How To Specify and Install Automatic Doors

Feb. 2, 2018
Automatic low-energy swinging door operators provide ADA compliance or user convenience and come in single, pair or double egress configurations

Our shop got into the door operator market when an important client asked if we could provide a door operator for their facility.  Thus began a crash course in door operators.

I eventually installed eight operators in their facility, and jumped into this lucrative market,  bidding and selling door operators quite frequently.

We were christened into the repair of door operators when we were on-site for a university installing access control in a newly built dormitory. The contractors had left, leaving behind door operators and exit devices that simply did not work, and our card readers were supposed to work in conjunction with them.

An actual door operator company had installed the door operators, but again, you wouldn’t know they were professionals based on the disaster they left behind.

So at the Campus Locksmith’s request, we started to unravel the mess. We wound up fixing the operators and the exit devices.

The exit devices were familiar products for us, as was the access control system, so some of the mission was not a new frontier. We gained a wealth of knowledge and kindled new relationships with door operator manufacturers and distributors. We also made an enemy of one door operator installation company.

Getting the Job

That campus locksmith showed his gratitude by becoming a loyal and repeat customer.

Some door operator projects will come in:

  • as requests for a quote,
  • be part of a larger bid spec,
  • will be an opportunity that an alert technician will observe while on site doing something else,
  • a call that comes in because your shop has been running a half page ad in the phone book since before you were a gleam in your father’s eye.
  • or if you are AAADM certified, the customer saw your company in the AAADM online directory and called you.

In each case, your undivided attention is required so that your project has a happy ending.

The Field Survey

The field survey is an important step in the process, since once you sign a contract, it will be on you to provide a complete working door operator system.

Many door operator manufacturers offer online resources to help you ask the right questions and therefore order the right door closer and accessories.

While doing your survey, note the following information and by all means take lots of site pictures with your phone so you do not have to go back to the site for some detail you overlooked.

These items are suggested with a survey for a low energy swing operator in mind. Additional information would be required for any other type of install. These facts should be noted for each door.

Are they fire doors?

Are the doors in perfect working condition? Have they been inspected and approved by the AHJ?

Note the condition of the hinges and threshold. If the doors do not open and close smoothly, there will be problems setting up the door operator. (Don’t install on damaged or questionable doors; Why not provide a quote for the required repairs to your client?)

Is there a wind or stacking condition on the opening?  

Single or pair of doors?

More than one pair (vestibule)?


Door material; frame material; Color?

Door Width and Height

Push or pull mounting?

Depth between face of frame (the surface upon which the door operator body will be mounted) and face of door (the surface upon which the door operator arm will be mounted)

Keep in mind that the door operator is relatively heavy and when in operation the torque may exert a twisting force on the unit. You must make accommodations for secure mounting as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Often a special metal plate must be fabricated or wood bracing must be installed in the wall above the header.  Such accommodations are no big deal, unless you didn’t plan, and the time and materials are coming off the top of your pile (profit margin.)

Available power? You can stipulate that the line voltage supply portion of the project be performed as per your instructions and in a timely fashion to coincide with your phase of the installation or it will result in a change order and possible upcharge.

Suggestion: Get the client to initial that paragraph to confirm they read and understood it.

Where are the Knowing Act switches pushplates required? Low energy door operators must be actuated by a knowing act and not operate in a full automatic mode.

Will the knowing act plates be wired or wireless?

Are bollards required? Are safety rails required? They may not be “required” by the Code, but they might be a great idea. Offer them with an explanation why you are recommending them and then get the client to initial where they decline to get them.

Are you integrating with locking devices or card readers? Does the client wish the doors to not operate at certain times? Remember that even if there is a low energy door operator on the door, it still can be used as a ‘normal’ door.

Read the bid spec carefully  for errors or omissions.

Verify location of the door and actuators on the building plans

Verify proper wiring has been specified or that the correct wire was installed.

Was the header prepped (correctly?)

Clearly define were the line voltage will break out of the bulkhead, the circuit it will be under, and the location of the circuit breaker controlling it.

It is most desirable to have a dedicated breaker, and you have a “lockout” on the circuit which you have control over. You do not want to be handling live wiring while installing. Trust me on this.

Is there access control?

Is there a potential for problems with possible abuse of equipment, in some instances the door operator system becomes a toy for the inmates.

Where the project involves vestibules, determine if sequencing is required or if electric locks will be interfaced. Also verify that the vestibule is dimensioned to meet ADA wheelchair requirements. Putting in door operator does not grandfather the vestibule in, but rather create new code issues and it is your business to anticipate these and advise the customer.

In some cases, automatic door operator and accessories are distributed through its own distribution channels. This is not unusual. The telecommunications industry and computer networking industry have their own distribution channels. But this is changing as there are many reasons automated doors are used:

Code Compliance

Several types of automatic doors and operators are covered by ANSI A156.10.

Automatic Sliding Doors: Automatic sliding doors are available in single slide, bi-part slide and telescopic slide configurations. As a rule, these are furnished as complete packages and the operators are not retrofit items, although they like all mechanical systems may require inspection, service and adjustment.

Slide doors typically include: an operator, header, track, carrier wheels, sliding door panel(s), sidelite panel(s), jambs, lock and activation / safety system.

Automatic Swinging Doors: Automatic full-power swinging door operators can either be supplied as complete packages, or simply as the operator with header and drive arm.

Swing door products are designed for single, pair or double egress applications.

When supplied as a complete package, this will generally include: an operator, header, door panel(s), jambs, finger protection [if applicable], lock, guide rails and activation / safetysystem.

When retrofitting to existing door panels, then an operator with header and drive arm are supplied - along with an appropriate activation and safety system.

Guide rails may be required to protect the swing area of the door panel unless the doors swing against a natural protective barrier such as a wall.

Automatic Folding Doors: Automatic folding doors are furnished as complete packages and the operators are not retrofit items. Automatic Folding Door Packages include: the operator, header, pivot hardware, door panels, guide rails, lock and activation / safety system. They are offered in either single fold or bi-fold configurations.

Two other types of automatic doors are addressed in different standards (not covered by ANSI A156.10): low energy swinging doors and revolving doors.

Low Energy Swinging Doors: Automatic low-energy swinging door operators are designed for applications requiring ADA compliance or user convenience. They are available in single, pair or double egress configurations. This type of operator is usually activated with push plates. The unit includes the header, operator and drive arm.

Revolving Doors: Automatic and manual revolving doors are manufactured as complete packages. In general, they are offered in four-wing, three-wing and two-wing designs. Larger diameter four-wing and three-wing doors can also offer center core displays. Two-wing doors typically have perimeter displays that serve as integral night shields when the door is closed and locked. Revolving doors can be center or perimeter driven – depending on size and design. As a rule, manual and smaller diameter automatic doors have center shaft drive systems. Larger diameter automatic doors have perimeter drive systems. Smaller diameter doors are typically offered in a security version for controlled access.

The repair of existing automatic door operators and the supply and installation of low energy door operators are activities many locksmiths can engage in with a minimum of training and investment.

Many manufacturers offer factory training of the specification and installation of automatic door operators.

Integral in this training is gaining familiarity with ANSI A156.10 Standard for Power Operated Pedestrian Doors

For low energy door operators, ANSI A156.19 Standard for Power Assist and Low Energy Power Operated Doors encompasses doors that operate at a slow speed with low power and are activated by a push switch / plate or other remote activation device.

Although low energy power operated doors do not require safety devices as part of the standard, often using additional safety sensors greatly enhance the safety and convenience of the installation.

Besides product specific factory training, the other recommended source for training and resources for installers is The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers,, who have a resource rich webpage and offer training and certification for individuals who wish to obtain a credential as an automatic door professional and affiliation with a professional association.

Norton 5800 Series ADAEZ PRO

Norton Door Controls, an ASSA ABLOY Group company, is an established and trusted manufacturer of mechanical door closers, electromechanical closers, and electromechanical and electrohydraulic low energy door operators and accessories.

The 5800 is a somewhat unconventionally designed compact electromechanical door operator that is simple to install and use.

The 5800 complies with requirements of ANSI A156.19 and has adjustable opening and closing forces that meet the provisions of ANSI 117.1 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The heavy-duty, low energy 5800 operator is intended for high traffic manual opening applications that occasionally require automatic operation like retail outlets, banks, schools or universities.

Unlike other door operators require line voltage top operate, for some applications, the 5800 can be installed without requiring line voltage to operate.

The 5800 uses a Regenerative Power System which charges an onboard battery pack that eliminates the need to run electrical wire to the unit.

When used in automatic mode 25 percent of the time or less, the 5800 Series ADAEZ PRO will self-generate enough power to charge the battery pack for up to 12 years. Available for push or pull side mounting, this robust, non-handed operator ships standard with two wireless RF push buttons.

For other installations the installer can hard wire line voltage to the operator, or by using a line cord, obtain power for the operator from a receptacle.

Line voltage is generally provided by a licensed electrician and not included in the locksmith or low voltage contractor’s scope of work.

The 5800 is capable of operating doors up to 48” wide, weighing up to 250 lbs, and successfully tested for 1,000,000, automatic cycles.

Norton 5800 features:

  • Regenerative power system – no electrical power required
  • Non-handed
  • 95 degree opening
  • Push or pull side mounting
  • RF Radio Frequency stainless steel push buttons
  • Integral RF receiver
  • Dynamic braking module
  • Electronic backcheck brake
  • Shock absorbing arm
  • Black cover (standard); aluminum cover (optional)
  • Brushless DC motor/gearbox – 10 million activation cycle life
  • 24 VDC input port
  • Auxiliary activation input port
  • Battery charge indicator
  • Integral ON / OFF selector switch
  • Maximum door width - 48;
  • Maximum door weight - 250 lbs
  • More Information:

LCN Senior Swing Series

The LCN 9500/2800 Senior Swing Series, LCN’s toughest automatic operators, delivers long-lasting performance in primarily automatic applications. These low-energy electromechanical auto operators are designed for medium to heavy-duty use and high traffic openings.

The Senior Swing goes beyond proven durability to offer an enhanced user experience — starting with easy and accurate installation without an added service contract. Its digital control suite allows users to easily manage a large range of functions on their own time. The sophisticated built-in diagnostics program monitors the system microprocessor, power supplies, drive systems, actuators and safety circuits, reducing the time required to make sure the installation is completed correctly.

Visual indications and digital readouts make adjustments easy, fast and accurate. Programming can be tailored to meet specific site conditions, like opening or backcheck speed, backcheck position, hold open delay and more. These features allow for complete ownership of service and installation while maintaining the accuracy of the LCN Senior Swing.

The Senior Swing Series is backed by a 2-year limited warranty. It is UL listed and meets ANSI/BHMA

156.19, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and ANSI A117.1 requirements for accessibility. Both the 9500 and 2800 Series ship with a standard header and optional customizable header lengths are offered.

Additional enhancements are available. Power boost provides additional closing force in severe wind. Push ‘N Go non-switch activation takes over when a pedestrian manually opens the door to 5°, then holds the door fully open for 1-30 seconds, depending on the time delay.

More Information:

dormakaba ED900

Employing an innovative electromechanical drive and a state-of-the-art microprocessor motion control system, the new ED900 is dormakaba’s most advanced low-energy swing door power operator. The operator is exceptionally quiet, safe, and easy to use.

When operated manually, the ED900 demands little physical effort. Advanced power assist through the entire opening cycle makes even the heaviest-rated door feel light.

The new operator is especially helpful for children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, or those carrying objects or pushing carts. This fully ADA-compliant device opens doors at precisely controlled speeds and forces, assuring safety for all users.

Advanced features

The ED900 also includes a blow-open feature for smoke ventilation (per NFPA code 92B), permanent hold-open, and an onboard power supply delivering 1.5 amps @ 24-volt DC, which eliminates the need for a secondary power supply. It includes twelve programmable options to accommodate even the most challenging door installations.

In addition, the ED900 low energy operator boasts the smallest footprint in the industry, up to 65 percent smaller than some other manufacturers' operators.

More Info:

ASSA ABLOY Universal Swing Door Operators

The ASSA ABLOY SW100 swing door operator's low-energy performance means it can be a cost-effective option for automating a swing door entrance. ASSA ABLOY SW100 offers low noise during operation. It is an ideal choice for entrances in healthcare, residential, office and public service environments where both low noise and ease of access are important.

An optional embedded battery back-up and monitoring ensures operation even when the power is interrupted, while an intelligent locking function adds security.

ASSA ABLOY SW100 is suitable for applications such as: low energy, interior and exterior entrances, single and double leaf doors, fire doors (depending on national regulations), escape routes and push and pull applications.

The ASSA ABLOY SW100 complies with: EN 1634-1, EN 16005, UL 325 and ANSI/BHMA A156.19.

The ASSA ABLOY SW200 is an intelligent, heavy duty, electromechanical swing door operator with an amazing capability to handle heavy doors. It is an ideal choice for applications with high demands on gentle and smooth operation in combination with strength and high traffic flow. It compensates for stack pressure and wind load yet it remains easy to open manually.

ASSA ABLOY SW200 offers a unique 180-degree opening angle in both push and pull applications, and additionally it has an easy-to-use manual push force in power-off.

An optional embedded battery back-up and monitoring ensures operation even when the power is interrupted, while an intelligent locking function adds security.

ASSA ABLOY SW200 is suitable for applications such as: low energy and heavy duty, interior and exterior entrances, single and double leaf doors, fire doors (depending on national regulations), escape routes and push and pull applications.

The ASSA ABLOY SW200 complies with EN 1634-1, EN 16005, UL 325 and ANSI/BHMA A156.10, A156.19

ASSA ABLOY SW200 features include:

  • Power supply: 100-240 V AC +10/-15%, 50/60 Hz, mains fuse max. 10A (building installation)
  • Power consumption: max. 300 W
  • Auxiliary voltage: 24 V DC, max. 700 mA
  • Monitored battery backup unit: 24 V DC
  • Electromechanical locking connection: 12 V DC, max. 1200 mA or 24 V DC, max. 600 mA
  • Ambient temperature: -20 °C to +45 °C  
  • Relative humidity (non condensing): 95%
  • Class of protection: IP20