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automatic gates

Automatic gates, also known as electric gates have a few benefits over manually operated gates, but two of them make the electric option essential. They make swinging or sliding rather unwieldy gates open and closed as simple as pushing a button. More importantly, they offer several optional tiers of remote access control and security.

The mechanics of hinges and guide rails of swinging and sliding gates are essential the same for manual and automatic gates. Gates of either type may consist of metal, wood or vinyl. What’s different are the components that do the heaving lifting, alternately known as gate openers or gate operators. Strictly speaking, an electric gate opener is meant to refer to a controller for light duty residential gates, while an electric gate operator is intended to for heavy duty commercial installations; but in practice they’re often used interchangeably.

Electric Gate Openers and Operators

A gate opener is the heart of an electric gate. This is an electromechanical or hydraulic armature enclosed in a waterproof hood for above-ground installations. In swinging gates, the motor’s arm extends to the center of the gate panel. For a dual gate opener, a separate operator is positioned at either end. Underground swing operators contain the mechanics inside of metal boxes underneath the plates for the gate’s hinges. Since underground gate openers have no machinery visible to the onlooker, they’re usually considered the most aesthetic. They’re also the most expensive type of automatic gate openers.

Whether or not electric gates are a viable option depends on your location, or rather, the proximity of the fence to the power mains. If the gate is too far from your residential power source, which is often the case for farms and other sprawling properties, it’s still possible to power the operator’s batteries, which typically need 24 volts, by solar panels if they have access to adequate sunlight.

Sliding Gate or Swing Gate?

Whether or not you opt for swinging or sliding gates is largely a matter of personal preference, but there are logistics to consider, like the slope of the site or any possible misalignment of posts as the ground expands and contracts with changes in weather conditions. In most cases, sliding gates, while more expensive than swing gates with above-ground controllers, are more likely to maintain alignment due to their guide rails. You will, however, need as much track in the open position as you need in the closed position. In other words, if your dual gate spans 24 feet between posts, you’ll need an additional 12 feet of track beyond either post. If you’re installing a dual swing gate on a higher-than-normal grade, you’ll probably need to have a concrete foundation poured between posts to connect them and keep them aligned.

Access Control Systems

Finally, electric gates offer different levels of access control, depending on your budget. This can mean, for instance, that you can enter and exit your driveway with a remote controller that spares you the trouble of getting out of your car. Or you can install a programmable keypad controller at the entrance that can be set with temporarily assigned access codes for service workers, like handymen or maids. You can manually buzz guests in without having to walk to the driveway entrance. If money is not an object, you can install a full-featured controller with an intercom and security camera. Electric gates can give you all the convenience, functionality and security you could possibly need.

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