There’s no denying that when it comes to convenience, there’s no entrance gate that comes close to driveway gate automation. Whether it’s for your home or a commercial property, the added security and ease of access is a game changer! So here’s what you need to know about driveway gate automation, so you can start planning your upgrade!
How Does Driveway Gate Automation Work?
Driveway automation is the process of adding a gate operator to a sliding or swing gate, so you can open it with a remote, fob, keypad or some other device.
The gate operator is attached to the gate using an arm in the case of a swing gate, or by using a chain drive, in the case of a sliding gate.
When the gate operator is triggered by a device that’s programmed to open it, it will start to open or close the gate. In theory, this is all quite simple, but there are a few things you need to know before you start thinking of automating every gate you have!
What Do You Need to Automate a Driveway Gate?
In theory, any gate could be automated, but in reality, there are a few things you need to have to make it all work. That includes:
- A gate that is in good condition, and suitable for automation. Some gates, like rolling gates or ornamental gates that don’t have a flush bottom cannot be automated safely. So if you want to have an automated entrance, you might have to replace the gate too.
- A suitable power supply at the gate. Gate operators come in different voltages and in one and three phase. You need to make sure that the power you have at the gate matches the gate operator voltage.
- Conduit under the gate – if you are planning to automate a double gate. Double gates require an operator on each side, and that means you have to have power and communications between the two operators. So you will need to have a section of conduit buried under the gate so you can connect them.
- A suitable gate operator. Gate operators come in different sizes, with different horse powers, and are designed for a specific gate weight and duty cycle. If you try to use a gate operator that is too small or not powerful enough, it won’t be able to get the job done!
Usually, if you are planning a driveway gate automation project, it is best to have a trained, skilled person come to your site for a site inspection before they suggest any equipment or provide a quote.
Potential Problems with Driveway Gate Automation
Most gates can be automated, but there are some issues that you might have to address before you can install a gate and a gate operator.
If you don’t have power at the gate, you will need to get a qualified electrical company to run power for you. Gate automation companies will generally not do this for you. They also won’t do the hookup to the power, so you will need an electrician for that part of the job.
We have done some gate operator installations with solar power, but it’s not always a reliable solution, and we usually don’t recommend it.
If there is a steep drop off next to the entrance are, your gate might have to be installed with longer posts, or other adjustments to the design will have to be made. You also can’t automate a gate that will not be installed on a level area, so earthworks may be required.
Again, if you have a proper site visit prior to your driveway gate automation project, the person who does your quote can explain what needs to be done.
How Do Driveway Gate Operators Open and Close?
The driveway gate operator itself is just a motor that receives a signal to open and close, and then follows orders! So you do need to have peripheral equipment installed that will send that signal to the gate. These might include:
- Remotes, which can have one or more buttons – some people call these fobs, but that’s not strictly accurate!
- Keypads or card readers, which work with a code or swipe card
- Intercoms, which allows the person inside the building to trigger the gate from a handset
- Entry and exit loops, which use electromagnetism to trigger the gate
Many people choose to combine more than one kind of gate peripheral and entry system, so they can get the exact system they need. So, for instance, you might require keypad entry to get into your property, but have a free exit loop to get out easily.
What About Safety?
In North America, we have regulations known as UL325 that govern the safety of automated gates.
These guidelines specify the minimum safety precautions required to prevent entrapment.
Essentially, these guidelines and the equipment used to comply with them ensure that if a person or vehicle is in the path of the gate while it is opening or closing, and it encounters them, it will stop and reverse. Which means you can’t get stuck or crushed in the gate.
Some of the equipment used to comply with this regulation include things like infra red beams and edge detectors that are installed on the gate edge and detect anything the gate runs into while in motion.
Because automated gates can be dangerous if not installed correctly, it’s always important to use a reputable contractor who complies with UL 325.
Gate Operator Warranties
There are a lot of different gate operators out there. They vary a lot in quality and the kind of warranty and after sales service you can get.
Rite-Way Fencing usually installs gate automation equipment from LiftMaster, who offer a huge range of very high quality, North American made equipment. We offer a one year warranty on labour to install your operator, and they offer warranties on all of their equipment.
So if something goes wrong and it’s covered by warranty, so are you!
Which Branches Install Driveway Gate Automation?
All of the Rite-Way Fencing branches in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario offer driveway gate automation services. We also travel to Northwest Territories, Yukon and other northern parts of the country to do gate automation installation and other fencing projects.
So if you need driveway gate automation, be sure to reach out – we’re always happy to help with information, quotes and more!