Electric Gate Kits

Electric gate kits include everything a gate installer needs to turn manual driveway gates into automatic electric gates.

Read on to find out what different electric gate kits include and what they do. We also explain why some kits are ideal and others should be avoided, and who you should trust to install them for you.

What are electric gate kits?

Your choice of electric gate kit varies depending on the type of gate or gates being automated. In kits for sliding gates, you will find a minimum of a sliding gate motor, a pair of safety photocells, a control panel and receiver, plus two remote control transmitters. Whereas the equivalent kit for swing gates includes the transmitters, control panel, receiver and safety photocells, there are a few different types of motor.

Kits for these gates can be provided with a single motor to automate a single swing gate. However, swing gates are usually installed in pairs which will need two swing gate motors.

Electric gate kits form the backbone of any electric gate system installation. But additional components can easily be added to provide extra safety or communication with the gate.  Photocells and safety edges are included where risk assessments show there are potential hazards to exclude. Intercoms, keypads and other access control equipment can be incorporated to provide whatever level of communication you want with visitors.

Electric gates

How do electric gates work?

Sliding Gates

Sliding gates can be installed as two bi-parting gates. They slide open from the middle and one gate ends up on either side of the driveway. But it’s much more common to see a single sliding gate even if it’s been constructed to look like two swing gates.  A sliding gate moves on wheels that roll along a track laid across the entrance to your driveway.

A toothed rack is installed along the length of the gate on the house side. This is positioned to mesh with a toothed gear protruding from the side of the gate motor. The motor is mounted firmly on the ground so that as the gear turns it pushes and pulls the gate open and closed.

Swing Gates

Swing gates are hung on hinges attached to gate pillars or posts at either side of the driveway entrance. The gates usually swing inwards to around 90 degrees although specialist kit can be provided to allow swing gates to open to a maximum of 180 degrees.

Swing gate motors can be installed either underground or above ground. In most cases the motor housing is mounted to the gate post while the end of the motor’s moving arm or lever is attached to the gate. As the motor moves the arm or lever, the fixed motor can’t move but the gate can pivot on its hinges. So, the gate is pushed open or pulled closed.

Driveway swing gates

What are the different types of electric gate opener kits?

Electric Swing Gate Kits

Above Ground Electric Swing Gate Kits

Articulated Arm Gate Openers

An electric gate kit assembled around articulated arm gate motors is often used on smaller and lighter domestic swing gates. The motor drives a rotating shaft that usually sticks out of the base of the motor housing. A two-part arm with an articulated joint in the middle is mounted on the output shaft at one end and is attached to the gate at the other end.

As the gate motor is firmly fixed to the gate post, pillar or adjacent wall, the moving arm pushes or pulls the gate open and closed.

With these electric gate kits, the movement of the articulated arm can create a safety issue. As the gate opens, the arm joint straightens. But as it closes, the two sections of the arm close up the space between them like scissors as they cut. Careful positioning of the motor can retain a space between the two arms when the gate is open (see image). But if the gap closes up completely, qualified gate installers will be aware of this issue and incorporate safety features into their gate design to prevent access to this risk area.

Articulated arm gate kit

Ram Gate Motor Kits

Ram motors are simple and powerful. They use hydraulics to push and pull a steel rod from one end of the motor body. The motor is fixed to the gate post and the ram arm is attached to the gate. The extending arm pushes the gate open and pulls it shut as it retracts back into the motor body.

Although ram motors can be powerful, they also use the principle of leverage well. Their long bodies and extending arms allow the mounting point on the gate to be as far as possible from the hinge.

Anyone who has tried to open a door from near the hinge end knows how much harder this is than opening the door just a few cm away at the handle side. Leverage makes opening a bigger and heavier driveway gate much easier if the motor works on the gate as far from the hinge as possible.

Linear Screw Gate Automation Kits

A long, slim linear screw electric gate opener looks a lot like a ram motor. However, the linear screw motor’s ‘arm’ is hidden inside the motor housing. The arm is actually a long, threaded motor output shaft. The gate mounting has a matching thread on the inside and is screwed onto the motor output shaft.

As usual, the motor housing is fixed to an immovable wall or post at the side of each swing gate. The other end is fixed to the gate. When the gate motor output shaft rotates it screws the gate mounting point up or down the shaft. As the gate mounting point moves away from or towards the gate motor it pushes the gate open or pulls it closed.

Electric gate motors

Underground Electric Gate Kits

Above ground gate motors apply force to the gate some distance from the hinge point to benefit from the principle of leverage. This includes all electric gate kits that use ram motors, linear screw operators or articulated arm gate openers.

In the UK, underground electric gate kits are hugely popular. This is because we don’t we don’t like to see the operators that move our automatic driveway gates. Unfortunately, these discrete gate motors are installed directly below the gate pivot point. This means that they must apply more force than above ground operators.

Underground electric gate kits include a foundation box for each underground motor. The foundation boxes are installed in pits dug below the gate hinge and provide fixed anchoring points for the gate motors. A single arm is mounted onto the gate motor output shaft and attached to the base of the gate. As the motor turns, so does the gate. Simple.

But electric motors don’t like water. So, all underground electric gate kits must be installed with sufficient drainage to prevent the openers from being submerged in water.

Ornate iron gates with underground motors

Sliding Electric Gate Kits

Looking remarkably like a box with a cog on one side, sliding gate motors only come in one flavour. The underside of the motor is fixed to a flat, level base at one side of the driveway opening. The gate is hung so that the toothed rack mounted along its inside face meshes with the motor cog. With the gate’s wheels placed onto the track, operating the gate motor drives the gate open or closed.

Sliding wooden electric gate

Other Electric Gate Kit Options

There are a few more electric gate kits including wheeled gate kits, cantilever gate kits and bi-folding gate kits.  Each has a specific use when standard electric gate kits are not appropriate. For example, cantilever gates are sliding gates that don’t need a track. Wheeled gate motors can operate large electric gates across uneven ground. And when space is tight, bi-fold gate motors are used to open and close swing gates that fold in the middle.

Telescopic sliding gates

Solar Powered Electric Gate Kits

Electric gate kits obviously run on electricity, but your electric gate kit can include a back-up battery. This will store sufficient electrical charge to operate your gates a few times. They’re not designed to run your gates permanently, so they’re not a substitute for mains power. However, they will get you out of trouble if there’s a power cut.

Back-up batteries can be charged by the electrical supply that runs your gates. You can also incorporate solar charging into your gate kit.

The amount of sunlight we get in the UK isn’t enough to power electric gates permanently. You’d need huge solar panels and large storage batteries if you wanted to rely solely on solar power for your electric gates. But a discrete panel will harvest enough sunlight to keep a smaller back-up battery charged and ready for emergencies.

How Do I Find The Best Electric Gate Kit Installers Near Me?

You want to know that anyone you ask to quote for installing new electric gates or repairing or servicing existing systems is qualified, experienced and trusted.  So, the internet is the obvious place to start your search. But if your gates stop working you could be stuck inside or outside if they won’t open. That’s when you also need to know that they’re close enough to get to you quickly in an emergency.

Finding the gate installation companies nearby isn’t difficult. Once you’ve checked out their reviews, talk to neighbours, friends and colleagues who have their own gates who they recommend. You can contact a few installers to get quotes for what you want but the cheapest is often not the best choice. It’s easy to exclude safety equipment to bring a quote down but at what ultimate cost?

Electric Gate Safety

As we’ve explained, electric gate kits use motors to open and close your large and often heavy driveway gates. A lot of force is required to do this and, where large forces are employed to move heavy things, there are safety issues to consider.

DIY electric gate kits do exist and experienced electricians, landscape gardeners and builders sometimes install electric gates. But it’s a specialist job and the range of skills and experience required for a high quality, safe electric gate installation is beyond many trades.

We are often asked, ‘What are the best DIY electric gate kits?’ The best kits are the ones most suitable for your needs which have been installed by experienced gate engineers. In the event of any safety issue, the installer is responsible in the eyes of the law. So, we always recommend that a new electric gate system is design, supplied and fitted by experienced installers. It’s also wise to have existing electric gates maintained and repaired by the same professionals.

Get a few quotes from local installers. Then ask them if you can talk to any of their previous customers nearby to see what their work is like. You’ll soon learn who you can trust and who to avoid.

Electric gate repair costs

How Much Do Electric Gate Kits Cost?

The best electric gate kits are never the cheapest electric gate kits. Gate motors have a hard life and buying the best components with longer manufacturer’s warranties adds to the bottom line.

A good installer will also spend time working with you to establish what you want and what is possible. Then they’ll design the right system for your wants and needs that is also as safe as it can be. Next, they will choose the appropriate electric gate kit and additional components. Finally, they’ll install them all so that your electric gates don’t break down the minute everything is out of warranty.

Electric gates are not cheap and opting for the cheapest option can be false economy and possible even dangerous.

If you’re interested in having electric gates installed or you just want some advice, Electric Gate Repair London can help. Call us now on 0800 195 1470 or email info@egrl.co.uk with your questions.