My name is Josh Gray i am the co-owner of an automatic gate company servicing the Washington D.C. area. After years of repairing and installing gates and automating equipment, I wanted to dispell some myths and answer some commonly asked questions.
An automatic gate is a lovely addition to any property.
1)First of all decide what you want out of an automatic gate? Is your primary goal security? look? keeping kids in? keeping deer out? The answer to this question often answers my next FAQ.
2)What kind of gates/automatic gate operators do you recommend? Often times someone interested in security, deer deterant, or just simple systems opt for simple or pre-fabricated gates. If look is most important often times the customer will opt for a custom made gate. With either type of gate I encourage the use of mid to high grade operators and equipment. *After all you get what you pay for! Most importantly dont always settle for the loest bidder.
- When buying pre-fabricated gates watch out for rivetted steel or aluminum gates. The rivets frequently come loose and pickets will rattle causing awful noise.
- Aluminum is not always better! It is true the aluminum will not rust but it is much harder to repair and maintain an aluminum gate. Depending on usage and location, steel may be more cost effective.
- "Gate operators", openners, arms... call them what you will. The system is a fairly simple one. There is a control board housed in a cabinet near the gate site. This control board does just that receives and commands different parts of your system. Operators are welded to the gate and posts, when an "open or saftey" input is given to the control board from a device the board sends voltage to the operator. This voltage is trnsfered to a motor which by many mechanical means will drive the gates open and/or closed.
3)Accessories and saftey devices add to your automatic gate function. Whether you want a simple keypad, telephone entry, vehicle loops, free exit probe, clickers, ect. the list goes on and on. I will explain many of the functions of these devices below.
- Telephone entry- A great addition to any gate system. Integrating phone entry, keypad and code entry into one device. When a visitor drives up to your gate they will push the "call" button. This enables a call into the house or forwards the call to a cell phone. The resident picks up, talks and with the press of one key entry is granted. Most entry systems have a keypad giving another valuble function. Usually 100-500 codes can be programmed into these systems. These codes are often given to children, gardeners and house cleaners.
- Loops and Probe- Loops are divided into two functions. A "loop" is a wire installed under or in your driveway. An inductive loop works by emitting a magnetic field above the surface. The wire leads back to a detector which can detect variances in that field. Once detected the detector relays a signal to open or re-open a gate. A free exit loop is a loop that enables just that, free exit. Anyone inside your property can leave simply by driving over said loop. A saftey loop is a loop used primarily for proptecting against gate closure on cars. I usually install both free exit and saftey loops on systems.
- Photoeyes- Saftey photoeyes function the same as a garage door. A beam is emitted across the gate face. Either by reflecting or sending/receiving a beam across the driveway. When the beam is broken with the gate in motion, the leaves of the gate are triggered to re-open. To be in compliance with UL325 code for pedestrian saftey any gate installed or altered is required to have photobeams installed.
4)Any automatic gate system needs four major things.
- Power- No matter the voltage, whether wired or solar your gate needs a good consistant power source to operate.
- For dual operators(gates with two leaves)- An interconnect wire must go from control panel to opposite side of the driveway. This is often called the "master-slave" connection.
- Photobeams- Now required for pedestrian safety. Usually mounted to gate posts and activated once walked through by pedestrians.
- Openning device(s)-A means of openning and/or closing your gate.
Other important devices which are often overlooked are Knox or SOS switches. These are devices wired into gate systems to give Emergency Personnel access to your property.
In short there is alot of research one should do before spending good money on installation. This research can save alot of money on service work for the future. Alot of my business comes from customers who had a freind or handyman install their gate system. Although I don't mind repairing any gate, the customer doesn't like getting the bill either. There are not many companies who do thiskind of work. And most are very costly and may or may not have technicians worth the cost.
For any questions and comments or help/advice with your gate project please don't hesitate to contact us. Find us at www.gatelogicsecurity.com or call us at (703) 763- GATE.
*Slidint gates, verticle pivot gates and barrier arms are not explained in this blog but fuctionally do the same thing as described operators.*