What You Need to Know When Installing a Door Operator

April 2, 2020

Door operators are divided into two categories: power-operated pedestrian doors and power-assist and low-energy power-assist doors.

Their operation, features and installation guidelines are found in the two definitive publications on the subject, sponsored by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) and published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Low-energy and power-assist operators must comply with ANSI/BHMA A156.19, and power-operated pedestrian doors must comply with ANSI/BHMA A156.10.

Because door operators are used in buildings and installed on doors that serve as portals to enter, exit and move about a building, door operators also are subject to codes that address doors and accessibility, most notably by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Door operators also are connected to electricity and might have wired accessories, so they must comply with the appropriate sections of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

If you’re drowning in alphabet soup, the good news is that one association provides oversight of the door-operator industry to ensure compliance in the manufacturing and training, installation and inspection of door operators — the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (AAADM).

More good news is that although multiple disciplines are involved in the business and science of door operators, all door operators have many things in common. If you’re an electromechanic who works on doors in buildings, you already have a familiarity with the disciplines and will be able to acquire any additional skills required to go forth and prosper.

For me, the best part was that a door-operator installation frequently involves interfacing with external equipment, such as access controls, time clocks and electrical locking devices.

Power-assist and low-energy power-assist door operators are designed to be installed without additional equipment besides the so-called knowing-act switches that actuate a door and are intrinsically safe. They have the internal components to sense an anomaly, such as an obstruction in the path of the moving door, and stop the door to avoid an injury (complying with ANSI/BHMA A156.19.)

Power-operated pedestrian door operators, however, require external safety sensors to meet the requirements of ANSI/BHMA A156.10.

Notes from the Field

There are alternate means to actuate a door operator besides a typical pushplate, such as a motion sensor. When an alternate means of actuation is used, then ANSI/BHMA A156.10 requires safety sensors that are in compliance with the requirements set forth in ANSI/BHMA A156.19. Therefore, low-energy power operators that aren’t initiated by “a knowing act,” such as pressing a button, must have monitored presence sensors or monitored safety-control mats as required by ANSI/BHMA A156.10. So, even if you plan to focus on low-energy operators, you still should have copies of rules A156.10 and A156.19 and be familiar with the scope of each document.

When you are figuring out how you’ll get line voltage to the door operator, keep in mind that connecting a line cord and hiding it inside a nonmetallic raceway to a nearby receptacle doesn’t constitute a legal permanent installation. Similarly, a line cord can’t be used above a drop ceiling, even if a convenient junction box or receptacle were nearby.

Unless you have an electrician’s license, all line voltage work should be performed “by others” and either paid for by the owner or included in your scope of work and subcontracted to a qualified electrician. You’d be wise to establish that whoever performs the work shall do so as per your specific requirements and be subject to your approval, with your “approval” being contingent upon the electrical work being in compliance with the NEC.

Under certain conditions, the area around a door or the area between doors (when more than one door operator is to be furnished in a vestibule, for example) might not be adequate to satisfy ADA requirements. The installers must do their homework in advance of contracting an installation to ensure that the installation will be acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction — the person who signs off and approves your installation. Don’t assume a floor plan or door locations are in compliance with current building codes, because they apply to the premise’s current occupancy classification.

When automatic operators are installed on fire-door assemblies, the operators must be listed to one of two specifications: UL 10C, the standard for positive pressure fire tests of door assemblies; or NFPA 252, the standard method of fire tests of door assemblies.

Vendors and distributors, along with the AAADM, provide training and technical resources for beginners as well as experienced installers.

A roundup of possible products:

Norton 6300 Series Low Energy Door Operator

How smart can a door operator be? The Norton 6300 Series Low Energy Operator now has guided setup and adjustment, done right on your cellphone or tablet. This updated model has an LCD screen where settings can be made. Or, even better, you can connect to the door operator through a secure Wi-Fi connection for a guided programming experience, including:

  • Setting open and close positions through a unique “Learn” feature
  • Setting precise values for speed, force, timing and location
  • Turning on/off limitless number of options
  • Customizing input functions.

Installers can port an operator’s settings over to other new 6300 units to standardize programming across multiple units, and the unit can get smarter through a USB port to allow for software updates.

In addition, the Norton 6300 series has power close, obstruction detection, power assist, and push and go functions. The door operator has a modular design, which allows for one-person installation.


  • Operating voltage: 120 VAC
  • Auxiliary Power Output: 24 VDC at 1.3 amps
  • ANSI/BHMA A156.19 Compliant: Yes
  • UL/CUL Listing for UL 325/UL10C: Yes

More info: www.nortondoorcontrols.com

Detex AO19 Series

The AO19 Series of automatic door operators is an easy-to-install, heavy-duty product that’s aimed at high-use and high-abuse low-energy applications. The self-contained unit in an extruded case provides easy access for maintenance and adjustments, and it works with existing access control, locking and computer signal devices.

Two features that make the Detex operator unique are the installation hanger plate, which allows for quick installation, and the installation method sequence, which allows the electrician to arrive after the installation — all the fine adjustments already have been set by the locksmith.


  • ON/OFF/HOLD switch
  • Easy manual use
  • Power close can apply a reverse power to aid in latch check position
  • Single voltage source required to operate
  • Adjustable delayed activation for sequenced vestibule doors
  • Reverse on obstruction can stall a door during the closing cycle and reactivate to open if an obstruction is sensed at any time before the latch position
  • Adjustable closing speed
  • Push & Go activates when a door is pushed to open manually
  • Electric lock relay provides an adjustable delay before a door opens to unlock an electric strike, maglock or other electric lock to prevent binding
  • Power: 115VAC plug-in mounted in header
  • Certification: ANSI A156.19 compliant; ANSI/UL 325 listed for United States and Canada; ADA compliant

More info: www.detex.com

Ditec HA9

The HA9 is the latest addition to Entrematic's Ditec line of swing operators. It’s loaded with features while providing the same quiet, dependable operation in a low-profile header size. Notable features:

  • Power Assist, which allows the operator to be adjusted to assist the door when it’s opened manually. This is said to be ideal for users who have disabilities.
  • Push & Go. When a door is pushed manually, this feature activates to open the door automatically.
  • The electrical connection box is prewired to speed up installation.
  • Built-in safety features, so the door will stop on a stall and reverse on an obstruction, can be selected during set-up.
  • One Touch Learn Cycle. The operator measures door weight and conditions to set open and close positions and speed with the touch of a button.
  • Lock Kick ensures a positive latch when the door closes for fire and security.

The HA9 is compatible with most safety and activation devices and integrates with building access and security systems.


  • Header size: 4-1/8 in. (h) x 5-1/8 in. (d)
  • Door width: Up to 48 in.
  • On/off/hold open switches: Standard (key switch optional)
  • Operating voltage: 120 VAC
  • Auxiliary Power Output: 24 VDC at 1/2 amp (optional upgrade to 1.1 amps)
  • ANSI/BHMA A156.19 Compliant: Yes
  • UL/CUL Listing for UL 325/UL10C: Yes

More info: www.ditecentrematic.us

Hager 8300 Series

The Hager 8300 Series low-energy power operators have predrilled mounting holes for easy installation intended for a single person.

A built-in adjustable door stop provides protection against wind or abusive environments, and the door operator has an onboard power supply for accessories, such as electric and magnetic locks and sensors.


  • Header size: 5 in. (h) x 4-1/2 in. (d)
  • Door width: Up to 48 in.
  • Operating voltage: 115 VAC
  • Auxiliary Power Output: 24 VDC at 1 amp
  • ANSI/BHMA A156.19 Compliant: Yes
  • UL/CUL Listing for UL 325/UL10C: Yes

More info: www.hagerco.com

SDC Auto EntryControl

SDC’s Auto EntryControl Low Energy Swing Door Operator provides true plug-and-play installation with features that the end user and installer will appreciate.

It has an internal, 1.0 Amp + Accessory/Lock Power Supply to allow for integration with electric latch-retraction exit devices, electric strikes and other electric locking systems without requiring the extra power supply.

A time-delay function is built into the control system, which eliminates the necessity to have supplemental relays or controls.

The Auto EntryControl operator provides hands-free, low-power point-of-entry door control to help meet all ADA requirements for door installations in retail storefronts, office buildings, campuses and health-care facilities. The door operator’s state-of-the-art microprocessor-based unit is self-tuning and self-learning while providing nonhanded operation, full mechanical stops and a variety of interface options for sensors, push-plates, fire alarms and electrified locks.

On-board diagnostics simplifies troubleshooting, and all Auto EntryControl models can be configured for either surface-mounted push/pull or overhead concealed applications.


  • Stays open for 5 seconds
  • Force: 15 lbs.
  • Push or Pull (In door, Out swing)
  • Power: 1A, 100W
  • Extremely quiet operation
  • Certification: ANSI A156.19 compliant; ANSI/UL 325 listed for United States and Canada; ADA compliant

More info: www.sdcsecurity.com

Tim O’Leary is an experienced security consultant and a regular contributor to Locksmith Ledger. 

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.