Last Fall I designed a waterfront house in Vernon, Canada with an air pressure vacuum elevator. Since then, I get a lot of questions about the installation, cost, and advantages of vacuum elevators.

Whether or not to put an elevator on your property is a question of lifestyle and personal preference. This article should help you decide if a vacuum elevator is for you.

In comparison to traditional elevators, vacuum elevators are easier to install and cheaper to maintain. The car fits up to two people, standing, and holds up to 450 lbs.  It moves up and down using air pressure created in the top section of the tube. The resulting imbalance makes the cab rise to the upper floors. When the elevator is called down, air is let out of the lower section as it’s drawn into the upper section in order to descend smoothly to the ground at a rate of 30 inches per minute.

In the event of an emergency, or a power outage, the elevator automatically descends to the ground floor by letting the air depressurize at its own pace, unassisted by the upper chamber. This means that, if a person were using the elevator and the power went out, they would be taken slowly and gently to the bottom of the line. The elevator also has brakes at the top of the cab that are set to engage within two inches if the pressure seal is broken. Every elevator has an alarm system, emergency ventilation, door safety switches, and mounting and wiring options for a telephone.

To date, over 300 vacuum elevators have been installed in homes and boats around the world. Because the floor supports the entire weight of the system, there’s no need for cabling or excavation, nor do we need to create a hoistway. This makes the system ideal for renovations, and residential builds. Vacuum elevators increase the value of your home, but if you can’t stand to part with yours, it can easily be taken out and transported to a new home.

The one thing a lot of people ask is whether or not the elevator will fit a wheelchair. Sadly, the answer is not at the moment. The company that makes them is working on a model that will be able to accommodate something that size, but it isn’t finished yet. There is room for a small chair for those of us who would prefer not to stand, or for whom standing can be a problem.

If you are thinking of including an elevator in your build or remodel, I’d be happy to talk more about my and my client’s experience with their vacuum elevator. It may be just the thing you’re looking for.

Give us a call at 250.878.9411 or email me at