Demystifying Automatic Door Selection
MUSKEGO, WISCONSIN According to a recent survey conducted by SBC Research for a white paper put out by AAADM (American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers), 98.9% of patrons preferred facilities with automatic doors. Of those surveyed, 94.2% expected to find them in hospitals and 15% expected to find them in universities. The choice for your entrance system is an important one. There are several distinct types of automatic doors on the market available in a mind-boggling number of configurations, developed to fit specific needs. Whether you are retrofitting or building new, this information will aid Premise Owners, Architects, Contractors or other professionals responsible for the growth and maintenance of the facility in making an informed decision.
Automatic doors provide convenience, easy access for disabled persons, reduced energy costs and security. It is important to consider the type of traffic utilizing the door. There are generally four main types of traffic in schools and hospitals: general; impaired, limited or elderly; trained (such as employee traffic in non-public areas); and combination traffic.
Where the door is located is a determining factor in which model of door is specified. In schools and universities, automatic doors are used in entrances (includes security doors), corridors (includes fire-rated doors) and washrooms. Some doors are rated for air or smoke infiltration and work extremely well for specialty applications such as clean rooms and labs.
In hospitals, automatic doors are preferred throughout the facility for their ease of use. Consider automatic door use for entranceways and corridors (fire-doors), ED entrances and corridors, anywhere security is required, for negative pressure rooms, clean rooms, ICU’s and CCU’s, washrooms and for ADA accessibility.
There are four main categories of doors. Of the four main categories, 83.9% of people prefer sliding doors, 11.4% prefer swing doors, 2.5% prefer bi-fold doors and 2.2% prefer revolving doors. Automatic sliding doors are available in single and bi-part depending on space requirements. The doors are an efficient way to accommodate simultaneous, two-way traffic or to control directional traffic by designating one door as “In” and the other as “Out.” However, they cannot be used where a fire rating is required. Slide doors are available in all glass versions without muntin bars or stiles for a large unobstructed view, perfect for showcasing an attractive lobby or well-manicured grounds. Where a large access area is required, telescopic versions fit the bill by providing 25% more door opening than standard sliders of the same size. In extreme weather areas of the country, hurricane-rated slide and folding doors that are impact-resistant to large and small objects have been designed to comply with the Miami-Dade County Building Code.
In ICU’s and CCU’s, large access areas are required for the trouble-free transport of beds, gurneys and other medical equipment. Manual sliding doors are available in full breakout, partial breakout and in telescoping versions with or without tracks for this purpose. In ICU/CCU rooms designated as “infection control,” where airborne germs must be kept from spreading to other areas, air and smoke infiltration-rated slide doors are available. These heavy-duty doors are also ideal for corridors where air quality in rooms must be maintained in case of fire.
Swing doors are usually specified for directional, one-way traffic. One door can be designated as “In” and the other as “Out” to control traffic flow. They are not usually recommended for simultaneous two-way traffic. Swing doors are available in full-power or low energy versions. Swing doors require room on both the approach and swing side of the door and external safety devices like guide rails. Low energy versions are often rated suitable for handicapped, elderly or limited pedestrian traffic.
Common elements to consider for low energy doors for swing door applications are: width of door opening, maneuvering clearances, hardware, height of thresholds, and slope of ramps. For doors equipped with low energy power operators, additional requirements are mandated per the ADA standards for compliance to ANSI/BHMA. Approximately every five years standards are re-visited for improvements and updates based on the latest technology, industry needs and usage of automatic door equipment.
When you need a wide-open entrance to accommodate two-way traffic but your space is limited, bi-folding doors combine swinger and slider door technology to meet your needs. The door's unique folding feature provides a much larger opening than comparative sliders, while dramatically reducing sweep when compared to traditional swing doors. These doors are ideal for both interior and exterior applications.
Revolving doors are the most energy-efficient choice for heavy two-way traffic like in lobbies. They are designed as an air lock for external applications where they help manage energy expenses by keeping outside air out. They are available in manual, automatic, security and all glass versions.
Many of these doors can be engineered to fit specialty applications for your institution. Call your automatic door manufacturers rep or customer service department for help in selecting the right products to meet your budget and requirements.