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.
Automatic Chicken Coop Door Review – Which Is the Best Automatic Chicken Coop Door?
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Best All-In-One Overall: Happy Coop Door
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Let’s start with our first choice, The Happy Coop Door. The Happy Coop Door was designed for chicken owners who were tired of waking up early especially during those winter months to let their girls out.
With the Happy Coop Door, you also get a self-locking mechanism, meaning once it closes for the night there is no way a predator is reaching your chickens.
The door also has a protection sensor built into the circuit board. When the door closes if it hits an obstruction with a small amount of force, it will open back up for about 15 seconds before closing again.
The only flaw when we tested this door, was that it was battery operated. You can use a AA battery or a 6V battery. Now if you’re like us, you know that battery-powered electronics struggle in those cold winter months.
We reached out to the owners and they recommended hooking up a solar charger for deer feeders. They explained that this should keep the battery’s internal temperature from dropping so it continues to work as it should in the cold.
Best Value: CO-Z66W Automatic Chicken Coop Door
If you are looking for an automatic chicken coop door that will get the job done without breaking the bank then this door is your best bet.
CO-Z, similar to the JVR on Amazon uses an actuator to move the door through the railings, but it’s for half the price.
Since it is using an actuator, when it’s closed it provides fantastic protection for your chickens throughout the night.
It gives you the ability to use a light sensor option if the door is on the outside of the coop, or a timer if you have the door installed inside it! Either way you have options depending on your preference.
Best Door Opener: ChickenGuard
This brand has been around for years and clearly for a reason! Their door opener just works!
ChickenGuard’s door opener has been used and trusted by hundreds of chicken owners.
With just the opener, you have the ability to customize the opening and the door yourself.
The control box can be powered by batteries or by using power from your main grid.
They give you the option to buy a self-locking door along with the opener.
If you live where it gets extremely cold weather in the winter there we recommend you get the extreme version of this product.
Best Door Arm for Coop Doors on Hinges: Coop Controls
This brand is very different from the rest.
This unique product has a twist with the concept of an automatic door that is on hinges.
The Coop Controls arm provides two options for power, both battery and solar.
This kit is great for first-time chicken owners that have the budget to spend on a quality product.
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 Automatic 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?
Does an Automatic Chicken Coop Door 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 handle the door’s weight.
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 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.
Can I Use an Automatic Chicken Coop Door in Winter?
This automatic chicken coop door is weather-proof, which can withstand even heavy downpours and extreme weather conditions.
You won’t need to worry about the winter season because this automated door can survive freezing temperatures up to -15 degrees Celcius or 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, there’s a chance it might freeze shut since it’s battery-powered.
To prevent it from happening, you’ll need to clean the chicken coop door’s grooves and keep it free from snow and ice.
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, 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 minor 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 a vacation
Most people don’t realize the importance of an automated chicken coop door until they go on a vacation.
You may find a chicken sitter, but it’d take some time to look for someone willing to exert an effort on getting up early and sleeping late for chickens.
Aside from that, it can be more expensive than investing in an automatic chicken door in the long run.
You may still need someone who’ll feed your flock, but you can ask your closest neighbor or friends to stop by and check them once a day.
Running errands or dining out, or visiting friends
Whether you’re running your errands, dining, or hanging out with your friends, you won’t have to worry about your chicken if you have a chicken coop door that closes by itself.
Even if you’re not at home, you’ll know that your flock can enter their home and become safe automatically.
In an accident on the way home and unable to get back in time
Unforeseen things may happen along our way and cause delays as we travel back home.
It can be frustrating, but you won’t worry about being late anymore if you have an automatic chicken coop door.
You’ll be at peace knowing that your flock can handle themselves well if they already got used to how the coop door opener works.
Too tired to wake up early to let the hens out.
There are times where we feel like we want to be couch potatoes, and we don’t have the energy and will to do anything.
But, chickens can’t stay in their coop the whole day without fulfilling their need to explore.
So, if you’re having difficulty waking up early, having an automated coop door is the way to go.
With this tool, you can get away from early morning pressure since the door opens by itself.
Home, but forget to lock up the coop.
There are days where our minds are too occupied that we forget our duties even if it has been part of our daily routine, like locking the coop.
You’ve probably done it once or often.
But remember that an open coop is an invitation for predators.
Have limited mobility but still want to care for chickens.
Pets do wonders for a person’s emotional and mental health, especially older people.
So, having some chicken to care for and keeping them occupied is beneficial for their health.
However, since they have limited mobility, they might not have the energy to open and close the coop every day.
That’s when an automated coop door becomes handy for them.
There is also the fact that automatic coop doors are much less likely to be slammed shut by heavy winds. It 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.
- 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.
- The wire is safely secured from rodents (and chickens).
- The large door 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:
- Power Source for your Control Box
- Type of Control Box
- Opening Mechanism
- Door Weight
Each chapter below will explore these components and share our experience on the types and designs you require.
Power Sources for an Automatic Chicken Coop Door
Four different sources can power the control boxes on coop door units:
1. Mains electric/ AC-powered
This automatic chicken coop door option is suitable for coops with power.
Its main advantage is it’s easy to the plugin, and unlike solar-powered ones, you won’t have to rely on sunlight for power.
You won’t need to replace batteries with this option too.
However, the downside is it’s prone to power outages.
You need to note that you shouldn’t run an extension cord out to your chicken coop since there’s a high risk of shorting the power line.
If you’re living in an area where power outages frequently occur, it will help if you’ll also check if the door has a manual option.
You’d also need to ensure you won’t have to reset the program every time the power goes out.
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 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.
3. Solar Power
This power option is suitable for those 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 automatic doors also tend to be a bit more expensive.
4. A combination of different all three
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.
Presenting one of the best automatic chicken coop doors with complete features and guaranteed durability.
This easy-to-set-up door is cost-effective and appealing at the same time.
It comes with safety sensors that’ll stop closing if it encounters resistance, which in turn prevents it from causing injury to your chicken.
You won’t have to wake up early in the morning just to let your chicken out, too, since it’s equipped with both a timer and light sensor.
You can preset the time when the door will open using the time and manual settings.
It allows you to program the door to open and close at specific times in the morning and evening.
You have complete control over your chicken’s habitat with this setting, and you may program it to match your daily needs.
The other way to operate this coop door uses the light sensor.
The light setting employs a precise light sensor to open and close the door at a predetermined and adjustable light level.
This automatic chicken coop is also compatible with any wooden coop design.
On top of that, it has everything you need in the package, and the installation only takes about 10 minutes, thanks to its plug-and-play design.
To sum it up, here are the features that set Happy Coop Door apart from others and its drawbacks:
- Hassle-free coop door installation
- Battery-powered, not prone to power outages
- Comes with a low battery indicator
- Built-in protection sensor for safety
- Equipped with a self-locking mechanism
- Proven and tested weatherproof design
- Battery needs replacement every after 6 months
Common Questions About Automatic Chicken Coop Door Answered
Here are some frequently asked questions about Happy Coop Door that spills essential details about this technology:
Can I install this automatic chicken coop door inside the coop?
You can install the Happy Coop Door either inside or outside your coop.
If you decide to fit it inside your chicken’s coop, know that it’d be best to user timer setting than a light setting.
It’s simply because it’d be difficult for the light sensor to work and determine if there’s available light if it’s inside your chicken coop.
Can I install this automatic chicken coop door horizontally?
It is possible to fit it into the door horizontally.
If you decide to do so, you’ll need to install two screws 6 inches above the controller (or to the left or right of it in your case) on either side of the door once it has opened.
It’s a precautionary measure to prevent the door from tilting due to gravity.
However, we still recommend setting it vertically.
What is the chicken coop door’s dimension?
The Happy Coop Door is 12 inches in height and 10-inch wide.
What is the light sensor’s minimum and maximum setting?
This chicken coop door’s open and close settings both have lumen values ranging from 0-23.
The higher the lumen value, the brighter or intense the available light.
If you want to utilize the open light, we recommend setting the value into 15.
However, if you prefer the close light set, we recommend setting it to 10.
What will happen if the sensor detects an obstruction? Will it close again?
Just like how an elevator works, it’ll continue to close when the obstruction gets removed. Having it may take some time.
Our Choice For Best Chicken Treats
- Egg Armor For Your Girls Eggs - Mixture of whole, half, bits AND POWDER of black soldier fly larvae that you can mix in your chicken's feed. It increases the strength of your girls' eggshells.
- Healthier Feathers - This product is better than bulk dried mealworms and helps keep your girls' feathers healthy and grow back quicker during molting season.
- Laying More Eggs - Because of the nutrient dense profile of dried black soldier fly larva, your hen's egg production will increase!
- Totally Safe for Reptiles and Other Birds - Happy Grubs is worm food that can also be enjoyed as bird food, reptile food, and turtles as a treat!
- Easy-To-Use Scooper - Our bag comes with a scooper that makes our bsfl mixture and powder easy to pour into a bowl or add to your typical chicken feed. It also has a clip so you can clip it onto the resealable bag. You can use it for feeding your other pets too!
Programmable Control Boxes (Light Sensors Vs. Time Based)
There are two widely used modes for automatic door operation:
- Light Sensor (Sometimes with time-based failsafe options).
- Timer Based (i.e., Clock).
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 chicken coop 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.
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.
The opening and closing of the coop doors 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 Door Size 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 door’s weight by up to 90%.
A typical coop door can weigh 4KG. However, an aluminum counterpart measuring the same size will be 0.3KG.
Typically, a cheaper automatic door opener 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 the 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 buying.
If you have bigger chicken breeds, then you’ll need to have a bigger door too.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing an Automatic Coop Door
Aside from the elements mentioned above, here are other factors that could influence your purchasing decision.
Ease of Installation
Not all people are handy, and not everyone is willing to install an automatic chicken coop door.
So, if you’re not a DIY enthusiast, it’d best to choose an easy-to-program and install an automatic door.
One of the main purposes of the automatic chicken coop door is to protect your flock from burglars and predators.
So, it needs to be sturdy enough to withstand any attack.
Furthermore, it has to endure the wear and tear caused by harsh weather. So, the coop door’s door and frame need to be water and weatherproof.
No one ever wants to get their chicken get beheaded by the automatic chicken coop door that’s supposed to protect and keep them safe.
Since this heartbreaking story happened to many coops, it’s crucial to ensure that the coop door has a safety sensor.
The sensor’s role is to stop the automatic chicken coop door from closing when it comes up against resistance.
Your coop door should work similarly to an elevator’s door to avoid killing the chicken off.
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 freeze and refuse to run.
Automatic Chicken Coop Doors 101 Summary Table
Features, Options, Power Sources, Our Recommendation
- Different Power Sources
- Battery (Typically 4 x AAs)
- 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 often fail due to cloudy days, shade, and changes in the atmosphere. Opening MechanismMotorized 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 Weight1KG
- 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 TypeControl 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…