Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators

Remodeler Gary Case, CEO of Signature Kitchens Additions & Baths, in Rockville, Md., and Signature Elevators, on why he likes the tube elevator. Product:  Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator

What it does: The air-driven tube elevator takes up less space than a traditional elevator and doesn’t require a hoist way or machine room. The units come in 30-, 37-, and 52-inch–diameter models. Each unit is capable of a 35-foot vertical rise over as many as four stops. Standard elevators cost $40,000 to $60,000 (elevator + building the hoist way); pneumatics cost $55,000 to $75,000 (product + installation). Installation requires cutting a hole through each floor of the home.

Why Case likes it: Case sells traditional hydraulic elevators and is a dealer for the Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator, which he has on display in his 4,000-square-foot showroom. He says that, like the high-end kitchen projects he sells, elevators “are very expensive home improvements, and are also complex.” When homeowners see elevators in his showroom, Case says it boosts their opinion of his company because they think: “If a craftsman who installs their kitchen can also install an elevator, he must be better than average.”

One-third of the company’s elevator sales are of traditional hydraulic elevators, with homeowners purchasing these for a specific purpose, while “most of the pneumatic sales are a lifestyle and aesthetic choice,” Case says. “It’s a design-based product, not a utilitarian product.”