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Main differences between a hydraulic elevator and a traction elevator

18 Mar 2023 by Max Elevator
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Elevators have become an essential part of modern-day buildings, especially high-rise structures. The vertical transportation system has gone through significant improvements over the years. Two of the most common types of elevators are the Traction and Hydraulic elevators. While they both serve the same purpose, they operate differently, and each has its pros and cons. In this blog, we will explore the differences between Traction and Hydraulic elevators.

Traction Elevators:

Traction elevators are the most common type of elevators used in high-rise buildings. They use steel ropes, called hoist ropes, and counterweights to move the elevator car up and down. The hoist ropes are connected to the elevator car and pass over a sheave or pulley at the top of the elevator shaft. The other end of the hoist rope is attached to a counterweight that counterbalances the weight of the elevator car and passengers.

Traction elevators are powered by an electric motor that drives the sheave or pulley, which pulls the hoist ropes up and down, thus moving the elevator car. The speed of the elevator is controlled by adjusting the speed of the electric motor.

Pros of Traction Elevators:

  1. Speed: Traction elevators are known for their high speed, which makes them ideal for high-rise buildings. They can travel at speeds of up to 20 meters per second, which reduces waiting times for passengers.

  2. Energy Efficiency: Traction elevators are more energy-efficient compared to hydraulic elevators, as they use less energy to move the elevator car up and down.

  3. Smooth Ride: Traction elevators provide a smooth ride because of the way they operate. The hoist ropes and counterweights ensure that the elevator car moves up and down smoothly, without any jerks or sudden stops.

Cons of Traction Elevators:

  1. Higher Initial Cost: Traction elevators are more expensive to install compared to hydraulic elevators, primarily because of the complexity of their design.

  2. Requires More Space: Traction elevators require a machine room at the top of the elevator shaft to house the electric motor and other components. This means that more space is required for the elevator system, which may not be possible in some buildings.

Hydraulic Elevators:

Hydraulic elevators are another common type of elevators used in low and mid-rise buildings. Unlike traction elevators, they use a hydraulic system to move the elevator car up and down. The elevator car is mounted on a piston, which moves inside a cylinder that is filled with hydraulic fluid. The hydraulic system is powered by an electric motor that pumps hydraulic fluid into the cylinder to lift the elevator car.

Pros of Hydraulic Elevators:

  1. Lower Initial Cost: Hydraulic elevators are less expensive to install compared to traction elevators, primarily because of their simple design.

  2. Requires Less Space: Hydraulic elevators do not require a machine room, which means that less space is needed for the elevator system.

  3. Quiet Operation: Hydraulic elevators operate quietly, which makes them ideal for residential buildings and other areas where noise is a concern.

Cons of Hydraulic Elevators:

  1. Slower Speed: Hydraulic elevators are slower compared to traction elevators. They can travel at speeds of up to 1.5 meters per second, which may not be suitable for high-rise buildings.

  2. Energy Inefficiency: Hydraulic elevators are less energy-efficient compared to traction elevators, as they require more energy to move the elevator car up and down.

  3. Bumpy Ride: Hydraulic elevators may provide a bumpy ride, especially when the hydraulic fluid is low or when the piston is not aligned correctly.


In conclusion, both Traction and Hydraulic elevators have their pros and cons. Traction elevators are ideal