Electric Gate Motors
Automatic gate systems have been around for more than 50 years and in the past had only been affordable for the wealthiest members of society. Today, advances in computer aided design, a reduction in the cost of materials and a healthy competitive industry have all lead to a reduction in costs for electric automatic gates. This section will give you basic information about the different types of automatic gate systems available, what unique features they have and when or where you might use one.
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Hydraulic and Electro-Mechanical
While all automatic gate systems are powered by electric motors, the motor will either drive a pump which moves hydraulic fluid into and out of a piston or it will drive a gear in a gearbox. In the past Hydraulic systems were the only way to automate a gate and they still remain one of the best options. Typically hydraulic systems are:
- More powerful than Electro-mechanical systems.
- Able to absorb excess forces such as strong winds and the occasional push or pull from a pedestrian.
- Safer due to force limitation in the form of pressure adjustment valves which a built into most hydraulic systems.*
- Quieter due to hydraulic oil lubrication and no metal on metal gears.
- Able to run at a higher duty cycle due to improved heat dissipation from submerging the motor in hydaulic fluid.**
* Electro-mechanical system can be made to be as safe as a hydraulic system, both hydraulic and Electro-mechanical systems need additional devices to full comply with health and safety legislation.
** Some Electro-mechanical systems are now made with 24V motors, these systems have similar and in some cases higher duty cycles compared with hydraulic systems.
Hydraulic systems appear to be the best type of electric gate motor available but there is a catch. First, all hydraulic motors are not made to the same standards and some Electro-mechanical system on the market will outshine an equivalent hydraulic system. Secondly hydraulic systems still cost more then their Electro-mechanical counterparts.
Electro-mechanical systems have had a strong effect on the automatic gate industry and have added pressure on manufacturers to reduce the price of their equipment ranges….
Consider using a hydraulic system if you need to do one of the following things:
- Control a large gate leaf (a single side of a swing gate which is 3m long or more).
- Control a gate which is filled in and affected by the wind.
- If the gate will be installed in a block of flats or in an underground car park were noise levels need to be kept to a minimum.
In all other situations Hydraulic systems should be considered alongside Electro-mechanical solutions.
3 Phase, 230V & 24V powered gate systems
As mentioned above some gate systems use different amounts of power to drive their gears or turn their hydraulic pumps. The 3 main power supplies used to drive an automatic gate system are 3 Phase, 230V mains and 24V low voltage. Each type of power supply has its own benefits and disadvantages.
3 Phase systems are used for only the most massive gates. The installation of these motors can be complicated and should only be attempted by fully trained professional gate engineers. For this reason Gate Automation will not sell 3 Phase systems online, but qualified electrical engineers and gate installation companies can contact us to arrange for supply of these specialised systems.
230V mains supplied motors are still the most common type of gate system found in the UK. Motors powered by 230V can be supplied by a homes mains power making them relatively straight forward to install. 230V systems tend to be more straight forward in terms of setup and commissioning and are not effected by current sensing or low power issues which can affect 24V systems. 230V motors are best used on larger gates and hydraulic systems where extra power is desirable to control and move a large gate leaf. Swing gates of 3m or more are ideal candidates for 230V systems.
24V gate systems use a 230V mains supply from the home or business but reduce the voltage sent to the motors down to 24Vs. DIY gate installers should take note that a 24V system is not necessarily easier to fit then a 230V system as the 230V supply is still needed. That being said 24V systems are a modern invention and tend to come with better, more user friendly control systems. 24V motors are powerful enough to move even very large gates however most 24V systems have been designed to be used with small gates. The reason for this is compliancy with the EN12453 safety legislation.
If you are considering a 24V system you must first bare in mind that all 24V motors have been created to try an meet the EN12453 safety legislation. This means most 24V systems will come with a feature called current sensing. This allows the 24V system to measure how hard it is having to push or pull to open or close a gate. If it is working too hard the gate system will think it is pushing against a person, a vehicle or animal and will react by stopping and then reversing away. Gate Automation recommend caution when relying on this feature because:
- A recent statement by the HSE (Heath and Safety Executive) has said that current sensing systems do not automatically meet EN12453 requirements.
- Long gate leafs or wind affected gates can easily trick current sensing systems cause them to appear faulty.
- As gates age, the hinges, bearings or wheels begin to wear out. This adds extra resistance to the gate and can cause current sensing systems to fail 1 or 2 years after installation, requiring them to be re-commissioned.
Types of Automatic Gate
There are 2 types of automatic gate, they are Swing Gates and Sliding Gates. Swing gates are hinged and swing open to allow entrance, while sliding gates roll open. Sliding gates come in 2 verities and the type of automation used largely depends on the total weight of the gate. By contrast the selection of gate system for a swing gate is much larger because the length, height, weight and type of gate must be considered as well as the surrounding environment.
As well as Swing and Sliding gates there are also many types of commercial and industrial gate systems such as traffic barriers, rising bollards and road blockers. We will focusing on swing and sliding gates here but we recommend visiting our parent companies web page for more information on commercial and industrial automatic gate systems.
These are the most popular type of gate system and what springs to mind first when people talk about having gates. Almost any material can be used to make a swing gate system but the most common types are hard wood, wrought iron and more recently aluminium. There are 3 key things to know when picking a swing gate and the automation to accompany it.
- What is the weight of the gate? Heavier gates need stronger motors to control them. It is important to remember that a system which is rated at 300kg per gate leaf (a leaf is one side of swing gate) will probably only manage half that weight at its maximum leaf length, this brings us to point 2.
- What is the Leaf length? The further you move away from the hinge area of a swing gate the higher the leverage advantage a person will have. It is important to choose a gate system which is able to handle the length of gate to avoid damaging the operators used to more the gate. Nudges from cars, gate users pulling or pushing the gate and high winds can all cause damage to a gate which is to long for the operates to handle.
- As mentioned above high winds can damage the gate. This means gates which catch the wind are a greater risk of being damaged by extreme weather. Check if your gate design allows the wind to pass through easily of if it is likely to catch the wind.
One of the most secure gate systems available on the market is a Sliding Gate. These systems are available to both residential and commercial customers but are often overlooked, or considered too complicated. A sliding gate system comes in 2 main types:
- Cantilever Sliding gates support the whole gate weight at one end. When the gate is closed it appears to be floating above the floor of the driveway. This style of sliding gate will be slightly heavier, require a specially made gate and need more equipment to achieve, thus making the system more expensive overall. However because the wheels a kept in place this system is also slightly safer and longer lasting.
- Tracked sliding gates have wheels fitted to the bottom the gate and the gate rolls along a tracked. The track will normally be cemented into place; bolted tracks can be damaged by vehicles as they pass over. The wheels on a sliding gate do create a safety problem which will need to be addressed but over all this style of gate usually costs less than a cantilever system.
When considering the automation for a sliding gate there a 3 things you should take into account:
- What will the total weight of the gate be? It is best to choose if you would like a tracked or cantilever gate first, choose the material used and then find out the weight.
- What is the total length of the gate, is there enough room for the gate to slide out the way?
- Is there and incline, sliding gates will wear out much more quickly and could be dangerous if they are being used to run up hill or down hill. The gate installer should always fit a sliding gate on a flat level surface. If this is not possible or if you have inherited a sliding gate which operate on an incline contact us to discuss solutions.
An increasingly popular option to secure sites against vehicle access while still allowing pedestrian flow are rising bollards. Outwardly a rising bollard is a simple product but beneath the surface lie highly engineered automation systems designed to work in one of the most unforgiving environments, under the ground.
As a very large underground system rising bollards need to be highly engineered to cope with flash flooding or high water tables which can fill their underground mechanisms with water. Over time this causes corrosion and will destroy the motor. To prevent this from happening proper installation of a rising bollard system is paramount and for that reason we do not supply them as an online product.
We also urge residential customers to consider the use of a rising bollard system carefully. Bollards are designed to do a specific job and should be viewed as a specialised high security product, in other words their is no such thing as a cheap rising bollard system.
Traffic Barriers offer a simple traffic management solution with minimal safety concerns. These systems are available to both large and small companies. When choosing a traffic barrier system you must consider how often the traffic barrier must be used and what area it must cover. For traffic barriers working indoors in car parks the ceiling height must also be considered. Follow the checklist below and then contact us to find the best traffic barrier product and a local installation company:
- What is the volume of traffic the barrier must control?
- What is the width of the entrance?
- If the barrier is situated indoors what is the height of the ceiling?
A less common form of high security traffic control is the road blocker. These systems are found on high security sites and fill a similar roll to a rising bollard. Typically they are more sturdy than bollards but will cost a little bit more. These system require highly specialised skills to install and are will not be sold through our website. For more details please contact us.