Elevator Surveillance Guide

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Aug 21, 2014

Installing surveillance in an elevator can be challenging. Small but wide areas, vandal resistance, and transmission methods all present challenges not found in other areas cameras are installed. In this note, we look at:

  • Form factor: Box vs. dome vs. specialty
  • Resolution: How much is necessary?
  • Transmission: Wired vs. wireless vs laser methods
  • Dealing with electrical contractors

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Comments (36)

In WA, minimum cost for an elevator contractor (required) to be onsite is anywhere from $2400-$3500/day. We've had many requests to put cameras in elevators and always propose several different options. Only in the most painful situation was the customer able to move forward, cost was approximately $4,600 per camera via laser.

That's good info, Mark, and I can believe those price ranges for contractors. What laser transmitters were you using? Qccess or someone else?

Went with analog inside a Vicon triangular corner mount given the small FoV, ELT-L1350 transmission.

Works fine with a quarterly alignment included in the service contract in which we coordinate with the elevator contractor on their service maintenance trips.

Mark,

Do you know if it needs quarterly alignment? For example, if it went 6 months without alignment, would there be a high probability risk of transmission problems?

Older elevators require more maintenance, in this case yes they are older and get abused by methodone patients...and associates.

Is this code talk for "people pee in them"?

Affirmative as well as drug dealing.

In my experience, the most pragmatic solution was to utilize the existing coax and one pair of 18 ga wire in the traveller cable. A corner-mount analog camera in one of the back corners of the cab, and a single-channel encoder in the elevator machine room if connecting to a VMS. No elevator mechanic was required, and no higher-resolution camera was needed for the very small space.

I've heard much discussion before about all the newer alternatives (RF, laser, Wi-Fi, etc), but can't grasp the cost/benefit of the equipment and added labor involved, nor the potential for trouble.

I love all the new gadgets, but tried & true wins the day for me in this case.

Hello Michael:

Did the travel cable include a spare coax already in the bundle, or was the existing coax a normal grade cable that was somehow strapped to it?

All the elevators that I've worked with had coax included in the original traveller cables (as well as several other 'future use' spare pairs). I've never seen Category cable, probably because of the length limits mentioned before.

Wouldn't even consider adding new cable in a shaft! The wear & tear would be too great, I believe, and liability too onerous to attempt anything other than use what the elevator design engineers provided and the AHJ inspectors approved.

Has anyone tried an ethernet-over-coax converter? These allow you to go farther distances than 300', and can handle higher resolution cameras, such as FullHD? I have worked with these converters, but I don't have experience with them in an elevator?

May be an interesting and fairly low cost solution.

I've used NVT transceivers for EoC conversions - they work very well. You can buy them individually or in "kits" based on the number of elevators you need to support, and whose traveller cables terminate in the same closet. These transceivers are agnostic to which end you put them on, but they need to be "joined" so they talk to one another. Simple instructions are included, and this config task is best performed prior to installation on site.

I've been using NVT equipment, but may be switching to Vigitron after thorough lab testing. By using the Ethernet over "coax/UTP" technology, I have a greater chance of success because I can either choose the existing BNC coax for my ethernet/POE OR run it over the existing 18/2 wire that powered the original analog camera.

FYI

You cannot (enter or add ) into any elevator shaft or control room anything or item with out a licensed Elevator Company Representative accompanying you in the State of Ca. as per CSFM , CA State Law.

Any Access must be approved , and ul , csfm authorized

Very Strick Requirement !

In my experience, many elevators do not have cabling for video transport in the traveller cable. It depends on what was ordered in the first place. Architects often specify the minimum cabling necessary for elevator operation and the emergency telephone.

For instance, in our casino, the traveller cables all had one 18ga spare conductor - not one pair, one conductor. We also experimented with wireless transport and found that the signal tended to fade in and out while the elevator was moving. Experiments to determine the reason(s) for this yielded that the main factor was standing waves, which tend to alternately add and cancel out the signal.

In the end, the casino bit the bullet and paid ~$10,000 to add a second traveller cable to each elevator that contained coax and 18ga power cables.

For instance, in our casino, the traveller cables all had one 18ga spare conductor - not one pair, one conductor.

There wasn't a shared ground (mains?) you could use for the return path?

Scratch that, you could get power that way, but for a 1v video signal you would not get very far before it would be unusable, without a shielded coax 75 ohm connection...

I don't know.

And your suggestions contradict my dealings with both Otis and Schindler. In my experience, elevator companies are highly reluctant to do anything outside of their experience. I assume that would include adding devices to send signals through the power cables, etc.

Even getting them to accept our choice of cameras outside of the ones they offered and letting us perform the installations was like pulling teeth. They wanted us to pick cameras they offered and have their technician install them.

In the end, we got them to agree to let us provide our own cameras and do some of the work but they still insisted on drilling the holes for the cables, running them from the roof of the cabin to the junction box for the new traveler cable and connecting everything up at both ends of the traveler cable and in the equipment rooms. Of course, they also insisted on running the car up and down.

On subsequent occasions, when we had to replace or repair a camera, they also insisted on their employee running the elevator, although they let us do whatever we had to do. I seem to recall they charged something like $175 an hour with a 4-hour minimum plus travel to provide a tech who just inserted a key and turned it.

Of course, they also insisted on running the car up and down.

Though the bill itself only gets run up. Perhaps they were expecting the install might be requiring one of those tricky 1/2 floor stops?

Any reason that these wouldn't work when you can't add to the travelling cable?

Powerline adapters, basically EOP, ethernet over power.

Assuming there is a 120-240 AC drop, it might work a lot better than usual, since there will be just a few devices on the line. Easy to test. Easy to install. Not sure if they make them with POE output, that would be awesome...

Would powerline stuff work on 3-phase power? I don't know.

It seems like the typical motors on elevator cars all have like 477V 3 phase, and then parts of that source gets transformed into DC for the controls system.

It looks possible, but pretty kludgy:

They have these also:

Though I'm not sure you need one, since the usual residential problem with powerline and three-phase is that the adapters don't work well across the phases, which can be a problem if going from an outlet on one circuit to one on another.

In this case since you there is only the one node in the 'network', assuming access to the mains, you just use the same phase on both sides, no?

WE went down this road a year ago and installed Axis M3006 cameras in three existing garage elevators that were not going through any sort of major upgrade. So the existing traveling cable was not not going to be replaced or upgraded. In this situation we used a wireless system. However these elevator shafts are ten stories only.

This year we started a major elevator modernization project in our corporate head quarters. It is a 40 year old 22 story building. We have decided to install the same Axis M3006 cameras. however since the trwaveling cables will be replaced we went with fiber Optics.

The only issue we have had with the wireless system is when there is an issue and you need to trouble shoot each and ever time you need into the elevator shaft you have to have the elevator company there simply to stand around and charge you money for doing nothing.

Damon, thanks for the feedback. How often are there issues with the wireless system for the elevators?

John,

Not often we have only really had three instances of issues.

1. A/C failed and a network switch fried - so we had to reset the wireless system inroder for the cameras to come back online.

2. Camera failed and needed to get ontop of the car to disconnect the camera from the wireles transmitter

3. Can't recall the third issue. I think it may have been a bad receiver or something.

We used a NetComm NP505 500Mbps Powerline Kit, with a PoE injector for the camera - Panasonic SW155. No issues so far and has been in place for about 6 months now. The lift guys were extremely helpful and only really needed them to drop the lift ceiling panel to access the power circuit.

Cool. Do you remember if it was three-phase power and if it was an issue?

Just curious, what were the drivers of the decision? Did you have a reference install, or were you the first you know of to use Powerline for a lift?

Was not 3 phase. I do recall we had the lift guys quote on installing a new cable and it was not feasible. This was a decision made by the complex owners as we could not cover the cost. We happened to come across a 240Volt circuit breaker that was cleary labelled "TPLift1". To cut a long story apparently the power circuit was from the original complex build. There was even a 3 pin surface socket fitted a ready to use! Lucky, I think so....

We had to install another power point on the circuit but no problem with that as the recording equip happened to be on the same floor, in the room next to the electrical switchboard.

I have not come across another powerline lift cam as yet so it's the first Iv'e heard of. Very happy outcome !!

I have one project with IP camera should be installed in 170 meter height elevator. only cabling is allowed to connect the camera, now its our scope to provide the cable, which is should be fiber cable.

do you have any suggestions regard the cable supplier for elevator use? or is there alternative solution for this but using the cable?

You first should contact the manufacturer/service company for the elevator. They are typically particular about which assemblies/cables are approved to be located within the traveling envelope of the elevator car. It's worth checking with them first.

The allowed bend radii of fiber is typically pretty restrictive. When you say the cable 'should be fiber' is this due to length alone?

If so, it will be much easier to find coax cable in a 'traveling assembly'. You may need to use EoC converters, but this will likely be much cheaper than a traveling fiber cable.

I have over a hundred elevator camera installs completed using veracity highwire powerstar adapters without any serious issues. The system passes POE through coax so you can put a ups and switch in the elevator machine room. The design also allows you to restart cameras without the assistance of an elevator tech.

As others have noted we have the same issues in our region with elevator companies being extremely expensive to just stand and watch the camera installation. If the coax is not already in the traveler it may not be financially feasible for many customers.

actually after checking the proposed travelling cable from the elevator company, it doesn't include coaxial in it, its only include 20x18AWG core for communications i can use. and the client refused the fiber -we proposed due to the distance approximately 170 meter- as its extremely expensive.

I checked online and found two options, power line Ethernet adapter (ex. NVT) and the other is Ethernet over 2-Wire (ex. MOBOTIX). I want to know which one is reliable and which I shall use to achieve 1.3MP resolution at 15fps from my camera.

I can tell you that NVT works very well. I've installed over 100 units (NVT1801) and they are solid. However, due to size, you might want to consider the Vigitron 2400/2401A combo with Vi0030 adapters for a solution.

Unfortunately I have no experience with MOBOTIX.

Let me know about the reliability of the Veracity Highwire adapters. I had a high failure rate with the VHW-HW, Quads and Longspans and had to replace all locations less then a year. I ended up putting in NVT which has solved my issues.

I have not had any issues with veracity equipment so far. I also have a bunch of sites running on their ethernet extenders some with the longspans and others with their midspan repeaters. No issues with either of those products in my experience.

I have tried NVT and Comnet in the past but do not have enough sites running on them to comment on reliability.

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