Anyone have experience with automatic coop doors?

chickmom3941

Crowing
5 Years
Feb 20, 2016
810
2,863
386
Minnesota
So, we're thinking about buying an automatic coop door. I'm not sure if that's the proper name for them, but you know, the doors that have a timer you can set to what time you want the door to open... I would really appreciate any info on them from people who have tried them. Here's some of the info that we are wondering about:
1.) Do they run on electricity or are they battery operated?
2.) How well do they work, and are there any brands that are really good (or really bad)?
3.) Can you set them for both what time you want them to open AND what time you want them to close?
4.) Do they still operate well in very cold climates? We installed a dog door on our house that opens when the sensor on our dog's collar gets close to it, but the door doesn't work very well when the temps get really cold (as in, way below zero).
Any info would be greatly appreciated, even if it's not one of my listed questions. I know this is the place I can get some honest answers. Thanks!
 

TwoShepherds

Crowing
Apr 4, 2019
840
4,428
367
Southeast TN
I definitely like having an auto door. I don't think I spend any less time with the chickens. But I like being able to go out to check them on my terms. The auto door has made chicken-keeping more convinient as I work nights and often leave before dusk and come home in the morning after sunrise--this gives the girls more freedom.

It's still a good idea to keep an eye on the door just to make sure things are working properly. I work weekends, the rest of the week, I try to go out after dark to make sure the door is closing and everyone is inside. In the mornings, I can just look out the windows to see that everyone is outside. The only time I've ever had a chicken locked out was before the auto door, and I was the one who closed the door. We have a big run, it was quite dark, and she must have been in the far corner and I didn't see her. I didn't find her until the morning.


1.) Do they run on electricity or are they battery operated?

Mine is battery powered.

2.) How well do they work, and are there any brands that are really good (or really bad)?

Mine has worked very well since I got it programmed correctly and put in a functional battery (I bought a pack of two batteries, but for whatever reason the first one didn't work right). I got an ADOR1 back in May when I got my chicks, but just installed several Months ago. It seems well made and reliable. I like that it doesn't have alot of complicated strings and pulleys (which just seem like more things to potentially get clogged or break).

The only thing I don't like about ours so far is the programming. If you press the outside button and hold it down too long, it will go into manual mode. To put it back into automatic mode, you are supposed to press the same button, just more quickly. We have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old who like to visit the chickens, and my husband let them mess with the door Saturday afternoon. Luckily, he remembered to tell me, or it could have been a disaster. I tried to push the button quickly to set the door back in auto mode but it didn't close that night. I closed it manually, and things were good again the next morning. For peace of mind, I would be happier with the door if there was a different color light or some other indicator of manual mode

Also, it's kind of fussy to change the settings. it's not really hard, but it involves pressing a button a certain number of times. Not a big deal, as I don't anticipate changing the settings very often, or ever, but I'll never be able to do it without dragging the manual out with me. I still am quite satisfied with our door and recommend it. If it lasts for at least several years or more, that is all that matters.


3.) Can you set them for both what time you want them to open AND what time you want them to close?

Mine has a light sensor with different settings. You can program it to open extra early and/or close late. I think you can delay the opening in the morning also. There is a late-call setting for nighttime. If you enable it, the door will close at dusk, then open for a little while to let in late-comers, then close again for the night.

4.) Do they still operate well in very cold climates?

I haven't had ours long enough to comment, though I'm sure our cold isn't comprable to the cold in most other places.
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
17,164
33,724
1,062
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
For reference I use a standard ChickenGuard (which is a pulley type).

1) I use battery as my coop has no electricity. Battery lasts a lot longer than I thought it would and so far I haven't replaced it.
2) They work... until they don't work. Yes they can have glitches and mine simply didn't close one day (no reason, I re-set the programming and it worked fine after that). They're convenient but not an excuse to "set it and forget it" - we still double check each evening to make sure all the chickens made it in. But it's good for not having to rush home at night if you happen to be out or having to wake up early in the morning if you like sleeping in late, and makes vacations a little easier.
3) If you choose one that runs on timer or has the option, yes. I use a timer option as my run can get pretty shady and winter gloom can potentially cause false triggers on a light sensor.
4) Probably varies by device so that's something you'll need to look into on technical sheets. I installed mine inside the coop (normally you install outside it) to help protect it from weather and temperatures but we only get down to a little below freezing.
 

jthornton

Free Ranging
Aug 30, 2017
4,303
8,302
542
Poplar Bluff, MO
My Coop
My Coop
3) If you choose one that runs on timer or has the option, yes. I use a timer option as my run can get pretty shady and winter gloom can potentially cause false triggers on a light sensor.

+1 for not using a photocell to control the door, also note that the photocell will most likely close the door too early.

I can't comment on commercial doors because I made my own. However if your a little bit handy there is a thread here on a very well designed door by @Tsheaby in this thread.
JT
 

chickmom3941

Crowing
5 Years
Feb 20, 2016
810
2,863
386
Minnesota
I had thought about one also until I heard of a story where one chicken did not get back before the coop door closed and died in the cold. Bummed me out so abandoned the idea. Jim
Oh, that's not good. However, once it gets cold enough here for a chicken to freeze, there's usually lots of snow on the ground, and our ladies won't go out in the snow. So I probably wouldn't have to worry about that happening! Thanks for your response.
 

chickmom3941

Crowing
5 Years
Feb 20, 2016
810
2,863
386
Minnesota
I definitely like having an auto door. I don't think I spend any less time with the chickens. But I like being able to go out to check them on my terms. The auto door has made chicken-keeping more convinient as I work nights and often leave before dusk and come home in the morning after sunrise--this gives the girls more freedom.

It's still a good idea to keep an eye on the door just to make sure things are working properly. I work weekends, the rest of the week, I try to go out after dark to make sure the door is closing and everyone is inside. In the mornings, I can just look out the windows to see that everyone is outside. The only time I've ever had a chicken locked out was before the auto door, and I was the one who closed the door. We have a big run, it was quite dark, and she must have been in the far corner and I didn't see her. I didn't find her until the morning.


1.) Do they run on electricity or are they battery operated?

Mine is battery powered.

2.) How well do they work, and are there any brands that are really good (or really bad)?

Mine has worked very well since I got it programmed correctly and put in a functional battery (I bought a pack of two batteries, but for whatever reason the first one didn't work right). I got an ADOR1 back in May when I got my chicks, but just installed several Months ago. It seems well made and reliable. I like that it doesn't have alot of complicated strings and pulleys (which just seem like more things to potentially get clogged or break).

The only thing I don't like about ours so far is the programming. If you press the outside button and hold it down too long, it will go into manual mode. To put it back into automatic mode, you are supposed to press the same button, just more quickly. We have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old who like to visit the chickens, and my husband let them mess with the door Saturday afternoon. Luckily, he remembered to tell me, or it could have been a disaster. I tried to push the button quickly to set the door back in auto mode but it didn't close that night. I closed it manually, and things were good again the next morning. For peace of mind, I would be happier with the door if there was a different color light or some other indicator of manual mode

Also, it's kind of fussy to change the settings. it's not really hard, but it involves pressing a button a certain number of times. Not a big deal, as I don't anticipate changing the settings very often, or ever, but I'll never be able to do it without dragging the manual out with me. I still am quite satisfied with our door and recommend it. If it lasts for at least several years or more, that is all that matters.


3.) Can you set them for both what time you want them to open AND what time you want them to close?

Mine has a light sensor with different settings. You can program it to open extra early and/or close late. I think you can delay the opening in the morning also. There is a late-call setting for nighttime. If you enable it, the door will close at dusk, then open for a little while to let in late-comers, then close again for the night.

4.) Do they still operate well in very cold climates?

I haven't had ours long enough to comment, though I'm sure our cold isn't comprable to the cold in most other places.
Thanks for all the info! I'm going to check into the ADOR1, which you mentioned. I really only need the door three days a week, when I leave before it gets light out, and soon it will get dark way before I get home on those three days. Otherwise, if I don't get some kind of automatic door, the ladies will just have to stay in all day on those days, and I really don't want to do that to them.
 
Last edited:

chickmom3941

Crowing
5 Years
Feb 20, 2016
810
2,863
386
Minnesota
For reference I use a standard ChickenGuard (which is a pulley type).

1) I use battery as my coop has no electricity. Battery lasts a lot longer than I thought it would and so far I haven't replaced it.
2) They work... until they don't work. Yes they can have glitches and mine simply didn't close one day (no reason, I re-set the programming and it worked fine after that). They're convenient but not an excuse to "set it and forget it" - we still double check each evening to make sure all the chickens made it in. But it's good for not having to rush home at night if you happen to be out or having to wake up early in the morning if you like sleeping in late, and makes vacations a little easier.
3) If you choose one that runs on timer or has the option, yes. I use a timer option as my run can get pretty shady and winter gloom can potentially cause false triggers on a light sensor.
4) Probably varies by device so that's something you'll need to look into on technical sheets. I installed mine inside the coop (normally you install outside it) to help protect it from weather and temperatures but we only get down to a little below freezing.
Yes, I would also probably need the timer type because the area where the control box would be doesn't get a lot of light. Thanks so much for your response. It helps to hear from people who have experience!
 

chickmom3941

Crowing
5 Years
Feb 20, 2016
810
2,863
386
Minnesota
+1 for not using a photocell to control the door, also note that the photocell will most likely close the door too early.

I can't comment on commercial doors because I made my own. However if your a little bit handy there is a thread here on a very well designed door by @Tsheaby in this thread.
JT
Thanks so much for the suggestion! Unfortunately, I'm not that handy to be able to build my own door. Perhaps my husband could concoct something like that, though. Thanks for the tip - I'll ask him to check into it.
 

Cindy in PA

Crowing
13 Years
Jul 8, 2008
2,768
1,149
421
Fleetwood, PA
I have the advanced auto chicken door module from Fleming Outdoors with my own plexiglass door. It works on electricity or batteries. It has a function where you put in your coordinates & it adjusts the time for opening or closing based on sunrise/sunset at your location. You can also put any amount of minutes before or after sunrise & sunset. it also can be done with just a timer. It is the pulley type & has worked great for 4 years.
 

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