Automating Up And Over Garage Doors

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Automating Retractable Up and Over Doors

Most one piece up and over garage doors can be easily converted into an electrically operated door with a remote control package available from many different manufacturers. Many of these kits can be fitted by the typical DIY enthusiast.

What needs to be carefully considered is that you are making your garage door into a 'machine' that can be remotely controlled and therefore safety has to be a high priority and these days a legal requirement. The common mistake is thinking you should have an electric motor fitted to your door because it is very heavy.

Stop at this point and make sure your garage door is not heavy just because it is either too old or fitted incorrectly in the first place as an electric motor may well open and close the door but will not be a safe, long term solution.

Of course many garage doors are genuinely heavy to operate, especially larger double width doors and then motorisation is a good idea to prevent possible shoulder and back injuries, epecially in older people but also give convenience and security too.

The first thing that needs to be established is the mechanism type of the up and over door that is fitted:

Up and over one piece garage doors come in two forms known either as retractable or canopy, and the type of motorisation kit required will be dependent on which of these two options your door is.

There are also some odd one piece up and over garage doors in the UK with a strange cantilever system which generally cannot be automated but these doors would be very old now so best replaced.

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Sometimes it may well be cheaper to replace the whole garage door, gear and frame with a new package, especially if the sizes are standard. We have many excellent garage door packages well under £1,000 all in.

retractable garage door with electric operator

Knowing which kind of up and over door requires automating is important because the two options have very different support frames and different operating movements and mechanisms.

A retractable up and over garage door has lifting springs at the side and horizontal guides in which rollers are guided and the door is supported at its four corners during the entire opening and closing motion. This leads to a very smooth and resistance free operation and this in turn means that these retractable doors only require a motor and a belt or chain mechanism to open and close them. The complete retractable motorised system can be fitted in a couple of hours with a simple tool kit, and manual adjustments are kept to a minimum by electronics that recognise the doors opening characteristic and accommodate to them. This means that fine tuning and adjustments are negligible with this kind of door.

The typical layout for a fully retractable up and over door is to have a fairly long 'boom' going from just above the door panel and into the garage with a towing arm lifting the door up and down.

See the image left: retractable door with electric operator

canopy up and over one piece doorA canopy garage door uses a torsion spring above the door panel and vertical guides at the sides for the door rollers and it does not have four constant points of transition contact like a retractable door. This results in canopy doors having a less sophisticated movement than a retractable door and in turn means that they require a much more complex and potentially expensive conversion kit. The conversion of a manual canopy door to motorised operation generally requires contract fitting by a professional installer. A heavier duty electric motor is normally advised for automating the canopy door as the forces required to move it are greater (even though they are only lightweight single doors normally). Hormann have just relesaed a brand new canopy door converter system for use with their own electric operator which uses a patented device between the garage door and the operator towing arm and it doesnt infringe on the headroom when open so is worth taking a look at.

The use of a 'bow arm canopy converter' is required as well as the normal motor equipment and this device installs to the inside of the door panel and creates the more complex forces required to fully open a canopy door. Using a cheap, lightweight motor will simply result in either not being able to fully open the door or constant problems with false emergency stopping as the motor thinks it has hit something when in fact it is just the resistance from the door mechanism. (This can also happen with the retractable door)

What to do next....

We have many offers on our website for different electric operators but we do suggest you give us a call to discuss the entire package and options available to ensure you get the right equipment for either DIY installation or for us to arrange an installer to carry out the work for you.

Call our experts now on: 01933 229135

For more about electric operators, click here

This short video below shows the principal of a retractable up and over garage door, in this case one of the market leaders, Hormann, and how they operate with an electric motor drive.

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