Adventures in the World of Door & Gate Operators

March 2, 2012
Door operators are door components much like door closers, hinges or locksets. Therefore it makes sense for the locksmith to install and service them.

Adding door and gate operators to your product lines can boost profits, be they new installations or retrofits.

Door operators which are used on swinging doors are classified by ANSI as either High Energy or Low Energy.

  • ANSI/BHMA A156.10-2011 is the Standard for Power Operated Pedestrian Doors.
  • ANSI/BHMA A156.19-2007 is the Standard for Power Assist and Low energy Power Operated Doors.

High energy door operators are the type used on store entrances. They are fully automatic, in that they open for all and do not use handicapped buttons for activation. They operate with greater power and, move the door at a faster rate of speed, so ANSI requires that they be deployed with safety sensors and in some cases guide rails.

Low energy operators (often referred to as Knowing Act Doors or ADA doors) utilize handicapped buttons to actuate them. This type of operator is typically used for retrofit installations. These operators move the door slower and have integral safety circuitry which protects users from being injured by the door hitting them. If the door encounters an obstruction while it is opening or closing, it is designed to stop.

Injuries from automatic doors are not necessarily caused by the door hitting the person, although this surely is one of the situations which can occur with an automatic operator. Sometimes people become disoriented by a door swinging towards them. They can lose their balance trying to avoid a moving door or they can lose their balance when a door brushes against them. A person on the floor near an automatic door is never a good thing and some sort of legal action is likely if the victim can make a convincing claim that the door contributed to the mishap.

Install  vs. Repair & Upgrade

Your ratio of new installs and repairs will depend on the nature of your business. For the full-service locksmith, opportunities exist for both. New installations of low energy operators can be an important revenue stream.

New operator installations can occur in new construction or in existing premises, possibly in response to an ADA compliance issue. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not mandate the use of automatic door operators. However, Title III does address interior and exterior openings, opening dimensions, hardware placement, and opening and closing forces, all which involve door operators.

Upgrades or modifications can also be a nice activity. Integrating door operator with access control systems is a specialty that many others casually involved with door operator work cannot handle. I see this very often, where the installer simply bolted the unit in without regard for important operational considerations.

An important example is providing for the automatic disabling of handicapped buttons when the doors are locked. Not doing so means the door operator will try to open against the lock, and this could reset the internal settings of the operator or cause stress on the operator’s drive train.

Another issue is integrating the handicapped buttons with card readers and keypads.

Door operators are generally very robust mechanisms, and parts are available so that you will usually be able to repair a unit rather than have to completely replace it.

Inspection and adjustment of door operators as well as the repair and replacement of sensors and accessories are part of the door operator services to do.

Last month I went to a site to adjust operators and sensors, and I discovered both the gear boxes were leaking hydraulic fluid and the sensors had been deliberately disabled by the end-user because they didn’t work correctly. I quoted them to fix the whole system for about $5,000.

I was not the first company to visit the site, but apparently I was the first in several years who had the knowledge and was motivated enough to actually take on the problems.

AAADM Certification

Of course there is competition. There are companies who specialize in door operator work only. Door operator work is also performed by glass & mirror firms, carpenters and of course security professionals.

A locksmith can gain a market advantage by becoming certified by the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM), a national association which has established a training and certification program to ensure that individuals have the knowledge to install and adjust door operators properly; and provide end-users and others an on-line directory resource of professional door operator installers they can call. Training involves a classroom experience. Classes are offered throughout the country. Check out the AAADM website,, for details.


BEA SENSORS offer a wide range of door control sensors, modules push plates and safety packages. Working with a new door or gate operator? BEA probably has what you require and a wiring diagram for it as well.  I took my American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM) training at the BEA facility in Pittsburgh.

To streamline ordering and inventory, BEA’s vestibule packages include all the components required for the typical application. Additional components may be added for custom projects. Several models are available for RF and hard-wired applications.

BEA’s newest product is a new Low Profile 36” Push Plate for automatic doors which maximizes mobility and independence for people with disabilities. The entire surface is activation-ready with four separate and redundant switches which allow activation from virtually any angle.

It is designed with a 36 × 6 inch activation zone and low profile depth of 1 inch and exceeds the California Building Code, Section 1117B.6. It can be mounted on any flat surface in a few easy steps.

The low profile push place easily adapts to either a wireless or hardwired installation. An optional built-in wireless transmitter comes pre-installed in the top end cap.

This is the first UL Listed push plate for pedestrian door activation under UL325 for the United States and Canada.

Specifications include:

Contact Configuration: SPST N.O.

Switching Voltage: .1 to 50V DC

Switching Capacity: 1 Watt

Switching Current: .005 to 100 ma DC

Contact Bounce: < .3 ms make < .6 ms break

Trip Force: 1.5 lbs

Two Conductor Cabling: 24 awg, 7 × 32 stranding UL 1007

Operation Temperature: -35ºC to +100ºC

Contact Life: 2 million cycles

Transmitter Frequency: 300, 390 or 433 MHz

Dome Material: Stainless Steel

Switch Material: FR4 Gold Plated Traces

Membrane Switch Material: 3M 7993MP

Base Material: Aluminum

Face Plate: Stainless Steel

Switch Actuator Material: Nylon 6/6

End Cap Material: UL94 ABS

BEA is also dedicated to the safety of the end-user and providing support to the installer.

If a satisfactory troubleshooting solution cannot be achieved, service techs can call BEA, Inc. for further assistance from 7am to 5pm Eastern at 1-800-523-2462.

For after-hours assistance, call East Coast 1-866-249-7937, Central1-800-407-4545, West/Mexico 1-888-419-2564 or AK, MI, WI, TX, Canada,: 1-866-836-1863.

BEA says: “DO NOT leave any problem unresolved. If you must wait for the following workday to call BEA, leave the door inoperable until satisfactory repairs can be made. NEVER sacrifice the safe operation of the automatic door or gate for an incomplete solution.”

For more information, visit

LARCO Door Controls

Larco’s extensive product line includes door activation mats and push plate switches for the automatic door industry, heavy duty safety presence sensing mats used for industrial machine safeguarding and consumer privacy protection products in the security markets.

When we needed a couple of bollards and guide rails for a project, we got them from LARCO. They were fabricated to our exact requirements. I installed the handicapped button and proximity card reader on the bollards and they worked and fit perfectly.

Larco guide rails provide added protection and stability to automatic door installation by combining durability and aesthetically pleasing features. Required for ANSI compliance in all swinging doors and folding doors, guide rails prevent accidents and direct traffic flow through the door. They also provide a point of stability for pedestrians entering and exiting and are added support when handicap access is needed.

Standard Larco guide rails and glass guards are constructed of 1-1/2" x 1/2" anodized aluminum extrusion. Optional heavy duty rails using 1-3/4" x 1/2" extrusion are available in most guide rail styles. Please specify "heavy duty" when ordering.

All guide rails include heavy duty solid aluminum rail feet and all necessary mounting hardware crafted of stainless steel to protect against rusting and corrosion. For enhanced stability, the guide rail's leg can be extended 6" below its mounting feet for core drilling.

The standard radius on curved rails is 6 inches.

For more information, visit


The GyroTechGTO SL2000B Low Voltage Slide Gate Operator is designed for residential, farm and light commercial use. It is available with a solar panel so line voltage trenching is not necessary. Features include:

  • 12 volt system

  • No electrician needed for installation

  • Quick and easy installation, with user friendly, photographed instructions

  • Optional concrete mounting pad available

  • Solar Panel Charger available for remote locations (requires large battery pack for solar applications)

  • Can operate 50 to 140 gate cycles during peak hours of operation, depending on size and weight of gate

  • Can handle single gates up to 20 feet wide opening

  • Receiver unit with antenna and 20-foot cable can be placed in best location for reception of signal

  • Can be operated by remote transmitter, digital keypad, push button or combination

  • Programmable control box

Gyro Tech changed the automatic door industry by pioneering the first electromechanical operator in 1971. Parent company NABCO Entrances supplies quality entrance system products that meet growing pedestrian needs, and the needs of retail stores, hospitals, schools, restaurants and other commercial and industrial institutions throughout North America.

NABCO Entrances helps businesses grow by providing a safer, more convenient and more comfortable environment for customers and staff while reducing liability and operating costs.

We bid a project where a Gyro Tech was specified, and were pleased with procurement and installation experience. Each door operator is built to order, enabling the dealer to customize the operator so it spans the opening thereby ensuring a simpler and more stable installation.

The GT 500 provides all the necessary features for accommodating the elderly or physically challenged and it saves energy. The GT 500 electromechanical closer operates in manual or automatic mode with microprocessor control that incorporates recycle and “push-n-go” features.

The new sideload header was developed to make it easier and faster to install and service the door operator and controls. The access panel, located on the side of the header instead of the bottom, simply pivots up and locks into position, out of the way. This enables the operator to be quickly installed or removed for easy servicing while allowing the door to remain in a closed position, eliminating the loss of energy from within the building.

The GT 500 is available as a complete swing door package including mechanical operator, sensors, jambs and styles.

For more information, visit