Strict Standards: mktime(): You should be using the time() function instead in /home/dormaelearn/public_html/_includes/obj_session.php on line 35
DORMA E-learning
Dorma Glas

Contact Information

  Program 8

ULEHEOB - Understanding Low Energy and High Energy Automatic Operators

DHI CEP Program #10-1109



Part 1 - Low vs. High Energy

Part 2 - Selection Process

Part 3 - Low Energy


<< Glossary of Terms >>


Part 1 - Low vs. High Energy

There are two types of power operators for doors:

  • Low energy
  • High energy

The principle differences between the two power operators include:

  • Opening speed
  • Force
  • Safety device requirements

Low energy devices operate "on demand" by push button control in barrier-free environments. These devices are designed to provide enhanced accessibility where conventional door closers might have been used if accessibility were not an issue. They operate slowly with minimal force and do not require safety devices. Note, low energy devices are not suitable for pedestrian doors where the building's HVAC is not balanced due to low (less than 15 lb-f) opening forces.

In comparison, automatic power operators, or high-energy devices operate quickly and continuously in all pedestrian environments. In these cases, safety devices are required.

Minimum speed requirements
Low energy power operator requirements only apply to swing door operators. The operator types are Power Assist and Low Energy operators for pedestrian use. The activation of all doors described in ANSI/BHMA A156.19 requires a "knowing act" switch activation. Provisions are provided in this standard to reduce chance of injury or entrapment without the use of guiderails, safety devices, etc. ANSI/BHMA A156.19 gives more detailed speed data incorporating door leaf width and weight with regards to speed requirements of opening and closing speeds.

High energy power operator requirements deal with higher speed, forces, shorter time delays, and activating sensing devices as described in ANSI/BHMA A156.10. High energy power operators require use of guiderails, safety devices, sensors, etc. ANSI/BHMA A156.10 gives more detailed speed data with regards to speed requirements of opening and closing speeds.

Following, are a few more requirements that pertain to low energy operators. If you choose to automate a door, once it gets to 90 degrees, it must remain open for a minimum of 5 seconds. This allows those with a disability enough time to pass through the door before it starts to close. In the event of failure or power loss, the door cannot exceed 15 lbf. to release latch, 30 lbf. to put the door in motion and 15 lbf. to fully open the door. This is to assure that a person will be able to push the door open in a non-powered condition. In addition, you must be able to view the handicap door signage from either side of the door entrance. And, the unit must be certified to pass a minimum of 300,000 automated cycles.

ANSI Standards

  • ANSI A117.1
    • General accessibility requirements (i.e., site planning,
      out-swinging doors, pitch of ramp, etc.)
  • ANSI A156.10
    • High energy operators
    • Control mats, canceling scanners, etc. are required
  • ANSI A156.19
    • Low energy operators
    • No faster than 3 seconds to back-check, no more than
      15 foot pounds of force at leading edge of door

To order ANSI standards, go to:


Low energy

  • Less costly
    • Saves money
  • Smaller in size
    • Less visible, installs on typical frame
  • Easy to install
    • Can be installed by one person
    • Installation similar to standard door closer
  • Easy to Maintain
    • No maintenance contract required
  • Does not require safety devices
    • Less cost, easier installation and maintenance
  • New or retrofit installations
    • Suited for existing or new installations
  • Slow speed
    • Plenty of time to "position" for passage (walkers, wheel chairs, crutches, etc.)
    • No need to "dodge" fast moving door
    • 0 degree to 90 degree opening
    • 90 degree to 0 degree closing
  • Can function like a standard closer
    • Power open only
    • Operates like standard closer upon power loss
  • Meets fire door requirements
    • Self closing under alarm/power loss

Automatic operators (high energy)

  • High speed
    • Unencumbered passage
  • Quicker passage
    • Suited for able-bodied users
  • 100% duty cycle
    • High frequency
  • Sliding, swinging, folding and revolving door applications


Upon submission, results of your evaluation will be displayed with the correct answers shown in red.

  1. The principle differences between the two power operators are:
    Opening speed.
    Safety device requirements.
    All of the above.

  2. Low energy operators perform in barrior-free environments, operate slowly with minimal force and do not require safety devices.

  3. These devices operate quickly and continuously in all pedestrian environments and require safety devices.
    High energy.
    Low energy.

  4. Low energy devices should require nor more than ________ to stop door movement.
    15 lbf.
    45 lbf.
    5 lbf.

  5. Several benefits of this device include easy installation, reduced maintanance and suitability for both new and existing installations.
    Low energy.
    High energy