Automatic gates were once only seen at the homes of the seriously wealthy or government buildings. Increasingly, they’re being installed at all kinds of properties. Their added security, aesthetic appeal and ease of use make them a popular choice for a growing number of homeowners.

The operation of automatic gates is still something of a mystery to most people. How exactly do they work and are there different options available? In this article we’ll take a look at the basics of gate automation.

What is gate automation?

Gate automation is the combination of gates and automation system. As it is a combination of separate components, a new piece of machinery is created. This will usually include motors to move the gates, controllers to give the instruction to open and close the gates, and a range of safety devices that prevent accidents from happening.

Gate openers

Designed for either swinging or sliding gates, gate openers are used to open and close gates. They are operated by remote control.

How different types of gate openers work

Hydraulic Rams

A popular option for swing gates, the linear ram motor is a straightforward method to open and close gates. The arm that’s attached to the motor is retracted to reduce its length. In doing so it opens the gates. To close the gate the arm is extended.

Threaded Shaft Gate Motors

With a threaded shaft gate motor, the gate mounting is on a threaded shaft inside the housing. As the threaded shaft is turned by an electric motor, the mounting moves along its length to open and close the gates. All shafts require careful alignment during installation.

Articulated Arm Motors

Usually used with gates with large pillars, the articulated arm motor uses a hinged arm that reaches around a wide object.

Sliding Motors

As the name suggests, sliding gate motors are used to move sliding gates. These are generally installed where space in front or behind the gates is limited, the driveway is located on a slope, or the space that needs to be gated is particularly wide. A cog on the motor output shaft meshes with a toothed rack along the length of the gate, and attach to the gate to open and close it. The sliding gate motor is used with roller guides, a guide track and wheels.

Underground motors

Underground motors are a popular choice where people want to keep the mechanism of their gates discreet and hidden. The drive arm connects to the bottom of the gate and the installer places the motors below the ground in a protective housing. They take longer to install and require more groundwork so they generally cost more.

How do gate motors work?

The easiest, and most common way to open and close automatic gates is by using a transmitter, remote control, remote fob or gate remote. This is a small handheld device that has buttons on it. Pressing the button will tell automatic gates to fully open or close, depending on their position when the button is pressed

Swing gates rotate around hinges that are attached to gate posts, or pillars that are located at the side of the gate entrance. Sliding gates usually run along tracks laid across the drive entrance. They are supported at the top of the gate above the motor with a rolling retainer.

Making gates safe

To ensure that an automatic gate system is safe to use it needs to be prevented from coming into contact with people, animals or property. To do this, they will be fitted with electronic safety elements. These might include infrared photocells. These operate in pairs, with one emitting an invisible beam of light onto the other. If this beam is broken either by a car, an animal or a person moving through the space into which the gates will open, it will send a signal to the gate controls to halt their operation.

Another safety measure that is frequently added is rubber safety edges. These can be added to the leading edges of moving gates and are designed to stop and reverse the gate if the safety edge makes contact with anything.

Why should you install automated gates?

Fitting automated gates to your driveway is an excellent way to increase the security of your home. You reduce the risk of an opportunist thief walking up the drive and make it much more difficult for someone to gain access through locked gates. They have a strong aesthetic appeal and can make your life more convenient.

Stargate is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of aluminium automated gates. We’re always happy to answer your questions and offer advice. Why not contact us today to find out more?