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# Elevator goes to 1st floor during power outage

So you never have to be stuck in a dark elevator
 (+32, -1) [vote for, against]

(A note for the Brits: by "1st floor", I mean "ground floor". I didn't realize our two countries number our floors differently.)

This idea is so simple, it MUST be baked -- but I couldn’t find any evidence of it.

Create a dampening system that will not let an elevator fall at speeds greater than 2 or 3 feet/sec. (This should be pretty straightforward to build so I will not describe it here.) Build this dampening system into the elevator pulley at the top of the shaft, but keep it disconnected by an electromagnetic so that the elevator can function normally. The same electromagnet would keep the pulley connected to the drive system.

When the building power goes out, the electromagnet de-energizes, the pulley disengages from the drive system and engages the dampening system. Several safety mechanisms, similar to the ones already in place today, would prevent a freefall if this electromagnet system fails.

The elevator would slowly descend to the first floor where mechanical latches, now enabled because the power is out, would open the doors.

 — harebrained, Dec 17 2005

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..and one more thing: Add a mechanism that will lock an elevator in place if the doors are already open when the power goes out.
 — harebrained, Dec 17 2005

Hmmm sounds good to me. Have a croissant, catch it before it gets to the first floor.
 — DesertFox, Dec 17 2005

Mmm! Lucky you! That was a fast 4+ votes!
 — DesertFox, Dec 17 2005

I believe that this is indeed in existance. I vaguely remember seeing a notice on an elevator once that indicated that in the event of a fire or a loss of power the elevator car would return to the first floor and the doors would open.
 — Jscotty, Dec 17 2005

haha,
 — chocolateraindrops, Dec 17 2005

does 1st floor in US indicate ground floor?
 — po, Dec 18 2005

I was about to say. Wouldn't it be more feasible to stop on the GROUND floor? That way, you don't have to jump out of any windows.
 — Honduras, Dec 18 2005

[po] We use "ground floor" here too (or sometimes "lobby"). I think for this idea 1st floor is interchangable with ground floor?
 — Zuzu, Dec 18 2005

Yes, I meant ground floor, lobby, street level... whatever makes the most sense. I wasn't aware that "first floor" had a different meaning overseas.
 — harebrained, Sep 04 2006

 Yes, 1st floor in the UK indicates the one above the ground floor. Floors are numbered G,1,2,3,4 which coreresponds I think to U.S. 1,2,3,4,5.

 I can remember thinking as a child that that was a bit weird. Then I learnt about the laws of thermodynamics and thought that was weird too.

Maybe we should rename it the "zeroth floor"? Especially in physics departments.
 — bibliotaphist, Sep 04 2006

In my office building, there's a sign above the elevator call buttons, stating "elevator returns to ground floor in the event of fire or power failure".
 — Freefall, Sep 05 2006

 There are already elevators that function on a light vac charge. If the power fails, the elevator just slowly slides down to ground floor. The only downsides I can see are during fire, and or building structual damage (perhaps a combination of both?) If you were on the 5th floor, and the 3rd floor was ablaze, does it make sense to send you through the broiler, and risk having you stuck there "automatically" ?

Perhaps a cutoff switch, firealarms on? No auto descend... I think some buildings have it so during a fire, none of the elevators even work.
 — jbrisson, Sep 07 2006

 Elevators vary in design from manufacturer to manufacturer and by codes in effect at the time of their installation. Many modern elevators have a Fire Department Lockout which returns the elevator to the Ground floor when the firemen insert a key at that level. This is designed so that a fireman can make the determination that it is safe to lower the elevator past the fire floor, thus preventing the occupants from being "fully baked". It also allows the fire department to use the elevator to move men and equipment quickly to the fire floor. I would think it rather hard to fight a fire after running up 40-50 flights of stairs. (2 would do it for me)

 Roped Hydraulic and Telescoping Hydraulic elevators can easily be gravity lowered during a power failure by returning the hydraulic oil to the reservoir via an emergency valve and accumulator.

 Some of the earliest hydraulic elevators used water pressure to raise them and then lowered by dumping the water into the sewer. This design was discontinued for many reasons, though mostly because low water pressure meant that your elevator literally "doesn't go to the top floor".

 Direct hoist elevators in new buildings are required to be powered by emergency generators in new installations according to the IBC (International Building Code). Getting a Direct hoist elevator to lower via a kinetic braking system would be possible and while I have no proof, probably does exist.

All in all a fully baked idea and one that should be retrofitted into every building, regardless of when or where it was built.
 — CNIII, Sep 07 2006

 If it had some sort of backup power system, it could simply stop at the nearest floor, and open up and then shut itself down. It wouldn't have to necessarily go down to the bottom floor, but if it had backup power, it could simply operate as normal, until the power got low, then have it stop on the nearest floor, open the door and shut down

 "Wouldn't it be more feasible to stop on the GROUND floor? That way, you don't have to jump out of any windows."

Or, maybe use the STAIRS???
 — Dickcheney6, Aug 04 2010

What if the power failed due to a flood? Then the convenience would become a death sentence!
 — AntiQuark, Aug 11 2010

[=] *Baked* Nice try, though. I liked your essay, even knowing from the start that it was *baked*
 — Wily Peyote, Aug 11 2010

 Yes, I know what a google is for

 Regardless, it was original to the author, and that’s enough for me [+]

 //I was about to say. Wouldn't it be more feasible to stop on the GROUND floor? That way, you don't have to jump out of any windows.//

However the GROUND floor is the last place you want to be because that’s where the ZOMBIES are waiting...
 — xxobot, Aug 12 2010

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