Elevator Door Operators – 6 Things to Know Before You Buy

elevator door operator

Unless you’re in the elevator business, when you hear the words “elevator door operator,” you likely think of a guy in a suit who rides and controls the elevator in a fancy hotel. 

​Well, that’s where it started, but today it is a system of motors, gears, and levers that opens and closes thousands of times a day.   

​Upgrading your elevator door operator can be a costly investment.  Let’s review some critical questions before you decide to buy.  

elevator door operator cost

1. What does an elevator door operator do?

Just like its name sounds, the elevator door operator opens and closes the doors to an elevator at every level all day and night. It has more moving parts than just about anything else in the elevator. 

​It consists of a motor on top of the elevator that turns gears. The gears are attached to lever arms inside the doors. The motor will open and close the doors regularly.

2. Why is this a high failure item?

All this action makes the elevator door operator one of the most frequent mechanical failure points on an elevator. Repairs are time-consuming, and they invariably put the elevator out of service for a while.

​When you’re in a building, like a condo building that has only one elevator, this can be a huge hassle and a massive frustration for the residents. Seventy percent of all elevator repair calls are for the elevator door operator.

Every time the door opens and closes the parts are worn further. Uncontrolled opening closing, as exists in an analog system, allows the door to simply open and close without any speed and position controls. 

Most common faults:

    •    The door fails to open or close fully
    •    The door hits people as they enter or exit
    •    The electric contact indicates that the door is closed when it’s not
    •    The door doesn’t cycle completely
    •    The door continues to cycle when it shouldn’t
    •    The electric safety circuit doesn’t acknowledge that the door is closed even when it is

elevator door operator

3. What is Closed loop elevator door operator technology?

A closed loop elevator door controller is a microprocessor that controls the precise speed and location of the doors at all times. Analog systems are subject to power fluctuations and pushing by people. 

​A closed-loop system monitors all of these factors and compensates for these changes. The computer is able to sense the precise position and speed of the door much better than a simple mechanical system.

In short, a computer keeps track of what the door is doing and where it is at all times, making the subtle changes needed to reduce stress on the elevator door operator parts. With a number of gear, joints, levers, and more, smoothing out the rough patches can reduce the number of service calls. 

4. Why upgrade to closed loop elevator door operator technology?

This upgrade can save hundreds of service calls and thousands of lost hours merely by improving this one part of the elevator door. 

​Since the elevator door operator represents 70% of all elevator service calls, even a 50% improvement can make significant changes in the usefulness of the elevator.

Using a closed loop elevator door operator:

    •    Ensures that the door is fully open or fully closed as needed
    •    Prevents the door from trying to close a people are walking through it
    •    Keeps the door from cycling repeatedly
    •    Allow the door to cycle completely
    •    Is much safer by ensuring the door is fully closed while the elevator is in motion

In many buildings, specifically with newer construction,  this upgrade has already happened. In many older buildings, particularly residential buildings with only a single elevator, the tenants are still dealing with constant service calls. 

Installing a closed loop elevator door system doesn’t take a great deal of time, but it can prevent many, many elevator failures and much frustration on the part of residents. In condominium buildings, this is a change that is long overdue and will save a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long run.

5. Will I lose my investment if I decide to completely replace or modernize my elevator in the future?

If you end up upgrading your door operator, you don’t need to worry about losing your investment if you completely replace or modernize your elevators. Most door operators are universal, working on all brands and styles of elevators. 

​When you do an elevator modernization, you can retain the door operator. This will save on your elevator modernizations since you won’t need to buy the upgraded version with the new elevators. In the meantime, you’ll get the safety and convenience of a new door operator with fewer service calls and higher reliability.

Look for a door operator that will work with multiple controller types. If you start with the idea of using the door operator even with different elevators, you will look for a brand and style that is versatile and will last you a long time.

closed loop elevator door operator

6. What is the cost of a new closed loop door operator?

​The reality is that a closed-loop door operator represents the peak of technology and it appears that there won’t be improvements to eclipse current styles for decades. 

They also aren’t cheap. The top of the line designs will cost money, but the savings in service calls and downtime will make up a lot of the price over time. 

They are a significant long-term investment that you’ll be able to hold onto through a full modernization. 

Use our free repair and upgrade cost calculator to estimate the cost of replacing your door operators.  Use this price to compare to your cost for out of service time and what you spent in maintenance and repairs in the past five years.

Still need more information?

Our team of elevator experts has been consulting for decades with building supervisors, owners, and real estate professionals. We can not only tell you how much the door operator will cost but can walk you through the entire process and even recommend brands and styles that will work best for you. 

​ Contact us for a no obligation, no pressure review of your elevator door operator situation.

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