The hen house isn’t fully automated, but I’d like to think Mrs. Tweedy of Chicken Run fame would be impressed with our new automatic hen house door opener. Now we can go on vacation without worrying about whether the chicken sitter remembered to let the chickens out in the morning and closed them back in at night.
It is a 12 volt, solar-powered system and the door is lifted by an automatic car antenna motor. Check out this video to see the door in action.
The system consists of a 12 volt solar panel, charge controller, 12 v car battery, 12 v timer, and an automatic antenna. The panel and battery are the expensive parts, but worth it for independent power in the coop. I have a 100 watt panel, so I have capacity to operate some 12 volt lighting too.
The door is timer-controlled. I considered using a photo sensor instead of a timer, but decided the timer would be much simpler to wire and more reliable. The timer opens the door at 8:00 in the morning and I adjust the close time a few times throughout the year so it closes at dusk. The chickens start getting on the roosts before dark and by dusk everyone is in the hen house.