If you start automating things around the house to assist with accessibility, one of the specifications you have to look at upfront is the amount of force (usually given in pounds) required to move the object. For example, ADA requirements are that a regular door be able to be opened with 5 pounds of force or less. A typical toilet lever in the US usually takes about 4 pounds of force, While the toilets that have a button on top typically only require about 2 pounds of force.
Most buttons requireless than 1 pound of force, but some of the ones that are attached to a mechanical relay, including microwave door buttons, may require two or even 2 1/2 pounds.
And sliding doors have a huge variance! Some take only 5 to 8 pounds of force while others, like heavy wooden barn doors, may take as much as 35 pounds.
If you want to automate some of these things, you’ll need to know how much force is required.
Fortunately, this is a very easy task as long as you have the right tool.
The easiest one to use is a “door pressure gauge.” The ones that will work for an ADA report usually run $30-$60, although sometimes you can find one for around $25.
These are really simple to use. See the following video:
Amazon will usually have a selection of several that measure up to 35 pounds. These are not super finely calibrated, though, they are just giving you a range with a plus or minus of about half a pound. They’re intended for contractors who want to file an ADA compliance report.
Read the specifications carefully. Some of them are for heavy-duty doors and only measure between 10 pounds and 75 pounds. That’s not what you want for most home automation tasks as usually you are trying to get the push/pull under 5 pounds to meet accessibility requirements.
Note that this is a different tool than an automotive “belt tension gauge.” I mention that because I have heard some people recommend using one for the other but they aren’t measuring In the same way. They look a little bit similar if you just see them in the package, it’s a sliding tube with an O-ring on it, but the automotive belt gauge actually has two O-rings and two marks And is measuring the deflection on a belt. Plus most of the automotive ones have a minimum measurement of 10 pounds. None of which matters – – the important thing is if you want to get a force measurement tool for accessibility testing, just get the tool that is designed for that purpose. It will be easier to use and more accurate for the purpose.