Posts Tagged ‘old elevator controller replacements’

Have an older elevator controller? Replace it with a “Like for Like” and extend the life of your unit.

Have an older elevator controller? Replace it with a “Like for Like” and extend the life of your unit.

Friday, March 30th, 2012

In some cities and towns replacing older antiquated elevator controls with newer modern ones can be an extremely expensive proposition. Typically it’s not only the cost of the controller and installation for putting it in but the entire elevator needs to be brought up to what the most recent code that your city/state has adopted. This includes fire service and ADA requirements and other devices that can easily run over $100,000 depending on how much work needs to be done.

***Disclaimer: It should be noted that it’s a good idea to considering making this kind of upgrade to your elevator as the elevator code is there to protect those who ride, work and inspect them. At some point you’ll need to make improvements and these may be mandated by your state or city, such as adding Fire Service or making sure that certain safety features are installed under ASME A17.3 which again is there to keep everyone safe and minimize your liability. So if you see this coming down the pipeline you should start the planning/budgeting process to avoid last minute rush charges. Ask your elevator contractor to provide their take on what they see happening in the future***

The elevator control system is the brain of the elevator and as systems age parts and components become more difficult to get, in some cases special fabrication is required and elevators can be down for weeks while the parts are made. This can be a serious issue for any building that relies on the buildings elevator system for accessibility. C.J. Anderson has thousands and thousands of older type open relay panels still running today and we still have coils, copper contacts and carbon contacts readily for them. As you can imagine there is still a demand for them as well. Some of these controllers have been running since 1910 and will continue to run another 100 years because they were engineered and built to last.   The key point here is to let you know that as soon as the controller is replaced with a newer model/style with a different type of motor control and logic the entire elevator needs to be brought up to the latest code adopted by the jurisdiction where the elevator is installed. This is considered a major alteration. This is where the fire service, ADA, unintended movement, etc. all start to become expensive items on the proposal that your contractor has worked up for you. In some cases, adding a fire alarm system throughout the entire building is the other expense most don’t think about. Consult your local Fire Department to see what else might be required with this kind of upgrade.

C.J. Anderson has been successful in engineering and fabricating “Like for Like” elevator controllers for certain locations where parts for controllers can no longer be found or fabricated.  We along with other inspectors and AHJ’s have interpreted this as a repair/replacement as defined by A17.3. below.

replacement: the substitution of a device or component and/or subsystems in its entirety, with a unit that is basically the same as the original for the purpose of ensuring performance in accordance with applicable Code requirements.

Note that under the alteration definition, some interpret it that while the controller is being replaced in it’s entirety, it is considered a substitution because the motor logic and the logic of the elevator system is not “changing”. If the new controller had a different type of motor control, upgrading to a VVVF drive or logic that was computer based instead of relay, this would be considered a “change”.  It is vital that you or your elevator contractor double check with your local AHJ if a like for like controller replacement is acceptable before going through the motions of quoting, ordering and installing such a system.

alteration: any change to equipment, including its parts, components, and/or subsystems, other than maintenance, repair or replacement.

Conditions that we’ve had to meet when engineering and building these types of controls are noted below.

Condition 1. The logic of the elevator system does not change. For example, if the existing controller is run using relays, whether they be old style carbon, copper coil type or the newer ice cube relay type, you CANNOT install a new controller with a computer or microprocessor to control the logic. It must remain relay logic.

Condition 2. The motor control cannot change. You are not allowed to install a computer controlled VVVF Drive on an elevator that has a resistor type soft start.

(pictured above: 2 Speed Open Panel “Original” Controller Replaced By Newer Style 2 Speed Controller)

Benefits of purchasing a Like for Like controller are really the availability of parts. Without adding microprocessors, which can be obsolete in 10-15 years or solid state motor drives, which also can be obsolete in 10-15 years there’s little that can’t be replaced from a local electrical distributor by your elevator mechanic. This makes swapping out components in the future and making the like for like controller last much longer than any newer elevator controller that runs off a PLC and Solid state drive.

***IMPORTANT: It is imperative that you understand the performance of your elevator, ride quality, etc. will not improve with a like for like replacement.  Only a new solid state elevator controller can provide you that type of improvement.

Also note that on a few like for like controllers we’ve built AHJ’s have actually requested that Fire Service be added to the system as an upgrade. Not a very common request we can add it but this part of the controller MUST be run by a microprocessor so this too is an important item to note when speaking with your AHJ. All relay logic controllers are built with single automatic operation. Full automatic operation is not available.

When considering this kind of project make sure you double check with your local elevator inspector, AHJ to ensure that understand what you are attempting to accomplish.

Contact for more information or ask your elevator maintenance provider to give you a quote.

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Posted in Articles, Elevators - 1900-1930, Elevators - 1931-1950, Elevators - 1951-1970, Elevators - 1971-1990 | No Comments