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Automatic gates are becoming an increasingly popular option for both homes and businesses. Offering comfort, simplicity and security, these can be a great addition to properties. Meanwhile, the various automatic gate systems available offer versatility, making automatic gates a possibility in all locations.
As one of the UK’s biggest and longest-serving automatic gate suppliers, we have gained much experience in the field. If you are interested in learning how these systems operate, check out our simple introductory guide below.
Gate automation is made up of a group of individual components that combine to make a new piece of machinery.
Typically, this includes motors to move the gates, safety devices to stop them causing damage or injury and something to tell them to open and close.
So, let’s break it down in the order that things happen in a complete gate automation system.
The most common method of opening and closing gates is with a device called a transmitter, remote control, gate remote or remote fob. This is often a small, handheld device with several buttons on it.
The number of buttons usually corresponds with the number of channels the remote has and, therefore, the number of different systems it can operate. For example, a two-channel remote can provide the signal for two discrete devices or operations.
Usually, pressing the same button will tell automatic gates to fully open or close depending on their status when the button is pressed.
When the relevant button is pressed, the fob sends a signal to a receiver connected to the gate motor controls.
There are two frequencies used for this signal in the UK, 433MHz and 868MHz.
Transmitters and receivers in the same gate automation system have to use the same frequency. The remotes may use different coding technologies, such as rolling code or fixed code.
When new remotes are added to an existing system, they must be the right frequency and coding type before they can be programmed to operate with the current receiver. When a receiver gets a signal from a remote that it’s paired with, it tells the gate motor or motors to act. If the gates are open, this instruction causes them to close and vice versa.
An access control system can provide alternative ways to open automatic gates. At its simplest, an access control system would have a button outside the gates that rings a bell or sounds a buzzer inside the house when pressed. Another button inside the house would then be pushed to operate the gates so that the visitor could enter.
There are obvious limitations to systems that don’t allow some form of communication in this process. Systems called intercoms enable a visitor to speak to the house occupants before being let in or kept out. Access control intercoms with audio and video allow the occupants to talk to and see their visitors.
Intercoms systems can be used with a variety of wireless technologies. Radio is the established choice, with Wi-Fi quickly gaining popularity. Some systems use mobile telephone technology and can operate gates from anywhere in the world where there’s a mobile signal that is compatible with the mobile network used.
Additional external security may be added to an access control system with a keypad. These require programmed number combinations to be entered to operate the gates. Proximity readers do the same when appropriate key fobs are touched onto the system, and card readers open gates in a similar way. You can learn more about these security options by reading our blog on the best access control systems for your home.
The signal sent to the gate controls from remotes, intercoms or access control keypads instructs the motor controls to operate. The setup could be a single motor on a sliding gate or the more common two motors on swing gates. Automated gate systems commonly use electric motors or hydraulic systems to move. Swing gates rotate around hinges on gate posts or pillars at the sides of the drive entrance. Sliding gates run along tracks laid across the drive entrance on wheels and are supported at the top of the gate above the motor with a rolling retainer.
Swing gates can use articulated arms, hydraulic rams, linear screws or hidden underground motors amongst other methods to operate gates. Sliding gates are moved by a static motor with an external cog that meshes with a toothed rack mounted on the gate. Rotating the gear moves the rack and, therefore, the gate.
A moving gate can be dangerous if it is not prevented from coming into contact with anyone or anything. Safety can often be achieved by physically blocking the hazardous areas of the gate from being accessed.
An example of this can be found with open-boarded gates that slide along railings. Here, it is possible to put a limb through the gaps in the gate as it passes in front of the railings. Wire mesh that prevents limbs from being pushed through any gaps represents a physical block to the danger.
Electronic safety measures include the use of infrared photocells. These operate in pairs, with one emitting an invisible beam of light onto the other. If the beam is broken, a signal is sent to the gate controls to halt their operation. Placing these across access points to potentially dangerous areas stops the gates when anyone enters.
It is also possible to apply rubber safety edges to the leading edges of moving gates. These are designed to stop and reverse the gates when the safety edge comes into contact with anything.
This guide is just a general description of the many parts that go into creating a high-quality gate automation solution. Here at Linkcare, we sell a range of gates and automatic gate kits for both home and business use. If you are interested in discovering the perfect solution for you or your clients, please call Linkcare’s technical gate automation support team on 01895 232 626.