Electronic, Magnetic or RFID?

'Electronic' pet doors sense a collar key, then unlock or actually open. A number of different kinds of collar keys have been used to trigger magnetic pet doors including infra-red, high pitched sound (ultrasonic), magnets and most recently RFID chips.

In the case of the magnet type, the pet door senses the magnetic field to activate. In all cases, the pet door must be powered either with batteries or an ac adaptor. The collar key itself may be powered or not. A magnet, for example, requires no power. The RFID type are also passive and require no batteries.

An infra-red or ultrasonic transmitter does require small, hearing aid type batteries.

Less expensive electronic dog doors simply unlock and require your pet to push through. More exotic versions are actually motorized and open the door for your pet, then close behind him.

By contract, "magnetic" pet doors use only magnets for collar keys and rely upon the strength of the magnet to actually unlock the flap. Since the magnet does the work, the pet door requires no power to operate making them very handy for installations in areas where power isn't available. As well, they are not affected by a power outage or dead batteries. On the other hand, the magnets in these type doors tend to be stronger and may be more likely to pickup metallic debris or to startle the cat by suddenly attaching to something.

So what is an 'automatic' pet door? It could be any of these!

Electronic, Infra-Red, Magnetic and RFID Summary

Comparison Item Electronic Pet Door Magnetic Pet Door Motorized Pet Door RFID Type
Door operates by: Infrared signal or magnetic field
is sensed & solenoid unlocks flap; pet pushes flap
Magnet pulls lever to unlock; pet pushes flap Ultrasonic signal is sensed; motor opens flap RFID chip is sensed; motor opens flap
Collar key requires power? 'Yes' for infrared or ultrasonic; 'No' for magnetic No Yes No
Pet door requires power? Yes No Yes Yes