Automatic Door Openers: Why They’re Worth It In Access Control

Touchless entry isn’t the first thing many people think of in a security system, but they are an indispensable part of access control. Automatic door openers allow quick, convenient, and germ-free entry, and their applications go beyond ADA compliance–although that is a major benefit. Let’s dive into how automatic door openers work, how they are used in access control, and the advantages they provide that make them great for door access control systems.

automatic door opener

How Do Automatic Door Openers Work?

Automatic doors are designed to work simply. Two parts are involved: the door itself (which is often sliding but can also be a swing-open type) and the trigger. 

The trigger, also sometimes known as the actuator, is generally a wall switch or a sensor of some type (motion, light, or sound). But the trigger can also be a signal from an access control system, like a contactless keycard, mobile app, or even a remote signal from the system control center. The trigger opens the door mechanically, which creates a touchless entry. But can you use an Apple Watch to open a door?

how does automatic door opener work

Types of Automatic Door Openers

There are two different “operators,” or systems that power these doors open or closed. Selecting the type that is right for your business will depend on the frequency of use the door will see.

Electro-mechanical

This operator uses a motor and a gearbox to create smooth, consistent opening motion. The trigger on an electro-mechanical door opener is generally a motion or infrared sensor, but can also be an RFID keycard or fob. They are better for high-traffic areas where the door will see a lot of use. These doors usually can’t be opened manually (unless there’s an emergency).

Electro-hydraulic

This type of operator is a combination of door closer and opener. The electro-hydraulic door openers are for the “push-pull” type of doors. The hydraulic unit kicks in most often to soft-close the door, but the unit can also be wired into a wall switch or access control software to enable remote opening. These are best in low-traffic areas where touchless entry isn’t necessary for every entry.

Now that you know a little more about how automatic door openers work, let’s talk about their benefits in the security sector and beyond.

Automatic Door Openers and Security

So how does a door opening system factor into a security system? There are a few different ways: lockdowns, lock-opens, and data tracking.

Lockdowns are pretty self-evident: when an emergency happens where all the doors need to be locked, such as a theft or even unarmed assault incident. Automatic doors that are connected to a smart security system can be locked with the press of a button.

Lock-opens are vital for emergencies such as fire, where easy exit from the building is paramount to the safety of those inside. Many automatic doors have emergency lock-open modes that open the door and keep them open whenever a fire alarm or similar is tripped. This function can also be controlled from the dashboard of a connected security controller software.

Data tracking happens when the automatic door opener is connected to a cloud-based security system. The extent of the data collected will be different with different software systems: more basic ones will log entries and exits, can recognize things like when a door is open for too long (propped open illegally) or can’t open correctly (barricaded). More sophisticated systems will be able to link RFID tag use and video surveillance with entries and exits, resulting in a more complete picture of use. 

In a retail setting, these features can reduce shrinkage and repel unwanted visitors; in a manufacturing setting they can increase workplace safety by keeping a highly accurate headcount of who is in the building at any given time.

But the benefits of automatic doors don’t stop there. Here’s just a few more of their unexpectedly great advantages.

Benefits of Automatic Door Openers

Hygienic

Touchless entry doors reduce the spread of bacteria. Non-porous surfaces like metal door handles can harbor bacteria for days, or even weeks on an interior handle that isn’t exposed to UV rays. While Covid is the virus on everyone’s mind, swine flu and the common cold also linger on these surfaces, along with gram-positive cocci, which are bacteria associated with skin infections, pneumonia, and septicemia. Long story short, the less a door handle is touched, the better–so it’s an obvious application for automatic door openers.

ADA Compliance 

This one basically goes without saying! Automatic doors provide access to everyone–wheelchair users, the elderly, parents with strollers and children–with a minimum of fuss.

Credibility & Customer Service

According to a survey of 447 consumers by the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers, 98.9% of consumers prefer automatic doors. For these customers, automatic doors are a sign of good customer service because they make it easy to get through the door with carts, strollers, walkers, or other encumbrances.

Space-Saving

Automatic doors that slide to the side, flush with the wall, saves valuable space in any business setting where space is limited.

Energy Saving

Auto door openers save energy on heating and cooling. This is especially true of “airlock” style doors, where there is an outer door, a short indoor passage, followed by another inner door that leads into the main facility. Although they draw on energy to open and close, it is much less than it would take to maintain a stable interior temperature if the doors were always open.

benefits of automatic door openers

Final Thoughts

Thanks for sticking with us to the end! Ultimately, automatic doors are worthwhile not just for their great security features, but also because they add a lot of value to a storefront or facility by increasing the facility’s functionality and reducing heating and cooling costs.

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