Lessons learned at the LCN Low Energy Power Operators Workshop

This certification enhances the locksmith’s image as a security professional and provides another tool for winning future door operator business.


Complaints regarding ADA non-compliance are handled by the Department of Justice and if not addressed, may result in a painful lawsuit. Good accessibility benefits everyone and is considered doing the right thing.

Our class reviewed important aspects of the ADA such as characteristics of a clear opening; maneuvering clearances which include door height; opening width and acceptable locations for hardware; threshold design, and permissible door approach dimensions.

Door approach dimensions differ for manual versus automated doors, so if you are intending to retrofit a door operator, knowing the allowable dimensions is essential.

Opening force requirements. Opening force refers to the pressure that is required to open a door. The required opening pressure varies between state building codes. For interior non-fire-rated doors, an opening force of 5 lbs. is required. To achieve this, a door operator is required. Opening force is measured with a gauge designed specifically for this purpose. On LCN closers, the opening force is adjustable.

Closing speed requirements: Once a person has transgressed a door, the door closer or operator takes over to close the door. All the physical characteristics of the door (hinges, weather-stripping, latch bolt alignment, etc,) as well as atmospheric conditions (stack pressure, wind, temperature) affect the closing of the door. A door which closes too slowly may allow excessive loss of air conditioning or heat. A door which closes too fast, or with too much force represents a danger to users, especially disabled ones.

An access controlled door which closes too slowly is a security concern, as it may encourage security breaches such as ‘piggybacking’ when an authorized person allows (intentionally or unintentionally) others to pass through a secure door.

When a door operator is used, closing speed and opening speed are controlled by the operator and calibrated by the installer. Opening and closing speeds are different for door operators and door closers, and different for doors equipped with low energy operators and high energy operators. This was an interesting workshop.

One reason for the differing requirements for low and high energy operated doors is that low energy operators are typically deployed on handicapped openings and they are activated by pushbuttons (Knowing-Act actuators), while high energy operators are used on entrances to retail establishments and automatically open for every person without requiring a knowing act to trigger them.

A few examples:

Low energy operators allow a minimum of 3 seconds to backcheck, and 4 seconds to fully open. A high energy swing operator can open to backcheck in 1.5 seconds.

Low energy operators require no more than 15 lbs of force to stop door movement; a high energy swing operator requires 40 lbs.

Low energy operators do not require guard rails, safety mats or cancelling scanners; high energy swing operators always require guard rails, safety mats or cancelling scanners.

LCN offers two types of automatic operators. Electro-Hydraulic automatic operators are based on a mechanical LCN closer, (Pneumatic Auto Equalizer; Electric Auto-Equalizer). Electro-Mechanical operators are based on a motor and gear box. (Senior Swing, Benchmark).

The key question is, “Which operator do I use?” LCN offers six door operators, and which one you select for a particular opening is determined by the usage of the door. Primarily Manual Operators are used by people who do not require the assistance of an automated door, and the operator is activated via a pushbutton or other type manual control. Examples are schools, retail, restrooms and office buildings.

Primarily Automatic Operators are used on convenience openings where the majority of people are disabled or for whom an automatic door makes their job easier. These doors are typically triggered by a motion detector. Examples are hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, Post Offices.

The instructor then went into detailed explanations of the features and deployment of the LCN family of operators.

LCN Pneumatic Auto-Equalizer™: This unit uses an external control box compressor, and is known for its reliability and longevity.

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