You’d be hard pressed to deny that the technology behind electric gate automation really is impressive. In these systems, remote transmitters, access control systems, keypads and proximity readers all work in perfect harmony to protect your home and make sure access to your property is swift and efficient. Arguably, electric gate sensors in the form of photocells are the most important part of the technology involved in electric gate automation, partially because they ensure your car doesn’t end up with any nasty scratches. Most importantly though, they keep everyone safe! Here’s everything you need to know about how they work.
If you’ve invested in electric gate automation, then it can be incredibly frustrating to find your gates are stuck in an open position. After all, this could provide intruders with access to your property, or make it unsafe for pets to run in the garden. However, before you call one of our engineers, it’s worth checking whether the problem is simple to fix. If your gate is stuck in the open position because of one of these five reasons, you may even be able fix the problem yourself in only a couple of minutes.
1. Your photocells are blockedPhotocells are important safety devices that are fitted to all automated gates. They come in pairs, with an infrared beam establishing a connection between the two. If the connection between the pair is broken, your gates will remain open. This is because the photocells send a message to the gates to tell them an obstacle is in the way. After a 10-second pause, the photocells will try to re-establish a connection. If a connection still cannot be established, the gate will stay open and the process will repeat. On a windy day, it’s easy for leaves, twigs and pieces of debris to obstruct the cells and force the gate to stay open. So, check each photocell carefully and remove any debris either on the cell itself or in the path of the two cells. If you’ve solved the problem, a connection will be established again and the gates will close within 10 seconds.
2. The gate’s path is blockedSimilarly to how debris can block your gate’s photocells, it can also block the path of your gates, forcing them to stay open. It’s easy for small pieces of debris to fall into your rails. So, if you don’t check your rails regularly, then the wheels of your gates can run over the debris and clog up the mechanism. Before you give our experts a call, inspect the area and give it a wipe with a damp cloth to remove any debris and ensure the mechanism isn’t clogged.
3. Batteries in the system have diedIf you’ve already established that your photocells and rails aren’t blocked, then your next step should be to check the batteries. Start with your system’s remote. If the little red light at the top of the remote doesn’t go off, then it may be out of power. The great news is that taking the back off and replacing the battery should solve the problem immediately. If the remote isn’t the issue, check the batteries at other points in your system. Even if your automated gates don’t run on batteries, wireless photocells and safety edge transmitters can both be powered by batteries and their failure can stop the gate moving. You should receive a warning before they fail, but it’s best to double check just in case you didn’t hear it.
4. Your safety edges are in contact with somethingLike your system’s photocells, the safety edges on your gates are designed to prevent an accident. These edges are incredibly sensitive and they’ll cause the gates to reverse and stay open if they come into contact with something as small as a twig or a leaf. If the safety edges are causing the issue, check the length of your gates and ensure that obstacles are removed. This will allow the gates to close and function as usual.
5. The gate is in manual modeIf the above steps don’t work, check the manual that came with your electric gates. Many come with a manual mode in case of emergency. If you’ve accidentally pressed a button on your remote or there’s a slight issue, your gates may revert to a manual mode and you’ll need to override this by following the instructions.
How to resolve your issuesIf you cannot close your gate after following this advice, then speak to one of our qualified engineers. You should never manually force your gate closed, or interfere with the electronics in your gate. A specialist technician will be able to tell you exactly what the issue is with your gate and safely carry out any repair work required. That’s where we can help here at Gate Auto. We have over 30 years in supplying and fitting high-quality gate automation. We provide a wide range of electric gate kits and garage door openers alongside an array of accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!
We’re willing to bet that basically everyone reading this is familiar with the functions of a basic audio intercom - if not as an owner, then certainly as a visitor. The principle is pretty simple; these types of intercoms enables security personnel (or the homeowner) to speak to the person seeking access, so that they can make an informed decision as to whether to admit them. Now, if you’re looking to enhance the security of your own premises with electric gate automation, it can be easy to forget that modern intercoms offer a huge range of extra functionality, far beyond simple audio. Here are just a few of the most impressive!
Video capabilityArguably one of the most straightforward additions, but still undeniably useful. Intercoms with video capabilities ensure that you can easily see who’s at the gate, so that you can further verify their identity. If you’re not comfortable with letting them in, video capability also allows you to see exactly how they’re dressed and what they’re carrying, so that (for example) you can check to see if they’re from a business or organisation you’re expecting, and that the package or cargo they’re carrying is definitely for you.
Proximity readersAnother simple but practical solution, proximity readers are perfect for authorised personnel, or friends or family members who’ll be coming and going as they please. The technology is obviously quite sophisticated, but the way it interacts is quite straightforward. Essentially, the proximity reader has its own antenna, which emits a constant short-range radio frequency field. The reader itself, on the other hand, creates an electromagnetic field. When the access key (whether that’s a card or a fob, or something else) is held within that operating field, it transmits a unique identification number. If that number gets approved, a signal is then transmitted to open the door. It’s particularly useful for enabling people to come and go in high-traffic areas like internal meeting rooms and similar areas within commercial buildings, where manual checks by security guards might be impractical.
Control your gate’s intercom from your phoneNow, here’s where things get really clever. The ability to control your gate’s intercom with your phone is all based on GSM technology, which stands for the Global System for Mobile Communications. Basically, this means that when someone comes to your gate and activates the intercom, your gate will route the call directly to a landline or mobile of your choice. The receiver of the call - whether that’s you or someone else you trust - can then speak to the person seeking access, and choose whether or not to grant it. The beauty of this system is that it can be used anywhere in the world, provided there’s sufficient signal necessary to receive the call. (If not, don’t worry - the system can be programmed with multiple numbers which it can cycle through sequentially, in case any of them are busy or unavailable.) It also doesn’t require any separate power supply, as it all goes through your gate’s existing control board.
Set automatic opening and closing timesThis is another handy feature of GSM intercoms - some models will allow you to set automatic opening and closing times, which can be exceptionally useful if you’re expecting any regular visits from staff or contractors. It can also be a practical addition to many commercial or industrial job-sites, where staff might be making or receiving routine visits or deliveries on a daily basis. Here at Gate Auto, we have over 30 years in supplying and fitting high-quality gate automation, we provide a wide range of electric gate kits and garage door openers alongside an array of accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!
Automated gates offer a fantastic range of practical and aesthetic advantages for any type of property, offering useful security benefits while enhancing its sense of overall style. However, it can be tricky to make your final decision as to exactly what type of automated gates you want for your property. At the most basic level, electric gate kits come in two main varieties: swing gates, and sliding gates. Both sliding gates and swing gates have different strengths and material qualities, making them suitable for different settings and environments. It’s not just about a matter of personal preference – you’ll also need to ensure that you’re choosing a gate that suits the space you have available. Here are some of the key points to consider, which should make it easier for you to decide what gate to buy.
Electric sliding gatesThere are various different types of sliding gates, but they all share the same key characteristic; these electric gates are designed to retract into a gap to clear the way, often using a set of wheels at the base of the gate. The wheels either have a V or U groove, running along a track in the ground, with toothed racking attached to the length of the rear of the gate connected to the motor. If you’re thinking about going for a sliding gate, the first thing to do is to make sure that there is enough room for the gate to slide in, so that they can open completely.
- Sliding gates take up less room compared to swing gates, which means you can make the most of potentially limited driveway space.
- Sliding gates are robust in appearance, providing a solid visual deterrent (and challenging physical barrier) to prevent anyone looking to gain entry.
- There are no gaps for the wind to pass through, so the themselves are not affected by wind resistance.
- If your driveway slopes left to right, or your premises are located on uneven ground, a set of suspended cantilever gates are a great choice, as their design enables them to be used on any kind of surface. This is particularly useful if your house is at the top of a hill, or your workplace is somewhere gravelly and uneven.
Electric swing gatesSwing gates are electric gates where the doors swing inwards or outwards, like doors, and are usually made up of two gates which open in the middle. Unlike with a sliding gate, which is moved along a track controlled by a motor, swing gates are moved by mechanical arms and rods that are attached to the gates themselves. There are two types of motor to consider when purchasing an electric swing gate:
- Above-ground motor: The articulated arm motor has a hinged arm which acts like a pincer – the motor is attached to the post or pillar and the end of the jointed arm attaches to the gate itself.
- Underground motor: These gate kits are tucked away underground and can open the gates up to 180° from where they started. This increased flexibility can be ideal for homes or businesses who might have limited space on their driveways or premises.
- When it comes to opening and closing, swing gates have a shorter distance to move, so they possess shorter operating cycles than some other types of electric gate.
- Due to the simpler construction and installation, swing gates are generally cheaper, so if you have a relatively limited budget, they are probably the best ones to consider first.
- If you have a relatively narrow driveway, then swing gates may well be your best option. Due to the fact they swing open rather than retract horizontally, you don’t need to account for any extra space needed along the sides.
So, which is best for you?Both sliding and swing gates each have their own advantages, but the final decision is ultimately down to the layout of your driveway and how much room you have available. If you need a bit of help though, we’re happy to provide more detailed advice and in-depth answers to your questions right here at Gate Auto. We have over 30 years in supplying and fitting high-quality gate automation, we provide a wide range of electric gate kits and garage door openers alongside an array of accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site or give us a call on 01282 677300!
Electric gates are immensely useful in a wide range or premises and environments, , discouraging potential intruders with a valuable layer of extra security, while also providing a beautiful aesthetic value to the look of the space. However, the security benefits that your electric gates provide depend on them being in full working order, so it’s always worth taking the time to set up a regular maintenance schedule with specialist.
What problems can develop with automated gates?Since automated gates are generally situated in outdoor locations, that means they’re permanently exposed to the elements, so their mechanisms will eventually degrade if left long enough without professional attention. Here are some of the specific problems that can develop:
1. It won’t open or closeWe’ve covered the potential causes of a non-opening gate in a previous post. It could be a power outage, or it might simply be because your gate’s photocells are being blocked. Take particular care to check the photocells before you call out an engineer, or it could end up being a very expensive (and largely pointless) callout!
2. Faulty remoteSometimes the issue isn’t with the gate itself, but rather the remote or triggering system. Handheld remote controls for electric gates have to be kept in a good condition for the gate to stay in good working order. If they’re not opening for some reason, then the batteries of your remote are a good place to start checking. If that’s not the issue though, then you may need to speak to an expert.
3. Track problemsIf your gate is jerky or not opening and closing as it should, then it might be an issue not with the power or the sensors, but rather with the actual track it runs along. This one definitely needs the input of a professional. In the meantime, try and avoid using the gate as much as you can, to avoid making the issue worse. All of these problems mean that you may need to get your gate checked by an electric gate automation technician, regardless of whether the gate is for commercial or residential use.
What will a technician check?Preventative maintenance does wonders for keeping your gates moving fluidly, cutting down on the risk of expensive and time-consuming breakdowns. These are some of the things a technician will check during an inspection:
- Inspect the physical integrity of the gate(s)
- Check the hinges and stops, adding lubricant if required. If these hinges become damaged or worn, they can damage the gate’s stability and mechanism
- Check that the torque is set to manufacturer’s recommended safety levels
- Check and lubricate the arm fixing and the automation system to make sure it is operating correctly
- Inspect the underground box and drainage
- Check the welds for any potential fractures
- Check the electronic control box seal for leaks
- Check and test all cable connections, making sure to test any electronic equipment to make sure nothing has been damaged by pests or water damage.
- All safety measures will be tested, including obstacle detection systems and warning devices.
Mobile phones are so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget what staggeringly impressive little devices they are. Your humble mobile phone has 100,000 times more processing power than the NASA computer that sent man to the moon over 50 years ago. That processing power can be perform a dizzying array of functions - including electric gate automation! This capability is based on the GSM Call to Open module, which enables your gates to be opened from anywhere in the world, with just a quick call from your mobile phone. When you’re away from home, it’s perfect for providing controlled access for service providers or deliveries, or visitors, friends and family. So, let’s take a quick look at this tech in a little more detail, and exactly how it can be used to turn your mobile phone into a controller for your electric gates.
How does GSM work?GSM stands for Global System for Mobiles, which is exactly what it sounds like; a digital mobile network specifically designed to meet an international standard, allowing it to facilitate communications from almost anywhere within Europe and the rest of the world. We won’t go into too much of the nitty-gritty technical stuff, but those are the bare bones of it. Your electric gates can be connected by the GSM by means of a small module that can be wired directly into your gate’s control board - it only requires 300-350A, so you won’t need to worry about any significant extra power draw. All you need is a pay-as-you-go SIM card, which can be easily slotted into the module. From there, you can complete the installation via SMS messaging. When you then call the number associated with the module’s SIM card, the module checks that your number is the one linked to the system, and then rejects the call so that you’re in no danger of being charged. Within seconds, your gates will then start opening. Now, there’s nothing that says this connection can only be limited to a single mobile. In fact, you can programme up to 20 additional numbers into the module’s system, so that various members of your friends and extended family can come and go as they please as well. Obviously though, be careful of who you give the number to - you’re still trusting them with your home’s security!
A few final things to rememberOne thing that we should probably make clear right off the bat is that the module itself doesn’t come packaged with a SIM card, so if you’re eyeing it up for your own electric gates, you’ll need to source the SIM card yourself. Happily, they’re not too expensive or otherwise tricky to obtain, and if you’re lucky you may even be able to find one for free. We’ve discussed using pay-as-you-go, but you might even find that you’re able to put it on a contract that works for you. Pay-as-you-go might be the cheaper option in many cases, but you will have to ensure that you keep it topped up - if you register your SIM card online, you can easily check its balance from your phone. A dedicated contract might be marginally more expensive, but can save you the effort of remembering to make these checks. Really, it’s all up to you! We’ve given you the broad strokes here, but don’t worry - each GSM module comes with detailed instructions telling you everything you need to know about the setup, and walking it through with you step by step. Don’t forget that if you find your gates stop working, it might not necessarily be an issue with the GSM module. In fact, there’s a variety of potential reasons why your gate might not be moving, so make sure to work through them all before calling an engineer! Here at Gate Auto, we have over 30 years in supplying and fitting high-quality gate automation, we provide a wide range of electric gate kits and garage door openers alongside an array of accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!
To be honest, it’s difficult to give a straightforward answer to that question, as it depends on so many different variables. Planning permission has quite a broad-ranging remit - it exists to prevent any development that might have a negative impact on any sites of historic interest, the local character of an area, and its environmental health. It’s also concerned with protecting the public’s interests, including the use of (and enjoyment of) public spaces and facilities, as well as the privacy of their own dwellings. So if you were building, say, a timber deck that would inadvertently allow you to see over your neighbour’s fence, your planning permission application would likely get rejected, as it would affect their enjoyment of their own space. So then, how does all this apply to electric gate kits? Well, electric gates can affect their surroundings in two main ways - through their appearance and aesthetics, and their function. While obviously we can’t talk about your specific gates in detail here on the blog, we can cover some general guidelines that you should find helpful.
General things to knowTypically, if you’re thinking about doing any kind of building work on your property, you’ll need to at least think about making a request for planning permission from your local planning authority; normally your local council. Bear in mind that permissions will vary between different authorities from region to region. You’ll need to apply for planning if you want to erect (or add to) a fence, wall or gate if any of the following apply:
- If your new installation would be more than a metre high, and situated next to a highway used by vehicles, or a footpath attached to one of these highways
- If your new installation would be more two metres high anywhere else
- If your right to put up or alter fences, walls and gates is removed by an Article 4 planning direction or planning condition
- If the property is a listed building, or in the curtilage of a listed building
- If your installation (or any boundary relating to it) forms a boundary with an adjacent listed building or its curtilage
Permitted developmentsNow, if you don’t live in a conservation area then most electric gates will fall into the category of ‘permitted development’, in which case you won’t need planning permission. However, that’s not guaranteed, so take care to make absolutely certain before any work begins! If you don’t have planning permission before you start, you’ll risk being made to take it all down again if your application is refused for whatever reason, which can be a costly and frustrating process. As we’ve touched on above, whether your gates will be classed as ‘permitted development’ depends a lot on their size, appearance, and exactly where they’ll go. If your gates open out onto a private or unadopted road - such as, you know, your own - then you can safely erect a gate up to 2 metres high without the need for planning permission. If they’re going out onto a public highway though, they can only go as high as 1 metre or less. Any higher than that, and you’ll need planning permission. Things are a little different if you’re not actually adding new gates, but rather just replacing ones that were already there with new gates of the same size. In that case, you typically won’t need planning permission unless your new gates are going to be higher than the older ones.
Talk to your neighboursThis is perhaps the single most underrated piece of advice we can give you here at Gate Auto, because we’re no strangers to neighbourly disputes holding up the progress of an installation. If you apply for planning permission, the process tends to take the opinions of your neighbours into account (as it should do), so it makes sense to have them already on-side! It allows you to get an early, informal warning about if any of your neighbours feel your proposed electric gates would be out of character for the area, or affect the history or aesthetic appeal of the neighbourhood. That way, you can adjust your plans accordingly. It might not be good news, but it’s better to find out that information ‘over the fence’ as it were, rather than in the form of a written complaint through official channels, and delivered through your letterbox. Talking with neighbours can actually make things easier for you in a whole heap of ways - for example, it helps to avoid any misunderstandings about who has legal ownership over what area, which is another one that can lead to some surprisingly fierce disputes. Ideally, you’ll probably want to settle those before you begin any effort and expense on the actual installation. Now, we’re not legal experts here at Gate Auto, but we do have more than 30 years of experience in supplying and fitting high-quality electric gate kits. So if you’ve got any questions, we’ll be happy to help as much as we can. Alongside our wide range of electric gate kits, we also provide a comprehensive array of garage door openers and other accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!
It’s a very simple question that doesn’t quite have a simple answer. It depends on a couple of different things, but will generally be anywhere between once annually to four or five times a year. Crucially, it depends on how often they’re used, and what for, but whatever kind of electric gate kit you’ve chosen for your own premises, once a year is the absolute bear minimum - even if you don’t use the gates all that often. The Health and Safety Executive is very clear about the legal obligations surrounding automatic gates, and that they must be serviced and maintained in line with manufacturer guidelines. You can find out more details on the official HSE website, but if you’re looking for some quick answers, we’ve explained the rough guidelines below.
The service intervals of automatic gatesGenerally it doesn’t make too much of a difference if the gates in question are swing gates, sliding gates, or cantilever gates - what really matters is how often they’re used. Automatic gates at domestic homes tend to be used an average of two or three times a day, which means they may well only need servicing once a year. On the other hand, those which see heavy daily traffic will probably need servicing notably more often than that, probably at least twice a year. That applies to most automatic gates at commercial premises, and to those at communal residential blocks. Communal residential blocks may even need thrice-annually services, while it’s not unusual for automatic gates which see particularly frequent commercial traffic to need servicing once every quarter, so about four times a year. It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that even gates that are rarely used will also usually need a bi-annual service to ensure that all parts are in good working order. If they go too long without a service, they may be prone to the effects of rust or water damage, or even end up seizing up entirely. Now, we know that the idea of preventative maintenance probably doesn’t inspire pulse-pounding excitement. Let’s be honest, most people regard organising maintenance as more of a chore than anything, and probably not a welcome expense. But honestly, it’s very much worth it in the long run. Preventative maintenance is always easier and more cost-effective than reactive maintenance, for one simple reason - it’s far easier to identify and deal with issues early on, rather than have to tackle them only after they develop into something more serious and complex.
What does an automatic gate inspection cover?It takes a trained professional to conduct a proper, thorough examination of your electric gates - it’s not something that you can do yourself, as it requires certain specialist skills and expertise. The engineer will use these to make a comprehensive evaluation of your automatic gates, which includes:
- Ensuring that all safety devices operate as they should
- Evaluating the structural integrity of gate leaves, posts, hinges, and structural components
- Lubrication of moving components, to minimise wear
- Checking all brackets and fixings, to ascertain that they’re present and secure
- A full inspection of the control cabinet and wiring
- Testing the force exerted by moving gates
- Testing the induction loop
- Clearing out of the foundation boxes
- Conducting a thorough check of the ancillaries, including intercoms and access control
- Making a detailed assessment of the system usage levels
Investing in an electric gate is a big decision, and it’s a good idea to do a lot of research beforehand. If you’re doing that research on the internet though, sometimes it can be tricky to distinguish the solid facts from the personal opinions. That means it can be easy to form the wrong impression about certain aspects of electric gates, from their function to their aesthetic appeal. At Gate Auto, we want everyone to feel that their home or business is safe and secure. So, without further ado, here we are to debunk some of the most notorious myths that are associated with electric gates.
They’re only suitable for large commercial propertiesWe’ll start with the most common one. People are often deterred from investing in an electric gate because the scale and price of certain models makes it seem like they’re best suited to commercial properties rather than private properties. And while that might be true for certain gates, it’s certainly not true for all of them. In fact, in the long run, electric gates can quickly prove themselves be a cost-effective solution for private properties. Many insurance companies are willing to offer a discounted price to homes with electric gates, as they make the property more secure, reducing the chances of a burglary. Moreover, if you opt to sell your home later down the line, many estate agents or buyers see added value in homes with this additional security, raising the selling price of your home. You won’t have to break the bank to purchase electric gates, and in the long run, they’ll prove financially beneficial to your property!
They don’t deter burglarsThis myth is a bit of a strange one. Some people will argue that having electric gates makes your property more lucrative to burglars, as it suggests there’s more to protect. However, this argument ignores the fact that the vast majority of burglars are opportunists, and opportunists are easily deterred by obvious security measures. What’s more, the presence of electric gates also implies that a given property has additional sophisticated security measures in place, increasing this difficulty even more. In short, it provides a solid physical and mental deterrent to burglars, as the risk versus opportunity is massively tilted to the side of risk.
They’re unsafeWe have to be careful talking about this one, as it’s true that electric gates do require a certain level of caution to be used around them, in order to avoid the risk of damage to property (such as cars) or threats to human health and safety. However, modern electric gates are fitted with an array of sophisticated measures to vastly improve their safety for adults, children and animals alike. This includes, for example, advanced photocell sensors which prevent the gates from closing if they detect something blocking their path. (In fact, these are so sensitive that they can sometimes appear to be keeping the gates open for no reason - although happily, that’s a problem that can be often easily fixed without the need for an engineer callout.) They’re also fitted with safety strips, which essentially function as artificial nerve endings for your gates, helping them to ‘feel’ when they come into contact with an obstacle, whether it’s a static object or a living creature, and ensuring that they quickly move away and back into their original position. These strips are so sensitive that you can actually stop them simply by pressing on them with your thumb. Obviously though, once these systems have been calibrated, installed and professionally tested, we’d recommend avoiding testing in ‘live’ conditions if at all possible! If you’ve got any other questions or concerns about the best type of electric gates to choose for your property, that’s where we can help. Here at Gate Auto, we have over 30 years in supplying and fitting high-quality gate automation, we provide a wide range of electric gate kits and garage door openers alongside an array of accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!
Electric gates can be an effective way to increase home security and prevent anyone from gaining unauthorised access to your property. In addition to this, installing electric gates on your driveway can enhance the exterior design of your home and increase its curb appeal. There are many different options available when it comes to electric gates, which means you’ll need to consider various factors before you decide which ones are right for you. To learn more, take a look at these five key points to consider when buying electric gates for your home: