automated doors

Automated doors aren’t just for accommodation

With operators on the upswing, an electrician explains how to manage a successful installation
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
By Mark Marmer

Most condo residents expect the front entrance door of their properties to have an automated door operator to accommodate persons with disabilities. While there are still a few sites without operators on their front doors, this is usually the first location that boards and managers install these devices.

Once the residents have experienced the convenience of operators, they often look to other locations in the building where these devices might be useful. Since many residents park their cars underground and enter the building from the garage, these doors tend to be the next most logical location.

Many residents are entering the building with packages, and being able to hit a button to open the door is very handy. The devices are also being put on doors leading to the common area recycle bins, which is another location where residents’ hands tend to be full of items that they may not want to place on the floor.

Property managers tasked with overseeing the installation of automated door operators should be sure answer the following questions to ensure the success of these projects:

1. How heavy is the door?

An undersized operator may fail prematurely. Operators are available with larger motors and heavy duty mechanisms, but of course this comes at a cost. An experienced company will consider weight as it assesses the requirements at each of the doors.

2. Are there wind or pressurization issues that make the door hard to open or close?

Often the answer is to use a larger operator, but sometimes the answer is to replace the swing door with a slider. A qualified installer will be able to point out areas where a slider may be a better option.

3. Is there enough headroom to install the operator?

Often, in existing buildings, the headroom above a door is too low, or there may be duct, sign or sprinkler pipe in the way. Consider these potential obstacles when obtaining an estimate. In many cases, it may just be a matter of shifting the operator slightly or cutting a bit of drywall to create a recess for the unit so that it meets the minimum clearance.

4. Is the door secured through a fob or magnetic lock system? Who will interlock these items?

After property managers select a supplier for the door system and settle on an electrical contractor, they may also have to coordinate and schedule a time for the corporation’s alarm or access control company to come in. This can be a complex operation to schedule all in one day.

The preferred route would be to select one contractor to coordinate and complete the job. In most cases, an experienced installer can interface the existing fob system without the access control company, which can be assessed when the installer quotes the work.

5. Does the door need a new strike? Who will supply and wire this to the operator?

In many cases, the contractor will need to install an electric strike, which is typically included in the quotation and would be supplied and wired as part of the complete project. The strike’s interface would be handled similarly to the fob system, as detailed above.

6. Where will the push buttons be located?

Sometimes the exterior of a building’s front entrance lacks an easily accessible mounting surface, which might require the installation of a post for the button.

If doors are close together, it may make sense to interlock the operation of two openers with the outer buttons. Even so, including inner buttons prevents people from possibly becoming trapped between two doors.

7. Where will the power for the door come from?

Contractors can sometimes pick up power for these doors from 24-hour lighting in the area. Other times, such as when the lighting is 347 volt and the operators are 120 volt, this will be unfeasible.

The Electrical Safety Code prohibits the use of the power for the exit and emergency lighting system to feed these doors.

The installer should be on the lookout for these issues during the design and quotation stage.

8. Should the feed come from an emergency circuit so the door will operate during a power outage?

If the door is a slider at a main entrance, property managers would certainly want it to be fed from their emergency generator in the event of a power failure.

9. Will I need electrical inspection for this installation?

Yes. These connections need an ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) certificate of inspection.

At first blush, it might seem like installing an automated door operator is a simple task. On closer look, it’s clear that a property manager may want to enlist a reliable electrical contractor who can help coordinate the project. As boards increasingly opt to install additional automated door operators, property managers can set the stage for easy and stress-free jobs by dealing with one experienced company and asking the right questions.

Mark Marmer is a master electrician and the owner of Signature Electric in Markham, Ontario. Signature Electric is an ACMO member that specializes in service to condominiums throughout the Greater Toronto area. Mark can be reached at 416-490-8093 or

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