Learn standard elevator terminology

Click on a term below to reveal its definition

    Cab Weight Change

    Elevator code allows for up to a 5% Weight Change to an elevator without the need for additional re-balancing, testing or other adjustments to the elevator. In most elevator renovations removal of old interior cab finishes will offset the weight of new cab interior finishes. In this situation additional testing, re-balancing or adjustments are not required. In certain jurisdictions, these additional testing requirements may still be necessary, even if the elevator weight change does not exceed the 5%.

    Canopy / Dome

    The canopy or dome is the top of the elevator enclosure. It is not the suspended ceiling. It contains an emergency exit and an exhaust fan.

    Car Door(s)

    An elevator cab may have either one or two Car Door(s). They will be either centered in the front wall or offset to one side of the elevator. Car door(s) are inside doors that travel with the elevator from floor to floor.

    Car Door Sill

    The Car Door Sill is the slotted track under the door. The doors have guides under them which run in the door sill slots to keep the bottom of the door held in the correct alignment with the cab shell.

    Car Operating Panel

    The Car Operating Panel (COP) is used to select which floor the cab is intended to travel and is normally located on the right car return wall. If the cab has center opening doors it may have two car operating panels, each being located on either side of the cab door(s). If the elevator cab has a door offset to one side, then there will only be one car operating panel.

    Car Return Wall

    The Car Return Wall is located on the front wall, either side of the car door(s). This wall or walls normally contains the car operating panel. If the car doors are centered in the front wall, there are two car return walls (left and right). If the car door is offset to one side of the front wall, there is only one car return wall.

    Car Swing Panel

    A Car Swing Panel is a car return wall that is hinged and swings open like an ordinary door. In this situation, there is no car operating panel. The elevator controls and buttons are integrated into the car return wall which swings open allowing access to the controllers for maintenance and repair.


    There are generally two types of Ceiling styles and many possibilities for custom ceilings. Basic styles are grid ceiling or solid core island ceiling. Ceilings generally do not touch the cab walls, allowing a couple inches of clearance for air to circulate to the cab's exhaust fan. They are also suspended below the cab dome/canopy by two or more inches in order to allow for light fixtures and air flow. All ceilings must have a removable section in order for rescuers to gain access to passengers through the dome top emergency exit in the event of an emergency.

    Grid Ceiling is a lightweight aluminum t-grid layout with openings that receive lay-in panels or light diffusers. If light diffusers are used then fluorescent or LED light strips are installed to illuminate the cab through the light diffusers.

    Solid Core Island Ceiling has a solid core laminated with a finished surface such as plastic laminate, stainless steel or bronze. Finishes are installed in a manner to conceal the removable section which will align with the existing dome top emergency exit. Recessed down lights are then installed in the ceiling in a quantity to adequately illuminate the elevator according to the required lighting level.

    Elevator Load Test

    An Elevator Load Test is performed to an elevator in order to determine if the elevator will require rebalancing or a hydraulic pressure adjustment.

    Elevator Re-Balancing

    Elevator Re-balancing is the act of balancing weight distribution in an elevator cab through the use of counterweights. This is achieved through the addition or subtraction of counterweights. Elevator re-balancing only applies to a traction elevator.

    Emergency Exit

    All elevators have an Emergency Exit within the cab canopy. The emergency exit must be accessible through any suspended ceiling installed inside the elevator via a removable panel within the suspended ceiling. Some elevators have side emergency exits also although they are no longer required.

    Emergency Light

    Emergency lighting is designed to turn on in the event of a power outage. It can be located in or on the car operating panel, car return wall, transom, swing panel, cab canopy/dome or as part of the existing lighting. If the existing lighting is to be replaced during a cab renovation, then new emergency lighting will be required.

    Hoistway Door(s)

    An elevator cab may have either one or two hoistway doors which will match the style and size of the car door(s). Hoistway door(s) are the outside doors that remain at the elevator lobby when the elevator travels from floor to floor.

    Hydraulic Elevator

    Hydraulic Elevator is an elevator that is raised and lowered by a hydraulic cylinder located below the elevator. When a hydraulic elevator has a weight change of more than 5%, weight adjustment is achieved by adjusting a hydraulic pressure valve while the cab is under load.

    Traction Elevator

    Traction Elevator is an elevator suspended from the machine room by cables attached to counterweights. When a Traction Elevator has a weight change by more than 5%, re-balancing is required. This is achieved by the addition or subtraction of counterweights. A load test may also be required depending on the jurisdiction where your project is located.


    The Transom is the area above the car door, it may run the entire width of the elevator or may only run between the car return walls.


    Reveals are the areas of the walls that are not covered by the wall panels. Reveals are a general term including the Base (the area between floor and bottom of wall panels), Frieze (the area between the top of the wall panels and below the ceiling) and the vertical or horizontal areas around the wall panels.

    Wall Designation

    The LEFT or RIGHT elevator cab wall is designated by standing inside the elevator cab and facing the front wall.

    Wall Panels

    Elevator Wall Panels made in a specific quantity, size and layout to achieve the desired design inside an elevator cab. Panels can be made with many finishes such as plastic laminate, wood veneers, architectural metals, custom glass or mirror, stone and other materials. Panels are installed in a manner to allow them to be removable from within the elevator in case repair is needed.