Additionally, hydraulic elevators require a hoistway, oil, and a piston which can make them more expensive to install and maintain than traction elevators. When making a decision, it's important to consider all factors including space, cost, and maintenance requirements.

Space Requirements - Delfar

Cost Differences

The primary difference between traction elevators and hydraulic elevators is the cost. Traction elevators are more expensive to install than hydraulic systems, but they offer a quieter and smoother ride, as well as a smaller motor and less spacious control room requirements.
On the other hand, hydraulic elevators are more energy-efficient, and can be installed more quickly, making them a cheaper option. However, they have higher pit and overhead requirements with standard travel, which makes them more expensive to maintain over time.
Overall, while traction elevators are typically more energy-efficient, they are more expensive to install and take longer to install. It's important to consider both the installation cost and long-term maintenance expenses when choosing between traction and hydraulic elevators.

Cost Differences - Delfar

Common Uses

Traction elevators and hydraulic elevators differ in their design and mechanism. Traction elevators, commonly used in mid-to-high rise buildings, move the cab using a hoist steel rope or belt on a pulley system and are driven by electric motors of alternating (AC) or direct current (DC). To offset the weight of the cab and occupants, a counterweight is used, making it more energy efficient than hydraulic systems. Additionally, traction elevators provide a smoother ride and increased speed, making them a worthwhile investment for building and facility owners. On the other hand, hydraulic elevators use a fluid-driven piston to raise and lower the elevator cab. They are often used in low-to-mid rise buildings where slower speeds are required. Overall, while both types of elevators have their uses, traction elevators are the most common and efficient choice for modern buildings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better hydraulic or traction elevator?

The choice between a hydraulic or traction elevator depends on various factors such as building height, speed, and budget. Hydraulic elevators use a hydraulic pump to move the elevator up and down, while traction elevators use cables and a counterweight.

Hydraulic elevators are generally more cost-effective for low to medium-rise buildings, while traction elevators are better for high-rise buildings that require faster speeds. Ultimately, it is best to consult with an experienced elevator contractor to determine which type is best for your specific needs.

How much faster is a hydraulic vs traction elevator?

A hydraulic elevator is typically slower than a traction elevator. A hydraulic elevator can travel at a speed of 150-200 feet per minute, while a traction elevator can travel at a speed of 500-2000 feet per minute. However, the speed of both types of elevators can vary depending on factors such as the number of floors and weight capacity.

What are the advantages of using a traction elevator over other types of elevators?

The advantages of using a traction elevator over other types of elevators include smoother and more efficient operation, which minimizes vibration and noise. Traction elevators also typically have a higher weight capacity and travel speed, making them suitable for tall buildings with heavy foot traffic. They are also more energy-efficient and have lower maintenance costs in the long run. Additionally, traction elevators are better suited for modernization and upgrades, allowing for more advanced technology to be integrated smoothly.

Which type of traction elevators are used in the industry today?

Today, the most common types of traction elevators used in the industry are geared and gearless traction elevators. Geared traction elevators rely on a gearbox to power their movement, while gearless traction elevators use a motor with a sheave directly attached to the control system. Both types of elevators are widely used in commercial and residential buildings, with gearless traction elevators typically being preferred for higher-rise buildings due to their smoother ride and greater efficiency.

What are the two types of traction elevator?

The two types of traction elevator are geared and gearless. Geared traction elevators use a gearbox to control the movement of the elevator car, while gearless traction elevators use a motor that is directly connected to the hoisting cable. Gearless elevators are generally faster and smoother than geared elevators, but they are also more expensive to install and maintain.


In conclusion, both hydraulic and traction elevators have their own set of benefits and limitations, and the choice largely depends on individual requirements. If you are looking for elevators that can move heavy loads, hydraulic elevators are a better option. However, if you prioritize energy efficiency, traction elevators are the answer. Ultimately, it is important to weigh not only the cost differences but also space requirements and intended applications. Are you in need of elevators for your business? Contact us or send us email at to learn more about which elevator suits your needs the best.

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