Automatic Chicken Coop Door: What to Know Before Buying

Automatic Chicken Door What to Know Before Buying Blog Cover

An automated door – every chicken keeper’s dream!

You can rest in bed and not have to worry about getting up at the crack of dawn to let the girls out. You can go away for the evening, knowing they will be safely locked in while you are away.

In addition to a stress-free life, you know your coop is predator-proof, too.
What’s not to like?

Automatic chicken coop doors have been around for a couple of years now, so we thought we would look at them and see what options there are for you and your hens.

We are not going to review every product available. Still, we will give you a general overview of what’s available, problems you may encounter, and helpful tips and hints from our experience using them.

As with all things, some work better than others, some are simple, some are ‘high tech’, and then there are those that clever people have made for themselves.

So here we go – everything you ever wanted to know about chicken doors and never thought to ask.

Our Pick: All in One

The Best Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener & Door Kit

Chicken Guard Automatic Coop Door

Chicken Guard: Premium Door Opener

  • All in one combination kit with the control box and door; everything you need!
  • Integrated programmable precise timer and light sensor to operate the opening and closing of the door.
  • Battery-powered and easy DIY installation

See Price on Amazon

Answers to Common Questions about Automatic Chicken Coop Doors

Before you start exploring the various automatic chicken coop door choices or even thinking about which one is right for your hen, there are a few things you likely want to know.

This information will make it easier to set up your chicken coop and door. It can also make it clear why an automatic chicken coop is so useful.

How Far Should a Chicken Coop Be from the House?

When it comes to placing your chicken coop, you want to strike a careful balance between avoiding unpleasant smells and noises while at home and still being able to keep an eye on your hens.

Depending on where you live, local laws may restrict how far away coops have to be.

These can vary, with some only requiring 10 feet between your home and the coop and others requiring 150 feet. These requirements are usually because of noise, smells, and flies.

Avoid any issues by checking local regulations before setting up your chicken coop.

If there are no legal restrictions, how much distance do you want between your chicken coop and home?

Think about how many chickens you have. This will determine how much noise they make and how bad the coop smells. If you have more chickens, keep the coop farther from your house.

You’ll be glad you did.

At the same time, you want the coop to be close enough to monitor. After all, you don’t want a fox to kill your hens.

For that reason, most people choose to put their coop as close to their house as they can stand (based on smell and noise), and the law allows.

Can I Leave the Chicken Coop Door Open Overnight?

Technically, you can leave the chicken coop door open overnight, but it is not wise except in certain circumstances.

There is less of a risk if you have the coop inside a fully enclosed run. The key here is fully enclosed. Otherwise, foxes or other predators can sneak in and kill your hens.

Closing the door also helps protect your chickens from weather, including drafts. Leaving it open in the cooler months can be bad for your hens’ health.

But, if your run is very secure and the weather is temperate, you can probably get away with leaving the door open.

Even if you frequently leave the door open, you may still want an automatic chicken coop door.

After all, what happens if your chicken run gets damaged and there is a way for predators to break in? Or what if the temperature drops and your chickens would get too cold?

Do Automatic Chicken Doors Work?

Yes! As long as you choose the right one, automatic chicken coop doors work very well.

How do they work? They have small motors that pull the door open and shut. They do so automatically based on either light sensors or a timer, which we’ll go into more detail about later on.

There are a few things to remember, however. For the automatic chicken coop door to work, the motor and opener have to handle the weight of the door.

It also needs to have a design that prevents predators from opening the door, such as a well-placed lip.

Those reasons are why it is important to get a quality automatic door. If you just buy the cheapest one you find, it may not work great. Maybe the sensors will be of lower quality, or maybe they will fail.

If you get one of the automatic chicken coop doors on this list and have issues, take a few minutes to confirm it is installed correctly. This should resolve most problems.

If there is a defective part, talk to the manufacturer. They will typically send you a replacement promptly.

What If the Chickens Don’t Get Inside Before the Automatic Door Closes?

If you are new to raising chickens, you may worry about installing an automatic door for the coop, only for it to accidentally leave some of your hens out.

This is not a concern, thanks to the hens’ instincts. They instinctively roost right before dusk falls.

This means that they will be inside the coop before the automatic door shuts, even if it uses light sensors.

If you are really concerned, opt for a timer instead of light sensors. Monitor your chickens for a few days or weeks to confirm what time they are all inside the hutch.

Then, set the door to close after that.

Remember, you can still check on your chickens and even open and close the door if it is automatic.

If you are doubtful, just check the chicken run and coop the first few nights.

If any chickens are still out, put them inside and scoot the timer back a little for the next night.

Why Do You Need an Automatic Chicken Coop Door?

Some people may see automatic chicken coop doors as just another unnecessary expense. But, in reality, this small upgrade can save you time and stress.

It helps ensure your chickens are safe and gives you more flexibility.

Automatic doors are beneficial when you aren’t at home, whether it is planned or not. They also help in other situations. Examples include when you are:

  • On vacation.
  • Out running errands.
  • Dining out.
  • Visiting with friends.
  • In an accident on the way home and unable to get back in time.
  • Too tired to wake up early to let the hens out.
  • Home, but just forget.
  • Have limited mobility but still want to care for chickens.

There is also the fact that automatic doors are much less likely to be slammed shut by heavy winds. This helps keep your chickens safe.

What to Know Before Purchasing

There are a few important things to know, or think about, before you buy your hen house door opener, or you may end up with something that is not helpful to you or your hens.

As they can be expensive, you really need to shop carefully for the door that best suits your needs; this is where this guide comes in!

As an example

There are manufacturers that sell just the control box (i.e. door opener) and the door is sold separately or there are ‘all in one’ combination units with the control box and door.

Read the advertisement carefully, you need an ‘all in one’ unit unless you are prepared to either pay a lot more or make your own door.

If it seems much cheaper than other models – ask yourself why? Most all-in-one (i.e., combination) models are priced between $200-400.

Desirable Features:

  • Ease of operation (e.g., fail-safe and manual override).
  • A wide range of operating temperatures – down to below zero is optimal.
  • Slow, gentle closure (i.e., not a gravity-based closing mechanism) with a 30 second cycle time.
  • Waterproof control unit.
  • Large controls that are easy to use with gloves on.
  • Wire is safely secured from rodents (and chickens).
  • Large door that can accommodate all of your chickens and any breeds you plan to get in the future.
  • A motor that can handle the weight of the door.
  • Adjustable timer or light sensitivity for the control box.
  • Warranty and customer service.
  • Not the cheapest on the market; cheap options are typically made overseas and function poorly.

There are four main purchasing decisions you need to consider:

  1. Power Source for your Control Box
  2. Type of Control Box
  3. Opening Mechanism
  4. Door Weight

Each chapter below will explore these components and share our experience on the types and designs you require.

Automatic Chicken Coop Door Review Table – What Is the Best Automatic Chicken Coop Door?

DOOR CONTROL BOX MAX WEIGHT DOOR OUR RATING
Chicken Guard Premium Door Opener Timer and light sensor with manual override 2 lbs Yes
See Price
Brinsea Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener Timer and light sensor with manual override 2.5 lbs No
See Price
Auto Door Automatic Chicken Coop Door Timer with manual override 6 lbs Yes
See Price
Chicken Guard Extreme Door Opener Timer and light sensor with manual override 8 lbs No
See Price

Chicken Coop Door

Power Sources for Automatic Chicken Doors

Four different sources can power the control boxes on coop door units:

  1. Mains electric
  2. Batteries
  3. Solar
  4. A combination of all three

Battery Power is the way to go!

Most of us don’t have power supplies near our coops, so because of this, most control boxes are battery-powered.

Battery power is a constant and reliable source where you don’t have to check anything except the control box to ensure it functions.

Batteries also prevent against power outages, and the best control boxes have low battery indicators, so you know when to replace them.

The only drawback here is battery life.

You should expect to get 6-9 months from 4 AA batteries. Whilst this is relatively short-lived, it’s more than offset by the advantages of having an automated coop door.

Solar power is a great option for those of you who are off-grid.

It’s also great if you have your chickens in pasture and it’s far away from the house or electric source.

However, solar power can be a ‘spotty performer’ in areas that don’t have several days of sunshine or in the Northern Hemisphere winter months.

Solar-powered doors also tend to be a bit more expensive.

The good news is that many automatic chicken doors let you use batteries as a backup, even if they primarily use another method.

This lets you opt for a solar-powered one but have batteries for cloudy days. Or use one that connects to an outlet but has the batteries in case of power outages.

That said, those powered just by batteries will work well for most people. For extra convenience, try to choose a unit that lets you know if the batteries are getting low.

Our Pick: All in One

The Best Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener & Door Kit

Chicken Guard Automatic Coop Door

Chicken Guard: Premium Door Opener

  • All in one combination kit with the control box and door; everything you need!
  • Integrated programmable precise timer and light sensor to operate the opening and closing of the door.
  • Battery-powered and easy DIY installation

See Price on Amazon

automatic chicken coop door

Programmable Control Boxes (Light Sensors Vs. Time Based)

There are two widely used modes for door operation:

  1. Light Sensor (Sometimes with time-based failsafe options).
  2. Timer Based (i.e., Clock).

Light Sensor

Light sensor-operated doors open with sunrise and close at dusk or dark.

Since they are light-sensitive, be sure that no light will trigger the door to open at night. Think very bright moonlight or a motion detector light, even passing car headlights – nothing like letting the fox into the henhouse!

We all know predators are smart. They watch for patterns and weaknesses.

Once Mr. Fox knows that your girls are up at 6 am sharp and you are nowhere to be seen, he may be bold enough to strike.

You will have to place the sensor carefully on a west-facing wall to catch the morning sun. Some deft placements can delay the door opening if you don’t want them out at sunrise.

Timer Based

The second option is a timer-based solution. Some light sensor mechanisms are fitted with an emergency failsafe option which is triggered by a timer-based mechanism.
So, if 8 AM hasn’t opened the coop door, then open the door.

A timer-based option without a light sensor is our favorite solution as it is cheaper and programmable.

One big advantage of using the program or override feature is that you can vary the opening time based on season, day, or need.

You will have to periodically adjust the program timing as the days get longer or shorter.

Our Pick: Control Box

Automatic Chicken Coop Door Control Box

Brinsea Premium Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Brinsea: Chick Safe Premium

  • Integrated timer and light sensor so you can decide upon which program to use.
  • Manual door release and failsafe mode to prevent injury to your hens.
  • 2.5lbs door lifting capability and easy to see low battery indicator.

See Price on Amazon

Opening Mechanism

The opening and closing of the coop door have different power sources, programmable controls, and mechanisms.

The mechanism can be either a:

  • Motorized Lift and Gravity Close
  • Motorized Lift and Close

Always select a motorized lift and close for a well-controlled open and close of the coop door.

The motorized lift and close should have an electric eye or positive stop to prevent harm or injury to your hens.

Ideally, it should also have a small lip in front of the positive stop to prevent predators from sliding open the coop door.

What Size Door Do You Need?

This refers to the size of the ‘pop’ door.
Some units come in one standard size (12” x 15”); this is ideal for most breeds. Larger birds may not be able to squeeze through smaller holes!

If this is the case, an option is to use an aluminum door. An aluminum door will reduce the load on the motor as it can reduce the weight of the door by up to 90%.

A typical coop door can weigh 4KG. However, an aluminum counterpart measuring the same size will be 0.3KG.

Typically, cheaper automatic openers will raise and lower doors by up to 1KG in weight. Better, more robust motors will raise a 4KG coop door and not strain themselves.

Not straining the motor is important for a smooth operation of the door.

A few models have variable sizes for the pop door entrance, so be sure what size door you require before you buy.

Our Pick: All in One Integrated

The Best Integrated Automatic Chicken Coop Door Opener & Door

AdorStore ADOR1: Automatic Chicken Coop Door

  • All in one integrated design shipped ready to use!
  • Integrated programmable precise timer to operate the door with manual and override settings.
  • Predator-proof design with a positive stop and aluminum lip.

See Price on Amazon

Common Problems with Automatic Coop Doors

Whilst researching automatic coop doors and having used them for several years, you will find common problem areas with specific units or brands:

  • Avoid gravity lowered doors and always purchase a motorized raise and lower door. Gravity lowered doors can cause harm and stress to your hens if they get trapped.
  • Avoid cheap, poorly manufactured automatic coop doors; this can result in electric issues and potentially your coop remaining open to predators if the door fails.
  • If you live in areas where the temperature can regularly drop below freezing, it’s best to avoid using these mechanisms as they can simply freeze and refuse to run.

Automatic Chicken Coop Doors 101 Summary Table

Feature Options Our Recommendation
Power Source
  • Mains
  • Battery (Typically 4 x AAs)
  • Solar
We recommend battery power to prevent power outages and solar failures. Battery power should last between 6-9 months and should have a low battery indicator.
Programmable Control Box
  • Timer Based (i.e., Clock)
  • Light Sensor Based
  • Manual Override
A timer-based mechanism for opening and closing the coop door, which you can adjust based on daylight and days, is the best option. Even if they are adjustable, light sensors can fail too often due to cloudy days, shade, and changes in the atmosphere.
Opening Mechanism
  • Motorized lift and close
  • Motorized lift and gravity close
Select a motorized lift and close the unit, ideally with an electric eye, to prevent lowering jams or your hens from being trapped in the door. Ideally, include a positive stop with a small lip to prevent predator intrusion.
Door Weight
  • 1KG
  • 5KG
Typically, cheaper units will lift doors of up to 1KG in weight. Better, more robust units will easily raise a 4KG coop door. You can always use an aluminum door to reduce the load on the motor.
Installation Type
  • Control Box
  • Combination Unit (Control Box and Door)
It’s advisable to purchase the combination unit to prevent poor installation and an over-worked motor due to a cumbersome door.

If you are the inventive sort and have made your own automatic door, please tell us about it; we love hearing from you. Or, if you have any experience with automatic chicken coop doors, let us know in the comments section below…

21 thoughts on “Automatic Chicken Coop Door: What to Know Before Buying

  1. I got the deluxe model. It’s great. The door opens at sunrise,but can also be set for a time you want. It can close at sunset but I have mine close at 830 pm.But I did have to change my pop door because of weight. My girls like to be out late so once in a while they get stuck after curfew. I still check on them every night. My girls are trouble too , they are trying to dig out under the base of their run. I would definitely recommend getting one. But remember this is a great Help not a replacement for being a good chicken owner

    1. There must be a way to install an old DC electric car window on its side powered by a 12 v car battery charged with a solar panel. Can all be purchased at a wrecking yard for very cheap. I haven’t figured out the timer mechanism yet.

  2. Hi,
    How about a top-hinged door? I have one in front of the nest boxes to stop the dear ladies sleeping in there. The door opens at daylight and closes at twilight. The door is lift to open and gravity close, so if a chicken gets trapped inside it can push the door open easily ( as has happened during a test run). Outside the square?

    1. just run the string for the sliding door through two small pulleys and then attach it to an eye bolt at the bottom of your hinged door. It should then swing upward when the motor “lifts” the door

  3. I have not had happy success with an automatic door operner that closes downward (verticle). I highly recommend installing an automatic door that closes horizontal like a normal door. Here is the reason why. I have lost chickens (crushed) because they decided to perch right below the door and by the time the door reaches their back, the chicken is already at their lowest setting and can not move. A horizontal closing door will just push them out of the way, If you already have a verticle closing door, just turn it 90 degrees and you should be able to make it slide sideways instead of up and down.

    1. Thank you
      We lost a young chicken this morning and I’m afraid she may have been trapped by the downward closing door 😞 Tonight we sat and watched as the hens like to roost right where the door is. We are devastated and have unplugged the automatic door. On Amazon we did not see any negative feedback. The hens are up in a roost house that is also completely fenced.

  4. Based on my personal experience of an automatic pop door, you’ll learn what you need to look for if you intend to buy one: the features which will help keep your chickens safe and the pros and cons of different power sources.

  5. Hi. This was a great list of preferable traits for a door. I was hoping that you could provide me with the name of the company that sells this perfect door you describe.

  6. My coop door is in the floor of the coop. Every auto opener seems to be for vertical. My opening is horizontal in the floor of the coop. Is there anything available that will work for me ?

    1. Couldn’t you just use a vertical door With the gillateen style door and lay it into the floor so the door opens from left to right and chickens jump done through ?

    2. I just got the omlet horizontal closing door since mine is a hole in the coop floor too. Installed it today and it seems like it will work like a dream!

  7. I’ve been dealing with the chicken guard extreme model. Replaced the motor once already, and it’s looking like it needs another motor again. This is in 6 months worth of use. The digital controller screen is hard to read very complicated and the manual doesn’t help much

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