Learn the difference between spring and hydraulic door closers and operators.

Every swing door features hardware that allows it to open and close. There are a few distinct hardware types to choose from that will make a difference in your door’s function and durability.

You can choose a device that assists in closing the door when it is opened (aka closers) or a device that both closes and opens the door (aka operators).

Let’s dive into the difference between closers and operators, exploring the distinctions within each.

Swing Door Closers

Typical free-swing door closers are used to control the swing of a door and, ultimately, make a building more fire safe. They ease access in commercial spaces with heavy traffic, such as hotels, schools, offices, etc.

You can find two primary types of door closers: hydraulic and spring-loaded. Each type contains unique internal mechanisms that provide force to close the free-swing door.


Hydraulic free-swing door closers are the beefier among the two types, as they are often used in commercial settings. A typical hydraulic door mechanism looks like this: a spring sits in an enclosed tube, providing the closing force, while a fluid-filled cylinder regulates the door’s closing speed.

You would typically mount this type of closer near the top inside face of the free-swing door. A hinged arm connects the hydraulic and spring components to the door’s frame.


Spring closers are the most basic type. They use a spring to pull the door into its closed position. You have likely seen these on residential screen doors as they are the most common for homes.

The spring connects the head of the door to the top of the frame, allowing for spring-loaded closing. Sometimes, the springs are hidden in the door hinges and are not as visible.

Swing Door Operators

A swing door operator (aka an automatic door operator) is a mechanical device used in pedestrian settings. It helps open the door automatically, waits a moment, and then automatically closes it.

You can find two categories of operators: low energy and high energy. Each type of operator moves at different speeds and with different forces.


Low energy door operators are typically used for handicapped accessible doors on commercial buildings. The operator mechanism is mounted to the header of the door frame and looks a bit boxier than a hydraulic closer.

You’ve seen low-energy automatic door operators anywhere with a “push to open” button or handicap button near the entry.


Sometimes referred to as power-operated doors, these high-energy automatic operators are typically used at grocery and retail stores. They open and close with greater force and speed than low-energy operators.

Park Avenue Locks – A Lock Above the Rest

Don’t let choosing the right commercial or residential door lock be a tedious process. If you don’t know where to start when selecting the right hardware for your doors, then Park Avenue Locks can guide the way.

We specialize in all high-security, heavy-duty door locks and hinges that come in various finishes. And our inventory is always full of options. Call us at 332-600-4046 or contact us for personalized assistance.