How Can I Automate My Manual Up-And-Over Garage Door?

You may be wondering whether it's possible to automate your existing door. In this guide we'll explore how to do this.

You can automate your existing garage door, but consider a few things before doing so.

What is the age of your garage door? Whilst most modern doors can be easily automated, if your door is particularly old or has an unusual opening mechanism, it might be worth double checking that it is not going to cause any problems.

What type of garage door do you have? If your door is old or has a unique opening mechanism, make sure it won't cause any issues before automating it. Most modern doors can be automated easily.

What is the condition of your door? Provided your door panel and mechanism is in good working order then you should have no problems. However, you should bear in mind that an electric opener does not replace the door's mechanism and springs and other working parts should be in good order.

What is a garage door electric opener?

An electric garage door opener allows you to easily open and close your garage door at the push of a button, saving you the effort of manually unlocking the door and opening by hand.

Electric openers are quiet, safe, and easy to install. They can provide a high level of convenience when wanting to park your car in the garage and are essential for older family members who might struggle with opening and closing a heavy garage door. With electric openers being such a useful addition to the garage, we have decided to put together a brief guide on automating your garage door.

Garage door opener on a sectional garage door shown from inside the garage

What type of garage doors can be automated?

Firstly, you need to know which type of garage door you have, so you can be confident the electric motor will work with it.

There are several common types of garage doors that you may have:

  • Up-and-over garage door
  • Sectional garage door
  • Roller shutter door
  • Side-hinged garage door

Up-and-over garage doors are the most common type of door found on garages in the UK. These doors come in two distinct types that it is important to distinguish between when deciding on whether to automate your door.

A canopy door usually has springs across the top and vertical side channels. When the door is open, 1/3 of the door hangs outside forming a canopy. If an electric operator is attached to a canopy garage door, it will jam as canopy doors require a lifting force from the bottom, but the operator will be pulling from the top. You therefore need to install a bow arm conversion kit when you install the electric motor. The Bow Arm Converter will apply force from the top and bottom, allowing the canopy door to open smoothly.

If you have a retractable door, then an electric motor can be installed without any need to change the mechanism or the settings. A retractable door has springs at the side, horizontal channels installed at head height, and when it opens the entirety of the door slides back into the garage.

This makes them one of the cheapest and most convenient doors to automate.

Example of a canopy type up-and-over garage door

A leaf door, or side-hinged door, is when there are two doors, hinged at the side, that swing inwards when opening. These are sometimes called swing doors or barn doors as they are usually found on farm buildings. These doors will require an adaptor to utilise a traditional garage door electric motor.

Sectional garage doors open upwards, with the door folding up into 3 or 4 different sections. Sectional door doors can be automated the same way as a retractable garage door.

Roller shutter doors are slightly different in that it is made up of many connected horizontal slats. Roller doors can be motorised but require a specific type of tubular motor.

What to look for when choosing an electric motor

Once you have confirmed that you have a garage door model which can be automated, you need to make sure you select an electric motor strong enough for the job. For single-width doors, the Sommer Aperto 868 L is the best choice. For double doors, or heavy single doors (perhaps custom timber doors) the Sommer Aperto 868 LX should be used. Please note that electric motors are designed to replace the human effort used to open a door, they are not there to replace springs. The garage door springs should be left in place.

Garage door operators from Sommer don't require any complicated electrical work and can usually be installed by a handy DIYer, meaning they're a cost-effective option for motorising your garage door.


Sommer Aperto close up image of motor

How much does it cost to automate a garage door?

The cost of automating a garage door largely depends on:

  1. The type of garage door you have
  2. The size and weight of the garage door
  3. The number of features that you require

Garage door openers start at around £200 for a quality recognised brand, and can increase in price to £300-400 if you want additional featured add-ons.

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