PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap Review

PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap ReviewThe PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap is the UK’s second best selling microchip cat flap behind the excellent Sureflap microchip cat flap. The Sureflap model was our first microchip cat flap but for comparative purposes we bought the PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap and had it installed in in our utility door (yes, we have two doors with cat flaps installed…). See our PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap review below to find out what we thought.

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Our Verdict:

Positives:

  • Unique night locking mode
  • Many unique modes that you can program
  • 3-year guarantee
  • Up to 25 cats
Negatives:

  • Requires plugging into the mains, batteries are only there as a back-up with reduced functionality
  • Overhanging ‘porch’ gets in the way and scares some cats
  • Confusing locking modes, no manual 4-way lock
Appearance
Fitting
Power Supply
Ease Of Use
Price

Design & Fitting

The first thing you should know is that the PetPorte is available in brown, as well as white (see here for pictures). While we prefer the white version, in some settings I’m sure that the brown colour would be more appropriate. The plastics and the buttons of the unit feel like they are of excellent quality and they do not seem to take on dirty stains, even over longer periods of time.

The design of the PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap is different to that of a normal cat flap. It will fit nicely into the standard sized hole left by an existing cat flap. The difference in the design is the ‘porch’ that hangs over the outside entrance of the cat flap. PetSafe say that this porch allows the microchip of the cat to be read before it enters the tunnel, rather than within the tunnel, like competitor models. However, we do not believe that this design offers any advantage over an in-tunnel scanner (unless your moggy likes to enter the house backwards…). This is because the lock releases the instant that the scanner recognises a cat, and so even with in-tunnel scanners a cat never has to wait for the door to release. Maybe this design was more about housing a bulky scanner?

We have also found that we occasionally bash our shins on the ‘porch’ when we walk outside the utility door. The knocks that the cat flap has taken has led to the model wearing loose so now it’s no longer flush with the door and unfortunately it lets a draft in.
PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap Diagram
Should you need to fit the PetPorte to a wall or an especially thick door, then tunnel extenders are readily available.

Power Supply

PetSafe PetPorte Extension Cable
Here’s another big difference that separates the PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap from the competition and can be viewed as either a pro, or a con. The PetPorte runs off the mains and therefore has to be plugged in to function properly. You can purchase a specially designed extension cable if there isn’t a plug socket nearby. On the one hand this means that you don’t have to worry about replacing the batteries. However, the batter indicator light on the competition removes some of this worry. On the other hand, by having to plug the PetPorte Smart Flap in, we had the worry of pulling the connection out by accident and locking the cats out. Also, having the cable traipsing across the utility is a bit annoying and unsightly. You can choose to fit a 9V battery as a backup in case the power goes out, but running the cat flap on batteries permanently isn’t a great idea as no one knows how long the batteries will last & there’s no battery-life indicator. Some of the functionality, like ‘night’ mode (more on that later) will not work while it’s running purely from the battery.

Reliability of the Microchip Reader

We have watched the cats using the PetPorte Smart Flap for some time and the scanner is very reliable. As the microchip scanner is in the overhanging porch, if the cat approaches the cat flap from a tight angle then we have noticed that sometimes it doesn’t unlock, which makes the cats very confused when their door is ‘broken’! Also, unlike the competition, it can only read the 15-digit type of microchip (by far and away the most common). Your cats microchip will almost certainly be fine, but it is still a slight worry.

Ease Of Use

PetSafe Petporte Smart Flap BoxThe PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap comes with a very interesting ‘night’ feature, where it can sense whether it is light or dark outside. As dusk falls it will let your cats in but not out until dawn, when the cats are allowed to move freely in either direction. This is a really great feature to protect your cats without the hassle of having to set a 4-way lock at morning and night.

In addition to the ‘night mode’ there are many other locking modes that can be selected, including:

  • Normal mode – only lets your cats in and out of the house
  • Vet mode – cats allowed to enter the house but not leave
  • Extended mode – gives seven different additional lock modes:
    1. Exit mode (1 beep) – resets the machine to ‘normal mode’
    2. Open mode (2 beeps) – allows any animal entry, no microchip needed
    3. Silent mode (3 beeps) – normally when your cat enters or leaves the cat flap will sound a ‘beep’, this mode turns the sound off
    4. Set light level mode (4 beeps) – this sets the level at which the ‘night mode’ will lock and unlock the door. So if you’d prefer the door to unlock at night, or wish the door to lock earlier that it is preset to, then you can use this mode to change the preset light levels
    5. Lock return time (5 beeps) – after the sensor picks up your cats microchip the door will be unlocked for four seconds, however you may wish to change this. For example, if your cat is frequently chased you may want to shorten this time
    6. Low battery lock state (6 beeps) – this was added because it lacks a manual 4-way lock. If you have no mains power and think that the batteries are going to die then you can set the ‘lock state’, i.e. in and out, in only, out only, neither in or out
    7. Timer mode (7 beeps) – rather than using purely the light levels to determine when the cat flap should be locked and unlocked, which can be unreliable, instead you can set specific times using this mode

It can be programmed to take up to 25 cats, so you shouldn’t have any worries unless you run a re-homing shelter. The microchip database can be reset if you find over time that you use up the 25 slots.

It also comes with an impressive 3-year guarantee as standard.

PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap Review – Conclusions and Pricing

Despite the design and power supply issues, the PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap is a very good microchip cat flap. Particularly the intelligent range of functions will appeal to a lot of people. We bought it from this shop. Top tip! That shop is A LOT cheaper than buying directly from the manufacturer.

PetSafe PetPorte Smart Flap Review on March 26, 2011 rated 3.9 of 5

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