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Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors

The Future of Garage Doors

Architects started adding buildings or additions to homes they called “garages”  in 1912. Nine years later, in 1921, C.G. Johnson added a new invention – the overhead garage door. Since then, we’ve seen plenty of innovations from remote technology to new types of garage doors.

One new garage door innovation actually comes from renovating how garage doors move at all. In a paper titled “Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Door,” authors David Boktor, Rachel Cavan, and Connor Seifert proposed a new idea to revolutionize how garage doors work.

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    Current Types of Garage Doors

    commercial garage door installation

    Now, you already have a few different options for garage doors. If you want to skip out on the tech altogether, there are options! You can even opt for an old-fashioned hinged door that you open and close manually. These work in much of the same way that a door in your house might.

    Another option similar to hinged garage doors is tilt-up garage doors, sometimes referred to as up and over doors. These doors also open on a hinge and the door is a solid panel rather than broken into sections. When you open or close them, they pivot on a hinge to open.

    How they sit once they’re open depends on the style. Classic tilt-up garage doors stick directly out of the garage rather than rolling out of sight. On the other hand, tilt-up retractable garage doors pull back and out of the way.

    Roll-up garage doors are among the most popular garage doors. They work in much the same way a retractable tilt-up garage door works. However, they’re sectioned off into slats rather than kept in one solid piece. This gives roll-up doors the flexibility to roll back out of sight without ever extending past the front of your garage.

    Finally, a rarer choice is a side-to-the-side garage door. These open horizontally rather than vertically. To slide easily out of the way, they’re often designed in a similar, paneled manner as a roll-up garage door.

    A New Idea: Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors

    In design, the electromagnetically propelled garage doors Seifert suggests would look to operate similarly to roll-up garage doors. This is for a few reasons.

    First, the design of a roll-up garage door is rather space-saving. You don’t have to worry about accounting for space around the door as with tilt-up or hinged garage doors. There’s no need to account for an in-swing or an out-swing.

    Secondly, there’s a benefit to using this operation design on a popular garage door choice. The ability to retrofit a more traditional roll-up garage system would allow for easier installation and implementation of the design. It would also make the installation process more affordable for homeowners since you wouldn’t have to replace the whole system.

    How Do Motorized and Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors Differ?

    Common roll-up garage doors now work thanks to a system including a motor powering a set of pulleys and chains. Depending on your command, this pulls the garage door open or lowers it closed.

    An electromagnetically propelled garage door system would forgo this chained system altogether. Rather, the door would move up and down thanks to magnets guiding it. This would help the door open and close effectively without as much direct contact as it moves along the track.

    Electromagnetic Field Simulation

    How Quickly Would Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors Open?

    When you press the button to close or open your garage door, you probably don’t want to wait a long time. At some point, if it takes too long, it’s more efficient to open and close a door manually.

    As for electromagnetically propelled garage doors, they’re aimed at matching or bettering current garage door speeds. As such, the door would move at about seven inches each second or, if possible, slightly faster. However, this isn’t one of the primary goals of electromagnetically propelled garage doors.

    Potential Advantages of Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors

    Electromagnetic propulsion is an interesting concept in garage doors for a few reasons. Not only does it offer a novel solution but it can offer some unique advantages.

    Longer Lifespan

    Garage doors can last you quite a while and you can expect an average roll-up garage door to last 20 years. Put another way, you can expect about 10,000 cycles out of a motorized garage door. On the other hand, this assessment of an electromagnetically propelled garage door can last 15,000 cycles or 25 years.

    A lot of this comes down to friction. The pulley system in a motorized garage door can cause a lot of friction. This friction wears down the parts of your system until they’re no longer viable.

    Since an electromagnetically propelled garage door uses magnets, there’s no friction. A pulley-and-chain motorized system uses a lot of pulling and dragging to get your door in place. The effort is just on a motor this time rather than the physical force of you manually adjusting a door. With magnets, the door basically “floats” between the tracks, moving without excessive contact between components in the system.

    This design helps more than just a longer lifespan. It might even help you minimize your maintenance routine in those decades as well.

    Less Noise

    The electromagnetically propelled garage door would, ideally, run at a lower volume too. This is another concept related to friction. Friction causes energy loss in motorized garage doors, plus it can cause a groan or two while your door repositions.

    Once again, one of the goals of this prototype was to reduce this and the electromagnetic design helps. After all, there’s nothing pulling an electromagnetic door into place that would cause this friction and subsequent noise.

    The average motorized garage door is about five to 20 decibels over ambient background noise. So, one goal of the electromagnetically propelled garage door was to keep this noise under 5dB.


    Potential Disadvantages of Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors

    Of course, the proposal does come with some drawbacks. However, it’s worth taking a closer look since we’re comparing a prototype to an already-popular technology.

    Limitations in the Prototype

    First, let’s take a look at a few of the disadvantages that are temporary in this idea. Namely, the proposed version skips out on many of the safety features a consumer-ready project would have. This means a finished product would include features that the prototype skipped such as auto-reverse functionality and eye sensors. These are the sorts of additions designed to stop the garage door from hitting anything in its path. It’s a common feature on motorized garage doors and would ideally get added to the commercial design here.

    Another feature the electromagnetically propelled garage doors proposal left out for now is a mechanical release. This is something the authors note would help to offer a manual option for your garage door when you don’t have power.

    Many of these safety measures existed outside of the scope of the project, though. They weren’t just forgotten or foregone altogether. So, if this idea went to market, designers would likely add these safety features.


    The cost of a garage door is an important consideration when you’re planning a renovation. If you’re worried about your budget over longevity, electromagnetically propelled garage doors have a disadvantage. Electromagnetically propelled garage doors would come at a higher cost to homeowners looking to renovate than a motorized door.

    There’s an argument to justify this additional cost, though. For one, the upfront cost would pay off in the additional longevity of this type of garage door. On top of that, the designers took the average roll-up garage door into account. The ability to retrofit this technology on an existing garage door opening would help to mitigate the cost of installation than if you had to install a newdoor from scratch.d

    How Much Would Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors Cost?

    Cost is an important factor for homeowners to consider when they’re looking into any renovation project. As mentioned earlier, electromagnetically propelled garage doors would come at a higher cost than their motorized counterparts.

    On average, installing a garage door can cost from $2,000 to $3,000. The idea presented for electromagnetic doors proposes they would cost less than $3,000. However, they would veer towards the higher end of this scale.

    Naturally, some of this comes with the cost of added benefits. There’s an argument that for the additional benefits that these types of doors offer, it’s worth the cost. After all, you’ll have a quieter, more efficient garage door with rather low maintenance and a long life!

    Do Electromagnetically Propelled Garage Doors Seem Promising?

    Unfortunately, you can’t run out and buy or jump online and order electromagnetically propelled garage doors. However, this concept seems very promising when it comes to innovating garage doors!

    Electromagnetically propelled garage doors show a lot of promise as the future of garage doors. The design proposed offers a garage door that’s more efficient, lower maintenance, quieter, and lives long. All in all, this is potentially a great next step in the future of garage doors!