How to choose the best automatic chicken coop door?

Installing an automatic door in your chicken coop will be useful, convenient and will help you keep your chickens safe.

If you also want your chicken coop to work properly and last a long time you have to choose it well.

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There are several designs in the market and we want to help you to know the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Let us begin.

Timed or twilight door?

The first thing you have to decide is the criteria for opening and closing the door. In other words: will the door open and close at fixed times or according to sunlight?

Timed doors

The first option, timed doors, is the most common. It has some advantages over twilight operation:

  • The required electronics is somewhat cheaper
  • The control mechanism can be installed inside the chicken coop, where it is less exposed than outside.
  • We can make the chickens remain inside the chicken coop until the time they lay the eggs. That way it is more difficult to put them outside the nest box.

However it also has drawbacks, and they are quite important:

  • The chickens doesn't use a watch. Its timetables are determined by sunlight. We all know that it does not get dark at the same time in January than in July. A timed chicken coop door requires frequent changes in the configuration of opening and closing hours to adjust them to the solar calendar. This is especially critical for closing time. If the closure is too early, the chickens will be left out of the chicken coop and if it is too late predators can enter inside it. In either cases, the lack of constancy in the adjustment of the opening and closing hours will result in the ineffectiveness of the door and will seriously jeopardize your chickens.
  • The electronic circuits that control the clock oscillators are relatively susceptible to failure and mismatch. Storms, dirt or excessive humidity can cause the clock to waste time, and these environmental factors are not uncommon in a chicken coop. A mismatch in time can go unnoticed and became fatal.

Twilight doors

The alternative to timed doors are twilight doors. Opening and closing are done by measuring the sunlight so  they open at dawn and close at dusk.

The main advantage of these doors is clear:

  • They do not require time adjustments throughout the year. It much more comfortable and also much safer.

They also have their drawbacks:

  • They require some more electronics, so their price is a little higher.
  • A fixed opening time cannot be programmed, so hens stay less time in the nest and can lay eggs outside it.
  • They cannot be installed in chicken coops where there are very close intense light sources as they would confuse the sensor.
  • They require that the control mechanism be installed outside the chicken coop where it is most exposed to meteorological agents.

The Agrimatic door combines the best of both worlds. It is a twilight door that incorporates and improves the main advantage of timed doors. The Agrimatic chicken coop door can be configured to open with a delay after dawn, causing the chickens to lay eggs in the nest. In addition the opening is not at a fixed time, which would force time adjustments throughout the year, so the door will open with a delay scheduled after dawn.

It can also be installed indoors and in places with little or no sunlight using a remote light sensor.

Guillotine door or hinge door?

The sliding or guillotine doors are connected to the control mechanism by a thread. When the motor rolls the thread, it pulls the door up and the door opens. When the mechanism unwinds the thread the door goes down by its own weight and closes.

In a hinged door the motor is coupled directly to the door. When the motor rotates in one direction, it opens the door and when it rotates in the opposite direction, it closes. Contact between door and motor is maintained the whole time.

Guillotine doors

Advantage

  • Its design and construction is very simple
  • A single mechanism can open and close more than one door.

Drawbacks

  • The closing of the door is not reliable or verifiable, so they are not very safe against predators
  • Installation may not be simple depending on the thread path.

Hinge doors

Advantage

  • Motor coupled directly to the door, which makes opening and closing highly reliable.
  • Door integrated in the frame, which allows to verify electronically the opening and closing of the door.
  • Very simple installation

Disadvantages

  • Greater complexity of design.
  • Higher manufacturing cost.

Let's explain this in greater detail.

As we have said, guillotine doors close by its own weight. What is that weight? In the most popular models weigth just between  350 and 500 gr. They are very light aluminum doors in order the engine of the mechanisms can lift them.

Being such light doors, any dirt on the descent rails can cause them to get stuck. The motor will unwind the thread but the door will not lower and the closure will be incomplete. A chicken coop is not exactly the cleanest place in the world. Feathers, straw, droppings and bugs can get into the rails of the door and make it not close properly. If this occurs predators can introduce the snout and legs below and lift them easily. Even the models of guillotine doors with lock require that the door descend in its entirety for the lock to act, so they don't really solve much. The electronics of the sliding doors do not incorporate any system that verifies if the door has been completely closed or opened, or if other problems have occurred such as abnormal winding of the wire or its breakage, so nothing can be done to correct these problems.

The Agrimatic door is a hinge door. The motor is attached to the door, so its turn is transmitted directly, providing a force  much greater than gravity, capable of even "sweeping" dirt accumulated under the door that could hinder the closure. There are no rails that generate friction or in which dirt can be deposited. In addition, the door has detectors that allow the control electronics to verify the opening and complete closing, making retries if necessary. The motor is self-locking, that is, it cannot move without electric current. In addition, the Agrimatic door has safety stops that prevent the entry of predators no matter how strongly they push the door.

In short, a hinge system is much more reliable compared to predators.

But if you prefer guillotine doors, we recommend that you look for a model capable of lifting heavy doors which weight at least 4 of 5 kilos. This will get you better guarantees that it closes correctly and that it is not so easy to open by predators. It will be something more expensive but it will be worth it.

Product aesthetics or reliability?

I don't know if chickens like screens and buttons, but i have no doubt that people do. We tend to think that a device with beautiful buttons and screens is a good device, although we have no idea what is inside it. Yes, the screens and buttons are beautiful, sometimes even useful, but... are they appropriate in a chicken coop door? Definitely not. Let's explain it.

I don't know how your chicken coop is, but if it is like others, it is sure that there is dust, the feathers, straw and insects. It is also likely that it is cold in winter and hot in summer. And if above the door control equipment is installed outside the chicken coop it will have rain, wind, sun and humidity (and remember that the twilight doors must be installed outside). None of this likes electronics, much less buttons and screens, and believe us, we know what we are talking about. We have been developing and installing equipment to operate in rural environments for more than 20 years.

Buttons are an entry way for dust, moisture and rainwater to the electronic circuit. Dust and moisture or worse, their combination, can cause malfunction and even breakdown in the electronic circuit. Rainwater will most likely cause a breakdown. And in these cases the guarantee will be lost.

The screens are delicate elements. Not only because they can't stand blows but also because the heat and cold are not good for them. Cold makes them look dim and the information changes slowly. Heat turns them black. They are not permanent changes, but they cause them to age prematurely and last for less time.

And we haven't talked about bugs yet. Have you ever wondered where insects get in winter? Very simple, wherever they are protected. An electronic equipment box is an ideal place. The bugs do not fit by the buttons but ... they do through the entrance and exit hole for the thread of guillotine doors and from there they will go directly to the electronics, which is the warmest area. So you should not be surprised if one day your guillotine door stops working and when you open it you find dozens of tiny bugs that have been dedicated to run around and make small pockets on top of the circuits. In this case also warranty will be void.

The Agrimatic door has no screens. It has no holes for entry and exit of thread through which insects or dust can enter. It only has one button. It is located together with the brightness sensor at the bottom of the door mechanism, facing the floor, so the door structure itself acts as a sunshade and roof, protecting the electronics.

At the Agrimatic door, the criteria of functionality have prevailed over aesthetics to offer a durable and reliable product, really suitable for outdoor operation well beyond the warranty period.

Customer service and after sales service

The product is always very important, but also people behind it. Internet sales have brought the products closer to users, but they have moved the seller and the customer away. Ask for advice, get after-sales service or warranty service, sometimes it is impossible or a source of headaches.

The Agrimatic door is manufactured in EU. You can call us or write us an email. Before and after buying. Without any cost. We will assist you the best we know.

Quality / price ratio

This assessment is very subjective. It depends on the importance that each one gives to the different aspects mentioned above. Therefore the decision of which door offers the best value for money is only up to you.

However, we want to tell you the following:

  • Most guillotine door manufacturers sell the door lift mechanism and the door itself separately. Keep this in mind when calculating the final price.
  • The Agrimatic door includes both the door mechanism and the door. Our price is the final price.
  • From Agrimatic we have strived to offer you a high quality product at a reasonable price. We have not opted for the most economical solutions but for those we believe are best.
  • We do not flood the internet of our advertising because it would be very expensive. We prefer to sell quality rather than brand.
  • You can also purchase our products directly on our website, which will allow you to benefit from special offers and discounts.

We offer our Agrimatic door convinced that it is the best door for your chicken coop.

It is twilight, with configurable opening delay, on hinges and with self-locking motor coupled directly to the door. It is designed for outdoor operation and manufactured in UE, which guarantees you great quality and the best customer service.

And all this with a great quality / price ratio

Thanks and best regards from the Agrimatic team!

Comments (3)

    • Bernabé Estrada
    • 2019-10-16 10:05:51
    Interesante. Aporta criterios técnicos y de uso que no se suelen tener en cuenta. Un poco largo pero merece la pena leerlo completo.
    • спас схема вышивки
    • 2020-01-21 10:19:26
    I like what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage! Keep up the wonderful works guys I've you guys to my own blogroll.
    • Andrésfuncionao
    • 2020-02-29 22:51:27
    Hola, quisiera saber si funciona con pilas, batería, panel solar. No tengo acceso a la red eléctrica. Respuesta: Funciona con tres pilas AA y tiene una autonomía superior a 6 meses. Un saludo.

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