I want one of these, not so much for closing up at night as for opening up in the wee hours of the morning!
Don't have a flawless memory? Who does?!? - Page 3
That is an impressive memory, not to have forgotten once! If you don't want to use the photo sensor, you can tell the door when to close. Whether 6pm, 7pm, 8pm... your choice. Every evening when the door closes, a minute later it opens again (we call it Second Chance Chickens), waits 10 seconds and closes for the night.
If a hen doesn't go in before the door closes then she will be locked out for the night. While that's not good, it's better to risk a single hen than risk the entire flock. What happens if a raccoon comes by your coop before the night owl goes in? If your location is safe until when the night owl goes to bed, then just program a late closing time.
I had that problem with our ducks when I was training them to use the door, we would have a drake or two that occasionally would party beyond the closing time & get locked out. I would watch the coop and let the boys panic for a while (30 minutes?) trying to get back to the flock (note that the problem was mostly with the boys!). It was not to torture them but rather to teach them a lesson. It wasn't very long before they were all in the coop every night before the door closes. Consider this like punishing a teenager for missing curfew. They did learn to go in on time. If I simply let the doors stay open until everyone was settled in, I could only imagine how late these boys would stay out... 10pm news? Late Show, Late Late Show, 2am infomercials??? Naughty boys... It wasn't but a couple of weeks before everyone learned to go to bed at the right time. Are ducks more trainable than chickens!!! ??? That question could be a long thread in itself.
For me it is important to use the photo sensor because the ducks would not go into the coop based on our clock, but rather based on level of darkness.
You asked about the door construction. The frame and door are made from solid aluminum. The frame is clear-coat anodized (silver color) and the aluminum door is painted white which is why it may look like plastic. The electronics box at the top right is the only piece made from plastic. We have not had any customers complain that it is not sturdy, rather the opposite. We do get asked all the time about painting, and you can paint the door any color you like. We offer the door in any color as long as it's silver & white.
About 2 years ago we had a customer call to tell us how strong the door was. She lived in Colorado and a bear had attacked her coop. You could see where the bear had bit the door, there was about a 4 inch scar where it's tooth scratched the paint and bent it a little. But the door held firm. Unfortunately her coop was made of plywood, and the bear smashed through the plywood to get inside. While we don't guarantee that our door will not hold up to bears, I don't think the doors on my house would keep a bear out either!
But thank you for asking some good questions.
I am definitely planning on getting one of these after we make the move to the big coop and my feathered kids reliably go in there at night. What sold me was the battery charger, since my coop is too far away from the house to be plugged in, and I would be nervous to rely on a solar panel year round.
These seem like a great idea!
A nice feature with our unit is battery life. The current unit will run for at least a couple of months on a single charge. So if the sun didn't rise for two months (arctic circle?), the solar panel will not charge and the door will be just fine. In fact the battery life is a dependent on your climate, the colder it is the more frequent it would need charging. The two month life is for the dead of winter and you open & close it multiple times manually per day. It will last significantly longer in warmer weather & simple automatic opening/closing. In fact the battery manufacturers recommend to recharge these batteries every 3 months even if they are just sitting on a shelf.
And to give you even more security, every time the door closes, a light flashes for two seconds to tell you the battery status. So if it is flashing green, the battery is fully charged and charging. If it is solid green, the battery is charger (over 60%). A solid red is when you only have a month of run time and the battery is under 60% charged. A flashing red means that the battery is under 10% charged (nearly dead). So if you are worried that you've had bad weather and the battery is getting low, simply go out to the door and close it with the magnet. It'll show you how charged is the battery. Then use the magnet again & open the door, and everything will continue as normal. This battery status is a feature we recently added, and actually haven't even updated the website with this handy feature... one more thing to do!
Actually that reminds me of another very nice feature of our door. Once the door knows when to open and close, then you can use the magnet to open or close it any time you want without messing up its clock. It knows if the door is open or closed, and will return to its program after the next scheduled change. Let me give you an example. Let's say your door opens at 7am & closes at 8pm. One day a storm is blowing in, and you get the girls into the coop a little early at 7:30pm and close the door with the magnet. Well, come 8pm, the door knows that it's closed and doesn't try to close. It doesn't do anything until the next morning at 7am when it will open again.
Edited by TexasTony - 4/28/12 at 10:29am
We have one and absolutely love it! We can enjoy a late dinner out and I can sleep a longer in the morning without feeling guilty. The photo sensor doesn't work for us, too much shade but the battery option works like a champ. Thanks for making a great door.
- Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
Any thoughts on a way to rabbit proof one of these? I have a thought to mount it up 2.5 feet off the ground.... but I din't know...