All About the Working of Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators

Before getting into the explanation about the working of Pneumatic elevators, understand the basic details about this elevator type. Pneumatic elevators are mainly used for residential purposes. They are cheaper to install and only need less maintenance cost and it doesn’t occupy much space and is perfect for homes with tight spaces. These elevators are a complete package of convenience and functionality and they are safer compared to other elevator types. Most of the designers and architects recommended that pneumatic elevators are more suitable in residential space. 


All About the Working of Pneumatic Elevators


A vacuum elevator operates by using air pressure to lift the elevator’s cab to the desired floor. They are more reliable and safer than other types of lifts. The pneumatic system generally requires an air compressor to provide them the air to do the desired work. The compressor sucks in air from the atmosphere and stores it in receiver tanks. It is distributed to the system through pipes and valves. Air pressure is the force exerted on the object by the weight of air molecules. Without air pressure, the cab will be grounded and won’t be able to move up and down.


Working Principle Of Pneumatic Vacuum elevator


The Pneumatic elevator consists of a vertical cylinder and coaxial car which moves up and down due to the air suction. The elevator working principle is based on developing an ascending push due to the difference in atmospheric pressure between the topside and underside of the car. When the system receives the input so as the car has to ascend, it uses powerful pumps to reduce the air pressure above the elevator car. During this, the pressure below the car pushes the elevator car upwards. As long as the pressure above the car is less than the pressure below the car, the car should be able to rise. When the car reaches its destination, the vacuum will work to equalize the pressure, and once the equilibrium pressure reaches the elevator car will stop. Once the car receives the command to go down the pump reduces the pressure below the car which results in the car going down. An exhaust fan at the top of the elevator helps the vacuum to lift the car. The fans or turbines at the top of the elevators circular tube draws the air out of the tube and pull the elevator cab upward


The Pneumatic elevator consists of


  1. A regulating air valve which controls pneumatic depression and enabling the descent motion and controlling the car speed.
  2. As the shafts lower part is open there will be the free entry of atmospheric air
  3. On each floor, there is self-sealing on the door due to the action of atmospheric pressure.
  4. The car has locking devices to stop the car.
  5. A chute, which is a safe braking device, comes in to rescue in case of fall.


A standard pneumatic/vacuum elevator generates 85 decibels while operation and split vacuum lift generate 72 decibels.


Also read: How do Hydraulic Elevators work?


Components Of Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator


The pneumatic elevator consists of 3 main components.


  1. Exterior cylinder
  2. Elevator car
  3. Suction assembly


  • Exterior Cylinder


The cylinder is a transparent tube built around an aluminum steel structure. The wall of the tubes is made of polycarbonate sheets. The tube comprises a modular section, which easily can fit into one another. The steel is used to make the roof of the tube, which ensures airtight closings with suction valves and inlets.


  • Elevator Car


The car moves through the rail, which is supported by the cylinder. The walls around the car are made of polycarbonate panels. An anchoring system is installed in the cars that activate on reaching the desired floors and can provide precise and smooth stops. It consists of a mechanical system to lock the car.


  • Suction Assembly


The suction assembly or head unit is located at the top of the tube where turbines, valves, and other controls are located. The control cabinet is a metal box housing with a pneumatic controller board and other electrical devices. The head unit is placed on the same tube that holds the car or installed separately as a split unit at a distance of up to 10 meters from the lift. The frame of the suction assembly is generally made of fiberglass. The fabrication of elevator parts, construction, and testing and commissioning of the elevators should be done by well-trained elevator technicians. 


The vacuum/pneumatic elevator can travel a maximum of 4 floors and can be used only in small residential flats. The installation of a pneumatic elevator is simple as there is no need for machine rooms, pit, or shafts. Pneumatic elevators need a hoist cylinder, elevator passenger car, and vacuum turbines. During installation, the first step is to build the hoist cylinder. The starting step was to make a plastic panel tied and snapped together. These panels are supported by an aluminum frame. Once the full assembly is fitted the hoist cylinder is complete. The passenger car is then attached to the rails inside the cylinder and the vacuum head is built in the car itself or attached to the top of the cylinder hoistway. This is an energy-efficient system and this type of elevators is aesthetically appealing. Vacuum elevators travel at a speed of 30 feet/minute and the ride in this elevator is smooth and effortless. The vacuum powers the elevator and the steel brakes secure the elevator cab to land in the destination.




Pneumatic elevators are smaller and they can be attached to the balcony or can pass through a hole in the floor. The approximate time required to install the elevator is 2 days. The pneumatic elevators’ energy-efficient operation can save money. Commercial pneumatic elevators are bigger than residential elevators and can accommodate more people. Pneumatic elevators need 9 square feet per floor and the ride in this elevator offers 360° views of the surroundings. The companies which are doing the installation of elevators appoint well-trained staff.


Hope you got a better understanding of the working of pneumatic vacuum elevators. Pneumatic elevators are comparatively cheaper and best suited for residential spaces. Now, the choice is left to you.

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