Automatic gates, long used as a means of controlling access to secured areas in commercial and industrial settings, have recently become increasingly popular for residential use as well. Having an automatic gate protecting access to your home's driveway, fitted in as an integral part of your property's fencing or other form of protective barrier, provides multiple benefits, including increased safety and security. With the convenience of automation, these gates may be opened and closed in a variety of ways and, when going through while in your automobile, may be opened without the need to leave the confines of your vehicle. This increases the safety factor and also allows you to stay warm and dry during inclement weather.
Types of Automatic Gates
Automatic gates come in a wide range of sizes, weights and configurations. They may be as simple as a sliding panel composed of chain-link fence or of ornate construction with fancy wrought-iron scroll work designed to match the adjacent fencing. The most popular type of automatic gate for use in residential or light-commercial applications is probably the slide gate. This consists of a panel that operates by sliding back and forth across the opening while riding on supporting wheels or rollers. Also known as "rolling" gates, the rollers travel along a track that has been installed on the ground. Because these tracks can easily be blocked by debris, snow and ice, however, they can present some ongoing maintenance concerns.
Other popular automatic gate types include:
Cantilever Gate – similar to the slide gate except the track is replaced by a raised rail that allows the gate to travel up off the ground.
Swing Gate – hinged on one side to open and close like a door, these gates are popular because of their relatively low cost and easy installation. They may be a single- or double-leaf configuration and can be made to swing either in or out, assuming there's enough room available to accommodate the 90-degree swing in a particular direction.
Vertical Lift Gate – this gate moves vertically up and down over the opening, traveling along vertical supports tall enough to allow for vehicles to drive underneath the gate when fully opened. These are useful in an application where a swing gate can't be used because of limited space. These lift gates have a somewhat industrial look and may not be the best choice for residential use where appearance is a primary concern.
Other types of automatic lift gates include Pivot Gates, Bi-Fold Gates and Barrier Arm Gates, which are popular for use at entryways and exits to vehicle parking areas.
Operators and Means of Access
Automatic gates feature two basic components: the gate itself, which is what moves in order to block the opening, and the operator, which is what powers the gate's movement. Operators typically use standard electrical power but may use solar power. Mechanical movement may be chain driven, hydraulic or gear driven. Devices used to initiate a gate's opening include:
- Car readers
- Vehicle tag (RF) readers
- Digital keypads
- Wireless hand-held remotes (similar to garage-door openers)
An automatic gate operator may be used in conjunction with an intercom system that allows visitors a means for contacting someone inside who can activate the gate. Surveillance cameras may also be used to view and/or record activity around a gate and to visually confirm a visitor's identity. Exit loops or sensors may also be used to automatically operate a gate when a vehicle is leaving the premises. Safety concerns should always be addressed when installing automatic gates to ensure pedestrians and vehicles are protected from damage or injury.