The following is a partial list of common terms used in the elevator industry. This is by no means an official document. All of the definitions are in our own words and are meant simply as a helpful reference.


Alternating Current Variable Voltage Variable Frequency -type of motor control used in most modern elevators.


An electrically operated safety device attached to the machine that acts to stop and hold the elevator.


Oil or spring buffer used as a safety device in case of over travel of the car or counterweight.


Elevator interior cabin, sometimes also referred to as the car.


The enclosure that is used by passengers to travel up or down.

Car Door

The door used inside the elevator car.

Car Operating Panel

The applied panel, usually stainless steel, containing the car push buttons inside the elevator cab.

Car or Hall Door Rollers

Rollers that suspend the door panel in the car and hall. Rollers run on door tracks above the door.

Closed Loop

The speed of a motor is regulated by using the feedback from an encoder or tachometer.


The device that mechanically couples the car door to the hall door, making it possible for the hall door to open.


The main cabinet containing the electrical equipment necessary to control the elevator motion.


Acts to counter the weight of the elevator car in order to reduce the power requirements of the machine.


Direct Current Motor Generator -type of control used in older elevators where the main motor speed is controlled by a motor-generator set.


Direct Current Silicon Controlled Rectifier -modern type of drive system used for DC motors in lieu of motor-generator sets.


A manually operated switch that opens or closes an electrical circuit.

Door Gib

Small guiding device used at the bottom of car and hoistway doors

Door Operator

Device mounted on the car top that opens and closes the elevator car door.

Drive Sheave

A wheel with grooves cut into it to drive the cables (ropes) connecting the cab and counterweight.


Optical digital device used in closed loop systems for speed feedback. Typical resolution is 1024 pulses per motor revolution.

Extended Surface Mount Hall Station

Hall push button fixture that is mounted on the surface of the wall. Used on modernizations to lower the buttons to handicap height.


General term referring to the push buttons, panels, and indicators used in the elevator car and hall.

Geared Machine

A machine that contains a reduction gear for transmitting the power of the motor to the drive sheave.

Gearless Machine

A machine where the motor is directly connected to the drive sheave with no gear reduction.


A mechanical safety device that independently activates the elevator safeties in case of an overspeed condition.

Guide Rails

Steel rails formed in the shape of a “T” that run the length of the elevator hoistwayon each side of the car and counterweight.

Guide Shoes

Solid shoes used on slower elevators to guide the elevator car our counterweight along the guide rails.

Hands Free Telephone

A telephone without a hand set using a speaker and microphone integrated inthe car operating panel or telephone cabinet.


Building structure inside of which the elevator car moves up and down.

Hoistway or Hall Door

The doors used in the hall entrance on every floor that the elevator serves.

Infrared Safety Edge

An electronic device mounted on the car doors that uses a multitude of invisible infrared light beams. If any of the beams are broken, the doors reopen.


A mechanical device that incorporates an electrical contact. Prevents the elevator from moving unless all of the doors are closed and locked.


Light Emitting Diode -solid state device used in digital position indicators and to illuminate push buttons.


Support, documentation, and spare parts are readily available to any qualified elevator contractor.


Reduced speed closing of the elevator doors when they are held open too long.

Position Indicator

Analog or digital floor position indicator inside the car and/or in the hallway.


Device that prevents manual opening of the car door when the car is not at a floor.

Roller Guides

Rollers that guide the elevator car our counterweight along the guide rails.

Rope Brake

A safety device that clamps the elevator cables in the event of a failure of the normal brake.


Steel cables used to suspend the elevator car and counterweight.


Safety device mounted under the elevator car that acts on the guide rails to slow down an stop the car in case of an overspeed.

Serial Link

Method of transmitting data using only a few conductors. This saves on wiring costs, especially on high rise buildings.


Spring loaded closer used on hall doors.


Analog feedback device used for motor control, generates a voltage in proportion to the motor speed.

Vector Drive

Modern AC motor control system.

Wedge Clamp Shackles

Used for terminating the wire cables at each end. A wedge is used to secure the cable inside a housing.