People Using Automatic Doors Hull by DT Services

How do Automatic Doors Work?

Automatic Doors work through the use of a sensor, which triggers a control mechanism. Find out more about the different ways of making an automatic door work here.

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What Are Automatic Doors?

An automatic door, sometimes called an auto door, is a door that opens by itself when it senses the approach of a person.

Automatic doors are everywhere: at the supermarket, the airport, in schools, office blocks, hotels and other venues too. In fact, they have become so widely used that it is hard to imagine a world without them. Could you really imagine trying to open a heavy door yourself as you leave the supermarket with a trolley full of shopping, and the kids in tow?

Because you're used to seeing them so often, you've probably never stopped and wondered exactly how automatic doors work. If you're a business owner looking to improve access to your shop, office, factory or any other kind of building, read on to learn exactly why automatic doors open when somebody approaches, and how automatic doors work.

How Do Automatic Doors Work?

Automatic doors rely on the use of a sensor to detect the approach of a person. When the sensor picks up an approaching object, it will send a signal to the opening mechanism to open the door.

There are various types of sensor available. The best sensor will depend on the type of automatic door used at your premises, as well as its location.

Motion Detection

One of the more common methods for operating an automatic door is through motion detection.

A motion detector, or optical sensor, will be installed on the sides or above the door. This sensor will then look for movement in front of the automatic door, and signal the opening mechanism when it is detected.

Movement is usually detected by:

  • Microwave Pulses: which use reflected microwave beams to sense an approaching object
  • Passive Infrared (PIR): uses infrared technology to detect a change in temperature in front of the door. A person's body heat will cause the door to open.

These sensors are popular because they only allow the door to open when a person approaches, and they do not require any use of touchpads. This makes entry to a premises, such as a shop, very easy for customers.

illustration showing how motion detection opens an automatic door

Pressure Sensors

Pressure sensors were one of the first to be used for automatic doors, after being developed in the 1960s.

They are installed in a mat or pad on the ground, and will detect the change in weight when a person steps on it. These can be programmed with a weight threshold, to ensure that animals such as cats or dogs cannot trigger the pressure sensor and open the automatic door.

Another advantage is that the sensor will continue to detect a stationary, or slow moving person. For example, an elderly person. With a motion detector, the doors could close if they remain still for long enough, whereas a pressure sensor will prevent that from happening.

Access Control Systems

A modern method of control for automatic doors. These systems allow an automatic door to work by the use of a keycard, a fob, or nowadays a smartphone.

Whichever credentials you use, access control systems work in a similar way:

  • The credentials are presented to a reader
  • The reader reads the credentials and converts them into a digital signal which is sent to the control panel
  • The control panel reads the data it has been sent. If it matches the approved list, it will disengage the door locks
  • The door locks will be opened by the control panel, if the credentials are approved by the control panel. Various door locks are available such as: electromagnetic locks, mortise locks or cylinder locks.

These automatic doors offer increased security, because it is possible to restrict access to those in possession of the credentials. Therefore, access control systems are often used in facilities such as schools, apartment complexes, hotels and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

The development of cloud technology means that access can also be granted remotely, sometimes removing the requirement for on-site security.

Can I Only Use One Type of Sensor?

No, you are not limited to choosing only one type of automatic door sensor.

Many companies utilise multiple sensors, which can act as a failsafe if one becomes damaged or otherwise inoperable. For example, an automatic door using a motion sensor for access may also incorporate a pressure sensor to recognise an approaching person if the motion sensor fails.

Do I Need Automatic Doors?

Many commercial and industrial premises now utilise automatic doors for their various benefits.

  • Climate Control: automatic doors open and close automatically, meaning that doors aren't left open and temperatures can be maintained.
  • Equal Access: EU and UK legislation requires businesses to make reasonable adjustments for disabled access.
  • Improved Hygiene: touchless access improves hygiene as it removes the opportunity for contaminated hands to spread bacteria and viruses. This has become especially important in the aftermath of the Covid 19 pandemic, meaning that automatic doors can play in important role in maintaining health.

Automatic Doors from DT Services

Now that you have seen how automatic doors work, you might be considering an automatic door installation for your premises.

DT Services Ltd have over 20 years' experience in automatic door installation and maintenance. We will help you decide on the best type of automatic door and which sensor would be best for your premises.

Just get in touch to speak to our engineers and book a consultation.