The primary concern when automating your gates is understandably safety. There are numerous ways to ensure a belts and braces approach to gate safety. Safety edges are one of them!
With every kit, we provide a pair of photocells as a standard. These shine an infra-red beam between the gates and when the beam is broken, the relay switches to stop the gates from moving. Many people make the mistake that this is the only safety equipment required on electric gates but these will merely protect against vehicles which are parked between them when the gates are moving.
The DHF recommends the use of contact safety edges on all gate installations – please refer to this page for more information about placement of edges on sliding and swing gates.
In line with the current recommendations, you should always have a risk assessment carried out before you start work on automating your gates. This is important because no one gate set up is exactly the same as another. Each gate comes with a unique set of potential hazards which will need to be determined and a solution found to each problem area. This risk assessment will take in to account for reducing gaps, shearing points, trapping zones and the condition of the gates hinges and structure. Other things that will be considered are proximity to main roads where speed may be an issue and also factors such as slopes will be taken in to account.
What is a safety edge?
Sometimes known as ‘bumper’ or ‘contact strips’, a safety edge is a hollow rubber profile which effectively has a long switch inside it! When an edge presses against an obstacle, the rubber compresses and triggers the ‘switch’. This sends a signal to the control panel to immediately stop the motors and reverse the direction.
Safety edges come in different sized profiles. The profile size that you need will depend on the speed that you need the gates to stop and reverse. For example, on the closing edge of a sliding gate, you need the gate to stop immediately as a person may be crushed (with the gate moving at speed) so you would use a large profile edge so that the contact is only with the rubber as it compresses and not the solid gate!
The other bit of terminology is ‘through’ and ‘resistive end’. When installing the edges to the controller device, you will need to daisy chain them together. The easy way to know which is which is that an end edge only has a cable at one end… a through edge has cables out of both ends!
How much force does it take to stop the gates?
Not much! The whole point is for the gates to stop when making contact with something so it needs to react quickly by reversing the gate before any damage or harm can be caused.
When you have your safety edges installed, they should be subjected to a Force Test which they must pass. This test involves a device called a force tester which is used to measure the exact amount of force required (Newtons) to make the gates stop and reverse. If the force is too much then adjustments to the system must be made accordingly.
Where do the safety edges need to go?
The location of the safety edges are determined by the type of gate you have and it’s surrounding setting. Sliding gates will require a more thorough approach with regards to safety edge placement as there are more ‘pull through’ risks associated with them.
With swing gates, you would always have an edge on the leading edge of the gate. Usually, edges along the bottom where trapping could occur and edges on your posts where reducing gaps could cause a crushing hazard will also be required.
Safety edges are attached either by way of an aluminium backing in to which the edge slots in to, or, the smallest profiles have a sticky back for ease of application. The big benefit to the aluminium backing is that is an edge ever becomes faulty, the rubber profile can be easily removed and replaced.
Your risk assessment will have given you all the information that you need to determine the exact placements. If you haven’t had a risk assessment, please email us some images of your gates showing the space to either side of them to firstname.lastname@example.org and our technical team can advise you further.
So…Why do you need safety edges on your electric gates?
Quite simply, the clue is in the title! As electric gate owners, you have a responsibility to yourself and others to ensure that the system you have can not cause harm. These simple devices are the key to getting your gates fully compliant and safe for your family!