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Electrifying Garage Double Doors

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 26 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Garage Doors Doors Garage Double Doors

Electric door openers are becoming cheaper and more easily available although the up-and-over door is far more popular and easier to convert. This doesn't mean that traditional garage double doors can't be electrified, it just means that there are fewer options on the market, making them more expensive, and they tend to need more maintenance.

Problems with Swinging Doors

Although double doors look simple, from a mechanical point of view they have more pivot points and a harder action to automate. An up-and-over door moves in one piece, in one direction, and is naturally inclined to close, so gravity helps out, at least in one direction.

Double doors hinge outward independently of each other and swing at ninety degrees to gravitational pull. This makes them harder to automate and there is often more modification needed to the garage, doors and surrounding area.

Make Sure the Doors Swing Freely

First let's deal with the problem of the swinging doors and making sure that they open smoothly. If the doors aren't in good condition and swinging freely then automating them will be largely pointless.

There are two approaches. The first is to make the hinges a lot stronger, probably by fitting new ones, so that the doors are suspended above the ground and remain that way. Unfortunately over time even the strongest doors and hinges will eventually sag to some extent, but if it's done properly this will take decades, if not longer.

Make Tracks

The second approach is to go with the flow and lay a track in an arc on the driveway at the garage door opening. Then castors or rollers are fitted to the bottom of the doors, either underneath or on one side of the door, depending on the situation.

This helps them swing open more easily even if the hinges begin to sag, although eventually remedial work will be required. The tracks also need to be kept clear and clean, they are usually made of metal and embedded in the ground. The rollers have to be kept clean of dust and dirt too.

Two Main Types of Opening Mechanisms

There is a variety of different mechanisms on the market, particularly at the more expensive end of the market, but most of the more accessible options come in two forms, ceiling mounted or wall mounted.

The ceiling mounted options often use the same motors as up-and-over door opening systems but with adaptors to convert the motion into a swing. There will be one adaptor for each door and they push the doors open then pull them shut. Beware that not all up-and-over door openers are capable of being adapted in this way, so only buy from a company that offers a complete integrated package.

Wall mounted mechanisms can be used where there is no ceiling, for example with a barn-type garage open to a pitched roof. There are two motors with this solution, one for each door, which makes them more expensive. The motors are mounted at the hinged edges of the doors, just above the door opening, and have short, bent arms that operate the doors.

Looking for Mechanisms

Finding electrical mechanisms for hinged garage doors isn't easy. Many of the major installers do not cover them, preferring to focus on the easier up-and-over doors. The other problem is that there are no standardised terms to refer to traditional garage doors and the mechanisms used to operate them.

So if you're looking on the internet, which is as good a place as any to start, search for side hinged doors, swinging wing doors, traditional or hinged doors. Also the adaptors are variously known as wing adaptors, swing arms or just adaptors. We can't guarantee that every result will be right but your chances of finding the right thing will be higher.

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