An automatic chicken coop door is the dream of every chicken keeper. You can sleep peacefully at night knowing that your chickens are safe and are not getting out of your coop. Not only that you also know that your chicken coop is predator proof with this door. So, there's nothing to worry about.
On top of that, you don't have to get up every morning just to open the chicken coop door so you can let your chickens out so they can roam around. With this automatic chicken coop door, you can just press a button and your chickens will be out at the time you want.
Not only that you can also schedule the time when the door will open in the morning that way you don't even have to wake up to open the door or to press the button.
So why haven't you already been using this automatic door?
No idea. That's the reason why I'm writing this article for you.
Even though automatic chicken coop doors have been around for a couple of years, people don't know much about them. They're not as popular as they should be which is weird because they make your life a lot easier.
And because they are not as popular, I want to make sure that I'm going into as much detail about them as possible, so you know everything you need before buying an automatic door for your chicken coop. Not only that, with the information I will cover in this article it will help you buy the best chicken coop door you can find out there.
Obviously, that doesn't mean that I will be covering every product that is available out there, but you will get a general overview of what you should be looking for when you're buying a door for yourself.
Now before I get into it you need to know that there will be some doors that are better than others and there will be some that you have to decide whether they will work for your coop or not. Because there are some doors that are more high tech compared to others. It will depend on you whether you want those features or not.
And if you do need those features whether you are willing to pay a higher price tag for that or not.
So, without any further ado let's get into it.
Do You Really Need An Automatic Chicken Coop Door?
The number one reason why most people want to get an automatic door for their chicken coops is convenience.
After a certain point, it kind of becomes a nuisance for them to get up each morning and open the door of the coop to let the chickens out. The worst part is that it doesn't matter whether it is snowing or raining outside they must make sure that their coop door is opened up so the chickens can get fresh air or get out of the coop and roam around a bit.
And for people who have to wake up at a certain time for work they might get busy in getting ready for their work and they might forget to open the coop door.
That's the reason why just getting an automatic door is much better because then they can just schedule the time for when the door should open up and so they don't have to worry about remembering whether they have opened the coop door or not at the office.
Another reason why automatic doors are such a lifesaver is vacations.
Most people do not even think about getting an automatic door until they start planning out their vacation. That's when they realize that they need to be there to make sure that the chicken coop door is opened each morning and closed each night.
And if they are on a vacation they don't know who's going to do that.
One alternative is to get a chicken sitter. It's basically someone who is willing to get up early each morning and opening the chicken coop door and staying up late at night making sure that all the chickens go back in the coop so they can close the door.
Also, a chicken sitter will make sure that all your chickens are being fed at the right time And that they also have enough clean water so they don't get dehydrated.
The only problem with hiring a chicken sitter is that it can come become pretty expensive the longer your vacation goes on. So if you think about it, your chicken coop is now deciding how long your vacation should be which is not a good thing.
But let's be honest almost all of us have forgotten to lock up the chicken coop door at night at some point.
And in most cases, nothing happens because the area in which you live is pretty safe and there are no predators that happen to be passing by your chicken coop. But you have to remember that an open chicken coop door is basically an invitation for a predator to come in and have a feast.
That's the best part about having an automatic chicken coop door - it will never forget to close itself.
So you basically have two options –
1. You can hire a chicken sitter but then you would end up spending a lot of money. The benefit of hiring a chicken sitter is that they will make sure that your chickens are being fed at the right time and that they also have enough clean water so they don't dehydrate themselves. And this chicken sitter will also make sure that the chicken coop door is being opened up early in the morning and is being closed at night so that there are no predators attacking your chickens.
2. Get an automatic chicken coop door and program the timings for when you want the door to open up in the morning and when you want it to close each night. But then you also run into other problems - feeding and the hydration of your chickens.
Things You Absolutely Need To Know Before You Buy An Automatic Chicken Coop Door
If you searched for automatic chicken coop doors on Amazon before reading this article you might have gotten overwhelmed by the variety of different types of doors that are available.
Well, you don't really need to be overwhelmed because there are just a handful of things that you need to know about these doors to choose the best one for your chicken coop and your flock.
Once you know these essential things you can decide which door you should go with.
- Safety Sensor: Make sure that the doors you're looking at have a safety sensor built-in. The last thing you want to find is your chicken's neck getting trapped in the door that was supposed to protect them. Most doors however have a safety sensor built-in but you want to double-check just in case they don't have it.
- Their Opening Mechanism: Before you decide on which automatic door to buy make sure you check how the door of your chicken coop opens because the last thing you want to have is an automatic door that does not work with your specific chicken coop.
- Quality Of the Door: You want to make sure that the door you're buying is made of high-quality material and is weatherproof. It should be able to go through some harsh conditions and should also be able to withstand a continuous beating by a predator.
- The Control Box: There are certain doors on the market that only have two or three programs available. So they can be only open automatically during dusk or dawn. But the problem with that type of control box is that the predators are also active during those times. So you want to make sure that the control box of your automatic door is programmable so you can program it according to how you want it to function. That way you can program exactly when the door will open. And you also want to program multiple opening and closing programs.
- Power Source: Make sure that the power source that the door uses is compatible with the power source that you are using. Ideally, the door should have multiple power sources so like electric batteries or solar. That way even if you find that a particular power source does not work with what you have, you can use the alternate power source and still use the door.
At the end of the day, you want to look at all the doors objectively and not get caught up in the packaging or marketing of it. Because it doesn't matter how fancy the packaging looks like, you are going to remove the door from that packaging and use it for what it was made for.
So you want to look for a door that offers both reliability and functionality. And make sure you really do your research before buying a door and keep all this info in mind because this is an important decision for your chickens. Choosing the wrong door will end up killing your flock.
You should also know that there is no perfect door out there. But the door that you purchase should be good enough to protect your flock and make sure that they are safe and secure inside the coop.
Also don't just go for the cheapest doors out there. Because if a door is cheaper than all the other doors our models out there, you want to ask yourself why it is cheaper. Maybe it doesn't offer as many features as the other doors? Or maybe the materials used to make the door are not as high quality as the other models.
Best Power Sources For An Automatic Chicken Door
As I mentioned above that most automatic doors will have multiple power sources:
If you are like most people, you probably don't have a power source near your chicken coop. Because you know how dangerous that can be. So ideally your door should be able to operate on solar power or battery power.
Having battery power as your main source of power is your best bet when it comes to a reliable power source.
Because the batteries will also protect your automatic doors against power outages and usually these battery controls have power indicators so you know when to replace the batteries.
The only drawback that you should expect from this is that you will have to change the batteries in the controller every now and then. Usually, though these battery-powered doors work really well and for a long time. So you should expect to change the batteries maybe once every 7 to 8 months. For some people that might be a relatively short amount of time but considering the benefits that a battery-powered door offers compared to a door that relies on your power grid to operate, it is worth it to change the batteries every 7-8 months.
Solar power is a decent alternative as well. But the problem with a solar-powered door is that it really depends on your location and whether or not the chicken coop in your area is able to get enough sunlight.
If you live in an area where it gets really cold and it doesn't get enough sunlight during the day, it's possible that solar power might not be enough for the door to operate. So then you end up having to connect your door to your power grid which is again a risky thing to do. Your chicken coop should be far away from your house and also an electric source.
Benefits Of Having A Programmable Control Box
As we covered above in the Things You Absolutely Need To Know Section, you should look for a control box that is programmable.
The most widely used modes in these control boxes are light sensors and time-based sensors.
Time-based Control Box
A time-based control box is a cheaper option compared to a light sensor. You can program the control box to open the door at 7:00 AM and usually most time-based control boxes come with an override feature where you can program the timing based on the season, the day, or even based on when exactly you want to open the door (having multiple times for different situations).
The one downside to using a time-based control box is that you will have to program the timing based on how long or short the day gets based on the season.
As the name suggests these light sensors will open the door when the sun rises and the sunsets.
Since these light sensors are highly sensitive to all kinds of light, you want to make sure that there won't be any other right source of light that will accidentally open the door. Think about things like a bright moonlight or maybe even headlights of passing cars. You want to make sure that these accidents never happened or you will literally be letting the Fox into the hen house!
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that if you have predators that are scouting your chicken coop then they are looking for patterns or weaknesses. So let's say the automatic door opens every day at 6:00 AM but then the predators see that you don't wake up at that time. That might encourage them to strike.
So just be sure that either you are waking up at the time when the chicken coop door is opening up or that you are at least randomizing the times when the door opens up.
The best way to combat this is to have a combination of both in your control box. So you'll have both a time based and a light sensor. You can use both the light sensor and also program the time for when the door should open up.
What Should Be The Size Of Your Door?
There are some automatic doors that come in one standard size which is 12” X 15” this should be ideal for most breeds of chicken. However, if you have breeds that are larger in size they might find these doors way too small to squeeze through.
If that's the case then the only option you have is to go with an aluminum door. The benefit of using an aluminum door is that the motor that you will be using to lift up the door will not have to support a lot of weight. Because by default aluminum is able to reduce the weight of the door by about 90%.
For reference, a typical door will weigh around 4KG, and if you go with an aluminum door of the same size that will weigh roughly 300 grams. The reason why I am mentioning this is that if your motor has to lift a lower weight, that will increase its longevity compared to a motor that will have to lift 4KG.
Regardless of the weight before you decide on the size of the door make sure that you measure the entrance of your chicken coop so you can make the right decision.
Most of these automatic doors come in a few different sizes so based on the measurements of your coop, you can choose the best one.
Problems You Might Face With An Automatic Coop Door
There are some problems that almost all automatic chicken coop owners will face. You can learn from their mistakes and avoid them. Here's some of them:
- Always avoid going for the cheapest door out there. This can result in the doors being made from low-quality materials or they can also have electric issues which could then lead to the doors being opened earlier or staying open for longer. This will allow the predators to come into your chicken coop and wreak havoc.
- Always avoid gravity lowered doors. Although they might sound really cool they almost always have issues functioning properly. You should always choose a motorized door because they are much more reliable compared to gravity lowered doors.
- If you live in an area where their temperature drops really low or below the freezing temperature you should avoid these doors because at or below freezing temperatures these mechanisms will almost always fail.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is There A Guide To Installing An Automatic Door?
All the guides for installing an automatic door will depend on the kind of door you purchase. Because their mechanisms differ slightly or widely from each other there is no one single guide that you can follow to install an automatic door properly. However, there is one common step that every chicken keeper has to take to install an automatic door which is cutting out a doorway for the automatic door.
Whichever door you decide to buy will come with a set of instructions on how you can install it. Not only that nowadays most automatic door companies are creating YouTube videos to help customers follow along when installing the doors which is pretty great.
Is It A Good Idea To Use The Automatic Door During Winter?
It all depends on how low the temperature goes in your area during winter. If you live in North America where it gets pretty cold during winter and the temperature falls below freezing temperature, then your automatic doors might start malfunctioning. Either way, you want to make sure that at least your doors are functioning for as long as possible. You can make sure that there is no snow or ice in the grooves of the door so that it can open and shut properly.
There Are Some Doors That Say They Are Wi-Fi Enabled What Does That Mean?
Some of the doors that are on the market can be programmed via their smartphone app. That makes it super easy for you to monitor and also program the proper time for when you want the door to open and close.
At the end of the day, it all depends on what kind of chicken coop you have and the breed of your chickens. Because that will decide the size of the automatic door you purchase. Besides that, any door that you buy will be pretty easy to install as long as you follow the instructions that come along with it.
Not only that, as I mentioned above most of these companies are creating YouTube tutorials that you can follow along when installing the door. That makes it super easy for you to follow along compared to following the instructions from a booklet.
However, one thing you should keep in mind is that these doors are not 100% reliable. It doesn't matter how many stars they get on Amazon or any other marketplace, it is always possible that they might fail one day. So you want to make sure that you are checking these doors regularly and maintaining them.
A lot of people ask that when you open the door where should it open to?
There should be a small space around your chicken coop where your chickens can roam around. This area should be somewhat of a free-range situation but it should also be protected with fences to avoid the predators coming into the free-range.
This protected free range will also serve as an additional security feature just in case the door fails to shut.
In most cases, though any door that you buy will probably work as it's supposed to for a number of years before it starts to malfunction. And if you are good at maintaining these doors you might be able to increase their lifespan before you have to buy a new one.
I hope this guide gave you all the info you need to make a proper decision for buying an automatic chicken door.
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