Automatic Chicken Coop Door: What to Know Before Buying

Rooster coming out of chicken coop

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An automatic chicken coop door is a coveted feature for any chicken coop. Though it may not be the first thing you think to put on a list of supplies to care for chickens, the automatic chicken coop door will quickly become a priority if you don't get up with the sun every day or don't want to worry whether you closed up the coop each night. Here we will break down everything you need to know before buying an automatic chicken coop door. 

What Is an Automatic Chicken Coop Door?

A motor-powered door that will open and close the chicken "pop" door automatically. It does so at set times by using a timer or by measuring light conditions with a sensor.

How Does an Automatic Chicken Coop Door Work?

There are two ways that an automatic chicken coop door operates: light sensors or timers. Light sensors measure the amount of light outside, closing the door when the sun sets and opening the door when the sun rises. It is important to keep in mind where your coop is located when considering a light sensor. For example, bright car headlights or motion lights may be strong enough to trigger the light sensor, leaving your chicken door open during dangerous nighttime hours. On the other hand, exceptionally cloudy or dark days may fail to trigger the light sensor, keeping your chickens all cooped up.  

A timer model can be set to open and close at a specific time. Some models come with the option to choose between a light sensor and a timer, which is very helpful for areas with largely differing daylight hours throughout the year. Otherwise, you will need to occasionally adjust the door’s opening and closing times to keep up with changing daylight hours. Some models even come with WiFi capability, making it easy for you to monitor your coop door right from your smartphone.  

Benefits of an Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Having chickens is a lot of fun, but getting up at dawn to open the chicken coop door? Not so much. And if you are a night owl who likes to stay out after dark but often forgets to close the coop, the real night owls may just find your chickens unprotected and stop by for their nighttime snack. Whether you accidentally slept in or forgot to close the door before dark, your chickens will stay safe and protected from any predators or birds of prey with the automatic chicken coop door. 

Looking to take a short weekend trip and can’t find anyone available to let the chickens in and out of the coop? The automatic chicken coop door takes care of that as well. By using an automatic door opener, you take away any hassle with letting the chickens in and out, allowing you to enjoy your feathered friends without losing sleep or sacrificing a late dinner with your friends.  

Key Buying Considerations

Power Source: There are three main power sources used for automatic chicken coop doors: electricity, batteries, and solar panels.

Electricity requires an outlet nearby, which isn’t great if your coop is in an area far from electrical outlets. However, this option is extremely reliable and does not fail often. A battery-operated door needs to be checked regularly to ensure that the battery is working and not running low. Climate is another factor to consider, as some batteries may not work well in freezing temperatures. However, a battery-powered coop door offers a freedom that electricity does not, allowing you to use an automatic door even in areas far removed from a power source. This also allows your door opener to keep working despite a power outage. Solar panels also offer this freedom and are a great choice for a greener chicken coop. However, solar panels can be a bit unreliable if you do not live in an area that gets plentiful, consistent sunshine.

Opening Mechanism: Chicken coop doors open in different ways depending on the coop set-up. For example, some slide up and down while others may slide side to side. Before buying an automatic door opener, be sure that the opening mechanism is compatible with the coop you own.

It is also important to know whether the door uses gravity or the motor to close the coop door. A motorized closing mechanism will ensure a smoother, more controlled closure and is safer if a chicken happens to be going through the door while it is closing.  

Safety Sensor: Though your chickens should be inside the coop before the coop door closes, there may still be times that a chicken tries to enter or leave the coop while the door is closing. Safety sensors are extremely important in this case. These prevent the door from closing if there is anything in the way or creating resistance. You definitely wouldn’t want the very item designed to keep your chickens safe to inadvertently harm your chickens. 

Installation Type: Automatic chicken coop doors can be purchased as full kits or in separate pieces, allowing you to create your own door. Kits make installation simple, easy, and quick. All the parts are compatible and included. DIY options include buying a motor that will lift a door you already own. If you would like to go the DIY route, it is important to be sure the motor you choose can handle the weight of the door you are using. 

Materials and Sturdiness: Chicken coop doors are often made of metal or wood. When deciding on material and sturdiness, it is important to consider the climate and potential predators the door will need to ward off. Can it withstand harsh winters or freezing temperatures? Is it designed with features to keep determined predators out, such as having a protective lip that prevents them from lifting the door?

Door Size: Most chicken coops come with a standard chicken "pop doo" size. However, if you have or are planning on having larger breeds, you may need a larger door.

How Much Does an Automatic Chicken Coop Door Cost?

Cost can differ depending on the power source, installation type, and materials used. A motor on its own will be cheaper than a full kit. A high-tech, WiFi-compatible door will be more expensive than a simple unit. Solar panel-powered doors tend to be more expensive than the other power options. Generally, an automatic chicken coop door will cost anywhere from $100 to $300.

In the end, investing in a quality automatic chicken door will take away the time crunch in the daily care of your hens. Without needing to worry about forgetting to open or close the "pop" door, you can enjoy your chickens without getting up early or being home before dark. By considering the factors listed, you will be able to find an automatic chicken coop door suited for your unique coop. Your chickens will be happy and safe—and you will be happy to keep those few extra hours of sleep.