New vacuum elevator installs in a few hours at a budget price


May 3, 2005

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One of the major problems with installing an elevator in a home is the amount of space required, not to mention the costly infrastructure and maintenance issues and the immense problems and cost associated with any retrofitting. Now a new type of elevator developed in Argentina looks set to revolutionise the residential lift market, making elevators affordable to everyone. The self-supporting vacuum elevator is constructed of aluminium and polycarbonate and takes just a few hours to install. Unlike previous elevators, the new lift is completely self-supporting, extremely light, has a footprint of just one square metr e and requires no excavating pit or hoistway, it can be fitted to almost any two or three storey building at a fraction of the cost of a normal elevator.

The Residential Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator may be a little challenging to look at the first time you see it – the hoistway is transparent and there are clearly no cables supporting the elevator cab, so it looks distinctly like some thing out of Star Trek, operating on some advanced levitation principle.

It’s actually very safe with over 300 lifts already installed and working perfectly and works entirely according to the simplest laws of physics - the difference in air pressure above and beneath the vacuum elevator cab safely raise and lower it on a cushion of air and though there’s not much room inside, the lift is rated to a capacity of 450 pounds.

Though it might look precarious, it is absolutely safe even in the case of an electricity power failure as the descending car automatically stops and locks on the next floor.

Some clever locking mechanisms mean that the lift always stops exactly at floor level and as air pressure rather than mechanical apparatus move the lift, the starting and stopping is very smooth.

What’s more, the unique installation and streamlined design will adapt to many non-conventional living spaces in a variety house styles.

The lifts can be seen at Daytona Elevator's web site.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

how much does vac.elevator cost installed?

Jarin Brill

So what happens when the glass breaks and air pressure is lost?


Seems obvious that vacuum elevators suck.

Sorry, couldn\'t resist, though it is better than the joke about the one Lucas Electric product that didn\'t suck (a vacuum cleaner).

Seriously, at rate limiting one way air valve in the lower part would allow rapid intake and slow exhaust which would provide an air cushion of progressively greater slowing as the bottom was approached. Great safety feature, I\'d think.

What are the advantages of suction from the top vs pressure from the bottom? I\'d think pressure would be easier to store and partially recover, requiring a smaller compressor that could be sized for duty cycle, too.



Did you read the article? It\'s not glass. It\'s polycarbonate. PC is shatterproof. With enough force, you might be able to crack it, but a crack won\'t allow enough airflow to cause catastrophic failure.


The noise decibels on this thing is 87 That a bit above heavy traffic, noisy restaurant, or a handsaw. Not too bad I guess but if I was asleep in the next room, perhaps too much. I like it though. Too bad they don\'t have one that can accomodate a wheel chair, or even better one with the same floor space as the landing on my stairway so I could install one of these and reclaim all that space that my stairs consume on each of my three floors of my town house.

Paul Anthony

\"Too bad they don\'t have one that can accommodate a wheel chair ...\"

I believe they do have a wheel chair version available now -- see their web site.

You\'re right in thinking that 87dB is a bit on the loud side. I wonder if this could be a task suited to \"anti-noise\" electronic noise cancellation systems.


Since Daytona Elevator\'s website is unavailable, Could you please quote us for two storey building, or if they have another web site ?


It only takes a few PSI pressure difference to move a large load, if that difference is spread over a large enough area.

It\'s the same principle as used in those stunts showing how a tiny vacuum cleaner can \"lift a car\". They either attach a flat and smooth panel to the roof of the car then set another one on top, with a good edge seal, or use a plastic panel shaped to exactly fit the car\'s roof.

The few PSI of suction spread over several square feet is plenty to hold the car up.

Same deal where they pick up a bowling ball using a large funnel.

The vacuum elevator is simply a useful application of vacuum cleaner \"snake oil\" sales tricks. ;)

Gregg Eshelman

According to the 2005 New Scientist article linked on the site the cost was around $20000. Does not seem that cheap but it is an elegant solution and may make very good sense in certain situations.


This thing would be great for wheelchair-bound people living in homes with multiple floors. Unlike a traditional starlift which requires the person to transfer from their wheelchair to the lift and then onto another wheelchair, they could simply roll into the elevator without having to get up. As for the noise, why not put the air pump someplace where it won\'t be heard like a garage or basement and then just route air lines to the actual tube? But like many new inventions like this, the price needs to be brought down.

Forward Thinker

I wonder if they\'ll make one that doesn\'t need the capsule, a kind of opposite to those Escape Chutes which are available...


couldn\'t they use the same principle for a space elevator, plenty of vacuum up there!

Graham JG

Much better source for pricing and installation....

IT Man
I believe the elevator in the RCA building in NYC works with air under pressure beneath the lift. So why not route the vacuum exhaust underneath the lift so the vacuum above lifts while the pressure below pushes upward? Jim Sadler

Jim: One point. Vacuums don\'t lift, it\'s all to do with pressure differential, but your idea is good to transfer the air from one end of the lift to the other. Most lifts work with a counter-weight. Why not retain that and use compressed air for movement?


I only see two issues with this design and neither of them is a deal breaker in my opinion.

A catastrophic failure of the door at the bottom floor would cancel out the safety of the design. I\'m sure they have put a lot of thought into the seals, hinges and latch mechanism to minimize the chance of that happening.

If you watch the videos of this elevator in operation the vacuum has to lift the car slightly to unlatch the locks before allowing a decent. So this design doesn\'t seem to be entirely power outage proof. You would still need power to get down. However, if the power fails during decent then it should comfortably descend to the bottom floor and I assume you could then unlatch the door and exit.


Redirecting the air under the car is probably not worth it. That means more plumbing and possibly a higher horsepower pump of some kind to compress it. It sounds like they are using some kind of turbine to move a high volume of air quickly which probably doesn\'t provide them with enough compression to get it under the car effectively. Remember that part of the requirement for this design was simplicity and cost effectiveness.

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