The Automatic Chicken Door (How to Install on the Snap Lock Plastic Chicken Coop)
I’m not a morning person. I used to go to work at 4:30 AM when I was a landscaper, and I hated it. It’s not that I sleep more than a normal person, but I just do better if I go to sleep later and wake up later. In fact, I am most alert and coherent at night. I do some of my best work at night.
So the chore of letting the chickens out every morning and shutting them in every night is a huge inconvenience. This is especially true on the weekends when I might want to sleep in until 8 or 9. For example, I worked outside yesterday until 3 PM then I came in and worked on the blog until 6:30 PM. After dinner, I realized that I forgot to shut the chickens in, so I had to go out in the cold at 8 PM to shut the chickens in. It’s terribly inefficient.
I had an automatic chicken door on my old coop from www.chickendoors.com. Unfortunately, I had some issues with it not functioning. The company was very good about sending me a new control board to fix the problem, but I just never got around to fixing it. It was mounted on my old chicken tractor, and getting access to it was terribly difficult. When I pulled some wheels of my old chicken tractor, I took the time to retrieve the door as well.
It was shockingly easy to swap out the control board. I hooked it up to the battery, and it worked like a charm. So now I had this great automatic chicken door, but I really wasn’t sure how I was going to mount it to my snap lock plastic chicken coop. I thought about mounting it to the larger plastic coop, but those chickens are going to be fenced in with electro net, so I will just leave the door open. Predators won’t be a problem. So, I needed to find a way to mount it to my small plastic coop without drilling in to the plastic or making any major modifications that couldn’t be put back.
I spent some time looking at the coop, taking some measurements, and measuring the door. The chickens were less than helpful, wanting to be completely involved in what I was doing. Then I had an idea! See below:
1. I cut (2) 1x2’s 17” long to match the height of the door frame.
2. I placed the 1x2’s on the backside of the door. (The door opens out). I positioned them so the edge of the 1x2 was on the edge of the frame. This cut down on the door size by a bit, but even the fattest hen can easily still come in and out.
3. I used deck screws to connect the 1x2’s through the frame. I used the frame’s pre-drilled holes.
4. Unfortunately, my deck screws were a little bit long, so I cut off the excess with my reciprocating saw.
5. I cut a 2x4 13 inches long, which is the width of the door frame.
6. I laid the door frame on its back, and set the 2x4 on the bottom. I used spacers that are on my work bench to hold it all together. I predrilled the holes, then drilled (2) long deck screws on each side up into the 1x2’s attached to the door frame, (4) total. It is extremely important that you predrill these holes straight as there is not much margin for error.
7. I have a wooden landing attached to the frame that is attached to my cart that holds the chicken coop. I attached the door to the landing by drilling up through to the 2x4 that the door stands on. I also cut a small piece of plastic out to get the door closer to the opening of the snap lock chicken coop. Unfortunately there was still a gap of about an inch. I filled in this gap by making a wood frame around the door. Otherwise there would be a breeze that would come through.
8. I used a piece of gorilla tape to secure the photo cell to the roof. I secured the excess with a zip tie.
9. I placed the battery behind my feeder inside the coop. This is a great place because it is dry and the chickens cannot access this area.
10. I installed the solar panel on the roof. I used silicone adhesive to attach it to the roof.
11. I connected the wires from the solar panel and the wires from the electric motor on the door together. Red to red, black to black
12. I connected the wires to the battery. Red to red, black to black
***At this point the door will open just a couple of inches then it should close. This shows that it is working properly. It will then open all the way if the photo cell senses light. Then when the light is gone, door will close again.