How to Select your Automated Gate Operator

Visit American Access Company to view gate operator options

Gate operators are designed to move gates in two directions. This requires an electric gate motor. The bigger the gate, the more powerful the gate motor you’ll need. Gate operators are manufactured to meet specific gate design characteristics, including weight, use frequency, gate size and wind loading. Each automated gate manufacturer provides an easy to use chart that assists you in selecting your gate opener based on these characteristics:

Weight

Unless you have a custom ornamental gate with a lot of heavy infill, you are very unlikely to weight-out your gate before you size it out.

Frequency of use

Most gate operators today are continuous duty operators. However, some DC versions have limited use due to battery life.

Size

The overall size of the gate is generally the leading characteristic in determining your gate operator selection for both swing and slide gates.

Wind loading

Wind loading is rarely addressed but it is a real concern. If your automatic gate has a solid surface and receives heavy winds, rain or snow, you should contact your local gate operator installer for recommendations on choosing the correct gate operator.

Once you have narrowed down your gate operator selection based on the information above, you need to take three electrical criteria into consideration. Before you can do that, you need to know where you are going to pull power from for your gate operator.

  1. Gate operators are available in a range of common voltages, including 120, 240, 208 & 460 volts. You should always make sure your circuit is designated within 10% of the gate operator’s rated voltage.
  2. Gate openers require a dedicated circuit and required number of amps. Do not attempt to daisy chain your gate operator into other applications. The amount of start-up power for a gate operator motor is significant, so it may easily trip the breaker when combined with other usage.
  3. Gate operators are available in single and three phase power. Three phase power is preferred because it is a more consistent and efficient form of power. Your facility may have three phase power but not in the front of the building where the administrative offices are located. Thus, you may have to pull this power from the rear of the property where it is located to power machinery. Single phase power has one hot and a neutral whereas three phase has three hots and a neutral. This is why three phase wire is more pricey.

Now that you have selected your gate opener based on the performance characteristics and electrical requirements, you will need to closely follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation. Having successfully installed over 10,000 gate operators, there are some of our key tips and advice:

  • Gate operators require proper mechanical connections, footings and anchoring. We recommend using a professional installer to set and connect your gate opener.
  • Gate operators require inherent and external safety devices. The operator will not function unless these devices are properly installed.
  • The location of the gate operator relative to the automatic gate is crucial. Closely follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for gate operator placement. Even the slightest deviation may result in operator failure and create a safety hazard.
  • When setting up your gate operator, only use a licensed electrician. Like any piece of motorized equipment with circuitry, gate operators are very fickle about meeting the required number of amps and voltage. Too little or too much may cause you to quickly blow the motor or a circuit board.
  • Gate operators require programming prior to operation. Follow the manufacturer’s step-by-step procedure in properly programming the gate operator.
  • Gate operators will not operate without additional external control devices.