Converting an existing garage door to an electric automatic system

by
Alex Morrison

One of the most common enquiries we receive here at Up & Over is whether it is possible to automate an existing manual garage door. The answer is a simple one: it depends!

As such, in as simple terms as possible, let me take you through the determining factors:

1. The condition of your garage door

The ultimate factor is the current condition of your door. If it moves freely and easily, doesn’t rub on its own frame or the floor then you are off to an excellent start and almost any door can be automated. If your door is wobbling all over the place, is very stiff or has a range of other issues then it may be more challenging.

Even if your door is in a sad state, it can always be rejuvenated. If you are very fond of your garage door style and wish to retain it, or it is a very large (and therefore expensive) door to replace, we can simply change the mechanism (springs, arms, tracks, etc) and add a motor for the most cost effective way of motorising otherwise poorly garage doors.

Although age is generally a challenging factor when it comes to converting your garage door to electric, generally anything is possible as long as you are willing to give the operating gear a proper overhaul.

2. The type of garage door you have

Automating an Up and Over garage door

There are different motors to suit different door types. If you have a traditional up and over door the main factor is whether the door has tracks that run horizontally back into the garage. You might also have a retractable door, tracks that run vertically up and down the back of the frame, or a canopy door. Canopy doors are not designed to be motorised, but if the door is modern and/or runs smoothly, it can be motorised with the addition of a bow-arm device, although this will increase the cost. The bow arm conversion kit is fitted against the door and attached to the operator boom. As an alternative Hormann and Garador also offers a canopy lifting arm which is easy to install.

For comparison, if the door is in reasonable condition, even very old retractable doors can be automated. This is a simple and cost effective case of installing a boom above the structural opening and an electric operator motor at the other end.

Automating a sectional garage door

Virtually all sectional doors can be motorised unless, as per point 1, the door is in a sorry state. Even if it is, the simple nature of sectional doors means that the door should be easily repaired to a condition where it can be motorised. Choose a motor type to match your needs i.e. if you have low headroom.

Automating a roller garage door

As with sectional doors, virtually all roller doors can be motorised, whether they were originally manual or to replace motors that have failed. There are a number of different motor types and we can recommend the correct motor to suit your particular garage door.

3. Conditions within the garage

In some cases, the physical conditions within the garage mean that a motor will not be suitable. We will always aim to squeeze them in where we can, but never at the detriment of reliability as the motor should make your life easier and give you years of dependable function.

The main issues are a lack of headroom, lintels passing through the garage that get in the way of the motor mechanism and ultimately, there must be power in the garage!

The virtues of motorising your door are numerous: no more back-strains, avoid getting out in the rain when you come home and in some cases for those with limited mobility, an absolute must that can be VAT free.

The temptation may be to rip out the existing garage door and start from scratch – though often this is not necessary. Most old garage doors can be renovated and automated, unless they were built with odd spring and gearing arrangements.

What are the benefits of converting to an electric garage door?

Electric doors are much safer than manual doors, with built in safety features to ensure that the door retracts if it hits an obstacle. This auto reverse safety feature is the key benefit of an electric door, so do consider whether it can be implemented. You can tell that your garage door provider conforms to the safety features by being CE compliant. It will of course still need to be regularly tested to see if the door is properly balanced.

How much does an electric garage door conversion cost?

As the cost varies widely depending on the condition of your existing door, the simplest solution is to give us a ring and we will be glad to come out and give you a free assessment of the suitability of your garage door and leave you a written quotation. Motors are always in stock and can be installed within 3-5 working days. Contact us with any questions about your garage door conversion project.

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