Electric gates are a brilliant way to make your property more secure, and they look fantastic too – really enhancing your curb appeal. They are also increasingly becoming part of the design of commercial, public and multiple occupancy buildings.
In this handy guide, we use our extensive ‘on the job’ experience to cover everything you need to know to about electric gates.
What is an electric gate?
An electric gate is a gate that has been fitted with a motor, to enable it to move automatically. You can convert an existing gate or you can install a new electric gate. One of the key benefits of installing a new electric gate is that you can design it specifically for automation, which means that sometimes you can design it around some of the safety features, making for a more streamlined and aesthetically pleasing look.
Types of electric gates
The two most common types are a swing gate or a sliding gate.
The swing gate
With a swing gate, you can either have a motor that sits in the ground or you can have a motor that sits on the back of the gate. In theory, a motor that sits on the back of the gate is going to have to work harder because it’s trying to pull the gate at an angle, whereas the motor that sits in the ground is actually carrying the weight of the gate – making the mechanism more reliable.
The sliding gate
With a sliding gate, there are two distinctive types. You can get a sliding gate that runs on a track – if you go for this mechanism, it’s really important to have a level ground. Alternatively, you can choose a cantilever sliding gate, which basically levitates across the opening. This style does mean, however, that you generally need an additional third of the width of the gate as space behind the gate, for it to open back against.
What types of materials can be used in an electric gate?
There are a number of materials that electric gates can be made from but the key considerations are strength, durability and weather-resistance. Predominantly, it’s going to be steel – stainless steel or galvanised steel. It can be powder-coated as well. Either way, it needs to be something that’s going to stand the test of time against corrosion. There are also aluminium and timber options. Quite often, you’ll get a combination of steel and composite cladding. So, there are plenty of options to consider.
How do electric gates work day to day?
Electric gates can work for you in any number of ways, but the main thing to think about is how you are going to want to use your gate; what is going to be most practical and most helpful. Is it important to you to have the convenience of driving up to the gate and having it automatically open in front of you? Do you want to be able to let guests in or do you want people to be able to get in without permission? For example, you could give your gardener or groundskeeper a code so that they can get in and out without having to bother you.
Electric gates can be operated either by a remote control, a digital keypad so that you (or anyone you give the code to) can punch the code in for entry, or you can get vehicle presence sensors that are fitted in the ground so that, as you drive up to them, they open automatically. Or, if you would like more security, you could use a number plate recognition camera (ANPR).
You also need to think about how your post is going to get delivered. Some people choose to put their mailbox on the outside of their gate. Others choose to be alerted by intercom.
You can have an audio or a video intercom and, now, there are even options that work remotely via your mobile phone, so you can be contacted wherever you are in the world, in real time. There are other additional features available for you to consider, too, like courtesy lights and integrating your electric gate with your garage door remote, to save you carrying an additional fob.
Can an electric gate be added to any driveway?
Ultimately, you need to make sure that there’s enough space to install it and use it so, no, not every driveway will be able to have an electric gate. However, if you have enough clear space to be able to drive your car through it, and park with enough clearance around it to enable you to open and close the electric gate it will be fine.
Something like uneven ground can pose a bit of a problem – if you choose a swing gate and the ground slopes away you could end up with a big gap at one end. These problems are all surmountable, but it’s important to be aware of the potential extra work and extra cost involved.
Are electric gates safe?
Absolutely, but only if they are installed properly, with integrated safety systems (which Green Light Electrical can advise you on, depending on your situation and environment), the correct wiring and comprehensive testing. They must also be maintained regularly. There is no compromise when it comes to the safety of your electric gates.
There are a number of safety concerns to consider, and every site is individual, but what Green Light Electrical will really be looking for is any gap that gets smaller. So, they either force test it, to make sure that the forces on the motor are below a certain standard, or they install a safety device in the gate to make sure that it reacts immediately if someone or something unfortunately gets caught in it.
Look for accreditations for reassurance and peace of mind. One is the Door and Hardware Federation (DHF), which was created from a merger of the Association of Builders’ Hardware Manufacturers (ABHM) and the Door and Shutter Manufacturers’ Association (DSMA), as a not-for-profit trade association for companies associated with automated gates, amongst other building hardware and mechanisms. They provide technical advice, training, knowledge and practical help.
Gate Safe is another organisation committed to promoting an improved understanding of the legislation and standards relating to automated gate safety. They offer comprehensive guidance to the broad range of professionals associated with gate installations, as well as providing helpful advice to gate owners and the general public. Gate Safe has been commended by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for its work, as a charity, to improve the safety of automated and manual gates and barriers in the UK.
CAME is a company that takes automated gate safety seriously. Their products bear the EN Tested system marking, certifying that they have been produced and tested according to the rigorous criteria of the European Standards regarding impact force. Green Light Electrical is a Came Safe approved installer, which means that they always fit automatic gates to all relevant UK and European laws. As well as adhering to the safety standards of these organisations, all electric gates need to comply, by law, with the Machinery Directive.
What factors affect the cost of an electric gate?
As you can imagine, there are so many variables the range of costs covers a very broad scope. The cheapest option is a single leaf five-bar gate, because it’s effectively only got one motor. Obviously, if you add a secondary gate, that bumps the cost up. Whether the material is timber, steel, wood, aluminium or composite will also affect the cost, as will whether it is a sliding gate or not. Once you have decided on the basic setup of the style of gate you want then, depending on whether Green Light Electrical has been involved in the design stage, there may be additional safety needs to consider. As it is a mandatory requirement, this is an area that you can’t opt out of, whatever the cost implications.
When you’re totalling the price of installing your electric gate, you will need to consider the additional costs that are all dependent on the ‘nice to haves’ you choose… how many fobs, if you want a number plate recognition camera (ANPR), and/or presence sensors fitted in the ground, for example.
How much would an electric gate cost for my driveway?
It really depends on your driveway and the style of the gate you choose, but the starting price is usually just under £3,000. It can go all the way up to £50,000 but that would be a commercial installation. Typically, Green Light Electrical estimates that around the £7,000 mark would cover most scenarios for a pair of swing gates.
Servicing and Maintenance
Servicing is important to maintain the optimum operational and safety standards of your electric gate, but how often you need your electric gate serviced will depend on the frequency of use. In most residential environments, an annual service will be enough. As part of their service checks, Green Light Electrical makes sure that all the moving parts are moving freely, and that the safety devices are working efficiently. Through experience, they have found that a big problem can be slugs getting in the control panel, so they always take out the control panel and make sure that nothing has got in that could cause mayhem.
In a commercial property that has high volume traffic, for example the gates may be opening 50+ times a day, a quarterly service may be recommended but, in most circumstances, a six-monthly service will be satisfactory.
Maintenance costs for an electric gate
At Green Light Electrical, we provide silver, gold and platinum service plans. Although we do still offer annual servicing, our customers are predominantly choosing our service plans. The platinum service plan starts at £55 per month and covers all parts and labour, guaranteed for the length of the service of the plan. The silver package is basically a one-off service. It costs £20 per month and includes a 10% discount on parts and labour.
Electric gate warranties
The warranty on the components provided by a manufacturer for an electric gate is dictated by the brand you choose. An example is the electric gate brand, Came. They provide a three-year warranty as long as the electric gate is serviced in accordance with their maintenance schedule.
How to pick the right electric gate for you
If you are interested in getting electric gates fitted, talk to expert installers like Green Light Electrical. They will be more than happy to help you work out what is going to be the best solution for you, based on assessing the opening you have, the ground and the space around it, and your priorities for how you want to use your gates. Green Light Electrical has lots of experience and will be able to point out areas to consider that you may not have thought of.
Next, it’s all about style choices – what look you are going for, whether you would like timber, metal or aluminium. Again, it’s important to make these decisions from a well-informed point of view. Is ongoing upkeep going to be an issue for you; would you prefer the lowest maintenance option?
Once you have decided on the right gate for you, Green Light Electrical will do their best to design your gate in such a way that it doesn’t have to have any unnecessary safety devices on show.
One of the common mistakes people make is to ask an installer to add automated gate components to gates that have already been fitted. This means that extra safety devices often have to be added retrospectively that don’t always look great from the outside.
It really comes down to personal taste, combined with any practical considerations at your property. So, the best way to pick the right electric gate for you is to research a style that you like and that you think is going to suit your driveway. Then, pick a professional, like the team at Green Light Electrical, to talk things through with, get their expert opinion and come up with a plan between the two of you.
How can Green Light Electrical help?
Green Light Electrical has extensive, first-hand experience in providing many customers with electric gates, taking all kinds of requests in every kind of environment in their stride. We are always happy to give you free advice over the phone and talk through your options.
Then, we can visit your property, carry out a survey and take it from there – our priority is to get a feel for what you want and make it happen!
How can you contact Green Light Electrical?
Give Green Light Electrical’s friendly and expert team a call on 01425 477943, email us at email@example.com or contact us through our website. We would welcome the opportunity to listen to what you would like and talk through your options with you. If you choose to go ahead, you can trust us to deliver a high-quality job at a reasonable cost.