Are Garage Doors Secure with an Electric Operator?

How does a garage door lock when fitted with an electric opener?

There are various ways a garage door will lock with an electric operator fitted but it depends on the door and of course the operator.

A Basic Installation

In a basic installation of a remote control electric operator to a standard one piece up and over retractable type garage door it is common to simply remove the internal locking cables or rods, as these are nearly always a slam latch type, so you cannot have the door closing automatically and then being locked internally preventing an automatic opening cycle. This would make no sense at all! The removal of the locking system means the garage door is now held closed firmly by the operator towing arm only at the top, and this is a solid piece of steel bar connected to the top of the door panel so relies on the strength and integrity of the door panel itself.

In all up and over garage doors there will be a certain amount of panel flex so when the door handle or the bottom of the door is pulled hard there will be some movement, greater in older doors and some more than others depending on the chassis and frame construction. This movement gives the impression to a would be intruder, trying the handle maybe, that some more force would enable a break in, and yes this is possible of course, but not without a great amount of noise and damage first, and again some garage doors are simply stronger than others in their chassis construction so would resist a lot longer. This basic installation is fine if you use a good quality electric operator as many have automatic functions that keep checking the door is held down firmly and some also have built in locking latches in the boom. Check the security method offered first is you have any concerns at all.

No Handle Options

When ordering a new garage door it is possible to have the garage door without any handle hole drilled at all. This applies mainly to up and over and sectional doors as roller garage doors with automation do not have a handle anyway and other door types will use different systems and locking systems anyway. Without the handle fitted their will be no manual locking fitted either so a door without a handle will usually rely only on the electric operator for locking. Different electric operators of course will also have different levels of resistance depending on the rail construction and as with most products you will get what you pay for with a very basic, cheap operator having a flimsier towing arm and operator rail system so more flex when holding the door shut. An operator such as the Hormann Supramatic has a patented steel lock hook built into the towing arm block so effectively is held by the motor and this hook lock to be more solid when closed.

With any garage door without a handle that is electrically operated it is essential you have a secondary method of access in case of power failure as this is how you will access the garage and release the door from the electric operator from inside, usually with a simple pull cord system.

Hormann latch locking system in operator boom

De Latch Kit Accessory

The best overall security for an up and over door (retractable only) is to have the 'de latch' kit fitted which is a simply mechanical device that attaches to the operator towing arm and then also the internal door locking handle and using a spring tensioned system makes a movement that pulls the locking cables or rods for the manual locking system when the operator is activated. What this means is you have 3 point locking when this device is used and it is mechanically operated each time with locking provided when closed as most garage door locks are slam latches. With certain garage doors it is possible to have the internal locking only and no handle externally but you need to check with us to be sure this is possible before committing.

A de latch system is NOT possible on a sectional door with an operator but because the sectional door mechanism is so much more solid than an up and over door the door is totally solid when closed with a good quality electric operator as it is held down at a different angle to the up and over system. There are a few independent systems available for side hinged doors but these are notoriously temperamental as side hinged door panels all have a fair bit of flex and getting the latched to locate in a hole in the floor each time will always be difficult in windy conditions or maybe on a very hot or cold day when the panel may just have bowed temporarily. For side hinged garage doors you rely on the towing kit steel rods to hold the door panels at the top when closed and when using the piston ram type systems the same method but holding in a different place.

Roller Doors

All steel and aluminium roller garage doors are held down when closed and secured only by the motor drive unit which is either internal (barrel motor) or external and the various nylon or metal attachments which hold the roller curtain down will vary greatly from one manufacturer to the next, some being broken very easily by a quick sharp pull up at the bottom and once one section breaks or buckles the others all go quickly too enabling the door curtain to be lifted up. One exception to this is the Seceuroglide where the motor holds the curtain down using very strong extruded aluminium sections but the curtain is also held by a steel rod along the top of the curtain secured in an extruded channel which locates underneath a solid nylon section to make the door almost impossible to budge even a few millimetres let alone lift the curtain by force.

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