Automatic or electric garage doors are a popular choice in homes across the UK. They generally make life easier, while being fairly easy to install. But just how easy is it to automate a garage door and is it something you can do yourself?
In this article, we plan to answer both of those questions and more.
What are the benefits of an automatic garage door?
Automated garage doors have several advantages over their manual counterparts. They require less effort to open, being operated by the simple touch of a button, rather than lifting the whole door up, or out (depending on your type of garage door). This makes them a great choice for those who are unable or unwilling to move heavy doors.
An automatic garage door also allows you to open the garage from a distance, drive your car in, and close the door behind you. For many drivers, being able to do this makes them feel safer, particularly when returning home after dark. This is also a benefit for drivers with mobility issues, saving them from having to get in and out of their car just to park it safely in the garage.
Even if you don’t have any pressing need for an automatic garage door, knowing you can be in and out with the press of a button can be a relief when it’s windy or raining, or even if you’re just tired and want to get in your garage with the minimum of fuss.
How to automate a garage door
When we talk about automating garage doors, what we’re really asking is how to make a garage door electric (or, at least, electric opening). After all, there are a range of different types of garage door, so it can’t be as simple as a one-size-fits-all solution, right? That’s certainly true. Different doors require different electric openers, depending on their method of operation. These are some of the most common garage door types and how they are automated:
Up-and-over garage doors
If you have this type of garage door, you will find it fairly easy to convert into an automated system. You need to install a boom lift into the ceiling cavity of your garage, which attaches to the counterweight mechanism that guides the door onto its runners during everyday use. This boom has an electric motor mounted at the opposite end, which operates the opening and closing mechanism.
Sectional garage doors
Sectional garage doors are automated using a similar method to up-and-over garage doors – that is a boom and an electric motor, attached to the counterweight torsion spring behind the door. The main difference lies in the length of the boom. Because sectional garage doors extend deeper into the garage than your regular up-and-over model, they need a longer boom to lift them fully into position.
Side-hinged garage doors
With side-hinged garage doors, the automatic opener is another boom, only this time with two arms that attach to either side of the garage door. When operated, the boom moves forward, causing the two arms to pivot outwards in a sweeping arc that opens the doors in the same manner.
Roller-shutter garage doors
These are perhaps the most difficult garage doors to automate. While most opening mechanisms are attached externally to the door, with roller-shutter models the motor for the opening mechanism needs to be fitted inside the central axle or curtain roll. This requires disassembling the roller shutter door before installing the motor on the end of the axel and a suitable gearing mechanism on the adjoining side. While it can be done, many people prefer to replace their entire garage door at this point and have it automated from the very start.
How much does it cost to automate a garage door?
If you’re handling the automation job by yourself, then it will cost you the price of the appropriate electric garage door opener. Depending on the make and model, this can set you back anything from £35 for a really basic piece of kit to several hundred pounds for a top-of-the-range model. As with most things, it is worth doing your research before settling on a product based solely on the price.
How long does it take to automate a garage door?
Depending on your experience, the quality of the automated garage door opener, and whether you have somebody with you to help, automating a garage door can take anywhere from a few hours to most of the day. Generally speaking, the more familiar you are with the process, the quicker it will be.
Automating your garage door: DIY or call in the professionals?
If you’ve got fair-to-decent DIY skills, then fitting an automated garage door should not be a problem. The process is fairly straightforward (aside from roller-shutter garage doors, as we’ve discussed) and generally requires only the standard tool kit to get right. That said, it does take time and you will need at least one other person there to help steady the door while you fit the opener. Some garage door openers require careful calibration, which can be both time-consuming and frustrating. When working with up-and-over and sectional garage doors, you always run the risk of severing the counterweight cable during installation which can cause serious injury if you’re not careful.
While the decision is ultimately yours, many people decide to leave the task of fitting an electric garage door opener to the professionals. Not only are they insured in the event of an accident, but their work will be quicker and (probably) more accurate than your own. Professionally fitted electric garage doors also come with a warranty, something that you won’t have if you install it yourself.
Garage Door Automation: Final Thoughts
If you’ve decided to upgrade to an automated garage door, but you want the installation handled by professionals, look no further than Alliance Garage Doors. We have decades of experience between us fitting electric garage doors across Devon and we can do the same for you. For practical help and professional advice on automating your garage doors give the team a call on 0800 328 1930 for a free, no-obligation quote.