Europe Adopts New Garage Door Standards
© 2005 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Winter 2005
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Europe Adopts New Garage Door Standards
By Tom Wadsworth, Editor
In the United States, certain social trends often begin on the West Coast and eventually spread eastward until they blanket the country. With certain technology and electronic products, trends often begin in Japan or the Pacific Rim before they invade North America.
In the garage door world, many trends actually begin in Europe before they spread to the United States and beyond. For example, pinch resistance at section joints existed in Europe long before it finally hit the North American garage door market.
Well, a distinct new garage door trend has emerged in Europe, and the North American garage door industry is watching with eyes wide open.
On May 1, 2005, the new European Standard (EN) 13241-1 took effect, carrying with it a long list of new requirements for every garage door system sold in Europe. To verify compliance with the new requirements, all newly installed garage door systems must carry the “CE mark,” which is somewhat comparable to a UL label.
Most American door dealers have become familiar with the citation of “UL 325” for garage door openers. In Europe, door dealers are quickly becoming familiar with the citation of “EN 13241-1.” As with UL standards, safety is the primary goal of the new European standard.
To learn more about the new requirements, we tapped the knowledge of Dr. Michael Brinkmann of Hörmann, the largest garage door manufacturer in Europe. Brinkmann is an engineer and the managing director of Hörmann’s Brockhagen plant in Germany, a key Hörmann manufacturing plant for residential and commercial sectional garage doors.
Dr. Brinkmann has been with Hörmann for more than 15 years and personally served on work groups that developed the new standard. Brinkmann is also active on an industry level, now serving as vice president of the European Door and Shutter Federation (EDSF).
More Than a Few
The new requirements are not minor. Brinkmann says that Hörmann spent “millions” (in U.S. dollars) to adapt its manufacturing processes to meet the new standards.
Among other requirements, the new European standard demands:
1. Trap protection at the sides (i.e., between the track and the wall/frame).
2. An anti-drop safety device that prevents the door from dropping spontaneously (e.g., after a spring breaks).
3. Tracks that prevent rollers from derailing.
4. Pinch resistance between sections. (The allowable gap must be less than 4mm, smaller than allowed in ANSI/DASMA 116.)
5. Pinch resistance at the hinges.
6. Cables that are routed internally, between the door sections and the frame.
7. A spring containment system that prevents broken spring parts from flying into the air.
But that’s not all. Brinkmann says the new standard includes requirements for ten different aspects of garage door operation. This includes such areas as watertightness, the release of dangerous substances, wind resistance, thermal resistance, air permeability, and glass breakage.
Limiting Operational Force
The new limitations on the operating forces for power-operated doors presented a distinct challenge to manufacturers. Brinkmann says this was also the “greatest point of controversy.”
Upon contacting an obstruction, a power-operated door must exert less than 400 newtons (a measure of force) within a time period of less than 0.75 seconds. In the U.S., no such “force limitations” exist.
“U.S. operators can have as much force on the main closing edge as you want, without any limits,” says Brinkmann. However, the entrapment protection requirements in UL 325 require the door to reverse direction, thus providing a measure of safety but in a different way.
How Installers are Affected
Although most of EN 13241-1 applies to manufacturers, installers are also affected. The door and its components must be installed according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Then, after installing, the door must be labeled, and all product documentation must be given to the owner.
In addition, “The installer has to teach the homeowner about operation and use, maintenance, and everything which is of importance about the door,” says Brinkmann.
Installation can be provided only by experienced installers. Trainees may perform work, but only under the supervision of an experienced installer. The installing door company must ensure that installers receive the necessary training.
Brinkmann notes that the language pertaining to installer credentials is vague. “This is a very weak definition in the standard,” he says.
Garage Door Gestapo?
Even though the new standard is mandatory and not voluntary (like ANSI/DASMA 116), Europe has no official organization to monitor compliance with the standard. “The only monitoring I can see on the market are the competitors who look very precisely what the others are doing,” observes the Hörmann executive.
The situation is similar to U.S. monitoring of the UL 325 standard. Government officials are not checking garages, but competitive pressures and liability awareness naturally encourage manufacturers to produce products that meet the obligatory standards.
Although the new requirements took effect on May 1, 2005, Brinkmann believes that some European manufacturers still do not comply with all the requirements of EN 13241-1. Similarly, some European countries were quicker than others in adopting and complying with the new rules.
Failing to comply carries no stated penalty. However, “Legally it is forbidden to supply products that do not comply with the European standard 13241-1,” adds Brinkmann. “In case of an accident, the manufacturer will be fully responsible for any consequences without any questions.”
Crossing the Atlantic?
In closing, we should note that this article is only an overview and does not cover all the aspects of the new standard. North American manufacturers, however, are likely watching these European developments with cautious interest.
The question that looms for the North American garage door industry is: Will these new European standards soon cross the Atlantic and affect the North American market?
If history is a reliable indicator, it’s only a matter of time.
The Countries Affected by EN 13241-1
More information on EN 13241-1 is available from the European Door and Shutter Federation at www.edsf.com.
ANTI-DROP: The inner workings of an anti-drop device on a manually operated door. In case of a chain or cable break, the device catches the next catch point and prevents the door from falling down. For illustrative purposes, a portion of the side hand guard has been digitally removed.
TAKING UP SLACK: In this power-operated door, the anti-drop device is also used as a cable slack device. In case of slack in the chain or cable, the switch gives a signal to the control unit (box at right), which stops the motor immediately.
SPRING SAFETY DEVICE: If a spring breaks, the latch catches the next “tooth” in the “wheel” (see arrow), preventing the door from dropping.
PINCH RESISTANCE: This illustration shows a pinch-resistant hinge and a pinch-resistant section joint.