It’s a filthy night, and the rain is driving against the windscreen as you enter the driveway to be confronted by the stark reality that you will have to get out of the car to open the door before you can enter the dryness of your garage. Moments later, you slump back into the driving seat to drive those last few yards, absolutely wet through. If only you had an automated garage door!
Of course, the above scenario is not the only reason for automation. Some doors, certainly double-width doors, are quite heavy, and you may have a member of your family who finds lifting the door manually is becoming more difficult for them. You may also require more security, and there is no doubt that a door fitted with full automation is far more difficult, if not virtually-impossible, to break-into.
But automation is expensive, isn’t it? Don’t you need a complete new door? In which case there’s all of the hassle of having the old door removed and disposed of – is it really worth it?
Well, these days, automating your existing garage door is neither difficult, nor expensive. If your door is less than ten years old, and was made by one of the major manufacturers, it will already have provision for automation, in which case it is just a case of installing the relevant equipment. Even if it does not have full provision, there are plenty of conversions available which can be configured to fit any door, starting from as little as £300. Here are a few things to look for to check if your door can be converted:
Firstly, do you have mains electricity in your garage? If you don’t, then this will need to be installed before your door can be automated, and the additional cost of this will need to be borne in mind when budgeting for the project.
Secondly, the condition of your door is really important when considering whether it’s suitable for conversion. An old, dented or warped door is not going to work very well with an electric motor and should really be replaced for safety and security reasons. Before deciding on automation, check that an able-bodied person can effortlessly open your garage door manually as a motor will not do what they can’t. If the door works smoothly and effortlessly, then adding an electric operator should be straightforward. If it doesn’t, then the mechanism may need maintenance or repair before it can be motorised.
Sectional Garage Doors are identified by hinged panels that allow the door to rise vertically without swinging out as the door opens. They are perfect garage doors for automation as no additional parts are required and you can use any type of AC or DC operator. To ensure the operator will fit it’s a good idea to check the clearance above the door during its opening cycle then check the minimum clearance requirement for the operator as they vary.
One-piece Up and Over Doors
These are identified by a single door panel with springs either side or horizontal ceiling tracks which support the door in the open position. There are two types – Retractable and Canopy – which are easy to distinguish when the garage door is fully open: with a Retractable door, the bottom edge of the door is flush with the top of garage door frame; on a canopy door, the bottom edge of the door protrudes forward of the top of the garage door frame.
Retractable one piece Up & Over garage doors are the easiest type to add electric operation to, as they are already fitted with a track mechanism. Conversion consists of the installation of a boom above the structural opening with an electric operator motor installed at the other end. This is straightforward and cost effective, the action is simple and smooth and also allows the addition of extra locking mechanisms for added security.
Canopy doors do not have a tracked mechanism, so adding automatic operation to a Canopy door will require a bow arm conversion kit. This is fitted against the door and attached to the operator boom. The boom pulls the garage door and the bow arm kit is able to slide and adjust which allows the garage door to fully open with the only loss of headroom being about 120 -150mm of the bow arm itself. A heavier duty electric motor is normally advised for automating a canopy door as the manual mechanism is more complex and the forces required to move it are greater.
Roller Shutter garage doors can also be automated. With most single-skin continuous curtain type roller doors all they need is the addition of a motor bolted onto the shaft on one side. These motors are readily available off the shelf, and all that is needed is to make sure you have the correct gearing to match the motor. However, on older roller shutters the drive motors are situated inside of the curtain roll, in which case the door will need to be dismantled to allow the installation of the mechanism.
Side Hinged Garage Doors
Swing Arm Kits work in the same way a retractable up & over operator would work, however two pivotable arms are fixed to each side of the side hinged garage door and the boom. As the boom pushes the garage door, the sides separate and the door opens freely.
Electromechanical Operators use an electric motor to drive a series of cogs and mechanical elements to open the doors, whilst Hydraulic Operators use a smoother more powerful hydraulic motor.
If you would like to discuss the most cost-effective solutions for automating your garage door, just ring us on 01793 393503.