Electronic, Magnetic, or RFID? What's the Difference?

Whether you are looking for a dog door or cat door, wall installation, door installation, or sliding glass door installation, our pet door experts will help you find the perfect fit! We also have a wide selection of replacement flaps and parts to cover all your pet door needs. Take a look at the difference between electronic door options for every installation, from walls to sliding door panels.

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Smart pet doors sense your pet's collar key, then unlock or, in some cases, raise up to open for the pet. Many different kinds of collar keys can be used to trigger electronic pet doors, including infrared, high pitched sound (ultrasonic), magnetic, RFID chips, and now even the microchip implanted by your vet for extra selective entry. For pets who are not yet microchipped, most brands will provide RFID collar keys to use in the meantime. Follow the quick guide below to learn about some of the best electronic dog doors and cat doors.

Looking for a pet door? Take a look at our full selection of electronic pet doors.


Pet Doors using Magnetic Keys are generally the most cost effective, but are often too small to be used as a magnetic dog door and are not raccoon proof.For magnetic, electronic dog doors, the pet door senses the magnetic field from the smart key collar tags to activate. There are types such as the PetSafe Magnetic Cat Flap (discontinued) that do not require battery power and run off multi-magnets. While others like the Cat-Mate 363 require a 9-volt battery for operation. Doors that require a magnetic collar key can be a little tricky in regards to installation. Magnetic dog door collar keys are a little larger and stronger, as dogs tend not to get as close to the bottom frame as cats, which can lead to them not triggering the door consistently. Magnetic collar keys for dogs are also heavier so they can be used with cats, but might be a little bulky. The magnetic doggie door and cat door models are generally the most cost-effective, however, they are not considered raccoon-proof. These doors do require the collar key to pass very close to the bottom of the pet door frame in order to trigger the latch, so it needs to be installed in such a way that when the pet passes through, it gets close enough. If it is not installed correctly, the door will not trigger consistently, and since dogs tend not to pass through close enough with larger flap sizes, there are no large magnetic collar dog doors.


An infra-red of ultrasonic transmitter operated petdoor is a great choice in areas that are prone to outages.We also offer electronic doors that operate on infrared or ultrasonic transmitters. A good example of this is the High Tech Power Pet Door, an automatic door that offers access control for small and large dogs. The door opens for your pet's ultrasonic collar key, which does tend to be a little larger than the others (about the size of a shock collar) and requires a small battery, the same type used in a watch. This flap system does require some type of power to the door itself, either through an adapter or 12-volt battery. For dog owners living in areas prone to power outages, we recommend going with a battery operation so that the power pet door will still operate normally with your dog's collar.

RFID Tags & Microchips

There are quite a few RFID (radio frequency identification) dog door brands that use weatherproof RFID keys attached to your pet's collar to open only for them. RFID keys are waterproof, and most don't require a battery. However, the doors themselves will need batteries or a wall outlet. Most of the microchip electronic smart doors function as cat doors and small dog doors since microchip technology is not compatible with large dogs. The Cat-Mate Elite 305 Microchip Cat Door is a great option with an energy-efficient rigid flap and a curfew mode that allows you to control which cats access the flap and when. To use as a wall mount, you may need to purchase a Cat Mate wall framing kit and collar key bundle.

The newest doors on the market are Microchip Doors, which are triggered by your pet's vet-implanted microchip. They are a great choice if you have a cat that just will not keep a collar on, or if you can't afford to cost to replace the electronic pet collar constantly in the case that it is damaged or lost. The microchip doors we offer will work with all the more commonly used chips in North America. If you need us to make sure that yours will be compatible, just contact us with the chip number and we can verify that for you.     

Types of Flaps

In addition to various types of keys, there are also two types of electronic pet door flaps. There are motorized flaps that lift up automatically, so your pet doesn't need to push through, and flaps that pets have to push through manually once unlocked. The High Tech is motorized and lifts up for your pet's collar key, so it is a good choice if you need to keep out critters like raccoons, but is not the best electronic flap for keeping certain pets in while letting other pets out. Since the flap opens for your pet, there is a delay time before they close, which gives an opportunity for one pet to just follow the other out. This door can also be hooked up to a remote control if you or your electrician are handy enough to wire everything correctly. Motorized doors are also a great option for training timid pets or for arthritic pets who may have a hard time pushing through.


Electronic, Infra-Red, Magnetic and RFID Summary


Model Type Timer Raccoon Proof Controls Who Enters Controls Who Exits Key Included Installation Types Key needs battery Door need power
Cat-Mate 360 Microchip or RFID tag No No Yes No No Door, Wall, Glass No Yes (battery)
Cat-Mate 363 Magnetic No No Yes No Yes (1 small and 1 large) Door No Yes (battery)
Cat-Mate 305 RFID tag Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (2) Door, Wall, Glass No Yes (battery)
Cat-Mate 254 Magnetic No No Yes No Yes (2 small) Door No Yes (battery)
Ideal E-Cat Magnetic No No Yes No Yes (1 with collar) Door, Sliding Glass Door, Window No Yes (battery)
PetSafe Magnetic (discontinued) Magnetic No No Yes No Yes (1 with collar) Door, Wall, Glass No No
PetSafe Smart Door RFID No Yes Yes Yes Yes (1) Door or Wall Yes Yes (battery)
High Tech Power Pet Ultrasonic No Yes Yes Yes Yes (1 with collar) Door, Wall, Sliding Glass Door Yes Yes (AC or battery)