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How Do Automatic Sliding Doors Work?

Published on
December 25, 2020 5:42:00 AM PST December 25, 2020 5:42:00 AM PSTth, December 25, 2020 5:42:00 AM PST

Automatic sliding doors are a mainstay of modern societies – try to recall the last time you went shopping and didn’t have your trip somewhat enhanced by a sliding door that opens automatically so you can walk through with a shopping trolley. So useful are automatic sliding doors, that they are becoming more and more popular in the home environment. As a result, there are many different types of automatic sliding doors that consumers can choose from, all with different ways of working.

The Tracks

The tracks are common to all automatic sliding doors as they are what allow the auto sliding glass door to slide. An electronic drive train is attached to the auto sliding glass door panels with a cogwheel or auxiliary drive. This is connected by rubber belts that facilitate the sliding motion. At the bottom of the door panels are rollers – which can be wheels or spheres like ball bearings. These allow the door to open smoothly with minimal electricity. While all automatic sliding doors have this mechanism, the main difference between them is how the sliding mechanism is triggered.


Buttons are the easiest trigger to understand. A button is pressed, sending a signal to the electronic drive train, which causes the auto sliding glass door to slide. All auto sliding glass doors have a button function, but for convenience also have other triggers.

Pressure Mat Sensor

Pressure mats are often placed in front of the auto sliding glass door and can detect a change in the pressure that’s applied to them. When there is a weight that exceeds the pressure mat’s threshold, it sends a signal to the electronic drive train to open the door. The door will stay open for a few seconds after the pressure disappears.


Many doors use motion sensors because they’re less expensive, but while these are fine for commercial automatic sliding doors, they’re typically less appropriate for domestic sliding doors. Motion sensors simply detect motion, which means that any movement can trigger them – even a leaf blowing past.

A more practical solution is an infrared or IR sensor. These sensors detect changes in heat, which makes them more appropriate for humans. They have a heat threshold that detects human heat; as soon as they do so, they send a signal to the electronic drive train, and the glass door is opened. These IR sensors can be hard-wired into a certain position, but there are also wireless IR sensors available that can be moved if one position causes problems.


RFID stands for radio-frequency identification. This means the automatic sliding door sensor is triggered by a special tag that emits a radiofrequency. This means anybody with the tag can open the door – like a wireless key. As a result, RFID automatic sliding doors mean that children or even pets can open the sliding doors without it being a security risk. If you put an RFID tag in your pet’s collar, it means that your pet can go in and out of the garden as it pleases.