Automatic Door Failure in Cold Weather

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by corliss, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. corliss

    corliss In the Brooder

    Mar 7, 2010
    I've got an automatic door that runs off a 12 volt battery that we installed in late spring. We've had a run of days with highs in the low 30's and the battery barely has enough (even after a recharge) to open the door in the cold. Has anyone else with an automatic door experienced this problem? And if so, what did you do? I don't want to give up the convenience of my door but hauling the battery in and out nearly daily to recharge erases the settings and makes the whole thing almost more trouble than it's worth. Any suggestions?

  2. Toast n Jelly

    Toast n Jelly Songster

    Jan 29, 2007
    No advice here but lets hope for some!
  3. Little Red Chicken

    Little Red Chicken In the Brooder

    Mar 1, 2010
    You could try adding a solar panel recharging unit. That way the battery can recharge slowly all day and hopefully never get so low it won't work. Just an idea.
  4. Ceilismom

    Ceilismom Songster

    Apr 21, 2010
    NW South Dakota
    I am far from an expert on batteries, and I've never seen an automatic door in operation, so take this for what it's worth:

    Can you move the battery to a spot where it would be in direct sunlight (kept warmer) during part of the day? You may not want it in that same spot in the dead of summer, but maybe that would help now.

    Is it possible that the battery needs to be replaced? Sometimes, you get one that just doesn't live as long as it should.

    Would a door made from a lighter weight material still protect the chickens while requiring less power from the battery?

    If none of those options help, could you get a light sensor for it? At least you wouldn't have to reprogram it every time you have to recharge the battery.
  5. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    I'm in MN and temps are dropping to below -30 wind chill this weekend, so it will be a supreme test of my Foy's door opener.

    So far, it's worked great. I was concerned with some frost build up, but the motor was able to lift the door panel without a hitch. We have the original batteries in and haven't needed to change them despite the cold weather.
  6. spartacus_63

    spartacus_63 Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    Central Iowa
    I'm no battery expert, but some things to consider:

    what are the cold cranking amps rating on this battery?

    Is this battery a deep cycle battery (one meant to be used and recharged vs a typical car battery intended to maintain a constant charge)

    Could there be a dead cell? (charge the battery and test it with a multi-meter)

    Putting a solar maintainer on it will not only help keep it running longer, but more importantly it will help to keep the battery warmer.

    Good luck, my auto door is currently on the fritz and am making the EARLY morning trip to the coop. Can't wait till the replacement gets here!
  7. Huston's Happy Hens

    Huston's Happy Hens Songster

    Jul 14, 2008
    Dewitt, MI
    we made our open door; bought a drapery motor, hooked it up to a timer, had a metal plate cut and it's done; all mechanisms are inside the coop and we've not had it fail due to weather; power failure, yes, but not to weather...if you are interested, just google drapery motors, and i believe you can find all the details on this site; if not e-mail me - [​IMG]

  8. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    What a hassle. I hope you can figure out a work around soon. I can't add much to what's already been said. It does sound like you may either need a different battery or a solar recharger kept on it.

    Engteacher, we have the same type of automatic door that Foy's and Wells sells. We've gone through several winters with it, without a problem. We get similar temperatures. (It uses 4 AA batteries.) We haven't had a problem with frost on the door. Your coop is probably more humid than ours is. We may have more ventilation and probably a lot more air space per chicken, just because of the set up we happen to have at the moment.
  9. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    Quote:We have 34 birds in our 12X16 coop. We do have a fair amount of humidity that tends to collect up at night. In the morning when we open the two pop doors, the air circulates well. It's our first winter with a big coop, so we're watching, adjusting, and learning as we go along. Our exhaust fan is built in, but we turn it on only in the summer.

    The frost is on the aluminum runners grooved for the door to slide in. So far, so good!
  10. mons02035

    mons02035 Chirping

    Aug 4, 2010
    Carmel, Maine
    I think you need a solar powered trickle charger/conditioner for the battery. It's just like a camper for boondocking

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