Installing Your Own Automatic Garage Door


Automatic electric doors first appeared in the 1930s, although they weren’t commercially available until after World War II. Since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength to become what they are today.

You can pay for a specialist to come and fit your automatic garage door, but it’s surprisingly easy to do yourself. You don’t need to be an advanced DIY fanatic to install your own; here are a few top tips on how to do it.

The basics

An automatic garage door can be created from a regular garage door in many cases, depending on the design. What you essentially need is a garage door that opens in the right way but with a

motor attached. This means that you don’t have to buy everything as a package and you can even convert your existing garage door.

Although you would hope that your automatic garage door would be reliable, you need to have a backup plan in case of power failure. This means that every automated door needs to be able to open manually too.

When you’re installing your automatic garage door, it’s the same as fitting a manual door in the first instance but then adding a motor and a control system on top.


Whether you are using your garage for a car or other purpose, you want to know that the door is secure and not easily opened by others. Unfortunately in some cases, an automatic garage door is not as safe as a manual door.

This is because that some types of automated door have to disengage the manual locking mechanism; this is essential to allow the doors to open automatically. This doesn’t mean that the door is completely unlocked of course; instead, you will be relying on the electrical lock.

An electrical lock may sound superior but, on many budget, and even mid-range products, it’s not very secure.

If security is a priority, look for an automated system which also offers a manual locking mechanism. This ensures that your garage will remain locked even if you suffer a power failure and provides a heightened level of security at all times. These aren’t typically available on budget systems so you may have to pay a bit more for peace of mind.

What doors can be automated?

Automation isn’t an option to fix a garage door which is broken or in a state of disrepair. To upgrade an existing garage door, it must be in good condition.

Adding a motor to your existing door can be a cheaper option to install an automated system but it won’t work with every type of door.

The majority of modern garage doors should be compatible with electric systems but this isn’t the case universally. If your garage door has horizontal sections, you could be in luck. Older doors or those which come in a single solid piece are less likely to be compatible with automation.

The weight of the door is also a consideration; if it is very heavy then the power required to lift it automatically may simply be too much for most systems.

Preparing for installation

There are two separate types of automated garage door; one is driven by a chain and the other by a belt. Both work in broadly the same way but the latter is quieter and may be more durable too. This might a consideration you want to take into account.

Any automated kit will come with its own instructions which should be fairly simple to follow but before you get started, it’s helpful to do a bit of prep work.

If you’re using your existing doors, these should be well oiled so they open smoothly. Also make sure any cords or ropes are removed so they don’t get tangled up in the process. Any locks or mechanisms which are already in place should be deactivated.

It may sound obvious but you’ll also need a plug close to where the motor is going to be situated. These are normally installed on the ceiling. If there’s not one in place, you’ll need an electrician to install one, unless you are experienced with electrics yourself. This should not be attempted by someone who’s not familiar with electrics.

Tips to consider during installation

Whether you have standard garage doors or roller doors, the power motor will be located inside but make sure you place it high enough up so that people won’t bang their heads on it. Aim for at least 7 feet high, if possible.

All systems should have a manual disconnect cord too. In contrast to the power motor, you need to ensure that this can be easily reached by anyone when necessary.

If your garage system includes a light, don’t forget to put the bulb in! This won’t always come with the pack and it’s easy to assume there’s a fault when all that’s needed is a bulb.

A new automated garage door


It’s not difficult to convert your existing garage door or to install one completely from scratch and it offers much more convenience than a manual system. Follow the above tips and hints and you should have your new system in place in next to no time.

James Stone

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