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Automatic Chicken Coop Door – Solar Time Table Switch

Honeywell makes a programmable digital “solar time table” switch that adjusts events automatically throughout the year based on daylight hours.

It’s far more reliable than a photocell, but one caveat — it runs on AC power. If you only have 12V DC power at the coop, use one of the other automatic chicken coop door methods I’ve written about: 12V timers or photocell. For those of you with AC power available at your chicken coop, read on!

On the Honeywell switch you’ll set the current date, your latitude & longitude & your event times, & the switch does the rest. The switch also has an override button that cycles the switch on & off manually.

The other component that makes the whole setup work is the relay. You’ll need a DPDT relay with a coil rated for 120VAC, but with 12VDC contacts. See the full product lists with links below for each relay type.

Option 1: Heavy Duty Functional Devices Relay

Heavy duty 120VAC/12VDC DPDT relay from Functional Devices.
Assembled: compact & dust proof.

The heavy-duty Functional Devices relay costs a little more (~$12) mostly because it’s rated for continuous duty at 10 million cycles. It will be on for hours at a time with this timer setup, so continuous duty is a good thing.

Also if you mount the Honeywell Solar Timer switch into an outdoor-rated junction box, the Functional Devices relay screws into the top of the box & you end up with a nice compact dustproof timer setup that will last a long time, even in a chicken coop.

Here’s the equipment list:

If the linear actuator runs backwards from how you’d like it to work, reverse the 2 actuator leads where they connect to the relay’s yellow & purple wires.

If YouTube is your thing, here’s the how-to video.

For setup tips & troubleshooting, scroll down below the “standard-duty relay” section below.

Option 2: Standard-duty relay

A standard-duty relay works fine but the relay coil may fail over time, since these relays typically are made with pretty cheap components. However if it fails, you can just unplug the bad relay & plug in a new one.

Here’s the full product list:

The blue & white wires run to pins (screw terminals) 7 & 8. The actuator connects to pins 5 & 6. Connect 12V power to pins 1/2 & 3/4 with each pair having opposite polarity from each other — so if the bottom pins have red/black connected, the top pins have black/red.

DO NOT GUESS WHICH PINS THE AC POWER (BLUE & WHITE WIRES) RUN TO ON THE RELAY BASE! If you can’t determine which pins 7 & 8 are from the tiny writing on the base, they are the outer/lower set of pins on the end of the relay base that has the “nub” that sticks out. Don’t confuse pins 7/8 with pins 1/2 on the opposite end or very bad things will happen.

If the linear actuator runs backwards from how you’d like it to operate, reverse the actuator leads where they connect to the relay base (pins 5/6).

Make sure you wrap the exposed screw terminals with electrical tape where the white & blue wires from the timer connect to the relay base (pins 7 & 8). Remember, those carry AC power.

Setup Tips & Troubleshooting (both relay types)

Safety first: Always work on the wiring with the AC power cord unplugged.

I recommend putting a fuse on the positive 12V lead. The appropriate fuse size is typically 7.5 amps for most linear actuators.

For 12V power supply ideas, see this post & scroll down to the “power supply options” section.

In a power outage, the Honeywell switch retains the programmed events. When the power comes back on, the door will catch up on whatever state it’s supposed to be in. One downside to this setup is there’s no easy battery backup to make this system work during a power outage, like there is for the other all-12VDC automatic chicken coop door methods.

I recommend placing everything in a weatherproof junction box & cover since the Honeywell switch isn’t really meant for a chicken coop environment.

Timer setup: use Automatic mode, & make sure for the event times you pick either the sunrise or sunset option. The timer lets you adjust the event time up to 70 minutes before or after sunrise/sunset.

If you don’t know your latitude & longitude, go to Google Maps, right-click near where you live, click “What’s here?” from the menu & use the numbers in light grey text (round to the nearest whole number).

Disclaimer: I’ve only used this system for a short time so far, & I’m using the heavy duty Functional Devices relay. If you went with the standard-duty relay, I don’t know how long it will last.

Any questions or comments, leave ’em below!


Heavy Duty Automatic Chicken Coop Door – Photocell


  1. Tom

    Hi Wick,

    I have the solar switch, the 8″ actuator and the relay, but it’s the SCHNEIDER ELCTRIC/MAGNECRAFT 92S11A22D-120 POWER RELAY, DPDT, 120VAC, 30A, DIN RAIL, which I believe was either in one of your previous writeups or another Youtube video I watched.

    Since it came with no instructions, do you think I should just get the same relay you used? Otherwise, any advise on how to wire the Schneider relay?

    I am just presuming that the 2 large pins are 120V, but not sure about the remaining ones. H-bridge still applies?


    • Wick

      That relay should work just fine, it’s a nice heavy duty relay. The two pins that are different orientation from the other 6 pins are the coil, & you run the 120VAC output from the timer & 120VAC neutral to those 2 coil pins — doesn’t matter which side gets neutral/switch output.

      According to the wiring diagram I found for that relay, the middle pair out of those 6 remaining pins are the “common” pins that go to the linear actuator (swap these if the actuator runs backwards from how you want), & the other 4 pins get the 12V H-bridge. Good luck, hope that helps!

  2. Tom

    Thanks for reply. Not sure if there is an issue with commenting section or not, but my original post hasn’t showed for a long time. Maybe you have it on manual approval?
    (I also tried to comment on one of other articles here a while ago)

    I couldn’t find a spec confirming that the Schneider relay is continuous duty plus the screw in relay looked to be rated for better longevity, so I ordered it and will return the Schneider relay. Love the idea of pigtail too. The override button would be great (for other applications), but the solar switch already has the functionality, so no big deal.

    Thanks for digging out the diagram. Might use it some day!

  3. Wian

    Hi Wick,
    Would you see any problems adding additional actuators for ex. an additional pop hole or actuator to open nest boxes? What ga. wire would you recommend for this setup for running 2 actuators about 30-40ft away from relay/timer?


    • Wick

      Hi Wian, that should work fine — the 10-amp rating on these relays is enough to handle 2 actuators running simultaneously. I’d definitely recommend the Functional Devices relay though. If the 7.5amp fuse that I recommend blows, go up to a 10-amp fuse, or fuse each actuator separately with 7.5amp fuses. Also the 6-amp DC power adapter I mention as a dedicated power supply might not be enough to run 2 actuators simultaneously especially if your doors take some effort to open/close — consider getting a larger 10-amp DC power adapter.

      In terms of wiring size, see this 12V wire gauge/length chart. Looks like 14-gauge wire is appropriate for 30-40′ especially since a little voltage drop won’t matter to the actuators. Realistically I think even 16-gauge would probably be fine because of the actuators have such a short run time. Also in my experience, the actuators only draw ~1 amp (each) for most of the time they run. Each actuator only hits 4-5 amps when it encounters resistance, which for my coop door is just the last half-second as the door presses closed tightly.

  4. Jeff Huber

    I’m a bit confused on what is needed for the 12V power supply. If I have AC power to the coop, do I need two outlets available? 1 runs power to the timer, 1 converts to DC, powers the actuator?

    Doing a quick search… I suppose this is simply because the timers tend to run on AC power, but I can’t find any linear actuators that run on AC power…?

    Is it possible to go off one power source with a programmable DC powered timer? Doesn’t need to adjust based on daylight, I can do that manually a few times a year, and set it conservatively to go an hour or two after sunset.

    Would these plans change using an old car antenna rather than the linear actuators? I find the linear actuator options available to be over-powered from a weight capacity perspective, and shorter than desired for the price…. Would rather have 25 inches of range and a few pounds capacity vs 200 lbs capacity and 6-8 inches range.


    • Wick

      Hi Jeff, that’s right — for this design you would need a single-gang (2-outlet) 120VAC receptable. One for the solar timer, one for the DC adapter to power the 12V items.

      If you ditch the solar timer & go with the simple 12V programmable timer you mentioned, you just need 1 outlet. See links for the simple 12V timer design in the first paragraph. To use an old car antenna, no changes needed — you’d just wire the car antenna in place of the actuator.

      I prefer the actuator because in the winter my coop door needs to close regardless of snow & ice, & the power of the linear actuator is perfect for that. Also in terms of short travel, depending on where you attach the actuator to on a hinged door, you don’t need the actuator to have the full travel distance that the door will open. For instance to swing open the door 16″ wide, if you attach the actuator farther back toward the hinge point, you might only need 6″ of travel. However if you are using a guillotine-style door, then yes you’ll need the actuator/antenna to go the same distance you want the door open & the car antenna would be a good choice for that. Hope that helps, good luck!

  5. Jeff

    Question: under option 1 for 120v heavy duty devices relay you have a picture of the Honeywell programmable switch and the RIB2401D relay. It is a 24v relay not a 12v. Will it burn up the 12 volt linear actuator?

    I used your parts list and when I was ready to assemble I noticed this discrepancy. Thoughts? I know some linear actuators have a range of voltage they’ll work in, just not sure if the one I’m using does.

    • Wick

      Hi Jeff, good question. You just misunderstood the relay specs. To clarify, this particular relay (coil) can operate on 24VDC/24VAC or 120VAC depending on which wires you use. For this project, I’m using 120VAC output from the solar timer to trigger the relay coil. This is the “coil input ratings” section on the relay label.

      However the relay’s switched contacts are completely independent from the relay coil, & are rated for up to 30VDC / 10 amps (“contact ratings” section on the relay label). In other words, the relay’s switched contacts don’t actually supply power at 24VDC, 30VDC, 120VAC etc. They only pass through whatever voltage you supply them with. So if you hook up 12V to the switched contacts, your linear actuator will get 12V.

      As you can see from the wiring diagram, you should be supplying the relay with 120VAC for the coil (from the timer), & 12VDC for the contacts. Hope that makes sense!

      • Jeff

        Thank you for the clarification. I will hook it up the way it’s diagrammed. I appreciate your prompt response too as I forgot to lock the chickens in again last night and look forward to not having to remember.

  6. Larry Weber

    Hi Wick. I’ve been using a “two timer” coop door control using your design for CN101A timers with great success. I have since acquired a Honeywell Solar Time Table Programmable Wall Switch and a Functional Devices RIB2401D DPDT relay, since I also have 110VAC current at my coop. Then I read on line that a routine can be set on Amazon Alexa for sunrise/sunset instead of a specific time (https://www.engadget.com/2019/05/06/amazon-alexa-routines-sunrises-email-alarm-smart-cameras/) and I am thinking that, since I have 120VAC current and WiFi available at the coop, that instead of using the Honeywell Solar Time Table Programmable Wall Switch, I might use a Sonoff basic switch (https://sonoff.itead.cc/en/products/sonoff/sonoff-basic) to cycle the Functional Devices RIB2401D DPDT relay/linear actuator, and control the Sonoff basic switch using the Alexa sunrise/sunset routine. Before I start stripping wire and connecting components, do you have any observations or suggestions regarding my plan or connections to be made?

    • Wick

      Hi Larry, I think that’s a great idea & sounds like a straightforward replacement for the solar time table switch. I don’t think you’ll run into any problems with that setup in terms of wiring. Let me know how it goes!

      • Larry Weber

        Hi Wick. Well, I did it, and it works like a champ!! Rather than using the Honeywell Solar Time Table Programmable Wall Switch, I substituted a Sonoff basic switch, wiring the 120 volt input to the Line and Neutral connections of the Sonoff switch input respectively, the black/white wire of the Functional Devices RIB2401D DPDT relay to the output/line connection of the Sonoff switch, and the the yellow/white wire of the Functional Devices RIB2401D DPDT relay to the output/neutral connection of the Sonoff switch. Otherwise, I made all the connections to the Functional Devices RIB2401D DPDT relay as shown above.

        Using my Amazon Alexa and the available wi-fi at the coop, I set the Sonoff switch to turn “on” at 8:30 every morning, and to turn “off” at 30 minutes after sunset (something you can’t do with the Honeywell Solar Time Table Programmable Wall Switch, which can only be set to sunrise/sunset OR times, not “on” at a time and “off” at sunset).

        The eWeLink app that controls the Sonoff switch shows me, either when I’m on my home wi-fi network or 25 miles away at work, whether my coop door is open (“on” on the Sonoff switch) or closed (“off” on the Sonoff switch).

        I love it!! No more resetting CN101a timers to reflect increases/decreases in the length of the daylight – the Amazon Alexa sunrise/sunset routine does all that for me.

        Since I’ve also automated my feeder – which is also set to a timer device – now I need to figure out how to control that similarly.

        • Wick

          Hi Larry, that sounds awesome. Nice work.

          • Larry Weber

            Now I’ve similarly automated my feeder as well.

            I’ve always fed my poultry layer pellets using a modified deer feeder (https://www.amazon.com/Wildgame-Innovations-W225D-Tri-Pod-Digital/dp/B00IIULX9G/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=game+feeder&qid=1568647013&s=gateway&sr=8-6) – I removed the legs and hung the feeder from chains from the rafters of the coop (I have a roof over the whole structure). I replaced the motor with a 12 volt motor ( Mabuchi 555 12 VDC Deer Feeder Motor – Large 4500 RPM DC Motor, available on eBay for <$8 apiece, direct fit) and ran a wire outside the battery/motor box to an analog timer (https://www.amazon.com/Timer-Digital-Deer-Feeder/dp/B0046H28YY/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=game+feeder+timer&qid=1568647284&s=gateway&sr=8-8) and a 12 volt battery outside the coop that was in turn attached to a 12 volt battery tender/charger. In order to keep the game feeder from throwing pellets all over the coop, I surrounded the feeder plate/motor/battery box assembly with a 10" section of round galvanized ductwork, and hung below that a 12" galvanized feeder pan to catch the pellets below. That worked pretty well, but like the door plans making use to CN101A timers, I had to periodically reset the feeder timer to accommodate changes in the length of each day, since I feed my poultry in the evenings to draw them back into the coop.

            I have now replaced the analog timer with a Sonoff Wifi Switch, DC5V 12V 24V 32V Wireless Relay Module Automation Module (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F6YZXST/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) that I power with the 12 volt battery, and reconnected the positive lead of the feeder motor to the NO (normally open) connection on the Sonoff Wifi switch, and another wire from the positive pole on the battery to the Common connection on the Sonoff Wifi switch. I set the Sonoff switch to its "inching" function for 30 seconds duration when the Sonoff Wifi switch is turned on. Using my Amazon Alexa and the available wi-fi at the coop, I used Alexa to turn “on” at 10 minutes before sunset to run the game feeder motor for 30 seconds to fill the feeder pan and draw my poultry back into the coop.

            Wick, it works like a charm. The Amazon Alexa sunrise/sunset routine automatically accommodates changes in the sunset time each day, and filling the feeder pan draws my poultry back into the coop for the evening. As outlined above, the coop door then closes 30 minutes after sunset each night.

            If its cold, rainy, or I'm watching TV in the evenings, I don't have to worry about going outside and feeding the poultry or closing the coop at night. Since the game feeder holds nearly 120 pounds of poultry pellets, but doesn't dispense more than what the poultry will eat during each day, I don't worry about vermin or weather contaminating their feed. Automation has made it quite easy to maintain our flock!!

          • Wick

            That is really cool, especially using the wifi switch with the Alexa sunrise/sunset routine!

        • Melissa

          Hi Larry and Wick! Currently using the Solar charged battery setup with a PV sensor. Thank you for all of the instructions and diagrams. I would have NEVER figured it out on my own. My girls can’t seem to figure out how to get inside the coop on time. The “30 minutes after sunset” setting would probably solve that issue. I know the Honeywell was not an option for my 12V DC Battery setup. Do you think the Sonoff switch would work with a battery?

          • Wick

            Hi Melissa, unfortunately the Sonoff switch requires AC power.

            You could add a 12VDC timer module that delays the closing of the door. It’s a little complicated but should work okay without much extra drain on the battery — the module draws about 50mA when triggered, & 20mA on standby. There are 12VDC multi-function timer modules & one of the functions is an “on-delay” timer, which means given a trigger (the PV sensor, which conveniently turns ON at night), the timer module delays the “on” event by any period of time that you specify. These timer modules are a little tricky to program but should work to delay the door closing. Let me know if you need some help with the wiring.

          • Larry Weber

            Hi Melissa and Wick. Actually there ARE Sonoff switches that work with a 12 volt power supply. I use these switches for a variety of purposes, including to control my poultry feeder as I outlined in another comment. My favorite of these switches is the Sonoff Wifi Switch, DC5V 12V 24V 32V Module, available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F6YZXST/?coliid=I2LFVCRIEV2VVG&colid=38UQXB2W4G1TR&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it I like this switch because it uses a variety of input DC power options (including 12 volt) and can control up to 10 amps of power, up to 125 volts of either both AC and DC current. To use this switch instead of the Honeywell switch above, you would wire 12 volt DC input to the “common” pole of the Sonoff switch, and the black/white wire of the relay to the “NO” (normally open) pole of the Sonoff switch . You would also need to power the Sonoff switch, and could do so by running a second connection off your 12 volt power supply to the DC 7-32 volt connections of the Sonoff switch.

        • Duane Bras

          Hey Larry – that’s exactly what I want to accomplish. Could you please share a picture/wiring diagram?

          • Larry Weber

            HI Duane. I have no idea of how to share a picture or diagram here. I “plagarized” Wick’s picture/diagram above and inserted a Sonoff switch in the place of the Honeywell switch showing how the components are wired together, but don’t know how I could share that.

        • Eric

          Any chance I could see a wiring diagram for this?

          • Larry Weber

            I’d be happy to share wiring diagrams, but I don’t know how to do that here – this IS Wick’s blog page.

        • Hey Larry and Wick,
          I just finished this a couple of nights ago and it’s been working wonderfully. I haven’t put mine into any sort of electrical case yet as I feel like I’m in a testing phase, but once I figured out connecting the sonoff to my smartthings hub, it was easy as pie. Connecting it to SmartThings has been nice for sunrise/sunset timers as well as manual opening and closing for things like cleaning the coop or just showing it off to the neighbors. I may had a SmartThings button on the outside of the coop for times when I have no phone on me and can’t reach the sonoff.
          Anyways, thanks for sharing all the details on this, much appreciated!

  7. Tom

    Hi Wick,

    My opener stopped working. What should I check first? Power supply?

    For some reason timer switch changed the settings (on it’s own) to random on/off, but even after going back to set program or doing manual override, it still doesn’t do anything besides clicking the relay.

    • Wick

      Hmm if you have a multimeter I’d start by checking the DC power supply voltage & the output voltage from the relay (when triggered). I think the timer sounds fine, even though it changed settings, because if you hear the relay click, it’s triggering the relay. I guess to be sure you should also double check the output voltage from the timer, but be careful because that’s 120VAC — make sure you have the multimeter in the correct mode.

  8. Tim

    Pardon my ignorance but you state the heavy-duty Functional Devices relay will be on for hours at a time. Isn’t it only “on”, when the door is in the process of opening and closing. Maybe a total of one minute. I’m confused.

    • Wick

      Hi Tim, good question — there’s no way to set up this timer for 2 separate events (open & close) & have it also reverse the polarity to the door motor for one of them. So instead, you set it up for one event (sundown to sunrise), & for the door closes when the event is “on” & opens when the event is “off”. The relay stays energized for the entire time the event is “on” but the linear actuator has internal limit switches that shut off power to the motor when the arm reaches either end of its run, so it’s no problem that the timer/relay continues supplying power the whole time. Hope that makes sense?

  9. Tim

    I had decided that this was the plan I was going to use because I have AC in my old chicken coop. Then I read this in the timer description; “DISCLAIMERS This switch cannot be used if there is no neutral wire (white wires joined together) inside the electrical box.” The old wiring to my coop only has two wires. Is there a workaround?

    • Wick

      You definitely do not want to get this wrong for safety/fire reasons. Typically in the U.S., two-wire AC means you do not have a ground wire, & the two wires are hot & neutral. Having a ground wire & GFCI outlets/breakers is really important for safety especially outdoors where the shock hazard is much higher. I’d get an electrician involved. Good luck!

  10. Gerry

    Hi Wick.
    I live in upstate NY and am wondering if these components are rated for sub zero temps?
    I am especially concerned about the actuator. I will be using the 12” version.
    Will it draw more amps at such temps and if so, will the electrical components handle the draw?

    • Wick

      Hi Gerry, I live in northern Vermont & have had no problems with the actuator. I’m still using the same one I started with 8? years ago. Only the digital timers have failed occasionally — I’ve replaced 2 timers over 8 years. Not in the winter though so I don’t think it was temperature-related.

  11. Caleb

    Hi Wick! Great design, thanks so much for the thorough explanation. Quick question – can I use a DC to AC inverter (like for a car) and do the whole solar+battery configuration with the Honeywell timer? My backyard coop will be mobile (paddock shift method) so I don’t want a wire tether everywhere, but I would like to use the solar time table timer.

    As a side note, I’m also dreaming up a solution to wire up some LEDs for supplemental lighting to increase lay hours during off-season or cloudy weeks, and also a low-wattage heater plates to a thermostat control for layer nests, and I’d like to have it all run off the same battery with as few components as possible. Thoughts? Am I a crazy person? Thanks in advance!

    • Wick

      Hi Caleb, I think the main problem is the power draw of the inverter isn’t all that efficient. You’d need a large solar panel/battery setup. But sounds like you’ll need a pretty large setup anyway to handle the LED lighting & especially the heater plates you mentioned.

      Large solar/battery setups can get pricey. You may want to invest in a long extension cord instead 🙂

      • Caleb

        Thanks Wick, good call on total wattage output to sustain LEDs. I’ve got solar on my home already and I overproduce as it is, so why not just tap into that. I think you’re right on just living with the extension cord tether, probably cheaper. Although I’ll probably need to install an exterior-rated outlet on my home so hm now the costs might get more comparable.

        Follow up question – what are your thoughts on the many different pre-made options on Amazon for auto coop doors? Have you looked through them at all? I love DIY, but if someone else has made it and it will do what I want and cost less extra than my time is worth, I’m all about Specialization 101.

  12. Pascal Dela

    Thanks for the diagram, it helped me very much to understand how relay work. Mine work just fine. I put the 120v power on a smart plug to auto open/close door everyday and know the status.

    • Duane Bras

      Hey Pascal,
      This sound like what I was thinking of doing. Wondering if you would mind sharing your wiring diagram AND your on/off schedule for your wifi plug?

  13. Robert

    Thanks, your time is appreciated…

  14. Wesley Wilson

    Thank you. My wife is ecstatic. Great info. Thanks aain.

  15. Edward

    I am trying to build this using a Honeywell RPLS530A programmable switch but it has 3 black wires labeled 1, 2, and C. Can this switch be used? For example Power cord: Black to 1, 2 or C? Power cord: White to 1, 2 or C? Relay White/Blue wire to 1, 2 or C? I was wanting a timer that I can set the time it opens and closes the door everyday and not at dusk and dawn. My Chickens tend to stay out a little after dark and would be shut out if it closed the door at dusk. Thanks.

    • Sandra

      Hi Edward, I don’t know if you could make it work by now. Just wanted to let you know that I installed the Honeywell switch suggested by Wick and apart from delaying the events (all events) by one hour, you can also play around with different latitudes and this way set the exact delay you want. Just be aware it will apply to all events. Longitude should stay the same so that length of day stays the same.

  16. Anze

    First of all thak you for sharing this awsome idea.
    I was wondering if i can get this Solar Time Table Switch that works on 230V AC since I’m from Europe. Somehow i haven’t found it yet. Can you help?

      • Stephen

        Wick great job. I’ve been look for the past 4 weeks for an automatec coop door to put on our new coop I’m building. I ended up getting one off eBay but it doen’t have everything I want. I’m going to try incorporating what you have , BUT, in my reading for 3 hours last night through this thread and another you are on, there was a question early on about the chickens getting squashed. Can’t this be solved by using an infrared diffuse photoelectric switch (Proximity Switch 6-36VDC E3F-DS30C4 on Amazon) and put it in series with the power feed to the linear actuator? I’m in the process of revese engineering the board in the one from eBay It looks like that is what their doing I just need to see exactly where it’s going.

        • Wick

          That would be really cool. Let me know if you get it up & running. That would be a really nice modification. I’ve only had 1 chicken get caught by the door in 10? years, but that still sucked.

  17. Anze

    Would this do as an alternative to the Honeywall

  18. Bill

    Thanks for posting this finely detailed set of instructions. I do have one question. My flock, for whatever reason can’t seem to get it through their heads that when the sun is about to go down the door will close. I’ve gone out many a evening to let a stranded and scared bird into the coop because it was too interested with it’s bug eating to notice what time it was getting to be. So, my question is, can a bell of some sort be added to this timer so that about a minute prior to closing the bell will sound giving the critters “notice” that things are about to go on lockdown? These guys seem to have superior hearing so maybe they will,learn what the reminder bell means. Thanks!

    • Wick

      Hi Bill, good question. Easiest solution by far is to delay the door closing until dark, if you haven’t done that already. With the Honeywell timer you can delay timer events by up to 70 minutes after sunset, so that the door closes after dark rather than right at sunset. To do that, when programming the timer, select the sunset mode & then change the minutes to create an sunset-offset setting. There’s an additional icon that lights up to indicate you are setting an offset time. If you still have the manual sheet, how to set offset times is described on there.

      Adding a bell would be more difficult. This particular Honeywell switch setup uses 120VAC for the relay trigger voltage, so you’d need to use a 120VAC time-delay relay like this one. It looks like you could use that same timer module to also limit how long the bell stays on by wiring the bell to different pins on the module. From their diagram, looks like you’d use pins 1/3 for the bell (power from initial trigger up to the delay setting) & pins 6/8 for the door relay (power after the delay to the end of the timer cycle). Also for this to work, you’d need to set up the whole system so the door relay stays on while the door is closed — your “ON” event would be the door closing & the “OFF” event is the door opening. If the actuator runs backwards from what you want, reverse the actuator leads. Keep in mind the Honeywell switch output is 120VAC, so your bell would need to be 120VAC as well. Or you could use a 12VDC relay/120VAC coil to trigger a 12VDC bell.

      This all should work fine in theory, but honestly I question whether it will really accomplish anything other than it would be kind of fun. Keep in mind the run time for that particular time-delay relay is 60 seconds, so the entire process of the bell ringing & the door closing can take up to 60 seconds max. For instance you could set the trigger point at 20 seconds, so the bell rings for 20 seconds & then the door closes for the remaining 40 seconds. In theory that would work, but I wonder if that really gives chickens enough time to get in the door — assuming you can somehow train them what the bell means…

      Interesting question though! Hope the timer sunset offset setting does the trick, because that’s easy. Good luck!

  19. Chris

    Thanks for all your knowledge!! We very much appreciate your time and info! This method will be the second opener we’ve built from your plans, just wanted to say thank you!

  20. Bryan

    I just finished installing and testing your heavy duty coop auto door setup. Thank you so much for sharing all of this amazing information! I think this will be a significant upgrade and I’m looking forward to enjoying it!
    Best regards,

  21. trak

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the guide. I’ve followed your tutorial for the standard duty relay but have blown two relays now.
    Everything is connected as you have shown here, but as soon as I turn on the AC power at the wall, the actuator runs for approximately 4secs before there’s a loud pop, the relay begins to burn and then it trips my circuit breaker.
    I’m based in Australia where we’re on 240v. I’ve tried two different brands of DPDT relays now but they both failed. This is the last one I tried.

    At first I thought I’d got the polarity wrong on the AC power wiring but it’s as you’ve drawn in your diagram. If the polarity were reversed, I assume it wouldn’t work at all.
    Struggling to know what’s causing my issue. Any help appreciated!

    • Wick

      Hi, that looks like a 12V coil relay — if you look at the printed text on the side of that relay, it has “DC 12V” in big letters which is the coil rating, & below that has “10A/24VDC/220VAC” which is the contacts rating.

      So although the switched contacts are rated for up to 24VDC/240VAC, that relay coil is only rated for 12VDC.

      You’re burning out the 12VDC relay coil running 240VAC through it, which is the output of the Honeywell switch.

      You need a relay with coil rated for 240VAC. The multi-voltage-type switched contacts that relay has (“10A/24VDC/220VAC”) is fine, just the coil type is wrong.

  22. Miles

    Any thoughts on using this Astronomical timer from Woods? https://www.woodshomeproducts.com/product/in-wall-7-day-astronomical-digital-timer-white/

    Has anyone ever had a chicken get trapped by the door closing? And would it be easy to wire in a proximity switch? My current plan to alleviate the chance of a stuck chicken is to use the actuator to lift on a rope, and the rope connected to an auto-locking door mechanism.

    Also, what is a method for an override in the event of a power outage with the 120v system?

    • Wick

      That Woods timer should work fine. Looks like it outputs 120VAC just like the Honeywell timer so you’d need the same type of 120VAC coil/12VDC switch relay.

      Chickens trapped — we had one chicken a long time ago who apparently liked to roost on the doorway & it got killed (instantly) when it put its head out the door rather than moving. No problems with probably 40-50 chickens over the 10 years since. I eventually added a fencing wire loop to the bottom/inside of the door which pushes any chickens out of the way as it closes. Simple but effective.

      Override – for long-term power outages you can disconnect the actuator arm where the cotter pin goes through the door bracket. If you still have 12VDC power in a power outage, you could add a manual switch.

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