Converting a Manual Door into an Automatic – What you need to think about

Posted at 11/04/2018 10:34:51 Category: Articles

The main reason why someone might choose to convert a manual door into an automatic one, is for greater ease of access and simple convenience.  Many commercial buildings have automatic doors, not only because it’s easier for their customers to use but also for energy saving reasons. If you’re wondering whether you should invest in this, you should be aware of additional considerations you might need to make.

Door Preparation and Equipment Check

When you’re converting a manual door into an automatic, a little door prep might be required. Not only do you need to figure out if there’s room for the operator to be mounted, you need to think about the area surrounding the door. It might be that you need to add some timber over glazed panels to give you the extra room. You’ll have to look at the depth of any reveals to see if installing an operator is actually feasible and you’ll also need to think about how robust the door is to begin with – it needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the operator.

UPVC doors usually come with multipoint locks; these will not work with an operator and are likely to burn the motor out if installed in conjunction with these.

You will also need to install a fused spur and if it’s a fire door or a designated fire escape door; you’ll need a fire alarm interface to link up your operator to the mains and the fire alarm. This will do either the following:

  •        On a designated fire escape, the doors will fly open to allow for high volumes of traffic to leave the building.
  •        On a Fire Door, it will ensure that the door closes to prevent the spread of fire and smoke.

You may also need to change the lock/latch on the door too from a manual to an electric strike and depending on the type of operator, you might also need to include exit buttons, emergency break glasses, keypad/proximity readers or activation sensors.

Health & Safety

European Standard EN 16005 is the code of practice for safety in use of automatic doors for pedestrian use. Any automatic Door Operator should be installed and commissioned by an authorised person as a good knowledge of this standard and other building regulations such as Document M need to be taken into consideration, along with a full risk assessment.

It might be that additional safety products are required. If the door is a disabled toilet that opens outward into a corridor; you might want to think about a barrier in order to direct traffic around the projection of the door to minimise the risk of injury to people.

Finger entrapment protection should be used, especially on doors where children or vulnerable people are likely to use them. Safety Sensors are also recommended - your risk assessment should highlight this, but if you are in any doubt whatsoever; err on the side of caution and specify them. All automatic doors require signage to advise users that it is an automatic door and to keep clear - BS7036 covers this as it states that “Warning signs shall be used to draw the users’ attention to residual risks…” and an automatic door could be seen to be a potential hazard in itself.

Of course, the risk really depends on who will be using the door and whether they are familiar with the way it opens and closes but it also depends on the type of operator being installed, which brings us to my next point – the two types of operator.

Types of Operators

Automatic Door Operators are classified according to their power; low energy and high energy. There are various reasons as to why people choose one over the other and they both offer their own individual benefits.

Low Energy Operators are slow moving and as such, there is a smaller risk of a door coming into contact with someone, even without safety sensors. These should be used on low traffic doors only and are usually specified on jobs where costs are to be kept at a minimum.

High traffic areas, such as shop entrances and corridors should consider using a high energy operator - particularly places like care homes. These operators are supplied as a supply and fit product only because of the liability risk that is attached to them. They are faster moving and safety equipment is essential.

As you can see, there are many more considerations to make with regards to the installation of an operator rather than just the initial cost of the unit. They are definitely a cost effective investment and provide many buildings with a means of assisted opening for their traffic but the safety of the users of the door, should be of the utmost importance too.

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