There is a distinct difference between Gates and Doors on Home Elevators vs. Commercial Elevators. We explain the differences and the options on almost every project. Here is a comparison and brief explanation of different options.
The Elevator Code requires the elevator be equipped with a gate, and doors at each landing. So when the elevator stops, what you have is essentially two doors at each landing: the gate on the cab and the door to the elevator shaft. The landing door keeps people from falling into the shaft and the gate (the one that rides with the elevator) keeps the elevator passengers safe on the inside.
Elevators can be provided with openings front, side; front and rear; and front, rear, and side.
Commercial Type Side-Slide Doors
These are the type of doors in almost all commercial elevators, sort of an automatic sliding pocket door system. In the larger commercial applications with large high capacity elevator cars, the single panel side slide doors are most common. These single panel doors require more than twice the width of the door opening to allow the single panel to slide into the “pocket”.
More “space saving” sliding door options found in residential applications are the 2, 3 & 4 panel systems. These are referred to in the industry as 2 speed, 3 speed & 4 speed sliding doors. All these options incorporate from 2 to 4 sliding panels that travel at different speeds in unison to open and close. These require much less width but a few more inches in depth to the elevator layout.
Here is a typical layout of a 2 speed side slide gate and door system on a residential project:
In this layout, the Car Door rides with the elevator and there is a Landing Door at each landing. So, if this were an elevator with 3 Stops and Inline openings (only one way in and out of the elevator), you’ll have 4 sets of doors.
Here is an image of an installation with 2 speed side slide glass doors:
This type of sliding door system is a bit more expensive but stands out, enhancing the installation of the elevator. If you want people to know that you have an elevator in the house, this would most likely be your choice. They can be finished in glass, as you can see above, or in Stainless Steel, Bronze, or a painted finish.
Accordion Gate and Swing Landing Door
This is the standard layout for a home elevator. An accordion type collapsible gate is installed as the car gate. Typical standard swing type doors are used at each landing. Here is a layout drawing:
With this layout, the accordion gate rides with the cab and collapses into a pocket to open. The landing door is a standard swing door that matches all the other doors in the home. These landing swing doors are interfaced with interlocks for safety by ensuring the elevator won’t operate when any of these doors are open and locking them to prevent being opened when the elevator is not at that landing.
These accordion gates are manufactured in a variety of options: laminate, wood, clear, and aluminum.
Hardwood Tambour Gate
The Hardwood Tambour type gate is similar to the Accordion type gate. The difference is the Tambour style wraps around in a pocket rather than collapsing into a smaller space. This requires a curved track and space behind the cab wall for the gate to slide. This gate takes up less space in front, but more on the side than the accordion gate. Here is an illustration:
As you can see, the gate slides around a curved track on the elevator cab. This results in a deeper but narrower cab.
Here are images of the gate on a model elevator cab:
Note there are limitations as to how many gates can be installed in front, side and rear applications and also the automatic operation. The Tambour Gate is safer than the woodfold type because with its flat shape when closed, the elevator gate is closer to the landing door which will far surpass the current code requirements.
Scissors-Type Collapsible Gates
These types of gates were very common on the early installations of attendant operated elevators. While they may be attractive and have an antique look, there have been many inherent dangers with the implementation of this type of gate. Especially in residential applications. The California Code of Regulations, Title 8, has actually prohibited these types of gates in their new code (Group IV). Here is an image of a residential application with a scissors-type gate.
As you can see, there is the potential to project a hand or arm through the gate. As the elevator raises and lowers, the potential of “sheer” is imminent. Today, there have been vast improvements in the installation process and requirements to reduce this “sheer” hazard.
One of the leading scissors gate manufacturers has even implemented a “light curtain” into the installation of these gates. This will stop the movement of the elevator when the “light curtain is obstructed” eliminating the ”sheer” danger altogether.
Another elevator manufacturing company has eliminated the elevator car gate entirely and replaced it with a “light curtain”. The implementation of the hoistway doors being flush to the inside of the hoistway traveling wall has made this application completely safe. Even though the code requires the presence of a car gate for safety, when the threat of hazard is removed, so can the gate. Here is an image of the “gate-less” system:
In conclusion, there are many different options for both commercial and residential elevators. It all depends on personal preference and how you want your particular elevator to look and feel.
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