Is your elevator system experiencing problems? Constantly shutting down? If you’re frustrated by elevator shutdowns and resulting tenant complaints, an elevator soft starter (sometimes called an elevator solid-state starter) could be a great option. Many building owners utilize soft starter devices to extend the life of older elevators, preserving their reliability as they age.
This type of electrical current monitor helps to prevent power surges, reduces downtime even in busy elevators, and runs quieter than traditional starters.
The cost of these soft starter systems can run rather high, which is a concern for many building owners. Is it worth the price? Use our free Soft Starter Cost Calculator to estimate the cost to install them in your building.
Let's break down the essential features of the system to help you decide.
What Is An Elevator Soft Starter?
Every motor soft starter works similarly for different functions. These starters are AC electrical motors that start mechanical functions by temporarily reducing the workload and torque needed to start-up. This process works to reduce the mechanical stress on the motor, shaft, and cables, therefore extending the lifespan of the system.
In other words, the soft starter assists the elevator to start-up quickly, while acting as a helping hand to the existing motor. With less pressure on the system each time a tenant presses the elevator button, the overall lifespan of the elevator is increased, saving you money down the line.
How Does An Elevator Soft Starter Work?
The mechanics of an elevator soft starter can get technical, but having a solid understanding of how it works can help in your decision to make a purchase. An elevator soft starter works by controlling the power voltage needed to operate your elevator. This is key to keeping your elevator functioning at its best (aka fastest and most reliable), especially in older buildings.
In some buildings, elevators may be so aged that replacement parts are no longer sold, making repairs expensive and time-consuming for any elevator service company you hire. The soft starter helps reduce the power needed and speed up start-up time in the long run.
The soft starter works in 3 phases that happen in the blink of an eye while controlling over-voltage and under-voltage components simultaneously.
The starter itself is comprised of 2 essential components: the base controller and the fault contactor.
The base controller includes all the necessary pieces to operate and control the motor. This includes functions for processing, current sensing, adjustable overloads, power modules, and electro-mechanical bypass contacts.
The fault contactor opens and closes at given times to assist the motor or disable it if power is removed, the motor has a mechanical issue, or the starter has an internal problem. Together, these pieces work together to operate the device, and therefore your elevator.
Can A Soft Starter Extend The Life Of Older Elevators?
As elevators age, they may begin to slow, waver, and experience other power-related malfunctions. These issues can cause elevators to get stuck, or to fail to function at all. When you may think you have no choice but to replace the elevator system, a soft starter may be able to help return power and function.
Soft starters reduce strain on the mechanical system of the elevator, therefore improving the speed and function of the system. By taking on some of the tasks required to keep the elevator motor in use (including managing torque, starting the motor, and controlling voltage), the soft starter takes the strain off the older system’s functions. This can, in turn, help extend the life of the elevator and keep it operating smoothly for your tenants.
How Can A Soft Starter Improve My Elevator System?
When your residential elevator system is out of date and struggling to function at its peak, you may experience some common issues:
• Longer than average wait times
• Jerking movements when in use
• Power failures
• Noisy bearings and loud operation
For your tenants, these elevator issues can cause hassles and disruptions that usually lead to calls to your office. If you’ve been recently suggested to purchase a solid state elevator starter, you likely have questions as to why it would be a good option for your needs.
There are many significant benefits to utilizing a soft starter for your elevator. They include:
• smooth, jerk-free motor starting
• reduced electrical surges on weak or aging systems
• less mechanical stress on your system by reducing torque
• reduced voltage usage can eliminate current spikes
• increased motor life due to reduced electrical strain
• reduced system maintenance needs
How Much Does An Elevator Soft Starter Cost?
There are a few factors to consider when pricing soft starters, including local elevator mechanic labor rates, materials purchased, and your elevator itself.
Generally, the mechanic will remove the existing mechanical starter and install the new soft starter, get it wired, and test it in roughly four hours. Ask for your installer’s hourly rate to help better understand their pricing methods. The soft starter itself is manufactured by different suppliers and can be purchased off the shelf and delivered within a few days.
As mentioned above, you can calculate the total cost to install an elevator soft starter using our Cost Calculator.
Still Have Questions About Elevator Soft Starters?
Still curious about the mechanics of elevator soft starters, or want to know if one of these devices is the right choice for your specific situation? Alternatively, maybe you're wondering if a proposal is above fair price?
We work with business owners to help them make smart elevator decisions that can have an impact on their tenants and their bottom line. We offer proposal review services to take you line-by-line through a potential elevator service provider’s pricing so that you can make a more informed choice.
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