What should I consider if I want an Electric Gate?

Are you thinking about installing electric gates?

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.

Here, Green Light Electrical uses their extensive ‘on the job’ experience to cover everything you need to know to help you make the right decision for you.


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. 


Are there different types?

The two most common types are a swing gate or a sliding 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. 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.


How do they work day to day?

They 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.


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 about servicing?

Obviously, 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.


What is the process if I would like to get an electric gate?

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.

Next steps

Give Green Light Electrical’s friendly and expert team a call on 01425 477943, or email Nick, their in-house electric gate specialist, at nick.green@gle-uk.co.uk. They would welcome the opportunity to listen to what you need and talk through your options with you.

If you choose to go ahead, you can trust them to deliver a high-quality job at a reasonable cost.