Freight vs. Service Elevators: What’s the Difference?

Service and freight elevators have a few key differences that are important to keep in mind when evaluating your elevator needs for your next project, whether you’re modernizing an existing space or starting from scratch with new construction.

Freight Elevators

Freight elevators are designed to haul…well…freight, of course. A key visual clue to differentiating a freight elevator from a service elevator is the doors. The doors of freight elevators usually open vertically, although sometimes older freight elevators have wooden gates in place of solid metal doors.

Why vertically opening doors? The simple answer is maximizing the size of freight that can be loaded into the car while minimizing the hoistway space needed to accommodate it. Horizontal sliding doors require additional space on each side of the entrance to house the doors when open. Horizontal doors are also limited in how wide the entrance can be.

Also, while the exterior of a freight elevator door may match the lobby side of a room, the interior of the elevator car is designed with utility in mind above aesthetics. The door will be heavily reinforced, the walls will be made of heavy-duty steel to reduce damage and downtime, and there will be a non-skid floor engineered for heavy traffic.

Finally, the freight elevator car and vertical sliding doors are specifically designed to provide a full width opening for maximum use of the elevator car. This also eliminates the possibility of hitting and potential damage to the doors during loading and unloading. The clear width door and cab allow for effortless loading of freight from carts, pallet jacks, forklifts, automobiles and even trucks and trailers.

To sum up, freight elevators are designed with freight in mind. They are intended to accommodate only a particular load (usually with load ratings much heavier than that of a typical service car) and the person(s) needed to transport it.

Service Elevators

Service elevators are sometimes mistakenly referred to as freight elevators, but they are usually intended to transport employees and light duty carts or dollies throughout a building more so than heavy goods. Most service elevators have horizontally opening doors just like a traditional passenger elevator and a utilitarian interior.

Have questions about which type of elevator is right for your project? EMS Group can help! Call us today and speak directly with one of our experts.