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Pneumatic Elevators Pros & Cons

home elevators in many styles

We share the pros and cons of pneumatic elevators for homes to help you confidently decide what home elevator type fits your budget and your needs. We are certified aging-in-place specialists which means we can look at your mobility challenges at all angles, then explain your options. Our top goal is to help you understand if a vacuum elevator is right for you.

Pneumatic vacuum elevators (PVE) are popular and especially useful for most residential mobility needs. Here are the things you want to think about when considering a vacuum elevator for your house.

Matching your Home’s Aesthetic

Vacuum elevators are completely visible. They are not hidden in a shaft behind doors and walls like a traditional hydraulic or traction elevator. We customize your PVE to match your home with a large variety of trim packages, but the tube will always be visible. For some, this look is extremely attractive and a stunning choice. But only you can decide if the modern look and options for customizing suit your personal taste.

Vacuum Elevator Capacity

When comparing PVEs to traditional hydraulic or traction elevators, you may notice that they have overall lower carrying capacity than other types of home elevators. PVE capacity is ample for the large majority of homeowners needs, this is a consideration you should discuss with one of our elevator specialists during your in-home elevator consultation and site survey.
In general, traditional elevators can handle 1000 pounds or more while vacuum elevators max out at 525 pounds. If you have a lot of residents or frequent visitors or if you move heavy furniture or other large objects routinely, you will want to carefully explore the carrying capacity of pneumatic elevators.

Also, if you must use a wheelchair, the largest PVE model will be required which may make the PVE a more expensive option than a traditional elevator with shaft. But this is not always the case due to average elevator installation projects’ construction costs. Add this to your list of questions for us when you invite us to your home for a site survey and free home elevator quote.

Interior Space

The cylindrical shape of the vacuum elevators make people think the elevator car will feel more enclosed. But the elevators are completely panoramic and for most, deliver a sense of openness when compared to the enclosed elevator cab of a traditional home elevator. Therefore, we recommend a visit to our home elevator showroom in the Spring Branch area of Houston to take a ride on the different home elevator options. Experience it for yourself!

vacuum elevator with black frame and clear glass in a foyer

Max Stops for a Vacuum Elevator

The PVE is a self-supporting structure, 100% customized to your home. It is unusual for a residential elevator to require many stops and extreme heights, but for some homes, the limitation may apply. PVEs have a maximum of 5 stops for a total of 50’ vertical rise. If your home has more than 5 levels that you want to connect or overall height exceeds 50’, then a PVE is not for your situation. We offer other types of affordable elevator solutions to suit those requirements.

PVE Landing Configuration

Like the max stop limitation, the landing configuration limitation is not an issue for most home elevator installations. But if your home has limited appropriate installation locations or you need multiple entrance directions on a floor, the landing configuration is important. A vacuum elevator can only have 1 door per landing. And the door on a separate floor (for some models) can be across from the door on the other floor (180 degrees) but cannot be perpendicular (to the right or left).

Most homes’ architectures support use of doors on the same side or across from one another and do not need elevator cars that open on both sides of a landing, but if your situation requires more flexible landing configuration, another home elevator type will be required.

Vacuum Elevator Noise and Privacy

Because the PVE does not require a shaft, it is completely open to the area of installation. One of the considerations our elevator experts help you with during your complimentary in-home consultation is selecting the installation location, because sound can be an issue…for any elevator type.
Most vacuum elevators are up to 85 decibels (dB), which is comparable to a vacuum cleaner. But only when going up and in most applications, we can use a remote motor to further dampen the sound. There are quieter traditional residential elevators at about 55 dB, but the noise is twice as frequent as it emits sound going both up and down. To help you understand these noise levels:

  • Normal breathing ~ 10 dB
  • Rustling leaves ~ 20
  • Whisper 30 ~ dB
  • Normal conversation 50 ~ dB
  • Dishwasher ~ 60 dB
  • Washing machine ~ 70 dB
  • Alarm clock ~ 80 dB
  • Lawnmower or blender ~ 90 dB
  • Car horn ~ 110 dB
  • Jet plane taking off ~ 120 dB

Pneumatic Elevator Pros & Cons Summary

We hope that sharing the pluses and minuses of vacuum elevators has helped you understand a bit more about this amazing shaftless elevator with no annual maintenance.

Most homeowners are still a bit (or a lot) confused after reading through the information on our website. We welcome your call to ask all your questions. And look forward to an invitation to your home to help you understand the best residential mobility solutions for you and your home.

Make a convenient in-home appointment with one of our certified aging-in-place specialists to discover if a lower cost elevator with faster installation makes sense for you and your home. Call (713) 360 7353.

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