The 3 most likely reasons for an electric gate opener breakdown

wooden electric gate

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A large percentage of times that an electric gate opener breaks down unexpectedly, it is an issue being detected by your safety equipment. This shouldn’t concern you, this is exactly why safety devices are implemented in the first place, they are just performing their function as they were designed to do! Issues are quick & easy to identify which means a fast fix is usually possible.

Below are the 3 top things that you can check yourself to get your gate moving again, without the need to consult an engineer.

Blocked photocells

The first port of call should always be to check that your photocells are not obstructed.

This is an extremely common cause of your gates seeming to not function and is caused by the beam being broken from your photocells – this will stop the gates from opening or closing, depending on what state they are currently in. Whilst you are aware that these safety devices must not be obstructed, other people (not meaning to name and shame….but bin men are the usual culprits) are not aware of this and can easily block them without realising they are causing a problem.

A simple stroll to your gates and a brief visual check is all that is needed for an initial investigation. A badly placed wheelie bin, an overhanging daffodil or even a covering of snow could be responsible for the beam being broken.

If there is no physical obstruction, the next check is to make sure they are facing each other correctly. If a photocell has been nudged by a vehicle for example and they are not lined up with each other, they will not work. Simply realign the lens to their correct position.

If the above checks are clear, then one last test is to remove the protective covers from the photocell and wipe the lens and the cover clean of creepy crawlies. A spider may think your safety beams are the perfect place to make it’s home, but that is not conducive with your gates functioning.

The most likely indicator that the photocells are blocked is that the gate will not open at all if in the closed position, and vice versa.

Safety Edges

Your gate should have rubber safety strips (known as safety edges) along all the parts of your gate which may cause a trapping, shearing or crushing point. When they come in to contact with an obstacle, they detect the resistance and send a command to stop the gates.

An overhanging branch, poorly positioned plant pot or a buckled fence post for example can all create new obstacles that weren’t there when your electric gate opener was originally installed and tested.

Watch your gates running and make a visual inspection to assess if the safety edges are coming in to contact with anything during the run cycle.

The most common indicator that the safety edges are causing the issue is that the gates will operate to a certain extent, before stopping and / or reversing their direction of travel. Sometimes they won’t open fully or close fully.


Some safety equipment transmits wirelessly to your control panel and some is hardwired back to the control panel. If you have wireless devices (safety edge transmitters or photocells), these are battery operated. All safety devices are constantly powered and trigger when their circuit is broken. This means that batteries will need to be changed occasionally.

Unscrew the back of the casing for the device and replace the old batteries with fresh ones to see if this is causing the fault. If the battery has died or is low on power, the safety device will not operate and therefore, neither will your opener.

If you have your electric gate regularly serviced, this will be performed for you as part of the service.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]