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Aug 15 2017

QQ: Push ‘N Go For Automatic Operators

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about power-assist operators to clarify that these are not the same as low-energy automatic operators.  This 2-part question arose from a misconception that “power-assist” is the same thing as “Push ‘N Go.”  Refer back to yesterday’s post if you need more information about power-assist operators; here’s some more information about Push ‘N Go…

The Push ‘N Go feature on an LCN automatic operator is a means of actuating a low-energy automatic operator by pushing or pulling the door.  When the door is pushed or pulled to an open position of 5 degrees (+/- 3 inches), the door continues the opening cycle automatically and does not require the user to operate the door manually beyond this point.

As I wrote in a past Decoded article, low-energy operators must be initiated by a “knowing act,” which may be a push plate actuator or non-contact switch mounted on the wall or jamb, an access control device like a card reader, keypad, or keyswitch, or the act of pushing or pulling the door.  The Push ‘N Go feature is considered a knowing act; entering the field of a motion sensor is not.

One thing to keep in mind regarding the Push ‘N Go feature is that depending on the operator it can require 8-12 pounds of force to manually open the door to 5 degrees – the point where the door begins to open automatically.  Many states allow up to 15 pounds of force to open an exterior door, or rely on the limits stated in the International Building Code (IBC) – 15 pounds to release the latch, 30 pounds to set the door in motion, and 15 pounds to open the door to the fully-open position.  The Push ‘N Go feature would comply with those limitations as long as there aren’t other factors that increase the opening force (binding, wind, etc.).

However, in some jurisdictions the opening force for exterior doors is limited to 5 pounds or 8.5 pounds, and interior non-fire-rated doors are subject to a 5-pound limit on opening force.  For those locations, the Push ‘N Go feature may require too much force to be compliant with the accessibility standards.  There may be other products available that require less force to move the door far enough for the auto operator to take over, but it’s important to verify this – preferably prior to installation.

Aug 14 2017

QQ: What is a power-assist operator?

This is Part 1 of a 2-part question, so check tomorrow’s post for Part 2.  First, I’d like to clarify what defines a power-assist operator.  Although many people think that a power-assist operator is the same as a low-energy operator, or that it is an automatic operator that is initiated by pushing or pulling on the door, BHMA A156.19 defines it this way:

2.3 Power Assist Door A door with a power mechanism that activates by pushing or pulling the door, reducing the opening resistance of a self-closing door to allow easier manual opening of the door. If the opening force on the door is released, the door shall come to a stop and either immediately begin to close, or begin to close after a predetermined time.

The key difference between a low-energy operator and a power-assist operator is that a low-energy operator opens the door automatically, and a power-assist operator reduces the opening force but still requires the user to open the door manually.  While the definition does mention pushing or pulling the door, a power-assist operator can also be activated by a button on the wall which reduces the opening force (but does not automatically open the door).  A156.19 says:  “Power assist doors shall operate only by pushing or pulling the door. An activating means is permitted to be used to put the door in the power assist mode.”

Power-assist operators are not very common these days, which is probably where the confusion arises.  The accessibility standards recognize low-energy operators and power-assist operators as two different things, with a third category for full-powered automatic doors that must comply with BHMA A156.10.  One important thing to note about power-assist doors is that they are subject to the maneuvering-clearance requirements for manual doors.  This makes sense, because power-assist doors are operated manually, but with less force than a manual door.

Any questions before we move on to QQ Part 2?

Aug 11 2017

FF: Trading One Problem For Another

It’s easy to overlook one issue or set of requirements when you’re solving another problem; we’ve seen this with classroom barricade devices.  In the case shown in the photo below, a retail store has implemented this creative hold-open because of an assault that occurred in their public restroom.  Unfortunately this is a fire door, and is not supposed to be held open mechanically.  There ARE ways to do this right and address both the need for security and for fire protection, but it’s usually more expensive than the creative methods we see in Fixed-it Friday photos.

Thank you to Chris Clark of Allegion for today’s Fixed-it Friday photo!

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