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The Hottest Current Elevator Upgrade : Machine Room-Less Elevator

The Hottest Current Elevator Upgrade : Machine Room-Less Elevator

Machine Room-Less Elevators (MRLs) are becoming more and more common in the United States. Is this something you should consider for your property? Learn the pros, cons and code requirements associated with the upgrade.

Elevator modernization: sooner or later, it has to happen. After all, elevators are highly frequented areas on your property. You have to keep up with tenants’ expectations when it comes to look, feel, safety and even factors such as speed and wait time. Unfortunately, elevator modernization can sometimes get complicated and expensive. The elevator industry has come a long way and has taken well to technology, but there are often long stretches when not much new is happening. However, a new wave of elevator tech is being adapted that is believed to save money and energy, and to increase tenant satisfaction: machine room-less elevators (MRLs). Here, we tell you why the demand for MRLs is going up and help you to consider whether such an upgrade is the right fit for your property.

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Machine Room-Less Elevator pros

Machine Room-Less Elevators are currently the hottest product in the elevator upgrade game. Millennials and green-loving tenants will be very happy with this: MRLs allow for a reduction in the size of electrical motors used with any traction equipment. These vehicles are designed with permanent magnet motors (PMMs) which locate and connect with the machines in the overhead hoistway. That means no need for a machine room over the hoistway.

According to elevator consultant Andrew Smith: with an MRL elevator you do not have to allocate the additional space to house the drive mechanism. Depending on the drive system and whether the installation is residential or commercial (B-355), a machine room could require anywhere from 12 to 20 square feet. This is space that could be used for storage, a larger elevator car, or a revenue opportunity (like a couple of extra tables in a restaurant).

In a nutshell, the MRL is a gearless traction machine, which is meant to produce a smoother performance compared with hydraulic elevators. This new technology can also operate at faster speeds, increasing riders’ perception of quality.

The key difference when measured against hydraulic technology: MRL elevators eliminate the cost and environmental concerns of buried hydraulic cylinders, which are filled with hydraulic oil.

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MRLs have been big outside of the U.S. for at least the last 15 years and they are becoming a common upgrade in low- to mid-rise buildings. The reason for the slow introduction: U.S. code requirements and the limited number of manufacturers offering the product. Eventually, KONE introduced it in the U.S.

Local code officials have since been warming up to the idea of MRLs, and the product has since expanded to include more elevator types and sizes.

Compared with hydraulic elevators, MRL elevators are estimated to save a significant amount of energy (about 70-80 percent, according to buildings.com).

More advantages, according to construction.com: elevator door operators are designed with more efficient permanent-magnet synchronous drive motors that require less power to operate than conventional door systems. The reason: a drive motor centered directly above door panels and a simplified torque transmission that eliminate complicated cam mechanisms.

Machine Room-Less Elevator cons

The technology does raise some red flags, however. Because it’s so new, it doesn’t have a solid, proven performance track record of reliability. Also, the MRL design has not yet been specifically addressed in the ASME A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, although many states are allowing it to be installed under a project-specific variance. Certain manufacturers include alternative suspension systems to the traditional steep ropes; this may require review by local code authorities.

Click here to read our blog post on how to benefit from a quick and easy elevator code checklist.

MRLs may also be more expensive to service than traditional elevators; parts may be expensive and not as easily available. They include many proprietary parts, so you may have to stick to the initial installing contractor for maintenance.

Looking at the long run

Although it may currently cost more to install an MRL elevator (compared to traditional elevators), it will save money in the long run. According to an elevator consultant with Arizona Elevator Solutions, “MRL elevators are a little more expensive compared to traditional elevators, but enable the architects to offer clients less expensive construction options, as they do not need to build an additional structure for machinery. In addition, this improves the building’s health.”

Looking for a full elevator modernization? According to Arizona Elevator Solutions, that will cost you, on average, around $175,000.

No matter what kind of modernization you’re considering, the #1 consideration is always safety. Whether your elevator is traditional or an MRL, be sure it contains the most dependable emergency communications. Kings III solutions help you to reduce risk, liability and cost. And when you modernize, Kings III will replace your elevator emergency phones free of charge. Learn more at www.kingsiii.com.

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