Hydraulic vs. Pneumatic Home Elevators

Home elevators come in various styles. But before you make any design choices, you’ll need to decide whether you want a hydraulic or pneumatic elevator. The right one for you might just come down to your home’s structure. Both types of elevators have their pros and cons when accounting for motors, components, aesthetic preferences and other factors.

Hydraulic Elevators

Hydraulic elevators are traditional-style models still popular today. A hydraulic elevator’s operation is based on a sling, or arm, that lifts from below the cab to push it upward. A controller releases the piston cylinder’s pressure slowly to lower the cab. This method of raising and lowering is quiet — an important attribute depending on the elevator’s location in your home.

Hydraulic Elevator Pros

Take a look at some of the benefits of hydraulic elevators:

  • They have a higher weight-bearing capacity, making them better suited to high-traffic applications. 
  • Hydraulic elevators have big cabs, offering easy access for wheelchairs.
  • These models are less noisy due to their separate machine rooms. 
  • Hydraulic models cover higher floors and can easily lift heavy loads.
  • These elevators offer greater durability than their pneumatic counterparts.

Hydraulic Elevator Cons 

Hydraulic elevators may have higher energy consumption than pneumatic models, as both the ascend and descend require a power supply. And while the separate machine level is a bonus in terms of keeping noise under control, some homes may not have the space or layout to accommodate it.

Pneumatic Elevators  

Pneumatic elevators are newer to the market, and they feature different technology. These models differ from hydraulic ones in the way they are operated. Instead of relying on an arm for movement, a pneumatic elevator depends entirely on air pressure. 

The pneumatic elevator’s vacuum pump reduces the air pressure above the elevator cab when the system receives notice that the elevator will be going up. The force underneath the cab propels the cab upward naturally. The vacuum pump equalizes the pressure above and below the cab as it approaches its destination. When the elevator travels to a lower floor by way of gravity, the air is flushed back into the elevator.

Pneumatic Elevator Pros 

Pneumatic elevators have many advantages:

  • They offer contemporary, energy-efficient and elegant designs.
  • These elevators run on air pressure, so they typically require little maintenance.
  • Pneumatic elevators can occupy small spaces and fit snugly into any area.
  • The cab will descend to the lowest floor and open even in the case of a power failure.

Pneumatic Elevator Cons 

Pneumatic elevators have cabs that tend to be smaller than hydraulic ones. As a homeowner, you may run into space issues if you intend to make the elevator wheelchair-friendly. 

These models may have restricted use due to their limited ability to carry heavy loads. Compared to hydraulic models, pneumatic elevators have less capacity to operate in low-traffic areas.

Hydraulic vs. Pneumatic Elevators: Applications

Hydraulic elevators are preferred for residential applications due to their quiet operation. 

While hydraulic and pneumatic elevators are suited to their own applications, hydraulic systems are incredibly powerful and offer superior capacity. 

Learn More About Custom Hydraulic Elevators From Residential Elevators 

At Residential Elevators, we want to ensure you’re making an educated decision about your elevator installation. Our team uses high-quality materials and state-of-the-art technology, and we offer a full array of services. As a family-owned and -operated business established in 1996, we’ve built a reputation for our ability to do it all — manufacturing, shipping, installing and servicing all our elevators. 

Our products are reliable and aesthetically pleasing. And when you work with us, there are no subcontractors or middlemen who may add extra fees. 

Explore our online design tool to view our hydraulic elevators. To learn more about our custom residential elevator installation services, fee free to contact us online.

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