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Gate Automation Pre-Sales Advice

Pre-Sales Advice

The purpose of this page is to outline some of the considerations and decisions you will need to address prior to your gate automation purchase to allow you to choose the right system for your site.

New Gates– if you are having new gates made for the entrance please note some of the gate considerations below, as these should help you specify what you want and avoid potential issues Existing Gates – for existing gates you will need to determine if they are suitable for automation.

Usage – is the gate for a single residential property (230v systems recommended) with a few operations a day, or a multiple dwelling / light commercial site (24v systems recommended) with more operations a day? Or is the gate going to be use in a commercial/industrial location with frequent operations (3-phase systems recommended)? If there are prolonged periods of use can the gate be left open during these periods with a timer? Is pedestrian access required?

Entrance Site/Aspect – is the site exposed to wind (you may need an electro-lock and additional safety edges for swing gates)?

Gate Operation – the gate must open freely and smoothly – can you push it open with one hand? If you cannot, it is likely the gate motor will struggle too.

Gate Condition – are the gates strong and sturdy enough to withstand the torque/power exerted by the motor? If the get flexes are under pressure it will need reinforcing/bracing. For light-weight soft-wood gates (e.g. treated 5-bar gates) you will almost certainly require bracing/reinforcing.

Gaps and Hazards – are there gaps greater than 100mm 1) between the ground and gate or 2) between the gate and post/pillars? If so, the gate will need to be re-hung to reduce these gaps which are a hazard (see our safety guide).

Sliding, Single Swing, Double Swing Gates – You will need to select a kit appropriate for the gate type you have.

Hinges & Handed Motors – For single swing gates you will need to be aware that certain kits are handed and can only be used on either the left of right hinge. A left-hand gate is one where the hinge is located on the left gate post when looking at the gate from inside your property (e.g. from your house to the gate).

Metal Gates – generally will be suitable for automation if they move freely. If you are having new gates custom made, be aware of the legal requirements regarding gaps between railings, limitation to sharp edges and surfaces protrusions – all of which can render a gate unsafe. If the existing gate has any of these safety issues they will need to be fixed.

Wooden Gates – as globally wooden gates are less commonly automated than in the United Kingdom, it is worth considering that the majority of gate automation systems are designed with metal gates in mind (due to transfer of torque and kinetic energy in daily operation) and consequently wooden gates will generally require bracing/reinforcing to make them suitable for powered automation. We would recommend using coach-bolted metal plates on either side of the gate on the bracket mounting point. We would also recommend a reinforcing metal brace along the entire length of the gate to provide the rigidity needed for closing and opening.

Solid/Close Boarded Gates – if your gate is solid or close-boarded it will act like a sail in the wind, exerting force on the motor when the gate is close (unless an electro-lock is used) and also during opening and closing operations. Therefore the forces involved in operation will be greater than the size and weight of the gate would suggest on paper – and we would suggest you over-specify your motor selection to compensate for your solid gate (25%-33% approximately on weight).

Site Dimensions and Measuring Up – Knowing the various dimensions for your entrance, gatepost/pillars and the gaps/spaces that are presented in the gate’s open and close positions are critical to allow you to make an informed purchase decision. We recommend writing everything thing down on a drawing (a simple sketch in plan/birds-eye view will do) which can then be used for your reference when discussing with suppliers and installers.

Driveway Slope – Does your driveway slope down or slope up into your property? Is that slope greater than 100mm? If so, then swing gate automation is likely to be unsuitable; this is because gate automation cannot be installed with a rising hinge, and without a rising hinge the gate would have gaps greater than 100mm which is illegal. In these circumstances, a sliding gate can be used instead which will move laterally rather than up or down the slope. If the slope is from left-to-right or right-to-left across the entrance then there are two options – 1) use a cantilever gate systems (a rolling framework which suspends the gate above the ground) if the slope is less than 100mm or 2) conduct ground work to level the entrance to allow for a standard level sliding gate installation.

Gate Leaf Length – For irreversible motors, we recommend that an electro-lock is used on all swing gates over 3 metres to prevent unnecessary stress. Reversible motors will need an electro-lock as standard to secure the gate.

Gate Leaf Weight – exactly gauging the weight of your gate is no easy task to do without something like crane scales and a hoist! The best you will probably be able to do is an approximant based on materials and dimensions. See our gate weight estimation page which has weights of various gate types modelled.

Gatepost / Pillars Materials – As with the gate, the gatepost/pillar materials will affect the installation method used. For wooden posts bracing/reinforcement will likely be necessary and sleeved coach bolts are recommended where suitable. Do not simply screw the motor bracket to wooden gateposts, as more than likely, the bracket will work itself loose under the automation force and potentially damage your motor or gatepost. For metal gateposts welding the bracket is recommended. It is suggested you offer up the motor and check your dimension prior to the welding.

Gatepost / Pillars Dimensions – For above ground swing gate automation installations the dimensions of the gatepost/pillars play a critical role. If they are too small it may not be possible to affix the motor bracket. If they are too large some types of motor (rams/tow-eye arms) may not be able to achieve their required geometry, and an articulated motor or underground motor might be needed instead.

Geometry and the A & B Dimension

  • Ace/myDiamond 3Ti (A = 145mm, B = 145mm)
  • Ace/myDiamond 4Ti (A = 195mm, B = 195mm)
  • Ace/myDiamond 4TA
  • Leader/myAster 3Ti (A = 145mm, B = 145mm)
  • Leader /myAster 4Ti (A = 195mm, B = 195mm)
  • Leader /myAster 5Ti (A = 245mm, B = 245mm)
  • Leader /myAster 4TA

Safety Considerations – Please see our full gate automation safety guide for advice on safety considerations. Adding powered automation to a gate requires careful consideration to potential hazards and to mitigate risk by addressing these hazards through gate system design and the installation of safety devices. Gate installers in the EU are required by law (under legislation that harmonises the European Machinery Directive) to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards and provide solutions to manage the risk. As well as site specific safety aspects there are general rules which must be adhered.

  • The gate itself should not have sharp edges, protrusion or design features that could catch people's clothing
  • The gaps around the gate (between the gate and the ground and between the gate and the gatepost/pillars) cannot exceed 100mm (to prevent crushing/trapping)
  • Crushing, shearing and draw-in zones must be protected (with physical barriers or safety devices)
  • Unless you are installing a manned gate (in-sight of a trained operator) on private land with limited or no access to the public, then you will need to use one of two approved safety methods to prevent crushing/shearing/draw-in:-
    • Presence detection – e.g. laser/radar area safety curtain which will prevent people ever being touched by the gate
    • Force limitation – in-built anti-crush/obstacle detection technology is a minimum legal requirement (the gate backs off when an object is struck); however, in the UK HSE Safety Notice FOD 7-2010 explains that they do not consider in-built force limitation to be sufficient in the force limitation task and advise that pressure sensitive protective equipment (safety edges) are always used on the closing edge and potential crushing zones

Safety Devices & Equipment – The requirements of the Machinery Directive mean there are some safety devices which are used on most installations to ensure the basic requirements are met. A combination of photocells and safety edges are used on most domestic and light commercial installations. Presence Detection Senor Curtains are a much more expensive solution, and these tend to be used mainly in industrial/commercial installation:-

  • Safety Photocells - (sensors with a transmitter and receiver unit that shine an infrared beam up to 30 metres across the aperture of the gate – when an object breaks the beam the gate control board receives a signal and will stop and back-off the gate). They can be supplied in wired or wireless version, and surface or flush mounted
  • Resistive Safety Edges – Sometimes referred to as pressure sensitive protective equipment, these are rubberised fenders/bumpers with a constant 0.8 Ω current which will detect the slightest touch via a change in resistance and send the stop and back-off command to the gate control board. Safety edges should always be deployed on the closing edge (HSE Safety Notice FOD 7-2010) and also be used to protect possible crushing, shearing, and drawing points. Safety edges are suitable for both swing and sliding gates, and available in wired and wireless versions. NOTE: safety edges must be made to measure to the height of your gate for any gate up to 2.5 metres high. This is to ensure the entire edge is protected. For gates higher than 2.5 metres the lower portion of the edge must be fitted with a 2.5 metre safety edge.
  • Emergency Stop Button – a switch clearly labelled near the gate that allows people near the powered gate to stop issue a halt instruction. This device is recommended by the Machinery Directive and BS EN 12453:2001 for all gate automation installations.
  • Blinker Light – a hazard warning light to indicated that the gates are about to operate that is mounted adjacent to the gate and visible both inside and outside the property (so usually on top of the wall). This device is recommended in BS EN 12453:2001 for all gate automation installations.
  • Gate Release Lockbox – The Health and Safety Executive have identified a requirement for gate release/override levels and keys to be in close physical proximity to the gates so that in the event of a crushing incident (especially suffocation/choking) the release mechanism can be easily located and used swiftly. They also recommend storing user manuals/instructions close to the gates too. Therefore, a secure lockbox next to the gates is the best method to achieve this as it allows any of the gate owners/responsible persons to access the release devices and instruction manuals in an emergency (the small lockbox key can be duplicated for as many people as deemed necessary).
  • Presence Detection Senor Curtains – These systems us a laser or infrared “radar” to detect movement in a protective zone, and will send a stop and back-off signal to the gate control unit if someone (or something) enters the safety area. They tend to be used on larger industrial gates which cannot stop-on-a-sixpence and require the “time-of-flight” technology to detect and anticipate an approaching object. Because of their expense they tend not to be used that often in domestic installations.

Entry/Exit Activation Requirements – There are a range of entry and exit systems available for automated gates. Most entry systems will open the gate and allow the gates programming to handle the closing phase. However, some controls can also send a close signal to the gate control board to close the gate on command:-

Entry/Exit Systems

  • Remote Key Fob (secure wireless open and close signal)
  • Magnetic Proximity Key Fob (secure open and close signal)
  • Key Switch (secure open and close signal)
  • Key Pad / Digipad (secure open signal)
  • GSM Switch (open signal, grant access to specific telephone numbers)
  • WiFi Switch (open and close signal, secure mobile phone app)
  • Intercom, Wired (open signal – available with keypads or proximity readers)
  • Intercom, Wireless (open signal – available with keypads or proximity readers)
  • Intercom, Video, Wired (open signal – available with keypads or proximity readers)
  • Intercom, Video, Wireless (open signal – available with keypads or proximity readers)
  • Intercom, Video, GSM (open signal – available with keypads or proximity readers)
  • Intercom, Video, WiFi (open signal – available with keypads or proximity readers)
  • Push-Button Switch (open signal, can be linked with a timer for business hours)
  • Rocker Switch / 2-button switch (open and close signal)
  • Dead-Man’s Switch / operator presence control (open and close signal)
  • Vehicle Loop / Induction Loop (open signal - can be linked with a timer for business hours)

There are some key considerations when selecting entry/exit systems that will help determine which one or combination suits your requirements:-

  • Entry/Exit Systems - Receiver Location – Remote key fobs have a range of approximately 30 metres which can be extended with an external aerial by an additional 80 metres. However, electro-magnetic interference from power-lines, GSM masts and other peoples’ automation systems may inhibit range/performance.
  • Entry/Exit Systems - Intercom Distances & Ground Work – How far is the gate from the property? Wireless Intercoms usually have a range of about 100 metres. Wireless intercoms are also susceptible to electro-magnetic interference, so power-lines, GSM masts and other peoples’ automation systems may inhibit range/performance too. Wired intercoms usually have a range up to 200m (depending on cabling) but this will require ground work in the property to lay the cable (200mm x 200mm trench). For intercoms extending further than 200 metres an IP based systems is usually required.
  • Entry/Exit Systems – Multi-way Intercoms & Entry – For gated communities, flats and apartment blocks remote key fobs can be supplied for all residence and multi-way intercoms can be used. For locations with restricted access but more casual “ownership” (e.g. community halls, club houses, marinas) GSM systems offer flexible lists of approved telephone numbers that can open the gate, and unlike key pads are unlikely to be compromised by 3rd parties. Likewise for commercial premises proximity readers can be used by staff to open the gates where a key pad might prove too easy to be compromised.
  • Entry/Exit Systems - Timed Access Control – All entry/exit systems can be constrained using a 7-Day timer. This allows you to present two levels of access – for example vehicle loop detector could be used for entry during business hours to allow customer and visitors access, but deactivated out of hours, so only employees with remote key fobs / proximity fobs could enter the site via the automated gate. You can also set the gates to remain open during busy periods (for example mornings and evenings for employee access).