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Do You Need a Freight Elevator or a Service Elevator?

Ryan Hussey
Written By: Ryan Hussey
Do You Need a Freight Elevator or a Service Elevator?

Whether you need a freight elevator or a service elevator will depend on the intended use and how much weight you plan to transport. Here’s an explanation of each type of elevator and where they work best.

What is a Freight Elevator?

Freight elevators are designed to move goods and materials throughout a building. Compared to passenger elevators, freight cars travel at slower speeds, can carry much heavier loads and are designed to withstand tougher working conditions.

It’s more important for freight elevators to be practical rather than attractive, which is why they are designed for maximum safety. This can include steel wall panels, a heavy steel floor and a reinforced gate. A freight elevator will usually include vertically opening doors. Older models might even have manually operated wooden gates.

Here’s where you’ll most likely see freight elevators:

  1. Automobile dealerships
  2. Warehouses
  3. Retail spaces
  4. Residential areas

Classes of Freight Elevators

If you need a freight elevator, there are different classifications that define the maximum capacity and permitted loading/unloading processes.

  1. Class A: General Freight Loading

This freight class is ideal for distributed loads where the weight of a single item is not more than 1/4 of the capacity of the elevator. The load is handled on and off the car platform with hand trucks or manually.

  1. Class B: Motor Vehicle Loading

A Class B freight elevator is used to transport cars, trucks and other types of vehicles.

  1. Class C1: Industrial Truck Loading

With a Class C1 freight elevator, you can use a four-wheeled vehicle to load and unload the elevator. However, the combined weight of the vehicle and the load cannot exceed the rated capacity. The vehicle used to load and unload items can remain in the elevator while it’s in use.

  1. Class C2: Industrial Truck Loading

Class C2 freight elevators allow a maximum load on the platform of up to 150% of the rated capacity. With this type of elevator, you’re able to use a forklift to load a car with freight weighing up to the rated capacity. The lift truck or forklift must be removed from the elevator before using it.

  1. Class C3: Other Forms of Industrial Truck Loading

These freight elevators are most commonly used to transport loads that have a similar weight to the elevator’s maximum capacity.

What is a Service Elevator?

It’s easy to confuse a freight elevator with a service elevator — and vice versa — but there are several defining features that differentiate the two.

A service elevator is a modified passenger elevator that is typically located in an employee-only area of a building. While a freight elevator may have vertical doors, a service elevator has the traditional horizontal doors.

Examples include the large elevators you’d see in a hospital or the elevators used by the housekeeping staff in a hotel. These elevators need to be wide and deep enough for large items like hospital beds to fit comfortably.

Service elevators are intended to make it easy for staff to get around and transport goods without disturbing guests or visitors in the building. In hospitals especially, the transportation of important materials and equipment without interruption is an absolute necessity.

No matter the type of elevator you need, it’s important to make sure you’re in compliance with your building codes and standards. We’re happy to help you explore your elevator options and ensure that you’re up to code. Contact us today to get started!


Ryan Hussey

As VP of Operations for Stanley Elevator, Ryan oversees the field, construction and modernization teams. His resume includes over 10 years of first-hand experience in elevator field service, project management, surveying, estimating and warehouse operations.

Ryan’s role focuses on incorporating new technologies into Stanley Elevator’s operations, while prioritizing the continuous advancement of their elevator maintenance, repairs, modernization and installation services. He also maintains Stanley Elevator’s certifications and relationships with associations, including the Massachusetts Elevator Safety Association (MESA), the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Elevator Contractors of America (ECA).

Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Providence College and is working on an MBA at Babson College.