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Is a Cable-Driven Elevator Right for Your Home?

home elevatorIf you or a family member has trouble using the stairs in your home, an elevator could be the solution you need. With so many options available, the choices may seem overwhelming. A cable-driven elevator offers some advantages compared to other types of lifts.

A cable-driven elevator is energy-efficient because it utilizes a counterweight. The cable that supports the elevator cab has a counterweight on the opposite end. This helps to balance the elevator when it is not in use, which takes pressure off the motor. This saves energy because the motor does not have to work to support the elevator.

Some homeowners want an elevator to be a focal point in a room, while others prefer to keep it out of sight. A pneumatic elevator attaches to a balcony or travels through a hole in the floor, and a hydraulic elevator is designed to stand alone and is usually installed in the center of a room or space. A cable-driven elevator, on the other hand, can easily be hidden and disguised to look like a closet or pantry.

A cable-driven elevator has a more traditional appearance than a pneumatic or hydraulic model. If you have a traditional style home and install a modern elevator, the two will not look right together. For a house with a traditional design, a cable-driven elevator would be a better choice.

An elevator can be the solution you need to improve mobility for yourself or someone else at home. If you are looking for an energy-efficient elevator with an inconspicuous and traditional design, a cable-driven model may be the right choice for you.

Shanghai Tower Will Have Ultra-High-Speed Elevators

Shanghai Tower elevatorsWhen it opens this summer, the 121-story, 632-meter tall Shanghai Tower will be the tallest building in China and the second-tallest in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands 828 meters tall. Shanghai Tower will have the distinction of transporting passengers in the fastest elevators in the world.

The three ultra-high-speed elevators will be made of aluminum and carbon fiber. They will be able to transport passengers from the B2 level to the 119th floor in only 55 seconds. The elevators will be able to reach a maximum speed of 1,080 meters per minute (64.8 kilometers per hour). Each will have a weight capacity of 2,000 kilograms, or roughly 28 people.

The elevators will use nine vibration sensors to eliminate shaking that could be caused by traveling at high speeds. The sensors will apply force in the opposite direction of a vibration to cancel it out.

A simulation recreated the vibrations that riders would experience without the vibration resistance technology when traveling at high speeds. It would feel like riding on a zig-zagging subway car and could cause people to be thrown about in the elevator cab. With the vibration resistance system activated, the elevator’s back and forth movements were imperceptible.

In order to avoid hurting passengers’ ears, the elevator cars will have an air pressure control system. The top speed will be reduced to 600 meters per minute when descending because there is a greater likelihood of passengers experiencing ear pain when traveling quickly from an area of low pressure to high pressure.

The world’s current fastest elevator is in the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan. It has a maximum speed of 1,010 meters per minute.

Study Says Energy-Efficient Elevators Could Reduce Costs

energy-efficient elevatorsThe American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, with the support of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, conducted a study of energy efficiency in elevator systems. The researchers concluded that while energy-efficient elevator technologies could dramatically reduce costs, information on those systems was not readily available.

Elevators and escalators account for 2 to 5 percent of the energy usage in most buildings. If they use 5 percent of a building’s electricity, that is equivalent to five times the amount used in all of Washington D.C. During peak operational times, that figure can rise as high as 50 percent.

Energy-efficient elevator technologies are available that can reduce energy usage by 40 percent or more. Lights and cab ventilation systems can be turned off when elevators are idle between trips. Coated steel belts can be used instead of cable ropes to make elevators more energy-efficient. Destination dispatch software can reduce passenger wait times and cut energy use in half. Some technologies can even cut energy usage by as much as 75 percent.

There is currently no standard way to measure potential energy savings for energy-efficient elevator systems. Building owners may therefore be unaware of the benefits of upgrading to energy-efficient elevators or installing them in buildings under construction.

The study’s authors encourage elevator industry leaders to create common standards to measure elevator efficiency. They believe establishing standards could lead to a rating system like the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR ratings that apply to HVAC systems and home appliances. Energy utilities or government agencies could also offer building owners rebates for installing energy-efficient elevators. Building label programs, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, could use elevator efficiency as one factor when certifying buildings. The LEED program currently considers elevators part of unregulated “process loads” and does not give credits for buildings with energy-efficient models.

Glass Elevators Take Visitors to Top of Sky Tower in New Zealand

Sky Tower elevatorsThe Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located in Auckland, New Zealand. It stands 1,076 feet tall from ground level to the top of the mast, which makes it the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

The tower is part of the SKYCITY Auckland casino complex and draws an average of 1,150 visitors per day. It has a Sky Lounge, main observation deck, revolving restaurant, SkyWalk, SkyJump, and SkyDeck that are open to the public.

The main observation deck provides visitors with 360-degree views of the city. It is located at a height of 610 feet and has 1.5 inch thick glass flooring to provide people with a view straight down to street level. The SkyDeck, the top observation deck, is 720 feet high and allows visitors to see up to 51 miles in the distance. The SkyJump lets visitors make guide-cable-controlled jumps from the tower.

Sky Tower was built with high-performance reinforced concrete. It is supported by eight “legs” based on 16 foundation piles drilled over 39 feet deep in sandstone. The upper levels are made from composite materials, structural steel, precast concrete, and reinforced concrete. The observation decks are clad in aluminum and blue/green reflective glass. The mast is supported by a structural steel framework.

The elevator shaft measures 39 feet in diameter and contains three elevators and an emergency stairwell. The three glass-fronted elevators can transport 225 people to the observation decks every 15 minutes. The ride to the top takes just 40 seconds. The floor is made of glass so that passengers can watch the ground moving away as the elevator rises and see the ground come racing closer as the elevator descends.

Sky Tower is designed to withstand winds over 120 mph and can sway up to 39 inches in excessive winds. The elevators can detect movement, such as swaying from wind, and will automatically slow down. If the building is swaying too much, the elevators will automatically return to ground level and stay there until the winds and swaying have subsided.

Residents of High-Rise Towers Have Long Elevator Commutes

World_One_MumbaiHigh-rise towers are becoming increasingly common around the world as symbols of wealth and prestige. Many people are attracted to the idea of living in apartments high above cities with impressive views. One feature that people who are looking for a home in a tall building need to consider is the amount of time they would spend traveling to and from their apartments in elevators.

A recent study looked at the heights of several high-rise buildings to calculate the number of “elevator miles logged” by residents of top-floor apartments. In many cases, the annual trips in an elevator can top hundreds of miles.

Mumbai’s World One Tower is expected to become the world’s tallest residential tower at 1,450 feet when it is completed in 2016. A person who lives on the top floor and who goes down and back up once a day would travel about 200 miles per year. Traveling down and back up twice a day (such as to run errands) would add up to 400 miles per year, which is equivalent to about eight hours spent in a car.

Residents who live at the top of the 1,397-foot-tall building at 432 Park Avenue in New York City who make two roundtrips per day would travel 356 elevator miles per year, which is roughly equal to two trips to the Hamptons and back. A resident of a three-story apartment building would travel less than 10 miles per year.

Builders and architects are competing to produce taller and taller buildings equipped with faster elevators. Currently the world’s fastest elevators are in Taipei’s 101 Tower, which can travel at speeds of 55 feet per second. Elevators planned for China’s Guangzhou CTF Finance Center will travel at top speeds of 66 feet per second (4,000 feet per minute).

Elevators in high-rise buildings use technology such as polyurethane-coated belts and advanced alloys in their braking systems. High-speed elevators require large amounts of space for their motors, which can create challenges for building designers.

Many high-rise buildings use express elevators that carry passengers to lobbies and local elevators to take them to other floors. However, some buildings are too narrow to accommodate this type of system.

People who are considering renting or buying apartments in high-rise towers should consider the design and speed of the elevator systems when making a decision.

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