I've always wondered why elevator control buttons are found where they are. For example, the following image shows the elevator control buttons positioned on the right side.

Right side elevator control

The way I see it, people typically walk on the right side when moving forward and opposing traffic would travel on the left. So ideally, if I walk into an elevator, I would expect people leaving from my left while I enter in from the right. I would then turn around and expect the control buttons to be on the left side for easy navigation. However, that is usually not the case. I would have to go out of my way and reach out for the button or pass the message to someone which floor I would like to exit. Is there any reason that designers would put it on the right side instead?

  • "The way I see it, people typically walk on the right side when moving forward and opposing traffic would travel on the left": I'm guessing you live in a country where traffic drives on the right? In Australia and the UK where we drive on the left, you also walk on the left side of shared walkways.
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Mar 3, 2014 at 22:41
  • I have to travel a lot, and I've found that more and more elevators have buttons on both sides everywhere I go. In deed, If I find an elevator with only one set of buttons in a recent construction, I'm amazed or I think they are cheap. And I'm not talking just about hotels, but almost any kind of building.
    – PatomaS
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 0:15

3 Answers 3


While I disagree with the statement that elevator buttons are always found on the right (the office where I work has elevator buttons on both sides) , there are elevator buttons which are also on the left hand side as shown below

enter image description here

That said, the predominance of elevator buttons being on the right hand side might be due to the fact that most of the people in the world are right handed and when they face towards the elevator doors the elevator buttons would be towards their right and it would be would be more comfortable to use their right hand to press the corresponding floor number as opposed to using their less dominant hand.


I believe part of it depends on the manufacturer and how the engineers decided to position control box.

Another variable to consider are if there are elevator doors on both sides. In this case, I've seen it face the lobby so when the doors open people see the controls right away straight ahead, so it wouldn't matter what hand you used.


The control panel is often put on the right side as a default, with the intent of catering to a predominantly right-handed species, and sometimes to a right-handed culture. But that's only when there aren't other considerations, and there are lots of other considerations.

There are definitely site and installation dependencies. Some elevator cars are not mounted central with the doorways, leading to asymmetric car shapes, with a single door opening to the left, or to the right, while others have two doors parting in the middle. (The parking garage I use has three elevators, where the middle is asymmetric and has the panel on the left side, while the other two cars are symmetric and have the panels on their right sides.) Some sites maximize the width of cargo by opening the doors the full width of the car, meaning the panel must be mounted on a side wall, where it's visible as you walk in, eliminating the guesswork.

For installations where money is less of a concern than user convenience, they may install two panels, one on each side of the car. This is often the case in high end buildings. It's also common in hospitals, where usability, efficiency, and time considerations are always rated highly, and you don't want to delay someone by making them search for the panel. Two panels may also be chosen for reliability, as there are always redundant buttons and lights. When there are two panels, one will have all of the fire safety features and controls, while the other is simply a duplicate floor selection panel.

Two panels may also be more desirable in elevators that service the general public, where strangers are less likely to communicate than two co-workers working for a common employer. Of course actual public buildings are often built on a stringent budget to appease taxpayers, and two panels may be a luxury they forgo.

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