Can I Install And Automate My Own Gates?
Automatic electric gates are becoming more and more popular every day. They are a status symbol, they add some security to your home and they help protect children and pets by preventing them running into busy roads and keeping them out of harm’s way in general.
There is a huge range of gate automation and access control kits, motors, intercoms, keypads and accessories available from a wide range of manufacturers. Some are even promoted with simple installation and programming set-up as key features. There is no doubt that these are aimed at the sporadic electric gate engineer and even the suitably experienced DIY installer.
While it is not impossible for someone with knowledge of electrical installation, groundworks, bricklaying, carpentry, welding and even physical geometry to install electric gates, there are a list of caveats as follows:
- Badly installed electric gates can kill. The forces that can move the entire length of a large, heavy swing gate are considerable, particularly at the hinge. These forces can cause a moving gate to create potential risks from contact with the gate. These risks create the possibility for crushing, shearing, impact and other types of injury.
The amalgamation of multiple gate automation components and the gates themselves creates a new unique piece of machinery. This needs to be CE marked to provide evidence of safety audits and procedures carried out during the design and creation of the new machinery.
The legislation that gate safety is based on is complex and detailed.
There is no doubt that an experienced gate automation engineer has a vastly superior knowledge of, and experience in, gate safety than the casual or DIY gate installer.
- The list of skills quoted above, as possible requirements for a gate installer, is long and varied. Gate installers have to be able to work with wood in wooden gates and posts. They have to be able to weld steel brackets to iron gates. They have to understand how the gate hinge geometry is affected by the addition of gate motors and how the motor applies its force. Sliding gates can’t be installed on slopes without gravity affecting, and possibly overloading, motors. Underground motors for swing gates need to be sunk in pits with adequate drainage, and positioned precisely as they form the lower gate hinges. Sliding gates move on tracks laid across the driveway. Brick pillars often have to be built and then backfilled with concrete or constructed around steel pillars to provide the required strength.
Gate motors are either 24Vdc or 230Vac and require a suitable power supply and safe wiring into the control panel and all other electrical safety devices. In short, the gate engineer has a wide range of construction skills not found in many other fields.
- Gates are large and unwieldy and are affected by wind, particularly if they don’t have spaces in them (close boarded). Handling gates can be tricky, and iron and hardwood gates can also be very heavy.
- The typical installation manual lists a series of tasks in a specific order. They very rarely detail the exact nuances of how each step should be carried out. Without the experience of the qualified electric gate installer, installing a gate can take a long time. As this is a job that blocks the driveway access to the home for some time, delays are best avoided.
- In normal use, electric gates hang on hinges and move through the air. They don’t come into contact with anything other than physical stops. Damage to gates and their finishes is possible during installation of wooden, steel or aluminium gates unless great care is taken by installers experienced at handling these often awkward and heavy items.
- A qualified gate engineer will not only be able to design and install a safe gate automation system for you. They will also be able to suggest the most suitable configuration for your unique set of requirements in the first place. No location and usage requirements are exactly the same and different options for sliding or swing gates and the various swing gate motors available is best decided in consultation between the homeowner and a professional.
- A qualified gate automation installer will be able to guarantee his work and provide future maintenance and emergency call out support.
- A qualified gate automation installer will know to include manual release systems so that you can open your gates manually in the event of power failure or emergency.
- A qualified gate automation installer will understand how to employ the appropriate safety measures to reduce the risk of injury to a minimum. They will also be able to provide guidelines for all users of the gates to ensure unsafe practices are avoided.
- A qualified gate automation installer will know how to accommodate your entry and exit requirements on foot and in vehicles with minimum hassle. He will know how best to deal with visitors and what communication technology will be suited to your access control needs. It is possible today to be on the other side of the world from your gates and still be able to control them with a GSM system and a mobile signal where you are. However, you may just need a buzzer and a gate release button.
The qualified gate automation engineer is an expert in a field that is best left to the experts. If you have any questions regarding a proposed installation at your home or you would like to find an installer local to you, call Linkcare Gate Automation on 01895 232 626 now.