Friday 26 April 2013


Mechanical door closers are frequently specified on the basis of initial purchase cost, but all too often the low purchase price masks on-going maintenance and performance issues which can lead to costs spiralling out of control, says Paul Barrows of Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.

Door closers are regarded as a commodity product, with very little thought given to their performance other than the initial purchase price. By the time anything goes wrong, the subcontractor who originally fitted them can be difficult to contact, leaving the end user to inherit the problem and its associated costs.

The problem with a purchase price approach to specification is that mechanical door closers are often subject to very heavy usage, particularly when fitted in high traffic areas in public buildings.  A large department store entrance for example will have around 5,000 openings per day which equates to 1.5 million annually.  A school entrance door will have circa 1,250 openings per day or 225,000 annually and a hospital ward door will typically be opened 350 times a day which equates to 128,000 openings annually.  With door closers, as in many other walks of life, you get what you pay for and a cheaper product will often be unable to withstand this volume of use.

However, the problems don’t stop with the mere opening and closing of doors. Real world conditions impose strains on mechanical door closers which do not come to light in manufacturer test bed conditions. 

For example, forced openings and door misalignment lead to sagging doors and frames and bent arms, amongst other problems. In turn, this causes damage to the internal workings of the door closer and can ultimately lead to the door closer failing to perform as it should.

At this stage, bigger problems start to occur.  There will be a loss of door control, with unreliable closing and associated safety and security risks.  Inevitably, this will lead to increased costs for door replacement, maintenance and door frame repairs.

What’s more, associated ironmongery is always subject to additional stress if a door closer malfunctions and the lifecycle of the door and hinges is seriously impaired.  Any carpenter will tell you that there are only so many times that you can put screws into the same fixing holes.  Eventually, repairs will have to be made to the door and frame.

 Estates managers also have to consider the potential injuries or worse of a child losing a finger in a door closer that has failed in a school or an elderly person being trapped due to a faulty door during a fire.  It is no exaggeration to say that door hardware failure is, potentially, a life threatening problem.

Unfortunately, whilst door closer standards are useful in specification, in the UK a CE mark does not tell the whole story. A CE marked 1154 door closer will typically be tested to circa 500,000 cycles which sounds a lot, but in practise may only equate to one year’s operational activity.

A much better approach to door closer specification is total lifecycle cost. At the base level a CE marked 1154 door closer is tested to 500,000 cycles, however, in a hospital application for example, the door could easily complete its 500,000 cycles in a single calendar year. Over twenty years the door closer will therefore need to be replaced on an annual basis, meaning a twenty fold increase on the initial purchase price.

In comparison, a Briton LCN 4011 door closer, which is widely regarded as a premium product will have an initial purchase cost of 2-3 times the cost of a base model CE marked door closer.  However, the Briton LCN 4011 is tested to a much higher level, above and beyond the CE standards, to circa 10 million cycles.  Therefore, in the same hospital application, it would be expected that the LCN 4011 door closer will last for more than 20 years, which would mean a much lower cost over the life of the building.

It must also be remembered that every time a door closer is replaced, someone must incur the installation costs, even if there is a maintenance manager on site.  It is clear that the whole life cost of a door closer can quickly increase above and beyond the initial purchase price.

Even without adding in these additional repair costs, damage to associated products and inflation, a premium product tested to a level beyond the current CE markings has the potential to demonstrate significant savings within two years, when fitted on high traffic doors.

My advice to specifiers and end users is for high traffic applications and performance beyond what merely CE marked products can offer, it is necessary to look at the whole life cost of a door closer.

For more information about Ingersoll Rand Security please visit

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