Sliding Doors: Can You Put an Opener On Them?

In the past three plus decades I’ve literally sold tens, if not hundreds of thousands of sliding doors as well as steel sectional overhead doors.

At Hansen Pole Buildings, we get hundreds of new inquiries every day – many of these are for people who are requesting sliding “barn” style doors, for the most part with the idea they will be less expensive than overhead doors. In some cases, and some sizes, the sliding doors can be significantly less expensive.

However, in most cases I have convinced clients to order overhead doors rather than sliding doors, because, “You can’t put an electric opener on sliding doors”.

At this year’s National Frame Building Association (NFBA) show, someone built a better mouse trap…..

For those who have sliding barn doors on their pole buildings, if they added up all the time spent  opening and closing sliding barn doors, they might be surprised (and saddened) at how much those sliding doors actually cost. 

Before getting equipment or vehicles out of the building, it takes entering through a walk in door (sliding doors only latch from the inside), unlock the sliding doors, undo the jamb latches and slide the doors open. Hop in or on your conveyance of choice, drive out of the building, get out into the weather, slide the doors closed, set the jamb latches, lock and leave the building, and climb back in your vehicle.

Returning after a long day, repeat the entire process all over again – only in reverse. Sometimes it’s easier just to leave the doors open and hope nobody steals something.

This is only one day! Multiply this by day, after day and it sounds like less than fun. And time, is money. Make $20 an hour? If you spend only 15 minutes a day, five days a week and take two weeks off, it cost you $1250 in one year!!!

We all go through life putting up with little hassles and wish someone would come up with a solution. Sometimes those hassles have been around so long we assume it’s just a part of life.

But wait…. Now there is a patent-pending system which automates the opening of sliding doors! It controls the doors so they can be easily opened and closed, even when the wind begins to blow. Plus, with bi-parting (or split) sliding doors, they always meet in the center. Every time.

The electric garage door opener was invented in 1926 but didn’t become popular until after World War II. And now very few people would even think of not having an electric garage door.

So why weren’t the sliding doors on pole barns and machine sheds automated? There are a few reasons – mainly wind, size, weight, and harsh conditions. An electric motor could be slapped onto some track and somehow attached to the doors. People have done it. But without controlling the doors, the wind will yank them off the track and wreck the system. Care needed to be taken so the force of the motor wouldn’t tear the doors apart. While these were difficult obstacles, a solution was possible.

Back in 2009 one of our suppliers started working on a system which would accomplish many things. It would keep bi-parting sliding doors under control from the time they left the center mullion until they were fully retracted. Be self-cleaning so it wouldn’t become clogged by dirt, rocks, seeds, and debris. Keep the entire system, including the motor, inside the building and out of the weather. Maintain the vertical and horizontal clearances required by large farm vehicles and equipment. Take advantage of the latest improvements in door safety. And most importantly – be affordable.
After more than a year of design work and prototype development, the patent application was submitted to the US Patent Bureau. It was quite a celebration when they were awarded “Patent Pending” status.

Now, the “You can’t put an electric opener on it”, is no longer a reason to not have sliding doors on your pole barn.

9 thoughts on “Sliding Doors: Can You Put an Opener On Them?

    1. Hi Ron and thanks for your inquiry on sliding door openers. Please contact Propel Doors at (888) 391-8592 regarding an opener for your split sliding door. They do not come cheap but do offer a wonderful solution for opening sliding doors.

  1. Hey, Mike the Pole Barn Guru…This is John the sliding door opener guru. Just wanted to say thanks for the post and the referrals. We have a new system that I think you will really like. Call me, we should catch up!

    1. John ~

      You are more than welcome. We appreciate quality suppliers – even more so ones who take the time to read and comment on our postings. Please give Eric a call at (605)694-2805 to discuss your new system.

  2. I’m looking at possibly buying an old house (built in 1920) which has very heavy, sliding wooden doors in the garage, they sure appear to be original. Can this system possibly work?

    1. Mark ~ yes, these openers should be able to work on them. Photos (inside and outside) as well as the dimensions of the door would assist in making a determination.

  3. David Somerville

    i have a building with 20 ft sliding doors…can you give me a rough idea how much for an opening system

  4. I have a 32×15 split slider that am considering putting an opener on. Would like pricing and info on your opener. Thanks Dave


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *