Recently, we had a lunch and learn featuring accessible elevators with Mike Garrity from Total Access Elevators and Lifts. Three of the elevator types we learned about were Vertical Platform Lifts (VPL), Limited Use/ Limited Application Lifts (LU/LA) and Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators.
The Vertical Platform Lift is used when the span is 14 ft or less. These wheelchair lifts are typically installed when there is no room for a ramp, and wheelchair accessibility is needed. A limitation of this lift is it does require use of one’s hands to apply the constant pressure on the up down control switch to work.
The Limited Use (LU/LA) Lift is a commercial lift that will not be occupied more than 60 times/day and has a maximum run distance of 25 feet. This elevator is perfect for smaller office buildings.
The most exciting elevator we talked about was the Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator. It was interesting to see both the video and the photos of this elevator in action. These elevators use a pressure system to move the car up and down the shaft, allowing for a 360-degree view from the car. The pneumatic vacuum is at the top of the elevator, guaranteeing less damage to the elevator during floods. They also provide a higher amount of safety in power outages as gravity will slowly lower the car as the pressure changes throughout the shaft. From a construction standpoint, the most important feature these elevators offer is easy retrofit into residential buildings, as they do not require a pre-construction pit, hoist way, or machine room, and can be installed in as little as 2 days.
Alex Schleicher, Architectural Designer