There are around 900,000 operating elevators in the United States today. Elevators have become an integral part of our society. Without elevators, we wouldn’t have the iconic skylines of cities like New York or Chicago. Elevators have transformed the architecture of the modern world.
Elevator operation involves a pulley-esque system where a metal rope connects to the top of the elevator cart and travels through a sheave that acts like a pulley wheel. Elevator controllers and buttons work to tell the elevator what to do. The most common elevator car controls include floor selection buttons, operation buttons and control buttons.
Hall indicators, also called position indicators or hall lanterns, are used to notify elevator riders that their elevator is arriving and what direction it will be traveling. In addition to visually alerting an upcoming elevator, a hall indicator give audible signals. Most audible signals will sound once when elevators are going up and sound twice when the elevator is going down. Vocal indicators can also be installed that actually say “going up” or “going down” in place of the tones.
Hall indicator requirements are as follows:
- Position indicators are to be mounted a minimum of 72 inches above the floor.
- The arrows on the hall indicator must be a minimum of 2 1/2 inches tall.
- The arrows on the hall indicator should be visible from the vicinity of the call buttons.
Elevator Car Controls
The controls inside an elevator vary significantly based on the elevator and the specifications made when it was installed. However, some standard items are present on all elevator control panels:
- Floor selection buttons: Floor designators are used to tell the elevator which floors to go to. When pressed, the button that indicates the floor’s number will light up. A lot of elevator buttons are numbered, but there are some variations. The button for the floor that the lobby is on may be labeled with an “L.” Another common variation for the lobby button is a star. Buttons for basements or underground floors are typically marked with a “B.”
- Door open button: The door open button is used to reopen the elevator doors when they are closing. Holding this button down will keep the door open for the duration that the button is pressed. This button is a mandatory door control button.
- Door close button: The close door button is used to close elevator doors immediately. This button doesn’t exist in some old elevators. Instead, you will have to press a floor selection button and wait for the delay to get the elevator doors to close promptly. On some elevators in the United States, the close door button can only be used in fire or independent services.
- Door hold button: Also called a door delay button, this button is useful for loading goods or baggage. The door delay button holds the door open for more extended periods, usually up to five minutes.
Nonstandard Control Panels and Elevator Safety Buttons
Controls outside of the standard car controls can be handy. They include key switch controls and emergency buttons.
Elevator key switch controls are primarily for people carrying service keys. In the United States, they’re typically located in a locked service cabinet panel. These are sometimes found above the floor selection buttons or below the emergency buttons. They allow for different functions or buttons to be toggled on and off the by building’s operations team. Some of the functions may include fire department control, close door control and maintenance functions.
Some possible emergency button options include:
- Emergency stops: Emergency stops are used to stop the cart abruptly in case of an emergency. Some stop switches are the flip-type or the push-and-pull type. The elevator cab will not start again until the button or switch is reset.
- Emergency alarms: The emergency alarm in an elevator is usually connected to a bell. The bell rings when the button is pushed to alert people that someone is stuck in the elevator and needs assistance.
- Telephones: Usually marked with an image of a phone, this button is used to contact a technician for help. It will also alert maintenance that there is an issue with the elevator so they can fix it as soon as possible.
You may never need to use an elevator’s safety buttons at all. If you do experience an emergency, try to keep these steps in mind:
- Stay calm: Try to remain level-headed to make sound decisions moving forward.
- Find a light source: If the elevator lights are out, use your phone light to locate the buttons. Be careful not to drain your phone’s battery.
- Press the call button: Locate and press the call button to contact a technician to help you.
- Press the alarm button: Press the alarm button to notify others that you are stuck. People in the building will likely hear the alarm and will find someone to help.
- Wait it out: Elevator calls are taken seriously, so you are unlikely to have to wait for long. You will typically be freed in 30 minutes or less.
Elevators should not be complicated. You should know what controls are in your elevator so you can get to where you need to go and how to handle unforeseen situations in case they happen. The controls on the elevator in your residential space would be even more straightforward than the control panels discussed. Therefore, you can trust that the operation of your elevator will be easy and smooth.
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