21 reasons to avoid cheap automatic chicken doors

An automatic chicken coop door has become a must-have for most backyard chicken keepers. A quality automatic chicken door is a gamechanger - it keeps your flock safe every night and ensures caring for your flock doesn’t get in the way of your lifestyle. You can stay out late, sleep in, or go on holiday without worrying about who will let your chickens out in the morning or lock them up at night. 

While cheap automatic chicken doors claim to offer these benefits at a bargain price, they often result in devastating consequences. Imagine waking up one morning or returning home from a holiday to find your entire flock has been killed by a fox. And yes, one fox can take out your entire flock of feathered pets in just one night. 

At Safe Coop®, we have countless poultry keepers who come to us to buy a quality door after suffering the consequences of a cheap automatic chicken door. The top complaints we’ve come across about cheap automatic chicken doors are: 


1. The cheap automatic door fails to close due to a glitch or malfunction 

Automatic chicken doors contain complex electronics. Cheap electronic components don’t offer the same reliability as quality electronic components. This leads to higher failure rates among cheap automatic chicken doors. It's devastating to wake up and find your automatic chicken door is still open and your entire flock has been killed by a fox. Cheap doors are not worth the risk. 

2. A fox can break through the door.  

Some cheap automatic chicken doors are designed to look nice but can’t withstand a fox. A fox can push, scratch or chew through cheap materials and gain access to your coop in just one night. 

3. Poor longevity 

Cheap automatic chicken doors aren’t usually built to last. Even if you notice the broken door before a fox does, it’s a pain having to remove and reinstall a new automatic chicken door soon after going to the effort of installing the first one.

4. The door does not lock shut 

Many cheap automatic chicken doors don’t come with a locking mechanism to lock the door shut. This means a fox can get its paw under the closed door and slide it up the door runners to access your chicken coop. Once the fox is in the coop the door will shut again, leaving your hens trapped inside with the fox. 

5. The locking mechanism gets stuck shut

Cheap doors that do come with locking mechanisms are prone to reliability issues. Locking mechanisms that are built on a budget can get stuck and fail to lock the door, or lock the door shut. This means the door will be out of action until you can remove and repair the door, wasting your time and money. 

6. The locking mechanism can’t be disengaged.

Even if a cheap door does have a locking mechanism, often there is no way to easily disengage it. This is relevant if you live in a cold climate where the door is prone to the locking mechanism freezing shut in winter. Quality automatic chicken doors will come with a mechanism to disengage the locking bolts if required. 

7. The opening/closing mechanism gets stuck. 

Your automatic chicken door will need to contend with straw, manure, dust and mud being trampled through by chickens. The door mechanism and runners need to be able to cope with this. Cheap doors are often poorly designed and get stuck or break if not regularly inspected and cleaned. This leaves your flock vulnerable and creates extra work for you. 

8. The door injures or kills a chicken trapped underneath

Cheap automatic chicken doors often use a geared mechanism to open and close the door. These doors are cheaper to make and can be shipped in a smaller box to save costs. However, they force the door shut and can harm a curious chicken that wanders under the closing door. 

9. The door motor burns out.

Cheap automatic chicken doors often come with inexpensive motors that fail quickly. It’s usually difficult to find a replacement motor, meaning the entire door is written off. 

10. The light sensor cannot be adjusted

Some automatic chicken doors don’t allow you to adjust the light sensor. This could leave the door opening or closing at the wrong time and there’s nothing you can do to fix it. If your door is set up in part shade, it could also mean the door closes during a daytime storm, leaving your chickens locked out and vulnerable until the next morning. 

11. There’s no low battery warning 

If the battery dies while the door is open, the safety of your flock is at risk. Quality automatic chicken doors have a battery level indicator and warning systems such as a flashing light to notify you well before the batteries need replacing. Most cheap automatic chicken doors do not. 

12. The solar power system breaks. 

Solar powered chicken doors still need a battery to store the energy required to open and close the door. A cheap solar panel and battery system that comes with a poor quality automatic chicken door is prone to reliability issues. It’s also often challenging to find spare parts to fix them. 

13. The batteries drain quickly. 

Cheap doors use cheap electronics that sacrifice energy efficiency. This means you need to check and replace the batteries regularly, taking extra effort and time out of your day. 

14. Difficulty finding replacement batteries. 

Some cheap automatic chicken doors use uncommon battery types that aren’t easy to find replacements. This can leave your chicken door unusable while you hunt down and order a replacement battery. 

15. The plastic becomes sun damaged and breaks 

Cheap chicken doors use cheap plastics. These plastics become brittle and break down quickly after sun exposure compared to the UV resistant plastics used in quality automatic chicken doors. The poor material quality significantly reduces the ability of cheap chicken doors to defend your flock from foxes pushing and pulling at the door after only a short period of time. 

16. Confusing to set up 

Cheap automatic chicken doors are often intended for sale in other developing markets. They may come with a poorly translated instruction manual, making the setup process hard to understand and frustrating. 

17. Difficult to adjust the settings

Many cheap automatic chicken doors come with a confusing user interface, making it hard to change settings (such as changing the time when daylight savings starts and ends). To make things worse, instruction manuals often aren’t easily locatable online if you misplace the original hardcopy. 

18. Settings not saved when the batteries are replaced

Most cheap automatic chicken doors won’t remember your door opening and closing settings after the batteries have been replaced. This means you’ll need to reset all of the settings every time the batteries need replacing. This is frustrating, particularly if you don’t remember which light level settings you had previously selected. Quality automatic chicken doors will remember all of your settings between replacing the batteries. 

19. May not meet Australian standards

Some inexpensive automatic chicken doors can be powered using a 240 volt power plug. The plug, cord and adapter supplied with these doors often don’t meet Australian electrical safety standards and could be dangerous for you, your family, and your flock. 

20. No access to spare parts

Cheap automatic chicken doors usually aren’t economical to repair, so the original seller often recommends replacing the entire automatic door when something goes wrong. As well as being unsustainable from an environmental perspective, it often takes much more effort to install an entire new door on your coop rather than replace a component part. 

21. Limited support if you need help

It’s not unusual for things to go wrong with cheap automatic chicken doors, and when they do go wrong, you’ll likely be on your own. Retailers of these doors aren’t usually specialists in keeping chickens and may have never used the door themselves. This means you’ll often be left to deal with an overseas manufacturer directly (if you can find their contact details) or be forced to buy a new door. 


As you can see, it’s best to avoid the stress, wasted time, additional costs, and potentially devastating consequences for your chickens that are associated with cheap chicken doors.  


Looking for a quality automatic chicken door that has none of the issues mentioned above? You’ll LOVE the Safe Coop® automatic chicken door. Order online directly from Safe Coop® today.


Why choose Safe Coop®?

We’re an Australian company that designs automatic chicken doors to reliably defend your chickens from the toughest Australian predators.

Our chicken doors are made to last using quality materials including durable ASA plastics, stainless steel, aluminium, and brass. You can trust a Safe Coop® automatic chicken door to keep your flock safe every night. 

Every chicken door we sell comes with intelligent and reliable technology, allowing you to enjoy sleep-ins and go on holiday without needing to worry about your flock. 

Learn more about Safe Coop® chicken doors