Modernizing Beats Replacing
 Hydraulikaufzüge können hervorragend modernisiert werden.

written by Michael Pyper on Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Outdated hydraulic elevators can be modernized step by step; items are replaced only when really necessary. Afterwards, the elevators are as good as new.

After somewhere between 20 and 40 years it is usually time to give elevator installations a make-over. Depending on the type of use, they - or parts of them - will have reached the end of their service life. With the emphasis on "parts of them". After all, many elevator components will last for decades to come; they may even outlast the lifetime of the building, and make a significant contribution to resources conservation and sustainability. For example, steel parts, such as the elevator rails or hydraulic cylinders, can be reused. This eliminates the effort of manufacturing these parts for a complete new elevator - the so-called "gray energy".

In contrast, replacing an existing hydraulic elevator with a traction elevator, is usually the most expensive solution, and it has a wholly unnecessary impact on the environment. The cost of a complete new installation is usually many times higher than the cost of modernization. Not to mention the time required, which can run to several weeks or months for a total rebuild and is a significant inconvenience for the users. Replacing the hydraulic power unit or drive, however, takes only one to two days.

Carry on repairing, or modernize?

The boundary between repair and modernization is fluid. But there are some guidelines. The replacement of individual components such as the valve is usually a repair, and therefore does not have to meet the latest standards. If, however, the entire power unit or elevator control system has to be replaced, this is considered a modernization. As a result, the system must comply with the state of the art in every respect, so that the responsible monitoring organization can approve it. Having said that, for virtually every component there is now a modern replacement that meets these conditions. The transitions are flexible, and it is therefore advisable that the planned measures are always discussed with the testing organization before work begins.


The iValve is an intelligent valve from the newest generation: the installation time is reduced by up to 70 percent, because there is no need for parameterization or mechanical adjustment. The iTeach algorithm automatically provides the shortest travel curves and saves up to 30 percent energy.


Kits for the custom-designed conversion

If the valve has to be replaced, for example, a mechanical kit is the right solution. The iValve - a valve of the newest generation - is fitted on a universal mounting subplate. All connecting flanges for pipes, hoses, etc. already exist, and the replacement is done in a few hours. The iValve also offers more efficient travel performance and optimized travel curves for first-class travel quality.

If the power unit has failed, Bucher Hydraulics offers two types of power units to suit the individual requirements. Even the basic "Comfort Line" version offers major gains in efficiency and comfort. If the elevator is used frequently, making it worthwhile to increase its efficiency even further, the "Eco Line" can be used to add frequency inverters for precise control of the pump speed, supercaps for intermediate energy storage, or a regenerative unit to feed power back into the grid. Incidentally, frequency inverters also solve over-heating problems when the travel frequency increases from the original design basis. For example, if a medical practice with a large number of patients moves into the building.

If the original elevator control system is to be kept, the old and new systems can be matched via an interface for the control signals from all common systems. A safety kit with sensors for monitoring the car also provides the current A3 safety function in accordance with the EN 81-20/50 standard for old elevator controls. The kit prevents uncontrolled car movements.


The MULTIkit iValve conversion package:
Consisting of: MULTImech+MULTIbox

It contains all the components for modernizing a hydraulic elevator, without having to replace the elevator control system. The newest generation iValve is factory preset and thus reduces the conversion time to a minimum. Optionally available with an A3 safety function as per EN81-20/50.


Partial modernizations spread out investments

One major advantage compared with a complete new installation is that in most cases not all the components have to be modernized at the same time. This allows the necessary investments to be distributed over several years. The following has proven itself in practice: first change the doors and inside paneling, a year later the elevator control system, and finally the drive.

Hydraulic elevators also offer key advantages when modernizing buildings that have never had an elevator system. A solution can often be found thanks to the space-saving and flexible design, with only one centrally supported steel frame, or with a stable wall for a one-sided frame. For example, slim hydraulic elevators can be retrofitted into a stairwell or patio.


Conclusion: good for the environment and the bank balance

Modernization of hydraulic elevator installations through targeted replacement of individual components saves environmental resources, as there is no need to replace parts that would still offer several more decades of service life. Thanks to suitable conversion kits, modernized systems meet the latest standards and comply with the state of the art. The option to spread out the replacement work over several years keeps the investments within limits.


Product life cycle of an elevator: careful modernization has by far the smallest environmental footprint.


This is how modernization works

  • The iValve (Time: 2 hours)
    - First-class travel comfort and short slow-speed travel distances, irrespective of load and temperature
  • MULTIkit iValve (Time: 1 working day)
    - The conversion can be carried out without replacing the existing elevator control system
  • MULTIbox combines the newest valve and power unit technology with existing elevator control systems (Time: 2 hours)
  • Power unit replacement (existing elevator control system can be kept with MULTIbox)
    - Comfort Line (Time: 1 working day)
    - Eco Line (Time: 2 working days)
    - Short and consistent travel times and up to 60% less energy consumption

Additional information

Product page:

Elevator Hydraulics



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