Passenger lifts, often referred to as elevators, have become an integral part of our daily lives, from our workspace to shopping centres. These vertical transportation systems are designed to move people efficiently and comfortably between floors, revolutionising the way we navigate multi-story buildings. Whether in commercial spaces, residential complexes, or public facilities, passenger lifts have become an indispensable convenience, enhancing accessibility and enabling seamless mobility for all.

At Northern Elevators, we are experts in lifts and maintenance and that’s why we have put together this comprehensive guide, that aims to provide you with a thorough overview, covering various aspects of these remarkable machines. From their types and inner workings to safety regulations and maintenance considerations, we will delve into the intricacies that make passenger lifts a marvel of engineering.


Types of passenger lifts

Passenger lifts come in various forms, each catering to specific requirements and building characteristics.

Here are some of the most common types:

Hydraulic Lifts:

  • Operate using a hydraulic piston system
  • Suitable for low-rise buildings (typically up to 5-6 floors)
  • Offer a smooth and quiet ride

Traction Lifts:

  • Employ a system of cables and pulleys to move the cab
  • Ideal for mid-rise and high-rise buildings
  • Capable of achieving higher speeds and serving more floors

Machine Room-Less (MRL) Lifts:

  • Compact design without a separate machine room
  • Space-saving solution for buildings with limited space
  • Energy-efficient and cost-effective


Passenger/Freight Lifts:

  • Designed to transport both people and goods
  • Larger cab size and higher weight capacity
  • Commonly used in commercial and industrial settings


Panoramic Lifts:

  • Feature glass walls or panels for scenic views
  • Enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of a building
  • Popular in hotels, resorts, and upscale residential properties


How do passenger lifts work?

While the specifics may vary depending on the lift type, the fundamental principles remain the same, below we have gone through some of the main ways in which a passenger lift actually works.

Traction Lifts:

  • Utilise a motor and a system of cables and pulleys
  • The motor rotates a sheave (pulley) connected to the cables
  • As the cables move, they raise or lower the cab along guided rails


Hydraulic Lifts:

  • Employ a hydraulic piston system
  • A pump pushes hydraulic fluid into the piston cylinder
  • The pressurised fluid extends the piston, lifting the cab


Control Systems:

  • Sophisticated control systems regulate the lift’s movement
  • Sensors and safety devices ensure smooth operation and passenger safety
  • Automatic levelling ensures precise floor alignment

Power Supply:

  • Passenger lifts require a reliable power source
  • Emergency backup systems, such as batteries or generators, ensure operation during power outages

Factors to consider when choosing a passenger lift

When selecting a passenger lift for your building, several factors must be taken into consideration to ensure optimal performance, efficiency, and user satisfaction.

Here are some key elements to evaluate:

Building Characteristics:

  • Height and number of floors
  • Available space for the lift shaft and machine room (if required)
  • Architectural design and aesthetic considerations


Traffic Patterns and Usage:

  • Estimated passenger traffic during peak hours
  • Anticipated usage patterns (residential, commercial, or mixed-use)
  • Accessibility requirements for individuals with disabilities


Load and Speed Requirements:

  • Desired lift capacity (number of passengers and weight)
  • Travel speed preferences (higher speeds for taller buildings)
  • Frequency of stops and door opening/closing cycles


Energy Efficiency:

  • Energy consumption and operating costs
  • Availability of regenerative braking systems
  • Integration with building management systems


Maintenance and Service Considerations:

  • Accessibility for maintenance and repair work
  • Availability of spare parts and technical support
  • Maintenance contract options and costs


Budget and Long-Term Costs:

  • Initial purchase and installation costs
  • Ongoing maintenance and energy expenses
  • Life cycle and potential future upgrades


Benefits of installing a passenger lift

Investing in a passenger lift for your building offers numerous advantages that extend beyond mere convenience.

Here are some compelling benefits to consider:

  • Enhanced Accessibility: Passenger lifts enable seamless vertical mobility for all individuals, including those with disabilities, elderly individuals, and those with mobility challenges.
  • Increased Property Value: The presence of a well-designed and well-maintained passenger lift can significantly enhance the value of a property, making it more attractive to potential buyers or tenants.
  • Improved Productivity and Efficiency: In commercial and office settings, passenger lifts facilitate faster and more efficient movement of people, reducing time spent navigating stairs and minimising fatigue.
  • Safety and Convenience: Passenger lifts eliminate the need to climb stairs, reducing the risk of falls and injuries, particularly for those carrying heavy loads or with mobility challenges.
  • Aesthetic Appeal:Modern passenger lifts can be designed to complement the architectural style of a building, enhancing its visual appeal and creating a lasting impression on visitors and occupants.
  • Energy Efficiency: Many contemporary passenger lifts incorporate energy-saving features, such as regenerative braking systems and efficient motors, contributing to lower operating costs and a reduced environmental footprint.


Passenger lift maintenance and servicing

Regular maintenance and servicing are crucial for ensuring the safe and reliable operation of passenger lifts. Neglecting these essential tasks can lead to breakdowns, safety hazards, and costly repairs.

Here’s what you need to know about passenger lift maintenance and servicing:

Preventive Maintenance:

  • Regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance by qualified technicians
  • Lubrication of moving parts, adjustment of components, and cleaning
  • Identification and rectification of potential issues before they escalate


Safety Inspections:

  • Mandatory periodic safety inspections as per local regulations
  • Testing of safety devices, emergency systems, and braking mechanisms
  • Verification of compliance with relevant codes and standards


Component Replacement:

  • Timely replacement of worn-out or outdated components
  • Adherence to manufacturer’s recommendations and industry best practices
  • Ensuring compatibility and quality of replacement parts


Log Keeping and Documentation:

  • Maintaining detailed records of maintenance activities, inspections, and repairs
  • Tracking component life cycles and replacement schedules
  • Facilitating efficient troubleshooting and compliance with regulations


Service Contracts:

  • Engaging with reputable lift service providers
  • Customised service contracts tailored to your specific needs
  • Access to skilled technicians, spare parts, and emergency support


Top Tip: Regular maintenance is an investment that pays dividends in the long run. If you are looking for a nationwide lift maintenance company that can help you keep on top of your servicing, get in touch with us at Northern Elevators today.



Passenger lifts have revolutionised the way we navigate multi-story buildings, offering convenience, accessibility, and efficiency. From their intricate inner workings to the stringent safety regulations that govern their operation, these remarkable machines are a testament to human ingenuity and engineering prowess.

In conclusion, passenger lifts are more than just a means of vertical transportation; they are an essential component of modern infrastructure, enhancing the quality of life for all individuals and contributing to the creation of inclusive and accessible environments.

We hope you have found this article useful and informative. If you are looking to get a passenger lift installed in your office or commercial building, get in touch with us today.