The Best Automatic Chicken Door

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Royalclutch, Jun 19, 2011.

  1. Royalclutch

    Royalclutch New Egg

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    Just bought a new shed for my chickens and was wondering which Automatic Chicken door was the best bang for the buck?
     
  2. MakNugget

    MakNugget Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It all depends on your need as each has their pro's and cons. There are some folks here that have "modular" automatic doors that you can buy in pieces depending on your set up. I'll let them respond to your call. I wanted something more all-in-one so it wasn't for me.

    They are all relatively pricey at first look, but it's WELL WORTH the initial investment, trust me.

    I went with a Pulletshut door. I just ordered my second one a year later for my new flock. Their home page is wonky, and their instructions aren't the best but at about 200 delivered, it's a very sturdy unit. Four screws/bolt holes are in the frame for easy installation.

    The pulletshut door has a strong, THICK aluminum frame, with a fully enclosed motor/timer. A wire leads from the enclosure to be attached to a 12 volt battery. Once you connect it to a power source, you can now program the door. This is both a positive and negative feature in my opinion. Its positive because it's simple to operate (with a magnet) and can be opened or closed beyond programmed times the same way. The negative is that the time has to be programmed live. To explain, if you want it to open at 7am and close at 7pm, you have to be there twice to set those times at that time. It's not like a light timer where you can adjust it once and let it go. This really isn't a big deal except I usually don't have an opportunity to set it to the time I want until the weekend. Any time the power is cut (battery change), the timer loses the program. As the days get longer/shorter, I find myself changing the open/close times more frequently, but for the most part, it's set it and forget it.

    I use Battery Tender Plus to charge a 12v battery. Now that I will have two in operation, I bought a couple more batteries, so that I have one at the ready when I need to swap. I haven't managed to jot down how long a charge lasts, but a tell tale sign is when the door doesn't open quite as far as it were programmed.

    The door has a built in program to reopen once for a short period after the close time to allow chickens a second chance in case they get left out. I'm not sure if that really helps, but depending on the length of day, I can have a straggler left out sometimes. This is probably due to having the door close too early.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. einhard

    einhard Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 15, 2011
    Thanks for the detailed description. I've been looking at this one as well. Actually looking at getting a couple that I can rotate between the pens by adding a switch. When you say the motor and timer is enclosed...is there any way to get to the writing between the two? I'd like to use one timer controlling both motors with a switch in between them if that makes sense.

    Edit: phone fingers!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  4. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    I, too, love the Pullet Shut doors.

    I plan to get one when I build my next coop.

    It would also be interesting to find the answer to einhard's question.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. chezpoulet

    chezpoulet Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 31, 2010
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    My pullet shut door has been in operation for two weeks now- love it!

    Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I do have a question. What happens in a power outage? Does that mean the door will only open if I manually place the magnet on the controller, like I was over-riding my original program? What time will it default to? The instructions weren't clear at all. I don't want to have my chickens locked in and no way for them to get out, especially since I got the door so that I can leave on vacation for a few days and not worry about the chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2011
  6. MakNugget

    MakNugget Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @einhard, I haven't looked very closely but I'm pretty sure the entire mechanism is sealed shut. If you have two, it wouldn't make much sense to try to wire them together since the timer & motor is one unit, not separate. The little rectangular black box you see in the pictures is all it is, with a very generous wire lead to the battery. As I understand it, you can wire it to mains, but I don't know how to do that myself.

    @chezpoulet, in the case of a dead battery, the door will stop operating. The default is no program. If you unplug one of the battery leads for even a second, the stored open/close time is lost. When you connect it, it will cycle with a partial open close, and it will wait for you to program the open and close time. If I decide to replace a battery during the week, I end up manually opening and closing until the weekend (usually in the winter) or the next day (summer) where I can let them out during the day before work. Do you have it hardwired to the grid? The battery (amazon sells it, 12v 5ah) works well, and it probably lasts about 1-2 months... guessing of course. I tried using a solar trickle charger but it's just too shady to tell any difference with or without it. The Battery Tender Plus insists on charging the battery using opposite terminals (red to black) and have seen no issues doing this for a while now.

    If there was one thing I would have to ding the door for would be the lack of clear instructions. The video helps explain a bit, which conflicts with what is on the motor box, not making it any clearer. http://chickendoors.com/programming.htm
     
  7. Braxton

    Braxton Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 21, 2011
    united states
    Thanks...for ....sharing.........
     
  8. goldtopper

    goldtopper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have a guillotine-style door inplace, the Add-a-Motor is great. It's $80, very sturdy and has never failed me. It is supposed to be installed inside the coop to keep the elememnts away from the motor, but my door was already built on the outside. I mounted it and cut a corner out of a feedbag and covered it. These bags are pretty waterproof and the whole unit is under the eaves, so no worries.
    Add a timer and electricity and you're good to go.
     
  9. Green_Eggs_and_Ham

    Green_Eggs_and_Ham Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I too have the Addamotor. LOVE it. Never had a glitch. It's been in for a year now. [​IMG]

    We already had a door, so it didn't make sense to buy another one. Ordered it from Discount Automation , I think they advertice on this site. We (I mean hubby... and I watched) installed it on a saturday morning. Easy install.

    Now there's asolar kit for it too . Looking forward to getting that. Some people on this site have installed it but I haven't heard any comments. [​IMG]

    I priced all the other "complete" doors. Found this fit my needs best. I have no regrets.

    Enjoy! [​IMG]

    E/
     
  10. chezpoulet

    chezpoulet Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 31, 2010
    Redmond WA
    Quote:Thanks for the clarification- I was afraid of that. I have my door on a battery with a trickle charger. But the worst case scenario is to have both my battery fail and the power go out at the same time. Let's hope it never happens!
    [​IMG]
     

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