7 Sneaky Hacks To Install An Automatic Chicken Coop Door

7 Sneaky Hacks To Install An Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Installing an automatic chicken coop door is easy, but it’s not always super straightforward.

Here’s 7 sneaky hacks to install an automatic door for your chicken coop that the pros don’t always tell you  (and I learned the hard way).

First, in the video below, we show you how to install the automatic chicken coop door from out of the package to fully installed.

There’s lots of options for automatic chicken coop doors. (This article contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

If you want to buy the coop door we use, here’s where to get it. The company is a small business, and they’re great folks. They answered all of our questions, and the coop door is great quality.

Here’s 7 hacks you should keep in mind to make the installation process simpler and less stressful for you and your chickens!

DIY automatic chicken coop door

Check the installation area is the right size for your automatic chicken coop door.

It seems simple enough, but don’t make the mistake of eyeballing the size of the automatic coop door.  We didn’t do this and had to slightly widen the installation space. Luckily, this was easy and not dramatic.

You might need different hardware than the automatic chicken coop door company provides. This is normal.

We found with our coop, the screws provided by manufacturer weren’t long enough for our coop (not manufacturer error, just the way our coop is made). So, we had to substitute, and the installation went smoothly.

Double check the door is flush with the sides and floor.

We didn’t experience any issues with this, but it’s still worth checking all the same (see tip #7). Holes or gaps let in cold air and moisture, rats, and possibly predators.

If your coop door requires an AC outlet, use a solar powered or battery powered generator for off grid coops

Off grid generators that don’t use gas and that are quiet are ideal. This is the solar powered generator we use (it can also be charged from an AC outlet in our home).

Put the generator inside a box or place it high so the chickens leave it alone. (A box is the best solution to extend the life of the generator and keep it dust-free).

Use a drill to create holes to open an area for the door

This made life easier and installation much faster. If you need to power your tools with an AC plug, the solar generator can help with that too.

Leave animals out of the coop during installation so the noise doesn’t bother them.

The rooster in particular was bothered by the loud noise of the jigsaw. Let your chicken flock run around outside while you install their new door.

Buy an automatic door with interior and exterior frames.

This will provide insulation for your flock so cold and drafts won’t blow through during winter. The frames also make it harder for predators to get through the door and kill your flock.

The one we installed in the video above comes with frames:

DIY automatic chicken coop door

Don’t worry if your chickens don’t understand the automatic coop door at first.

They’re smart and will figure it out eventually.

How to Stay Warm in Winter Without Heat

How to Stay Warm in Winter Without Heat

I, for one, am not the biggest fan of electricity. In fact, I try to avoid it if possible. But with winter on its way, and the likely power outages (anyone remember Snowmageddon where most of Washington DC was out of power for a couple weeks?) you’ll want to know how to stay warm in winter without heat so if you lose power, you have a plan.


Being cold sucks (unless you’re one of those people who craves cold. I’m not. I want to stay warm all the time), so during power outages you will need to look for alternative ways to make sure that your house is sufficiently heated.


These are my genius hacks (tried and true) for how to stay warm in winter without heat, and if you’re camping or go hunting this winter, then you can adapt these tips to figure out how to stay warm in a tent, too.


Drinking a Warm Beverage

Tea, coffee, whatever. If you don’t have power, then brew thyself a warm beverage to stay warm in winter. The beverage will raise your body temperature, and you’ll feel it down to your toes (this is also good for animals if they’re cold, too). Just don’t burn yourself.


Staying Under Extra Blankets During the Day

During the super cold days (the ones where my hands are freezing), I pretty much stay under several quilts all day. Those blankets help retain the heat your body lets off and you can even practice a bit if Danish Hygge with your cozy self.


Wearing Fleece

Sheep don’t get cold for a reason (ok, they do but fleece is still a winter staple for cold wussies like me who need to stay warm in winter). Pants, socks, even a fleece shirt are all winning ideas.


I keep a couple fleece tops in my winter emergency survival kit in the car in case I find myself stranded (during Snowmageddon, there were several people who froze because their cars got stuck and they didn’t keep a winter emergency survival kit in their vehicles.



Wearing a Hat

Your mama always told you to wear a hat, and that’s because you lose most of your body heat through your head. So, be a trooper and wear a hat, preferably with fleece, so the cold has minimal spaces to get into your body.


Your mama taught you right. Now go call her and thank her.


Using a South-Facing Sun Room with Good Insulation

Southern exposures get the most sunlight during the day, so any room facing South will be warmer (also, Southern winds are warmer than northern winds, so Northern facing rooms will be colder simply because that’s how weather works).


Also be sure the room has good insulation so heat that gets into the room does not escape easily. There’s no use in trying to stay warm if you aren’t taking that extra step to RETAIN the warmth.


Using a Wood Stove (or a Rocket Stove)

While it’s not the most economical because you have to buy the stove and pipes and possibly the wood, this is probably the easiest way to stay warm in winter without power. (This is the stove we use – I HIGHLY recommend it).


Just be sure that the chimney leads outside so you don’t inhale smoke. Most commercial wood stoves are created to have sufficient draw, so your part is just installing it correctly so you can stay warm without accidentally hurting yourself.


And yes, you should use a commercial stove – don’t be that guy that builds his own and burns his house down or dies in the middle of the night because of smoke inhalation. Yes, those people do exist. Usually they’re my neighbors.


You can learn how to install a wood stove here.



Only Heating the Rooms You Most Frequently Use

This won’t really help you heat your house, but it’ll help you lower the cost and possibly the stress of having to figure out how to heat a bunch of rooms.


For example, we don’t worry too much about heating our kitchen, as long as the temperatures aren’t below 20 (if it is, then we have to worry about pipes freezing, and yes, we’ve woken up to our fair share of broken pipes).


The food will stay fresh and we won’t have to worry about paying to run the fridge. Pretty win/win.


Using a Gas Generator

A gas generator can also be an easy way to stay warm in winter during a power outage as long as you don’t mind paying for the gas and listening to the noise.  You just need to keep the generator outside the house so that the fumes produced do not hurt you.


(An alternative is a solar generator like this. Supposedly, this gadget can power several appliances. It ain’t cheap, but you’re worth the investment.)


Making Sure the Rooms Are Free Of Drafts

This is also helpful to stay warm because the drafts can allow heat to escape. You just need to take a few minutes to ensure there are no drafts.


Putting Heavy Blankets Over Doors and Windows

We do this every winter because it’s fast and effective. By keeping the heavy blankets over the doors and windows you will be ensuring that heat does not escape. This will also prevent more cold air from getting into the house.



Opening Curtains During the Day

When your curtains are opened during the day, the sun’s rays can get into the house. Particularly if your windows face south and there’s no drafts in the room, this will help heat the air inside your house.


Placing Clear Plastic Over Windows

This is one of our favorite ways to stay warm in winter, especially if the wind is really blowing. Our farmhouse is old, and the insulation is minimal. Clear plastic keeps the chill out while at the same time allowing light to get in and significantly helps to preserve heat.


Putting Blankets On the Ceiling and On the Floor

Especially if there isn’t much insulation on your floor, you’ll want to put blankets down to stay warm. We’ve used this method to help insulate the house, keeping it relatively toasty even when it’s close to zero outside. Just keep the blankets away from your wood stove or generator.


Cold but don't have power? Here's 14 genius ideas for how to stay warm in winter without heat!

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Ideas

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Ideas

For now at least, the sun is owned by everyone and no one, so why not use it’s power to become a little more independent?


Going solar is a worthy homesteading goal, and a simple one to begin.


We aren’t completely off grid yet, but we do hope to go solar soon as we become more involved with our homesteading activities.


Of course, we’ll create our own solar generators, furnaces, ovens, and hot water heaters as much as we can (although we’re okay calling in experts if we have to!)


I’ve scoured the internet, and found some simple solutions to going solar.


Here’s 4 projects you can start today to make homesteading a little more self-sufficient!

1. Make Your Own Solar Powered Generator*

While I’m no electrician, these directions for a simple DIY solar powered generator look easy enough.


For this project, you’ll need:

  • Solar Panel (recommended: 40wp, 17.2v)
  • Charge Controller
  • Deep Cycle Battery
  • Inverter
  • Wires
  • Wire Connectors


You can produce 150 W of electricity, not enough to support electricity-guzzling appliances, but it’s more than enough to power a 60 W light blub for 6 hours or an energy saving light bulb for 25 hours.


In a grid-down situation, you’ll be able to power your laptop for 5 to 8 hours. Not too shabby!


*I’m not an electrician, and I haven’t put together this DIY solar panel together myself. These statements aren’t intended to take the place of a certified electrician. If you attempt this project, you do so at your own risk.


2. Build a Solar Powered Heater Out of Aluminum Cans


Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Projects You Can Do In A Weekend! Here's how to do it, what you'll need, and exactly what to buy! From FrugalChicken

Photo from FairCompanies.com

Seriously, I’ve already started collecting aluminum cans for this one since it seems so simple even I can do it.


Last year, the horse barn was FREEZING in the winter, and I’ve vowed that this winter, it will be at least 40 degrees inside.



I’m just not sure I want to do homesteading activities, like milking a goat, in 14 degree weather.


I’m sure you understand.


The nice thing about building your own solar powered heater? You’re reusing something that’s otherwise going to a landfill.


For this project you’ll need:

  • 240 aluminum cans
  • (3) 2x4x8 studs
  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. x 1/2 in. sheet of plywood
  • High temperature silicone
  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of Plexiglas or Lexan
  • A can of heat-resistant flat black spray paint
  • Plastic tubing
  • Drill Press with wide drill bits
  • Screws
  • Optional Air Blower (consider a solar-powered unit)


Even though the air blower is optional, I recommend it because from my research, it will heat your space faster and more effectively.


Here’s how to construct it:

3. DIY Solar Oven

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Projects You Can Do In A Weekend! Here's how to do it, what you'll need, and exactly what to buy! From FrugalChicken

There’s many different ways to build a solar oven, and I’m sure you’ve seen one using a pizza box.


That one is a little too simple to be effective when homesteading, and I’m not sure it will get hot enough to actually cook anything substantial.


Here’s one that will get hot enough so in a grid-down situation, you can still have a hot meal, but that isn’t overly complicated to construct. And you can get everything for this homesteading activity from the dollar store!


Make it this weekend!


For this project you’ll need:

Two cardboard boxes (one at least 15 inch x 15 inch, the other slightly smaller)

Piece of cardboard at least 2 to 3 inches larger than the largest box

Roll of aluminum foil

Flat-black spray paint (you can also use black construction paper if you’re worried about chemicals)

An oven bag



Here’s how you make a simple DIY solar oven!

If you just want to buy one (and that’s okay!) here’s a great option:

4. DIY Water Heater


Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Projects You Can Do In A Weekend! Here's how to do it, what you'll need, and exactly what to buy! From FrugalChicken

Photo from BuildItSolar.com

I love this project because the concept is simple: Water heats up from the sun, and the hot water rises, and becomes available to you. You’ll always have hot water, as long as the sun is out.


Our house is currently heated by propane, but I would love it if we could at least heat our water using solar energy!


Building a solar water heater looks like it might be a little bit of a project, especially if you’re like me and not super handy, but it’s pretty simple.


For this project you’ll need:

  • Aluminum sheeting
  • 2x4x8 studs
  • Plywood
  • Copper tubing
  • SunTuf polycarbonate (can buy at your local big box store)
  • Epoxy
  • Black high-temperature BBQ paint


Here’s how you can build your own solar powered water heater!


Going off grid doesn’t have to be hard or expensive!


Try one of these simple homesteading projects and take another step towards independence by going solar!



Getting excited about all the buzz about solar power? Here's 4 diy solar projects you can complete this weekend - you probably have most of these materials laying around!