The Essential Guide to MRL Elevators

The Essential Guide to MRL Elevators Featured Image

Relatively new on the US market, MRL elevators offer an alternative to traditional hydraulic or traction elevators. Many people wonder just what makes these elevators different. Also, are they safe and effective for widespread use?

Are you interested in adding MRL elevators to your inventory? Read on for all you need to know about this popular equipment.

What is an MRL Elevator?

A machine room-less (MRL) elevator does not have a separate room for housing the elevator’s motor. The specially-designed motor is installed directly in the hoistway, either at the top or bottom of the shaft.

In many ways, an MRL elevator looks like a “normal” elevator. The lift may be a traction or hydraulic machine. The elevator will be moved on steel cord cables just like other elevators.

However, the MRL elevators operate on a permanent magnet motor (PMM). This is a newer type of motor that allows the elimination of the machinery room.

History of MRL Elevators

The first model of these elevators was designed by KONE in 1996. In order to save space, the designers placed the elevator’s motor directly in the hoistway. This revolution has offered benefits for small to mid-sized buildings ever since.

The MRL elevator is widely used outside the US, but it is only in the past three to five years that the design has gained popularity in America. Early acceptance of the technology was hindered by a lack of manufacturing and installing code and few manufacturers producing the equipment.

In the past few years, however, MRL elevators have made great strides. Most manufacturers now offer these models. You can now find MRLs in most sizes and speeds needed for modern buildings.

Benefits of MRL Elevators

There are quite a few reasons to consider using an MRL elevator in your building. From cost to space savings, these elevators can provide solutions to common construction challenges.

Less Space Usage

Since the MRL elevator doesn’t require a separate room to house its motor, it takes up far less space than a traditional elevator. This frees up designers and architects to make use of the extra space, providing unparalleled design freedom.

More Energy Efficient

MRL elevators use 70% to 80% less energy than standard hydraulic elevators. That is a huge energy cost saving. In addition, the traction MRLs do not use oil, reducing costs and fire hazards.

Designed for Small and Mid-Size Buildings

Space savings in a small or mid-size building can bring great benefits. MRL elevators are designed with the space limitations of smaller buildings in mind.

Flood-Prone Areas

Since the motor and controller can be installed at the top of the hoistway, an MRL is a great choice for areas that experience flooding. The height of the hoistway will keep machinery out of the water and out of harm’s way.

Lower Cost to Install

Without the extra cost of a separate room or buried hydraulic cylinder, many MRL elevators offer cost savings for installation as well. An MRL elevator can help keep a new project on budget.

Quieter Operation

At 50-55 decibels, the MRLs operate at a significantly quieter rate than many other models. This silent ride is important, especially in smaller spaces.

Are MRLs Safe?

Yes. MRL elevators have been studied for years, and as they have become more popular, many buildings have installed them. As the installation rate has risen, however, the accident rate has gone down or remained the same.

This means that despite there being more MRL elevators in buildings today, there is no higher incidence rates for these types of elevators. Machine room-less elevators are just as safe as traditional elevators.

Main Types of Machine Room-Less Elevators

As MRLs become more popular, more designs will be available to US-based clients. These three designs are currently the most common.

In-Line Elevator

The in-line design is rail-supported and provides front access to the elevator. This model comes in standard sizes and offers a smooth, quick ride experience. With standard safety features, this is a great choice for any elevator need.

Front and Side Elevator

Certain construction limitations require an elevator that opens at the front and side. This is not common, but it does happen.

Our front and side design is unique and perfect for such situations. This is a rail-mounted MRL that overcomes specific construction obstacles.

Front and Rear

For buildings that require access to the hoistway at both the front and the rear, this design is an excellent choice. It also can be used in buildings with split-level or short floors.

MRL Elevator Concerns

Every piece of machinery has its pros and cons. Though there are important benefits to consider for the MRL, there are also a few concerns.

Building Codes

Codes for MRL elevators have been slow to roll out in the US, which can be frustrating. In 2005, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) approved a supplement to its safety code for elevators and escalators. This code was updated in 2007 to include the manufacture, design, installation, and maintenance of MRLs.

Many municipalities have started adopting the ASME code since then. Now the code has also been accepted in Canada as well.

Challenging Maintenance Access

The main benefit of the MRL also presents a challenge as well. Since the motor is housed within the hoistway, it can be difficult to access when it needs maintenance or repair. As with any elevator repair, proper training can mitigate some of the dangers of MRL maintenance.

We Know Elevators

Our custom elevators are designed by field operators for people in the field. We ship our fully-complete, ready-to-install elevators all over the US.

Are you ready to try MRL elevators for your business? Contact us today to get started.