Opening New Doors To Business Opportunities

Jan. 8, 2010
The goal of the ADA EZ low energy door operator is to open up door automation to more end users by eliminating the need for electrical power.

Installing and servicing door operators has become one of our shop’s additional revenue streams, helping to offset losses in revenue from areas which have experienced shrinkage, such as automotive and door hardware.

Although we still are able to provide keys for the majority of automotive customers, and offer a lockout service which continues to do well, the number of cars we are unable to create and duplicate keys for grows daily as older models are decreed clunkers, and newer models with proprietary ignition systems hit the streets.

The demand for door hardware also wanes, as customers prefer to visit home centers for locks rather than call us to supply and install them.

This year after over 50 years in business, our shop’s revenues from security electronics exceeded those from mechanical locksmithing. Also the shop’s overall bottom line has increased despite a weak economy. So thanks to our hard work selling and installing electronics and our willingness to learn new technologies and services, the business was able to overcome months of flat or declining residential action, and the encroachment on the other traditional profit channels such as automotive, as described.

Door operators combine mechanical and electronic elements which perform double duty as conventional closers and provide powered and assisted opening of doors. The demand for this equipment for new installations as well for support for existing installed devices represents an ongoing revenue stream for many locksmiths.

Door operators are classified as either low energy or full energy. Full energy operators are used on commercial entries and typically are fully automated and they open the doors for all traffic.

Low energy operators are deployed on all type of doors and they find applications in a wider range of applications because they are less expensive and they involve fewer safety issues. Depending on the door operator, ratings may not be designed for full time door operation.

Another factor which encourages the deployment of door operators is the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted in 1990. Title II of the ADA addresses state and local Government activities, Title III addresses Public Accommodations and their objectives are that owners of certain types of buildings must remove barriers and provide people with disabilities with access that is equal or similar to that which is available to the general public. Regulations vary between existing structures and new construction.

People with disabilities include an ever-increasing portion of the population as the boomers get older. More than 50 million Americans (18 percent) have disabilities. Disabled individuals have $175 billion in discretionary spending power, and by 2030 there will be 71.5 baby boomers over 65 years old.

I suggest visiting the AAADM website ( to gain further insights into the door operator industry, the market and opportunities for locksmiths.

I obtained certification as an automatic door inspector, and in addition to exposing me to the regulations and procedures associated with ANSI operator installation and inspection, I can often offer my customers qualified comments on door operator operation and possible upgrades.


The ADA EZ is an extreme duty, low energy door opener designed for the institutional, high traffic manual opening applications that occasionally require powered operation. A regenerative drive system charges an onboard battery pack, eliminating the need for electrical power.

Locksmith Ledger interviewed J. Jay Vaitkus, director of business development for ADA EZ, about his product. Following are the Ledger’s questions and Vaitkus’ answers.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am an electrical / mechanical engineer by education and found my true love in marketing. I first entered the door and hardware industry as a technical support engineer with Locknetics. I later became the national training manager for that firm and also taught electrified hardware for DHI and ALOA.

I joined the automatic door division of Stanley - Access Technologies in 1997 and held the roles of national training manager, E-business manager, and product manager over a 10-year time span.

Can you provide us with some background of the ADA EZ?

Our goal was to open up door automation to more end users by eliminating the need for electrical power. We were able to ride on the electric car battery technology to harness the energy from a door being opened and closed. Like stepping on the brakes of an electric car, the momentum is converted to electric energy and returned to the battery. It is that energy which we store and release as needed to help an individual gain access to the facility. The ADA EZ being door mounted, easy to install, and auto-tuning makes it an ideal product for the locksmith.

Why is ADA EZ good for locksmiths?

Because it is ideal for retrofit applications. The ADA EZ typically does not require electrical power, eliminating the need for permits, conduit, coordination with electrical trade, and low voltage licensing. The unit mounts like a typical door closer with an approximate 30-minute installation time. ADA EZ automatically calculates the door size and weight then adjusts itself for ANSI compliance.

What is the 80/20 rule?

The ADA EZ should be applied to doors using our 80/20 guideline:

Apply ADA EZ to a door that gets approximately 80 manual cycles or more per day and is used 20 percent or less automatically. When applied using the 80/20 guideline the ADA EZ will self generate all the power it needs to keep its field replaceable, onboard, battery pack charged for up to 12 years and in some cases longer.

A fully charged battery has the capability to open a door up to 2000 times in a row, generously allowing for periodic fluctuations from 80/20 guidelines with little impact on the product’s overall usability. For example 25 percent automatic use for one day is not a problem, so long as that level of automatic use is not sustained.

What if the door does not meet the 80/20 guideline?

The ADA EZ can be used outside of the 80/20 parameters. Simply plug the unit into a common 110 VAC electrical outlet using our HDWR option. The HDWR option is a low voltage plug in transformer and can be added to existing installed field units. The battery can also be recharged using a common battery charger we sell as an option. Depending on the ratio of automatic/manual use, the battery can last for years before needing to be recharged.

How does the installer determine the ratio of use?

Experience is the most effective learning tool. Low energy automatic door openers are designed for use by the physically challenged. The door opens very slowly. Most traffic simply does not want to wait for the door to open opting to just push the door open and walk through. Our field studies revealed that in most cases the ratio of automatic to manual use is very low – less than 10 percent.

The installer can reduce the misuse of the low energy door by the placement of the RF pushbuttons. The code says within 12 feet of the door. So place the buttons where they are convenient for the physically challenged individual but out of the way of typical traffic.

The building owner will be happy as well since the hold open time is required to be a minimum of five seconds when powered operated wasting valuable heating or cooling energy.

Also resist the requests by the building owner to speed up the door opening speed. Low energy doors open slowly for a reason – safety. I’ve seen bollards with the activate switch installed 15 feet away from the door so that typical traffic doesn’t have to break stride – the door is open by the time they get there. In those applications use the HDWR option.

What settings and adjustments are performed by the installer?

After installing the unit per the instructions, the installer defines the door closed position and the door open position using the buttons on the circuit board. ADA EZ calculates the door size and weight then tunes itself to ANSI guidelines.

During the pre installation survey, what should the locksmith be on the lookout for?

Make sure the door is in normal working order. No sticking, binding, dragging, during normal operation. Two-inch minimum door top rail is required. 48” 250 lb. doors maximum or inquire about our heavy duty version. If latching or locking is required, contact our tech support department. Do not attempt to automate a door that is falling apart! If you think the door is going to be power operated more than 20 percent of the time, then just plug it in. Our HDWR unit would still be UL listed. A low voltage license is not generally required either is a permit. And we include 50 feet of cable. It is still door mounted, easy to install, and tunes itself to ANSI.

What is the product’s warranty? Any warranty exclusions?

Two years. Vandalism and abuse are not covered. A failed battery is covered but a low voltage condition is not.

What happens in the event of a unit failure?

Call technical support at 877-232-3987 to obtain an RMA. We will repair or replace the units as required.