Sales And Service of Low Voltage Door Closers & Operators

Aug. 2, 2018
Code/standard references and product information for selling and servicing LVDCs and LVDOs

Low-voltage door closers (LVDCs) and operators (LVDOs) are designed to automatically close critical fire doors when undo heat or smoke are detected either by a building fire alarm system or smoke detectors. The issue at hand involves the fact that fire doors are commonly installed in fire-rated walls which more times than not carry a 4-hour fire-resistive rating.

Together, a properly closed, latched and sealed fire door and a compliant firewall will contain both smoke and fire for a specifically rated period of time, such as three hours. This includes both door frames and panels. By fire code, both must bear a label provided by a third-party testing service that states the characteristics of each respectively including the hour rating. In this regard, under a variety of circumstances, a 4-hour rated fire wall requires a 3-hour rated fire door, a 2-hour wall a 1-1/2 hour door, a 1-hour wall requires either a 1-hour or 3/4-hour door, etc.

Cities, towns, and villages have long since adopted fire codes and standards that every commercial business must adhere to or face fines, penalties, and even the closure of their facility. For this reason, you have a ready-made audience just waiting for you to provide them with what they want and need so they can remain in good standing with code compliance officials.

Above all, you want your customers to rely heavily on your knowledge, the quality associated with your installations, the excellent price point of your code-compliant door hardware, and the speed and agility of your technical service staff when needed. These things create lifelong, loyal customers in commercial and healthcare settings.

You also want to maintain a good and equitable relationship with local fire and building code enforcement authorities. In many instances, these folks will refer business to you, providing you know what to do, you follow code, and you do it well. All of this requires a good knowledge of the products you sell and install in addition to a rudimentary knowledge of pertinent fire codes and adopted standards.

The objective of this Locksmith Ledger story is to provide code/standard references and product information in order to make the job of selling LVDCs and LVDOs easier and more profitable.

Fire CodeConsiderations

It would make perfect sense to forego the hold-open feature on a fire door in order to assure the effectiveness and integrity of a fire barrier, such as a door and wall. While this is certainly one option, in many instances, especially in healthcare, it’s common among staff to prop open critical fire doors by non-compliant means. This means it will require someone to physically close them when the need arises. In a fire situation, the result could be catastrophic as deadly smoke and heat are then permitted to freely pass from affected areas into other smoke compartments within the building.

There are three basic kinds of fire doors assemblies under Section of NFPA 80, entitled ‘Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.’ They are: 1) self-closing, 2) automatic-closing, and 3) power operated. The focus of our conversation in this story is number 2 and 3.

Here’s the fire code reference that drives your LVDC and LVDO sales, whether you’re aware of it or not: According to Section of NFPA 101, 2018 Edition, “A door normally required to be kept closed shall not be secured in the open position at any time and shall be self closing or automatic-closing in accordance with, unless otherwise permitted by” NFPA 101 is a code which means it must be adhered to.

Let’s take a brief look at the last two code references in the two 2018 code references above:

First, Section says that doors required to be kept closed (such as fire doors) shall not be secured in the open position at any time and ‘shall’ be self closing or automatic-closing…” Second, Section says that the occupants in common, ordinary building may use an automatic means of closing critical doors, but the following conditions must be met:

(1) Upon release of the hold-open mechanism, the door becomes self-closing.

(2) The release device is designed so that the door instantly releases manually and, upon release, becomes self closing, or the door can be readily closed.

(3) The automatic releasing mechanism or medium is activated by the operation of approved smoke detectors installed in accordance with the requirements for smoke detectors for door release service in NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code.

(4) Upon loss of power to the hold-open device, the hold-open mechanism is released and the door becomes self-closing.

(5) The release by means of smoke detection of one door in a stair enclosure results in closing all doors serving that stair.

Section, 2018, also allows for delayed action closers when the door in question is only required to be self closing and not automatically closed. This feature is often used to accommodate those that are physically challenged, giving them a little more time to evacuate.

NFPA 80 Also Covers Fire Doors and Other Openings

A standard reference by NFPA that has significant weight in the area of fire door code requirements is that of Section 6.1.3 and of NFPA 80. Section, entitled ‘Automatic-Closing Doors,’ says that automatic-closing doors shall be permitted to close automatically by means of the installation of a closing device, as follows:

(1) A separate, labeled, fail-safe door holder/release device or a  hold-open mechanism that shall be permitted to be an integral part of the basic closing device.

(2) An integral closing device that allows the door to swing freely and that automatically closes the door during an alarm condition, provided the hold-open mechanisms are released by one of the combination of automatic fire detectors acceptable to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction).

Section, entitled ‘Power-Operated Fire Doors,’ states that a fire door must latch upon closure. It says that “Power-operated fire doors shall be equipped with a releasing device that shall automatically disconnect the power operator at the time of fire, allowing a self-closing or automatic device to close and latch the door regardless of power failure or manual operation.”

All of these code references can be used to demonstrate your relatively high knowledge level, thus showing a prospective client that they need you and your services. In addition, it validates their need for quality low-voltage closers and operators, thus assuring that someone will sell them what the need. It may as well be you!

Note that NFPA codes and standards are developed, published, and made available by the National Fire Protection Association of Quincy, MA. You can either purchase these codes or access them online for free by registering with NFPA at

Routine Maintenance and Service 

An important part of code compliance hinges on proper inspection, testing, and ongoing service of fire door hardware and closers after the installation is completed. In fact, according to 5.2.1, NFPA 80, when you’re finished installing an automatic closure, a record of the inspection should be created in accordance with Section (you can view this section on NFPA’s website at

Over time, door closers of every variety can fall into disrepair. Fire doors, the hardware on them, and the automatic closers are to be inspected one time per year. The objective is to find out if the fire door (as an assembly) is still performing up to code. A lot of things can happen to a door over the course of a year’s time, so the first item on your to-do list is to look for physical damage. Check to assure that it easily and smoothly closes.

Check the frame, whether the door properly aligns with the frame, check the frame and door panels for any potential issues as well as the hinges. There can be no more than a 3/4-inch gap between the bottom of the door and the floor to assure that smoke and flames cannot pass under the door to an adjacent smoke compartment.

There also should be no more than 1/8-inch between the edges of the door and the wall. Adjustments must be made if these measurements do not line up, but you cannot modify the frame or door itself without causing the assembly to fail inspection. This includes all LVDCs and LVDOs.

Make sure the listing labels are still on the frame and door. Be sure the client understands that they cannot paint over these labels during the course of the year. NFPA 80, Section 5.2.4 requires every fire door assembly in the US to be inspected every year, so you should have no problem finding automatic-closer customers.

The following are three quality low-voltage door operators/closers for your consideration. Each of them meets the requirements of NFPA, ADA, and the third-party testing service that provided each one with a listing for use on a listed fire door and frame. Shortened, abbreviated links are provided for online use so you can obtain additional information on each one.  


The DORMA EMR Series holder/release device incorporates a photoelectric detector and can control the spread of smoke and fire in a specific location or throughout the building if wired into a central alarm panel. The EMR Series is designed to monitor and contain the spread of fire and smoke while allowing unimpeded, easy access throughout a building. The EMR Series includes the TS93, 8900, and 8600 door closers. The TS93 in Contur Design, with the extra efficient cam and roller technology, can be used on larger doors, while the 8900 and 8600 rack and pinion closers offer a narrow projection alternative. For more information, go to:

Hager 8200 Low Energy Power Operator

Hager Companies offers the 8400 Series Low Energy Power Operator, a new line of low energy power operators and actuators. The Low Energy Power Operator is an ideal solution to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) door opening requirements. The Operator is extremely quiet when in operation which eliminates noise in sensitive areas, making it a perfect fit for use in hospitals, libraries, senior care centers, and universities. For more information, go to:

LCN 3130SE and 4040SE Series Door Closer

The 3130SE and 4040SE Sentronic closers provide a single-point hold-open for fire and smoke barrier doors. Both the 3130SE and 4040SE Series are UL listed for metal smoke barrier or labeled fire doors and meet ANSI/BHMA A156.15 and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code standards. They are cUL Listed for self-closing doors without hold-open.

The 3130SE and 4040SE Series function as full rack-and-pinion closers when the hold-open option is not engaged or the electrical current to the door is interrupted. The single-lever arm is specifically designed for interior doors.

The 3130SE Series is concealed in the door with the track concealed in the frame. The 4040SE Series is a surface-mounted closer on the pull side hinge pull side or the push side stop face.

For more information, go to: