Electronic | Automatic | Motorized | Magnetic Pet Doors
You understand the importance of a pet door but you have stray cats coming around spraying, or you have wild animals that might try to break in for food, or you have a cat--or a baby!-- that you want to keep in while you let the dog out, or your pet is so arthritic or handicapped that he just can't manage his old pet door. Maybe you'd just feel more secure without an unlocked dog door. What to do?
The answer, of course, is to get an electronic pet door - an electronic, magnetic, rfid chip or even motorized dog door or cat door. Pay close attention to measuring for size as always. But also think about power source, spare collar keys, locking mechanism and opening method. They'll all play a role in the success of your choice.
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FAQ for Electronic Cat and Dog Doors
Q: Which type of collar key is best?
A: This is a difficult question to answer because different people have different needs and may not agree on what is “good” and what is “bad.” However, we’ll take a stab at it. Remember that the features of the pet door you want may be just as or more important than the characteristics of the type of collar key that is uses.
The Vet-Implanted ID Microchip-
The Pros for this type of collar key are impressive. Most importantly, there’s no collar needed because the collar key is actually the ID chip that your vet implanted under the skin. The absence of the need for a collar has a number of very important advantages. Some cats won’t tolerate them at all. There’s always some danger of a cat accidentally getting his collar hung up on a branch or another object which can have disastrous consequences. (Break-away collars avoid that danger, but if they break away you’ve lost both the collar and the collar key possibly trapping the pet outside.) In addition, the implanted chip doesn’t add to the clutter if you’ve already got ID tags (you DO have an ID Tag, Right?) or a hidden fencing system receiver on the collar. These collar keys are the only ones that are never lost and you don’t need to pay for spares “just in case.” Finally, no batteries are required for the collar key (the pet door will need power, though.)
On the other hand there are a few disadvantages. The largest pet door flap available with this technology is only 7”w x 7”h, this is the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door, which would not be suitable for larger pets. And most only control who comes in not who goes out, the exception is the Dual Scan, with a very limiting flap dimension of 5-¾”w x 4-¾”h. These doors are compatible with almost every North American microchip, but it may be wise to check with your vet to be sure you’ve got one of the right ones and, make sure that the chip is still at the top of the neck where it belongs and hasn’t migrated somewhere else. If the chip has migrated down the back it won’t be in the right spot to trigger the door consistently. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the number on your chip and we can double check the compatibility. Finally, installation in a metal door can be tricky because a wood “collar” is needed for the door to keep it separate from the metal.
The Magnetic Collar Key-
There are two types: For the first, the magnet actually pulls a lever inside the cat door which unlocks the door. In this case, the cat door doesn’t require any power and there is no electronic circuitry to corrode or fail. For the second type, the magnetic field of the magnet is sensed by the pet door and it unlocks in response. These Electromagnetic doors require power, in the form of a battery. In both cases the collar key requires no power, as it is just a magnet. Magnetic collar keys are less expensive to replace and are waterproof.
On the other hand, the magnets used to pull an inside lever are relatively strong and more likely to pickup debris like nails and bottle caps. Since they’re stronger they may exert more pull than is comfortable for a kitten and at least one manufacturer recommends that they not be used until the cat is a little older. Positioning of the pet door is important as the magnetic collar key has to come extremely close or make contact with the bottom frame of the pet door. If mounted too high or too low the key might not trigger the door as it never gets close enough. Some manufacturers recommend that installation in a ferrous metal door may require that a wooden collar be built to isolate the pet door from the door. An aluminum door would not present a problem. Finally, a magnet is a magnet; there is no way for the cat door to distinguish among your pets or between your cat and a neighbor’s cat that happens to also wear a magnetic collar key.
The Ultra-Sonic Collar Key-
High frequency sound (much higher than can be heard by your pet) is not affected by sunlight (as were the infra-red type) or by the material that the electronic door is installed in or by the use of any other electronic like hidden fencing. The sensitivity of the microphones can be adjusted to allow the user to control the distance at which the electronic pet door activates.
But, batteries are required so you’ll need to check them occasionally. The units are susceptible to damage from water. Even though, there is a waterproof version, you shouldn’t use this for a pet that swims in a lake. Finally, a few (but not all) cat owners have felt that the unit was too large and uncomfortable for their pet.
The Radio-Frequency Chip-
The PetSafe Smart Door, a popular electronic dog door, uses a chip that emits a radio frequency signal. When the door reads that signal, it unlocks and when it can longer read the signal it locks again. The collar key can be programmed to emit a unique signal and the door can recognize up to five different keys.
Of course these keys require battery power and, again, some have felt them to be too large for their cats.
RFID Chip Collar Keys-
RFID technology is the latest to make its appearance in the collar key world and appears to have some strong advantages: They require no batteries, they are very durable, and are waterproof.
While some, like for the Cat Mate Elite series are perfectly appropriate for cats, others are larger and you may not find them suitable for use by your cat specifically. Additionally, they tend to be on the more expensive side.
Q: Some electronic pet doors control access from outside only, while others are controllable from both sides. What difference does this make?
A: In most cases, the outside access control only works just fine. Here are the situations in which access from both directions can be an advantage:
You want to keep an inside pet (or child) from going outside in addition to preventing strays and other animals from coming inside.
You are concerned about raccoons coming in through the pet door. At least some raccoons have figured out that a one-way control electronic pet door can be broken into by hooking the flap with a claw and pulling the flap toward the outside. Then they can come through the opening. No one knows if every raccoon can do this, but they are very clever. Two way control prevents this.
Q: Some electronic pet doors are motorized while others require the pet to push the flap after unlocking. What’s the difference?
A: Motorized electronic pet doors always control from both directions: non-motorized versions may be either one-way or two-way control.
A timid, arthritic, or injured pet may find it easier to use a motorized version since he doesn’t need to learn to push anything; the door simply opens in front of him. This is probably the most significant advantage of a motorized pet door.
We suspect that the motorized versions may be slightly less able to keep a second pet from following the first out. It’s true that the time the flap remains open can be made short. But it’s still open to all during that time. The must-push versions present a following pet with a flap swinging toward him as the leader clears the door. That would seem to be a more effective deterrent.
Manual versions may be used in a non-electronic mode; motorized pet doors cannot.
Q: What are the different power requirements of electronic pet doors?
A: As we’ve seen above, some magnetically operated pet doors require no power source at all; neither for the door nor for the collar key. For the remaining electronic pet doors there are four possibilities:
Some are operated by batteries only
Some may be operated with AC power thus requiring a nearby wall outlet.
At least one, the Hi Tech Power Pet, can use AC Power with a battery backup in addition to the first two options.
With an electrician's help you might be hardwire the pet door.
Q: What problems are there with electronic pet doors?
A: The first is reliability. With electronic doors, there are more issues that are likely to occur. If a manual pet door works for you and your pet, we would definitely recommend the manual door as a better option. An electronic door can run into issues like a dead battery, since their is no battery level indicator, this problem could occur unexpectedly and would hinder your pet from entering/exiting.On the other hand, the only time a manual pet door would stop your pet from entering/exiting is if you personally put the locking cover on. .
Cost. Electronic pet doors, particularly the motorized versions, tend to be more expensive than manual pet doors. Lost collars and keys can add up, too. Although there certainly are some high-performance manual pet doors that are quite expensive as well.
Rigid Flaps. All electronic pet doors incorporate rigid flaps. However, some people prefer a flexible flap for reasons of safety and a softer surface for the pet to push. In this regard, it should be noted that the motorized pet doors do not offer the pinching danger of a normal rigid flap.
Q: What does it mean to "control both ways?"
A: The option to control both ways allows the door to control which animals can enter and exit. This can prevent animals such as raccoons from getting inside, as well as keep your pet or even child inside when necessary. Access from both directions can be an advantage if you want to keep an inside pet (or child) from going outside while also preventing outside animals from getting inside without a collar key.
Q: Which doors control access both ways?
Q: I want my dog to be able to get in and out of the house, but not my cat, which pet door would work for that?
Q: How big are the collar keys on the different electronic doors?
A: Microchips are collarless, as they are surgically implanted by your vet. RFID tags tend to be smaller because they don't need batteries, with the exception of the Plexidor Electronic. Battery run tags are bulkier because there needs to be space for a battery to be held in there.
Q: What's the biggest electronic pet door you have?
A: The Plexidor Electronic Dog Door is the biggest as far as height. The Petsafe Electronic Smart Door is the biggest as far as width for dog doors.
Q: How is the PetSafe Electronic Smart Door powered?
A: This smart door is powered by "D" cell batteries, which are not included. There is no low battery indicator on the Electronic Smart Door so it might be useful to keep a spare collar key nearby for testing purposes.
Q: Can I get a microchip dog door for my Lab?
A: Unfortunately, there are currently no dog doors or large cat doors available that use microchip technology for a bigger animal like a Lab. There are microchip doors for smaller dogs and cats however.
Q: Can the large dog doors be programmed to only allow access during parts of the day?
A: Yes, the Passport Pet Access Smart System, High Tech Power Pet Door (if connected to a timer), and Plexidor Electronic Doors (if connected to a timer) can all be programmed to allow access during certain parts of the day.
Q: What are the advantages to having an electronic pet door?
A: An electronic pet door allows you to have control over which pets are able to go in and out of your home, while also keeping wild animals or stray animals out of your home. Another advantage is that electronic doors are wind-proof.
Q: Do magnetic locking pet doors require power?
Q: Which pet doors open automatically?
A: The Plexidor and High Tech automated doors are both motorized and open automatically.
Q: Why would you want the pet door to open without the pet pushing?
A: You would want a motorized door if your pet is timid, injured, older aged/arthritic and unable to push on the flap of the door. A motorized pet door allows hassle free entry and exit.
Q: Which electronic dog doors are big enough for medium to larger sized dogs and still require the dog to push the flap to open?
A: The Passport Pet Access Pet Door and the PetSafe Smart Door will generally be adequate for medium to large dogs and they require the dog to still push the flap to get in and out. These two electronic doors differ from other electronic doors because these doors only unlock the flap for entry/exit, rather than the flap opening/closing automatically when the pet gets in close enough proximity to enter/exit. These are also good options for letting the dog out and keeping the cat in.
Q: Which electronic dog door doesn't require batteries in the collar key?
Q: Are there any patio panel doors that control both ways?
A: Yes, the High Tech Power Pet Automatic Pet Door controls both ways.
Q: Which electronic pet doors can be plugged in for power?
Q: Which electronic pet doors can have a rechargeable battery?
Q: Do all electronic pet doors have low battery indicator lights?
A: Not all electronic pet doors have low battery indicator lights. Typically, just the smaller cat doors offer this feature.
Q: Do the rigid flaps of motorized pet doors create a danger for pets or children?
A: The rigid flaps of motorized pet doors do not typically create a danger for pets or children because the flap is retractable and will lift back open if it senses something is in the way.
Q: Do all electronic pet doors have rigid flaps?
A: Yes, all electronic pet doors have rigid flaps.
Q: Which electronic doors have timer controls?
Q: Do you have any electronic doors that are raccoon proof?
Q: Is there a microchip door for sliding doors?
A: The Thermo Panel 2e Microchip Patio Panel pet door can be used for sliding doors.
Q: With the SureFlap can I program both the implanted microchip and the collar key, that way if my cat loses their collar the chip will trigger the door?
A: No, the RFID collar key must be discontinued after chipping your pet because the two signals will confuse the pet door.
Q: Which electronic doors have 4-way locks?
Q: How many keys do each of the doors come with?
Number of Keys Included
Q: Do you have doors that will work off my cats microchip?
A: Yes, SureFlap and CatMate both make electronic doors that can be activated by your cat's microchip. (Sureflap Microchip Cat Door, Pet Door & SureFlap Dual Scan, also Cat Mate 355/356). The microchip MUST be implanted by a vet. You cannot try to attach a microchip to the pet's existing collar or ID tag as it will not trigger the pet door properly.
Q: Can I install the SureFlap in a metal door?
A: Yes, the SureFlap can be installed in a metal door. However, you'll want to put a border/adaptor around the frame before installation because the metal in the door can interfere with the signal if it is too close to the frame of the pet door. See installation video for more details.