Solar elevator: renewable energy on every floor!

Posted on 29 July 2016.

At Rezé, near Nantes, Otis has installed an elevator powered by solar panels. Another green building initiative.

The Gen2Switch needs only 500 watts to operate - less than a microwave oven.

Ten years of research were necessary for Otis - the world leader in elevators - to develop the “Gen2Switch”. This new generation elevator is capable of running entirely on solar energy. Already installed in several cities in Spain and Portugal, it went into operation in France, in Rezé, in April 2015.

A green elevator

In the suburbs of Nantes, the social landlord "Atlantique Habitations" built a complex of several positive energy buildings - which means they produce more energy than they consume. The perfect place for the Gen2Switch.

Four solar panels were installed on the roof of a small, brand new building. They capture the sun's energy and store it in large batteries connected to the elevator installed inside the building. From March to October, there’s enough sunshine to run the elevator entirely on solar energy. The rest of the year it’s 80% self-sufficient. It’s then plugged into the power grid through a simple 230 volt socket. The Gen2Switch needs only 500 watts to operate, less than a microwave oven! Consumption that contrasts sharply with that of conventional elevators, which often use significant amounts of electricity. In fact, during peak usage, they can sometimes represent up to 50% of the total energy consumption of a building.

Otis also expects the Gen2Switch to be linked to other sources of renewable energy such as wind. The final environmental bonus? 97% of the materials used to make its batteries are recycled materials.

What are the advantages?

For users, nothing changes: the cabin is the same, the waiting time is similar, only the speed may vary slightly. In fact the Gen2Switch adapts its speed to the load, distance and its energy reserves.

Information for the claustrophobic: using solar energy does not mean the elevator will stop with the first cloud that blocks the sun! The Gen2Switch batteries have a large storage capacity with enough energy to enable it to perform continuously, including at night or if there is a power failure. So even without electricity, the elevator can make as many as 100 trips!

In short, the Gen2Switch results in both energy and financial savings, since - unlike electricity – the energy from the sun is free.

With this innovation, Otis proves it is able to contribute to energy efficiency in buildings, thus contributing to the development of new ecological neighborhoods. So the challenge is all-solar elevators in the buildings of tomorrow.