HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT ELECTRIC SWING GATE KIT
Choosing the right electric gate kit can seem like a minefield of options so we have made it easier for you to make your decision.
What is your gate made from?
This is an important factor to consider.
Is your gate closed boarded i.e. a timber or composite infilled gate which you cannot see through?
If it is then this kind of gate will require strong forces to operate due to wind resistance. The only type of motor that can be used on a closed boarded gate is a 230V hydraulic kit. You can get either hydraulic arms or underground motors so there is still a good range of choice.
The reason you cannot use a 24V kit on this type of gate is because they feature a stop and reverse on obstacle detection function. Wind resistance against a closed boarded gate will trigger this safety feature and mean that the gate will not open or close, even in a light breeze.
If your gates are open patterned iron gates, i.e. gates you can see through, then your options are greater as these can be operated using hydraulic or electromechanical motors that are either 230V or 24V.
What weight and width are your gate leaves?
Every electric gate mechanism has a maximum weight and width of gate leaf that they are able to operate safely and reliably on. These limits are specified by the manufacturer and are calculated by the single gate leaf size.
For example, if your double gates are a total of 4m between the posts and weigh a total of 700kgs then you will need a kit with operating limits of at the very least 350kgs @ 2m per leaf.
In NO circumstances must you ever put a kit on a gate that exceeds the operating limits specified by the manufacturer.
If you do not know the weight of your gates, simply take a photo of them and email us on firstname.lastname@example.org along with information regarding leaf width, we can advise as to which operator will be best suited.
How much will you use your gates each day?
We break down the categories of use to make it straight forward to find a gate kit that will best suit your needs. It is important that your gates are able to function as much as required throughout the day reliably. Each time the gate opens and closes is called a duty cycle. The number of duty cycles per day or hour varies with each operator so there is one to suit any scenario.
Residential electric gate kits – Any kit which is rated for residential use will comfortably be able to open and close (cycle) enough times in a day to allow for normal family usage.
Multi resident properties & offices – Perhaps your home shares a driveway with other houses or you live in a small apartment building. The demands on your gate operator will be greater than on a single dwelling property as more duty cycles are needed per day.
Light commercial – If your gates are going to be used fairly intensively throughout the day and are on the wider side to accommodate larger vehicles then you may well need a gate kit which is rated for light commercial use.
Commercial – Gates on commercial premises often need to cycle continuously throughout the day and also have much wider and larger gates for heavy goods vehicle access. Gate openers which are rated for intensive usage are suitable for commercial / industrial use. Hydraulic operators are usually best as they require less maintenance and are more durable.
Do they need to open quickly?
Sometimes speed matters so each electric gate motor has a different duty cycle speed.
If you live on a main road where there is nowhere safe to pull over when your gates are opening then you need a fast operator. Also, commercial premises need rapid and constant access.
Each operator has a different cycle speed so check in the specification for this information. Some of the motors cycle very quickly especially to overcome these kind of obstacles.
If you are struggling to find a set of motors that are fast enough, just give us a call on 01282 677300 and we can help you.
Are you worried about ruining the look of your gates?
Depending on the style of gate you have and the amount of importance you place on the aesthetics of them, you will want to decide between an underground motor and gate mounted arms.
Whilst it isn’t always possible to install underground automation, it is the best option for a clean looking installation because once they are installed, you can only see the cover plate in the ground.
Underground motors – To install underground gate kits, you need to dig down at each side of the gate. Galvanised foundation boxes are concreted in and a soakaway needs to be put in place. These boxes house the motors.
Once installed, the pivot pin on the motor acts as the bottom hinge of your gate.
The ideal situation would be to have your gates manufactured to accommodate this kind of automation and install them together, at the same time. It can be very difficult to retro-fit underground motors to existing, manual gates as you need to remove the gates, adjust them to suit the motors (remove bottom hinge, adjust top hinge placement and have a linkage attached to the underside of the gate) and then rehang the gates again.
Also, with underground motors, you need to consider the ground clearance height. This is determined by the type of motor you buy. If you require a high ground clearance then do not consider an underground motor as an option.
The simplest solution for automating an existing gate or one with a higher ground clearance requirement is to use gate mounted arms.
Gate mounted arms / rams – Using this type of automation is a flexible and practical method to automate your existing gate. Arms mount to the gate post or pillar and on to the backside of your gate.
Whilst these openers are not as aesthetically pleasing as the underground motors, they are able to be mounted to almost any kind of gate type and size.
Arms can be either electromechanical or hydraulic, which means that they can be used on either open patterned or closed boarded gates. Hydraulic arms are known as rams and they cycle using a ram or piston. Other types of mechanical operation include the electromechanical worm screw.
In order to be able to install arms to your gate, there must be enough room between the gate in its open position and any obstruction such as a wall or railing, so that when the gate opens, the arm has room to fit in to without hitting against anything. The other main point is the geometry of the arm; in order to install an arm operator, the gate must be hinged at the back of the column or post so that it can be attached at a parallel angle to the gate and inside of the post.
If your gates are hinged to the front or centre of the posts then the only type of kit that you can use would be articulated arms. These have a bifolding, hinged arm which makes them much more flexible to fit. However, articulated arms are always electromechanical and as such, cannot be used on closed boarded gates.
What safety measures do I need for my electric gates?
Like any type of electric gate, you will need to take safety very seriously. We would ALWAYS recommend that you get a registered Gate Safe or DHF installer to carry out both the risk assessment and installation of your electric gate mechanisms.
What do electric gates cost?
The cost of automating gates varies depending on what the type, size, weight and usage requirements of your gates are.
Choose the kit and safety equipment which is most suitable for your gate type, based on the information provided here and the manufacturer’s specifications. If you are at all unsure, just give us a call on 01282 677300 and we can make sure you get a kit suited to your needs.
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES must you cut corners with the specification and buy a kit where the operating limits are less than required for your install. If you do this then your gates will not work safely or reliably plus your warranties will be invalid due to improper installation. Cutting costs in this way will only cost you more in breakdowns and repairs and more importantly, the failure of a motor or linkage during operation could cause serious harm to people or vehicles, for which you will be liable.
Choosing the correct mechanism for your needs will ensure that it runs reliably and with little maintenance for years to come.
We have over 30 years’ experience in both selling and installing electric gate kits and there is little that we have not encountered in that time. If it is possible to automate your gates then we can find the best way to do it. Just give us a call on 01282 677300 and we can step you through the process and find the kit that suits your install best.