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General FAQs

A gate operator is a mechanical device used to open and close a gate, such as one at the end of a driveway. There are two main types of electric gate openers – hydraulic or electromechanical; these can be further split into the following categories, worm (or screw) driven, arm openers and underground openers. Automatic and Electric Gate operators are designed for both swinging and sliding gates. They can be programmed to open and close with a wireless transmitter or a manual device. Low Voltage Automatic Gate openers can also be fitted with solar panels to ensure function during loss of electricity or blackouts.

They apply to new gates and existing gates that are intended to be motorized. Older non-motorized gates, if they are going to be automated, may need to be altered to meet the new requirements.

This depends on the terrain, available space and your aesthetic desires. A sliding gate is less accident prone since a swinging gate moves toward vehicles. A dual swinging gate is more dramatic and if you do not have room to slide the gate, may be your only choice.

A single swinger will usually cost less than a single rolling wheel slider but if you want a particularly heavy gate or your swinger is a double leaf with two heavy duty motors, the slider can be about the same price or less. The concrete work needed is usually the big difference.

Besides the motorized operators you may need a whole list of things. Here are some things to consider: Signage showing the gates are automatic Photo eyes for safety Vehicle loops detectors (for safety and exit loops to let visitors get out) Receiver Transmitters (also called remotes or clickers) Telephone Entry System, Keypad or intercom to let people know when someone is at the gate. (UPS for example) Knox key switch for the fire department SDG&E access key switch Postal key switch.

The telephone entry system (TES). The telephone entry system rings all the phones on the line it is hooked up to, even if you don’t have dial tone. No phone company? No problem. You don’t have to run to the intercom station to answer. If you need multiple intercoms the cost will soon exceed the TES. A keypad will not help UPS or anyone else who might be dropping by unless they have the code and once they have it, you have to reset it or give up security. A good TES will have time zones for different codes. If you have a worker come by on a regular basis during the day, you can give them a code only for those hours he should be there. You can also have the TES calls forwarded so no one has to know you are not home when they ring the call button.

All gates require maintenance just like everything in a home. You may be in close to the ocean or have a lot of spray from your sprinklers and want something less likely to corrode. Here there are many choices. Aluminum, Stainless Steel, even plastic. There are many considerations with these but as a general rule, hot dipped galvanized steel (not pre-galvanized) with a well maintained coating will last for decades if not centuries. Here the key is thick. Thin steel even if it is galvanized will corrode easily compared to good thick high quality steel. Those gates you see in Europe are hundreds of years old but were maintained, painted, and made of solid iron.

The variables involved make it impossible to say correctly without a site visit. Gates can be made to fit most budgets though. A driveway gate starts at $1000.00 and goes up from there. Some gate systems have exceeded $100,000.00. As a rule of thumb, the less expensive the gate, the thinner the material and the lower quality the hardware. We have a minimum level of quality we refuse to go under so our gates can cost more than one you might find elsewhere but you can be assured your gate will last

Yes, definitely! You just need to make sure the gate opener is a good brand. Be careful of the 12 volt types found in the box stores and on the internet. They often cost more in maintenance than they are worth. Get a good return on investment by purchasing something with a long life.

This question has so many variables it is impossible to answer directly. Probably the best way to give you the answer you want, is to say our average customer spends about $11,000.00 on an automatic gate system. The lowest you should expect to spend is around $3,500.00 for a safe, but basic system. There really is no upper limit to the cost of a gate. It just depends on what you want and where your budget takes you.

There are several ways you can accomplish this but the most common are the following:
– #1: Siren Operated Sensor, this device will listen for the Siren or Yelp sound from the EMS, Police or Fire Truck and will automatically open the gate.
– #2: Fire Knox lock, this is specifically used for the Fire Department only, the Fire Department is the only department that has the key for this lock and when opened the gate will open for them.
– #3: Have a keypad installed and provide the EMS, Police and Fire Dept. with their own keypad combination, you will need to contact each department separately to inform them of the code.

If you have a telephone entry system then you can buzz them in when they call your phone, but if you only have a keypad you will either have to give them the keypad code to get through the gate or meet them out at the gate. Warning: It is not wise to give out a keypad code to strangers.

Vehicle safety is provided by the following, safety induction loops positioned under the gate arm or in the path of the gates swing, these induction loops create a magnetic field between the gate and the vehicle and tells the gate operator to stay open until the vehicle has cleared the induction loop. Note: Photo eyes main purpose is not for vehicle protection but additional photo eyes can be added to provide this function.

A pedestrian is not supposed to walk through an automated gate. With that being said not everyone knows this rule and they will do it anyway, so the first line of protection is the gate operator itself, if it hits an object it will reverse open (how much it reverses open depends on the operator installed), the second line of defense is a photo eye sensor, this sensor will reverse the gate back to its open position if the laser beam is broken while the gate is closing. The last line of defense is a safety edge sensor, this is a padded contact sensor so if it hits a person the gate will reverse back to the open position.

There are multiple ways for the gate to open on exit, you can install a free exit induction loop, free exit driveway probe, a motion detector, or a keypad/push button station/remote controls. Please discuss these different option with your sales person to figure out which is the best for your application.

In order to know who enters or exits an automated gate system you must have a digital controller installed, digital controllers come in many different types. Some are standalone units and some are PC Programmable units. Please discuss these different option with your sales person to figure out which is the best for your application.

Yes, but you will need to either have a 24/7 programmable timer installed which you can program to hold open through the timers schedule feature or have a PC Programmable access controller installed. Discuss these different option with your sales person to figure out which is the best for your application.

The pad can be poured to curb height. This will put the distance from the bottom of the gate to your driveway at approximately 11”. If you require more security, we will curb notch the gate and drop it down to maintain the nominal 5” spacing between the bottom of the gate and the road surface. Please refer to drawing #151

With the proper dimensions, we can fabricate the gate to maintain the nominal 5” clearance across your driveway or road.

No. If the hill is running up the driveway and the driveway is level going across from the operator, there isn’t a problem. If the driveway is sloped from side to side, we can fabricate the gate to match the slope. 

Our gates pivot 90 degrees when fully opened. If the trees do not impede the opening, they will not pose a problem. The clear area required will depend on the length and height of your gate.

Yes. When the gate is in the open mode, it must not hit any wires. You also need to check with the local utility company to see how far away the gate needs to be from the wires when fully open.

The yoke is the “receiver” that secures the gate when it is closed. The yoke prevents someone from forcing the gate forward or pulling it back while it is in the closed position. We have several styles of yokes.

View your entrance from the “inside” or “private” side. Determine which side of the driveway you would like your operator to be installed. Take into consideration the space needed to install the operator. If applicable, consider the location of existing power conduit lines.

If you will be installing the operator on the right side of the driveway, you will need a right-handed operator. If you will be installing the operator on the left side of the driveway, you will need a left-handed operator.

The primary focus of UL 325 is pedestrian safety. Contains the basic qualifying factors that products must meet in order to be documented (listed) and marked (labeled) as complying with the requirements of UL 325 Listing and Labeling Program; Provides methods for testing products, primarily related to safety performance; and Covers installation of the products in accordance with the National Electric Code, which is maintained by the National Fire Protection Association and is in force nationwide (UL 325 is to be “harmonized” with this code) and Addresses safety concerning potential fire and electrical hazards as well as the safety of the general public. UL 325 is a safety standard that all gate operators are supposed to be manufactured to meet.

Unlike steel, aluminum does not rust and is overall a better choice, however aluminum gates are more expensive to produce. Normally we fabricate gates up to 20’ long with steel and use aluminum on gates longer than 20’. Materials will vary with gates taller then 7’ but we fabricate most from aluminum.

The general guideline is to add 2’ to the width of the road or driveway you are gating. For example, a 15’ driveway would require a 17’ gate. This allows for setback. However, the length specification can vary if your gate will be installed behind an existing fence or a wall.

Yes. With an approved design, we can fabricate custom gates.

No. We fabricate the gates to stringent specifications because of the stress put on gates that rise. In addition, every gate is custom balanced. AutoGate may agree to a custom gate if it is built to our specifications and is delivered to our plant for custom balancing.

UL 325 states that no vehicular gate should be used for pedestrian traffic and that a pedestrian gate shall be made available so as to discourage the use of a vehicular gate. If your project is totally fenced or otherwise contained, a pedestrian gate should be installed.

Per UL 325 gate operators are required to have entrapment protection devices. External entrapment devices such as photo eye are good devices to detect object near a moving gate panel. Photo eyes are used for pedestrian entrapment protection but they can also add to the qualitative operation of vehicular flow and can have a byproduct to detect vehicles and thus not allow the vehicle to be struck by a gate.

Several devices can be effective in contributing to good vehicular flow. We commonly use the following:
· Photo beam
· Contact sensing safety edge
· Reflector reversing beam
· In-ground reversing loops

The area of the operator that the gate pivots into is called the throat. AutoGate offers heat mats that are placed in this area and draw power from the incoming electricity to the gate operator. They are thermostat controlled to activate based on lower temperatures. As snow makes contact with this mat it melts due to the mat being several degrees above freezing.
Since the gate is about 7” off the ground in the open position, the gate will operate with several inches of snow in the throat area without the use of a heat mat. In addition, as the Vertical Pivot Lift opens, it will compact some snow in the throat area. Some general snow removal will be required if the snow accumulation in the throat area impacts the opening operation.

Yes. We have several accessories and heat packages available for areas where sub-zero weather is common.

The “Hold Open” time can be adjusted from 0 to 60 seconds. Your “set” time begins when all reversing loops have been cleared by vehicles.

Yes. However, solar power limits the number of cycles per day. Most commercial applications will require AC power. Sites with limited daily use can be solar.

You need to be aware of the area around the gate and consider the amount of trees, the geographic location, and the number of average hours of sunlight. Please call us and and we will help you determine the specific needs.

If you lose AC power, the gate will continue to operate on battery power only. The size of the batteries, the current amperage draw of accessories, and the number of cycles will determine how long your batteries will last before the gate stops working.

Our operator has an AC power “ON” indicator on the outside of the cabinet. If the light is out, the AC power is off and you need to check your circuit breaker and determine the problem.

Typically, the gate will function for about 24 hours when you are using the two recommended 100 AMP deep cycle marine batteries. Even when the batteries go completely dead, the gate can be opened manually.

There is a manual release lever located under the motor that releases the belt tension and will allow you to open the gate manually. Normally one person can accomplish this. In the rare case of a spring failure, it may require two people.

Gate Installation

No. You do not need to put both on the gate. A non-contact sensor, a contact sensor, or a combination thereof can be used as secondary devices.

Controls must be far enough from the gate so that the user does not contact the gate while operating the controls.

This depends on the operator design. Contact the operator manufacturer for more information.

Controls that reset an operator after two sequential activations of the entrapment protection device(s) must be located in the line-of-sight of the gate.

If the operator is for a vehicular gate, pedestrians must use a separate entrance.

Yes, but this applies only to horizontal sliding gates. However, if a horizontal gate system is not guarded or screened according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it does not comply with ASTM F2200, and the installation is not in compliance with UL 325.

All openings of a horizontal slide gate are guarded or screened from the bottom of the gate up to 48-inches above ground level.

This situation is governed by the requirements of UL 325. Appropriate entrapment protection devices should be specified and installed according to that standard.

The pad needs to be a minimum of 24” thick, or deeper than your local frost lines. You do not want the pad shifting which will cause the gate to become unleveled.

We require a 4’ x 7’ pad, which is illustrated in the Pad Layout Drawing. The pad can be poured wider to accommodate a workspace in front of the operator doors. This is convenient for maintenance work.

The pad is normally poured to grade level of the driveway or road. You will need to make allowances if the location includes a curb.

All we require a 15 or 20 AMP service. A licensed electrician is required to run the power from your electrical panel.

Bollards are not required, but they will help protect the gate operator from being struck. They can also help to protect the yoke and goosenecks.

No. The operator needs to be anchored to concrete in order to keep it secured to the ground.

The operator will weigh about 1200 lbs when crated and will require a forklift, a bobcat with forks, a tow truck with an extend boom, a backhoe, a gradall, or similar equipment for unloading.

Gate Maintenance

Keeping them cleaned and parts lubed will go a long way toward making them last but other parts such as belts, if you have them, will need to be changed or adjusted. Some chains you can lube and some you cannot. For this reason it is better to have a professional maintenance done every 2000 cycles (10,000 for commercial openers)or once a year whatever comes first.

For residences you can guess by the number of vehicle usually going in or out during a day. For example, most single family gates have 5 to 9 cycles per day. Two vehicles going out in the morning and back at night equals 4 cycles. 2000 cycles usually equals close to a year. If you have a commercial or multi-residence facility, there are cycle counters we can install so you can make sure your maintenance schedule if kept up to date.

We have a network of “authorized” dealers around the country. If one is not in your area, any gate operator installer is capable of servicing your gate. However, there are some very easy Preventative Maintenance items owners can do on their own such as greasing, maintaining your battery, check you reversing and safety devices. We also have technical help aids on the website as well as inside service technicians.

There are several grease points on all the major moving parts. The grease points should be serviced at least yearly. Depending on the number of cycles your gate is operating, the grease points may need to be serviced more often.

A periodic check of all reversing devices and belts is recommended to make sure they are all functioning properly.

Batteries should have any corrosion cleared from the terminals. If the batteries are not sealed units, water levels should be re-filled to recommended amounts.

There is no requirement for spare parts. For the first few years, you should not need anything. However, circumstances do arise and parts do fail for various reasons (defective, lightening strikes, general use, etc.). The parts listed below are the most common parts that may have to be replaced:
· Spring
· Belts
· Control Board
· Loop Detector
· Photo Eyes
· Battery

Gate Troubleshooting

As you probably realize, the answer has many variables. But start by checking your breakers. Also check other outlets connected to the gate to see if they are working. If they don’t have electricity, see if a Ground Fault Interrupt has gone out. These can shut down the entire circuit, not just one outlet.

You must purchase a system with a battery backup installed, most gate operators today have them installed but some do not, so make sure to ask for it specifically when requesting a quote.

Every gate operator is installed with a manual override release, some come in the form of a key release and others have alternate ways of manually releasing the operator. This function is standard with all gate operators; discuss these different option with your sales person to figure out which is the best for your application.

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