- For Otis fixtures found in Asia, Europe and other regions, Please refer to List of Otis elevator fixtures.This is a list of Otis elevator fixtures that are found in the United States and Canada.
At this time, elevators were operated by pulling ropes. For belt-driven elevators, there are 3 ropes. Pulling the right rope down once makes the elevator go up, and pulling the left rope down once makes the elevator go down, and pulling the middle rope once stops the elevator.
1889 to 1940s
When manually-controlled elevators were common before in 1920s, most Otis elevators at that time were using old deadman controls, which is usually a car switch used by elevator operators to move the elevator cars. If the crank moved to the left, the elevator car goes down and if the crank moved to the right, the elevator car goes up. Otis made various different car switches. One very rare type of Otis car switch is mounted to the floor of the elevator, and has a very long handle. In some cases, this model of car switch was labeled "Otis Plunger Elevator". Some elevators have a vintage hall call annunciator to announce elevator operator that a hall call outside has been registered on certain floors. Some old Otis freight elevators have continous-pressure controls, which are up/down buttons inside and outside the elevator, which move the elevator in the direction marked when held down.
When Otis introduced automatic elevators in 1924, elevators at that time were using old black buttons made of Bakelite. The hall station has a red lamp above the button to indicate that the elevator is in use. Also note that most of the vintage hall station and car operating panels have the old Otis "globe" logo, and today, C.J. Anderson Elevator Products Company in fact, makes "Classic Antique" fixtures that bear a close resemblance to the old Otis fixtures. Note that automatic elevators were a choice at the time, and were more costly to buy, and could not be used in large buildings. The car station panel has small round black buttons without illumination.
1930s to 1980s
In this era, most standard Otis elevators used the old black round buttons with classic white letterings; in the case of Otis, these buttons were first made with bakelite, then later, they were made out of Lexan fibreglass. These buttons are very simple with no illumination indication. Also, there is no door close button; pressing a floor would cause the door to close instantly in most cases.
There are five variants of these buttons. One is a smaller button with smaller numbers (the oldest variant, probably bakelite), one with a bigger button and bigger numbers (probably Lexan), one with a bigger button, and bigger numbers, which are in a different font (probably Lexan, might only be used in select countries), one with gray buttons (car station only, probably Lexan), and one that is very rare, with white buttons (probably Lexan). There is also a vandal resistant version, with metal buttons. Floor counters were simply metal plates with illuminating numbers, going horizontally. They were also illuminating squares positioned vertically. The Lexan buttons were discontinued in 1990.
Some YouTube elevator enthusiasts refer to these fixtures as Pre-Lexan since they referred to the black illuminating fixtures as Lexan, although the term is technically correct because Lexan came after the black buttons. However, the term Pre-Lexan is considered by some to be misleading due to the fact some black buttons are made out of Lexan.
Otis updated the black buttons making them flush buttons with an illuminating halo. There are three variants of these buttons. One with raised buttons without the halo (the 1950s and 1960s version), one with flush buttons (the 1960s and 1970's version), and one with larger, clearer halo, recessed buttons (the 1980's version). By the mid-1970s, digital floor counters began appearing, and in some elevators, the directional indicator was on both sides of the floor indicator. The Halo fixtures were discontinued in 1990. They are rarely seen on Otis Elevonic 401 elevators and very early Otis Elevonic 411 elevators.
These fixtures were used on early Otis Autotronic elevators before touch sensitive buttons were introduced. They appear similar to the black buttons but latched the electromagnetic solenoid on when pressed and pops out when the car stops. Probably with later examples of these fixtures, there is a large dot that next to the button that lights up when the button is pressed.
From 1948 right up until the 1970s, Otis was also using touch sensitive black buttons with illuminating halo; they were either rounded, square, or triangle shaped. The triangle shaped buttons have a round touch area in the middle and an "arrow" shaped illuminating halo; these were only used in call stations. These buttons used vacuum tubes so that the passenger would only lightly touch the button to go to his or her floor, which are actually worked by completing a circuit when your finger comes into contact with the button. This all works through a spring behind the touch plate that runs to the Thyratron tube behind the button, which serves as the switching circuit and the light bulb. The square/triangle touch buttons were mostly used on the later Autotronic elevators.
The touch-sensitive buttons were discontinued later on as they were claimed to be a fire hazard - that is to say heat from a fire can activate a landing call, and therefore cause a car to stop at that floor - this very scenario was demonstrated in the 1970s disaster film The Towering Inferno, when a car full of people escaping from the Promenade Room stops on the 81st floor skylobby where the fire is raging, resulting in their deaths. As the result, many elevators with touch sensitive buttons were modernized for the same reason. In addition, the fixtures are not ADA-compliant.
Rotodial indicators first appeared in the 1940s or 1950s. These indicators have a rotating disk with floor numbers printed on it. The disk is behind a round dome shaped glass and has an arrow in the middle of the dial. When the elevator car is moving up, the disk rotates to the right and when the car moves down, the disk rotates to the left. Later examples of these indicators have vertical roller instead of rotating disc, which means that the number rolls upward when the car goes up and rolls down when the car goes down.
Also from the 1960s to the 1980s, Otis uses the "IEE indicator" in very few elevators at that time. IEE was not the model name, but was a separate company, standing for Industrial Electronic Engineers. This indicator was most likely custom made for Otis, or Otis bought the raw IEE indicators and mounted their faceplate/mounting hardware on it. This indicator is unique because the floor number display disappeared when the car passed between two floors. This type of indicator has a rack of 9 bulbs on each side of the display that sit behind a piece of film with numbers cut in it. A mirror directs the light towards the viewing screen, and you get the number of the floor. The IEE indicator is often called "Otis vanishing indicator" by several YouTube elevator enthusiasts.
Edge lit indicator
Another indicator Otis made, in the 1970s, was the edge lit indicator. The edge lit display consists of a stack of glass plates with numbers dimpled into their faces. These plates are enclosed in a frame and lit from above or below (some types of edge lit displays are lit from behind, and have curved glass plates) by an array of incandescent lamps. Only some Otis elevators with the panel on the door sill have this indicator.
Early 1980s to 1990s
Otis' American fixtures can be very hard to tell apart. There are five different "Series" name fixtures. Series 2 and 4 are nearly identical, and are the hardest to tell apart.
Series 1 is fairly common, and is normally seen in Otis Elevonic 401, Elevonic 411, and some hydraulic elevators in the early 1980s up to the mid-2000s. It has a very distinctive look. Older Series 1 buttons are flush with the panel. It has black plastic trim with either a silver or bronze face plate. The indicator is slanted down towards the floor. Some elevators may also have a slanted up panel with some or all of the floor buttons on it. There is also flat Series 1, with a flat panel, and no plastic around the edge of the panel. The indicator is green and is often a digital, but sometimes a segment indicator is used for buildings with four floor or less. Two vertical rows of floor buttons are used on hydraulic elevators, and three vertical rows of floor buttons, and the bottom part of the panel slanted forward are used on traction elevators, and also very rarely on hydraulic elevators. This information does not apply for flat Series 1.
In the mid 1990s, Otis Series 1 fixtures were redesigned. The buttons now protrude from the panel, analog indicators were completely dropped, the door open/close buttons were made white from green, and the alarm button was made white from yellow. Otis also called these their "Advanced Fixtures".
Otis Series 1 fixtures were discontinued by the mid-2000's, but are still offered for custom installations.
These are white round buttons that light up when pressed. These fixtures were made from the late 1980s-mid 1990s and are quite rare. These fixtures are part of the Series 1 line, and made out of Lexan.
Series 2 has a completely different look than Series 1. Introduced in 1990, Series 2 comes with round metallic buttons with either a flush or projecting design. Vandal resistant buttons have a small circle in the middle instead of a ring. Otis also calls/called these fixtures the "Classic Fixtures"
The Series 3 fixtures (often called "Otis Luxury" fixtures by several elevator enthusiasts) are normally found in the Elevonic 411, 411M and Double Deck elevators, most likely introduced in the late 1980s, and made until the the mid-1990s or so. It consists of round concave buttons with green or red illumination halo, green (for up) and red (for down) hall lanterns and either digital or electro luminescent floor indicators.
There are several versions of the buttons. There is a pressable version, and a touch sensitive version. The touch sensitive version would have been discontinued in 1990 in the United States due to ADA codes introduced at that time, meaning that it was likely only available in the United States for a few years. It is possible that the touch sensitive version is the original version, and it was replaced by the pressable version when ADA prohibited touch sensitive buttons on new installations, but this is unconfirmed.
There are also versions of Series 3 car buttons where the buttons are mounted on raised metal surround brailles. This version of the button can also be either pressable or touch sensitive. Note that these buttons are not confirmed to be part of the Series 3 line, but are likely part of the Series 3 line.
Otis also make a vandal resistant version of the Series 3 fixture, the buttons are made from machined aluminum (rather than chromed plastic) and the halo is replaced with a green or red LED at the centre of the button.
Series 3 had two types of floor indicators. One is a standard 16 segments digital display, and one is an electro luminescent display. The electro luminescent display is a black background display with yellow characters. It could also display messages as well as date and time, and in most cases, the arrow would animate when the car stops at a floor.
Some elevator enthusiasts mistakenly call these fixtures "Otis European Fixtures" - as they are also found on North American installations. Nowadays, Otis's Series 3 fixtures have been modified as part of the current Series 4 fixtures in North America.
Series 4 is similar to Series 2, but the hall station options are basic tall hall stations, surface mounted basic tall hall stations, and luxury hall stations, with beveled edges, and the car stations are swing front. Otis also calls these fixtures the "Luxury Fixtures" as the Series 3 fixtures set has been modified as part of the current Series 4 fixtures in North America.
2000s to present
Series 5 came out in 2005, and the hall stations have curved sides. Series 5 uses the parentheses shaped indicator. It uses Otis' new chime, which for the down signal uses 2 different sounding tones. Series 5 fixtures are more commonly found in hydraulic elevators more than traction elevators. Otis also calls/called these fixtures the "Standard Fixtures".
This fixture came out in 2004, and is similar to Series 5. Otis has not confirmed the name of these fixtures. For unknown reasons, Otis Series 6 is a very rare fixture line. The Series 6 panel has a similar layout to the Otis Series 1 panel. It looks like Series 4 and 5 but everything is one piece.
The newer Series 2 is relatively common as it is fairly new but not as rare as Series 6. Earlier versions of Series M2 (still available today) have buttons that light up red and a red Acme indicator with a "green-for-up" and "red-for-down" lantern. The newer, more common version has blue buttons with a blue LCD display floor indicator and blue lanterns. Newer Series 2/M2 also has an phone button with an orange halo and orange braille. Newer Series 2 is a version without a flush panel, and Series M4 has flush panels. There is also a version of Newer Series 2/4 used for new modernizations called M2. Mods are often simple and plain. Many YouTube elevator enthusiasts mistakenly call them Series 7.
M3 is Otis's fixtures used for modernizations, usually for the Elevonic 411M-C system.
Otis' destination dispatch system, named Compass (now CompassPlus since 2013), replaces the conventional call buttons in the elevator lobby on each floor with a wall-mounted keypad panel. The wall-mounted keypads (standard type used in the Compass system) have telephone-style push buttons and a blue LCD display. Otis also made a touch screen version, but rarely used. Button fixtures used inside varies; they can be Series 2, 4 or even 5. The destination indicators on the car door jamb are either digital segments or an LCD display. These fixtures, along with Otis Compass was launched in 2005. They might have been discontinued.
When the Otis Compass system was re-branded as CompassPlus in 2013, Otis updated the destination dispatch keypads and touch screens with a more futuristic design. The keypad buttons have been redesigned with a new wavy design, the keypad buttons have illuminating numbers and the LCD displays have been changed from the previous single colour to full colour.
- The "Series" name is given by the Unitec Parts Company, which is an Otis parts company which provides Official Genuine Otis Elevator and Escalator Parts for preservation and modernization.
- The Series 5 lantern is a knock-off of the Schindler HT lantern and also the digital Series 5 lantern is a knock-off of the Kone KSS 700 lantern.
- OTIS "Series M1" is a button replacement for a Series 1 hall station, and uses the standard post 1990 Otis pushbutton.
- List of Otis elevator fixtures - for Otis fixtures found outside North America.
Notes and references
- Common Otis fixtures poster
- General Otis fixtures brochure
- Otis Hall Lanterns & Position Indicators brochure
- Otis Pushbuttons brochure
- Beno's Lift Guide - Otis Elevator Company