The 7 Best Automatic Gate Openers
If you have a gate protecting your property, be it residential or commercial, an automatic opener will save you time and effort when you enter or exit your place. These electric models will work with single and dual-swing gates of varying sizes and styles. We've even included some solar-powered models for the eco-conscious. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best automatic gate opener on Amazon.
Assessing Your Property’s Perimeter
A swinging gate opens like most doors in your home, while a sliding gate operates with integrated wheels to open and close side-to-side, like a sliding glass door.
In an ideal society, we’d all live blissful lives in harmony with our neighbors and fellow citizens, never worrying about burglars, trespassers, and predators intent on invading our privacy and attacking our children, pets, or livestock.
Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal society.
A strong, sturdy fence — whether it’s for a residential property or a commercial one — is your first line of defense against these potential hazards. In decades and centuries past, opening the gate in your fence to grant people access to your property was a manual, often rather laborious process.
Today, automatic gate openers simplify this task significantly. By simply tapping a button or punching in a code, you’ll enable people to enter the premises without leaving their vehicle or unlocking a lock box, saving both time and frustration.
But how do you determine which style of opener to install? As your first order of business, consider the type of gate you already have.
There are two primary gate types: swinging and sliding. A swinging gate opens like most doors in your home, while a sliding gate operates with integrated wheels to open and close side-to-side, like a sliding glass door. Some swing gates open as one piece, while others — these are called dual-swing gates — are separated in the middle, which means they open and close as two pieces.
Many people choose sliding gates for use in their driveways, especially if cars will be parked close enough to interfere with a swinging gate. They’re particularly useful in areas where space is at a premium. Swinging gates, on the other hand, are typically quieter and come with fewer repair issues, as they’re more straightforward in design and feature fewer moving parts.
Many solutions are only suitable for use with gates of a certain size and weight, so make sure you take that into account. You should also think about frequency of use; the more often you open and close your gate, the more power your gate opener will require, and the risk of mechanical wear and tear will increase, as well. If you’ll be using it several times per day, you’ll probably want a heavy-duty gate opener with the power and durability to withstand stress and damage.
Installing And Using Your New Tool
As with any automated system, your gate opener will require a power source. Most of these solutions run on AC power, solar panels, and battery backups, and some models even incorporate all three to help prevent a total power outage.
If you’ve decided to go with an AC-powered gate opener, hopefully electricity is readily available near the gate. If not, you may need to run some electrical wire from your main power supply to make things work. Handy individuals can opt to take this on themselves, but the less mechanically inclined among us will likely need to hire a professional.
Loop detectors can be helpful as well, which incorporate magnetic fields located just under the ground to detect vehicles or obstructions above the ground.
Solar power is an option as well, and several manufacturers offer this eco-friendly choice in the form of openers with built-in solar panels. Over time, opting for this path will save you money on your electric bill, and the prospect of using a clean, renewable source of energy is appealing to many folks in its own right.
Today, the vast majority of these systems come equipped with a remote control for quick, easy access. Once you program the remote, you can use it from inside your vehicle without having to take a step outside. Several systems even allow you to sync controls to your mobile phone, making entry and exit that much more convenient.
Most models offer additional programmable features that you can choose to utilize depending on your situation. One such function is auto-close, a setting that will automatically shut the gate once a certain amount of time elapses in the event it’s accidentally left open.
Loop detectors can be helpful as well, which incorporate magnetic fields located just under the ground to detect vehicles or obstructions above the ground. For instance, you would install an exit loop a sizeable distance from the gate (say 50 to 75 feet) within your property, so when you cross the loop’s location in your car, the gate automatically opens as you approach.
Safety And Security
Loop detectors can also come into play as effective safety features. For example, reverse loops, which you would install closer to the gate, will detect an obstruction as the gate is opening or closing, triggering the gate to reverse its direction to avoid a potential collision.
Your method for personally activating the gate is an important factor, too. Remote entry — which we’ve already touched on — is the most common way to trigger the gate to open and close. Card entry is also popular, particularly with commercial properties like apartment buildings. With this system, you'll use a card with a built-in chip to initiate the process.
Code entry models feature a box with a keypad on which you must enter a number code to gain access.
For instances where tight security is absolutely paramount, code and telephone entry are quite effective. Code entry models feature a box with a keypad on which you must enter a number code to gain access. Telephone entry is perhaps the most secure option, as it requires a call from a specific phone number for activation.
It’s also a good idea to install the main control panel a safe distance from the gate itself. This way, whoever is operating the panel is not at risk of getting hit by the gate while it’s moving. Of course, plenty of models already use infrared photo beams to detect obstacles — humans, cars, or other structures — to trigger stopping and reversing to prevent accidents.
If you have a gate, you obviously care about protecting your home or business. Automatic gate openers are most effective when used in tandem with additional safety measures.
Security cameras allow you to monitor your property remotely and record footage that can be used in the event of a break-in. You can install cameras individually, but many come as part of a larger alarm system package. Working together, a gate and a security system won’t absolutely guarantee your property can’t be accessed, but they’ll serve as a major deterrent.
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