Frequently asked questions about electric gates

Can existing manual gates be automated?
Generally they can be automated but there will be some exceptions. Much will depend on the layout of the overall site and the state of repair of the existing gates, the gate posts, the gate hinges and the gate leaf alignment.

Automating gates is a highly skilled task and requires a range of skills that generally only gate automation professionals have. Some of the critical tasks include the geometry of the automation, the wiring and programming of the control panel. A number of other core skills will also be required for most projects including civil (eg groundworks), mechanical (eg welding) and electrical engineering skills.

Many people have bought DIY kits off the internet and have spent days trying to get it to work without success and not being able to get hold of the seller for advice or support. Some have eventually got their project working only to experience accidents as the gates close on vehicles shortly after they thought everything was finally finished! Invariably people who start a DIY automation project end up engaging a professional installer - DIY often proves to be false economy as so much can go wrong.

I have an inclined driveway - does this mean I cannot install an electric gate?
Obviously an inclined driveway can stop gates opening but sometimes there it is possible to install a swing gate that opens away from the property. However, it may be possible to install swing gates that open away from the property although you will need to ensure that the gates do not obstruct the public pathway.

The solution that most people with inclined driveways adopt is to install a sliding gate; one that either slides to one side of the entrance or a bi-sliding gate where each gate leave slides to each side of the entrance. Much will depend on the space available at the side of the entrnce.

What happens in the event of a power failure?
All quality installations will provide home owners with manual release keys and instructions on how to release the automation system in the event of a power failure. Some electric gate systems also come with the option of a battery backup. However, all systems come with a manual release facility that can be used in the event of a power failure.

Someone told me about a loop detector – what is this?
A loop detector is purely to sense the presence of vehicles. Special loop cable, in the shape of a diamond or a rectangle, is dug into the tarmac, concrete or gravel driveway and connected to a detector in the electric gate system’s control panel. The loops detect the presence of a vehicle which can send a command to the gate system. The most common use of loops is to enable free exit such that when a vehicle leaves the premises and drives over a loop, the gate automatically opens and therefore avoids the need for a transmitter or special involvement from the home owner. Loops are also placed at the gate entrance as a safety mechanism that avoids the gates closing on a vehicle if the presence of one is detected by the system,

They also mentioned electric locks – will I need these on my system?
Although some gate motors will automatically lock in the both the open and closed positions, some motors, notably those operating large gate leaves, are designed not to lock. There are a variety of locking devices can be incorporated into any gate system to maximise the security. There are no specific guidelines but as a rule of thumb any swing gate leaf over 2m would possibly require some form of electric lock. A gate over 2m has a lot of leverage – you wouldn’t fit your front door with a lock on the same side as the hinges. There are a variety of electric locks available, one of the most popular being a magnetic lock.

How will I know that there are people at the gate when it is closed?
Almost every electric gate system has an intercom, either audio or audio and video, which enables people at the gate to contact the home owner. The intercom will either be hardwired between the gate and the house or will be wireless with either a DECT telephone system or a GSM.

How do visitors enter the premises when no-one is in the house?
In general, they don’t - gates are put in place to provide perimeter security. However, there are a range of intercom systems that will dial a mobile number when the intercom button is pressed at the gate and the system can be programmed so that the owner of the mobile phone, once he or she knows who wants to get in, can press a number on their mobile phone which will open the gate - either partially to allow pedestrian access or fully to let a vehicle enter the property. The mobile phone user could be on the other side of the world but the technology still enables them to control the home entrance system.

How often do I need to have my electric gate serviced?
Just like every car, every electro-mechanical device will fail at some time in its lifetime. An electric gate system, which is constantly subjected to all the elements, really need a service every 12 months. Systems that are serviced will continue to operate for years.

No matter what your requirements, a professional installer will be able to advise you on the possibilities and associated costs for your particular home project