So, you’re contemplating whether or not to add automatic gates to your driveway at home.

But where do you start?

Well, before you begin calling contractors and making arrangements, there are several things to consider.

Once in place, driveway gates become a prominent part of your property.

Get it wrong, and the first thing visitors will notice is an eyesore.

That’s why choosing carefully is important.

To help, we’ve identified nine of the most significant factors to think about before reaching a decision to install automatic gates.

Bearing those in mind will ensure you make the best choice for your house.

Why do you want gates?

It is important to understand your reason for wanting gates when considering different types of automatic gates.

For example, if you have been prompted to install them to discourage people entering your property uninvited, or to stop people from being able to see in, you’ll want to make sure the gates you choose are opaque and solid.

On the other hand, if you have decided that you want automatic gates for security reasons, but don’t want to spoil the view, gates with bars might be a more suitable option.

Another thing to consider is who is going to be using them frequently.

If you have small children who are likely to play nearby, you might want to go for gates that either have no gaps, or ones too narrow for small hands to reach through.

Will the gates only be accessible to cars and other motorised vehicles, or will you need a side entrance for cyclists or those on foot?

A large pair of swing gates can part open to allow pedestrian access if there is no separate entrance.

The motor

The motors for your automatic gates need to be reliable and powerful enough to operate them, but not so much that they swing open too quickly and potentially cause damage.

Motors can be located above or below ground and should be installed by a qualified professional.

An experienced individual can also recommend the most appropriate type of automation.

Hiring somebody with the requisite experience and qualifications reduces the risk of a motor failing prematurely because it has been installed incorrectly.

If it stops working, so do the gates, which can prove to be a real hassle if you are trapped inside or outside your house and have to wait for help.

Most gate automation motors incorporate a manual release system that partially disconnects the motor so a gate can be moved by hand.

Trade access

A lot of people are not at home during the day, so what happens when other people need access to your property?

Sure, you can leave a key under the mat, but how will they access your driveway if automatic gates have been installed?

Material

The material of your automatic gates is a big factor to consider as this will narrow down your search considerably.

Gates are manufactured from a variety of different materials, from metal to wood to plastic.

Within those groups, there is choice too such as aluminium, steel, or iron.

It goes without saying that you should like the material your gates are made from, but they also should complement your house.

Let’s examine some of the most commonly used materials for automatic gates:

Metal

Aluminium, iron, and steel are all used to make gates.

The latter two often appeal to those seeking a traditional aesthetic.

Stargates’ range of aluminium options includes classic, contemporary and modern alternatives to complement the look of your property.

Our design offering also provides a tailored solution, with bespoke features, for stylish or unique homes.

Wood

Gates made from wood can provide a rustic and homely appearance.

They look beautiful, but are vulnerable to weather.

Wood absorbs water when it rains, and then dries in the sun.

As a result, wooden gates change size – expanding when sodden and shrinking again later.

Hinges must deal with the changing weight, while paint cracks and joints slowly loosen – leading to rot.

We supply aluminium gates that look just as good, but last longer and require less looking after.

Plastic

The main reason people opt for plastic gates is because they are cheaper than metal or wooden alternatives.

PVC, because of its durability, is the most common material.

However, it is not strong and may need metal bracing internally if the driveway gate is above a certain size.

Plastic gates also look the least impressive, and might not fit the aesthetic that you are seeking.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics matter to every homeowner.

Even if your top priority is security, close behind will be how your choice of automatic gates complement the look of your property.

That is not simply down to a choice of design, but the polish, colours and finish too.

Location

Automatic gates are usually positioned at the bottom of a driveway to join a fence, wall or hedge that forms your property’s perimeter.

Their distance from your front door can determine the entry system used, something a qualified professional will be happy to advise on.

Access control system

Access control systems provide a mechanism to open and close automatic gates from inside your home.

They can include a method to talk with, and even see, visitors when they arrive.

They can be wired or wireless, the latter incorporating radio, Wi-Fi or GSM technology.

Additional components can include keypads at the gate, release buttons inside it that aren’t accessible from outside, as well as proximity pads and tags or cards.

Another option is to lay cables below the driveway that a vehicle must pass over to activate the entry system.

Let’s explore a few examples in more detail.

Transmitters

These are small devices that allow you to open automatic gates while sat in your car or on foot.

They are dependable, and eliminate the need to communicate with a person inside the house to gain entry.

Each kit includes two and, if you need them, you can buy extra.

Be sure to check that the type you choose will function within the range you need.

If the rare instances that a distance to the gates is significant, then it is possible to install alternative antenna at the receiving end.

Intercom systems

In its simplest form, an intercom system includes a button at the gate and an audible alert inside the house.

A visitor presses the button when they arrive, and somebody inside grants entry by activating the automatic gate release.

A higher level of complexity facilitates voice communication between an individual at the gate and another inside the house.

That includes a telephone-style handset, or a desk or wall-mounted audio intercom as well as the gate-release button.

Finally, a video alternative shows a picture of the person at the gate on a screen inside the house.

Keypads

Keypads have a 10-digit numerical display that permits those that know the code to enter it and open automatic gates.

You can choose to share the code with family members and friends that might require regular access, as well as with delivery drivers or postmen.

How they open

There are two main ways that automatic gates can open: sliding or swing.

For the former, you’ll need space at the side for it to safely move into.

Swing gates open inwards.

For both, you might want to consider adding a safe-distance placeholder to your driveway, so guests know precisely where to stop their car while the gates are opening.  

Installation options

Stargates is happy to provide contact details for a qualified and experienced professional in your area that can install aluminium gates.

If we do not know anybody nearby, then we recommend that you search for a specialist in gate installation and not an electrician or builder who may not possess the knowledge required.

You should ask potential contractors about their previous experience and ask to see examples of their previous work.

Study reviews by customers to identify if there have been any issues.

An installer should provide a guarantee, and you ought to arrange a maintenance contract with them to ensure your gates are kept in working order.

You don’t want to be left without access to help or advice if your automatic gates fail and need to be repaired.