Installing an automated security gate can greatly enhance the security of your commercial facility. It can also elevate the look of your business’ outside lot, as well as streamline traffic that runs in and out of the gate. There are several types of commercial gates on the market, as well as options on how the gate systems are automated. If you are considering replacing, installing or updating to a custom automated gate, there are some things to think about before deciding on a system. Some points may seem obvious, others less so.


How heavy will the gate be?


The heavier your gate, the more powerful and sturdy your opening mechanism needs to be. The gate’s weight, in turn, will depend on how wide and tall it is, and on the kind of materials it’s made of – steel is heavier than wood or aluminum, for example. It will also depend on how the gate is automatically opened and closed: is it a rolling gate? A cantilever gate? A gate that opens vertically? These all impact the power requirements and type of automated gate opener that will be available to you.


How wide is the gate going to be?


Automatic gates come in many varieties, including gates that slide open; those that swing open; those that lift up vertically; hinged bi-folding gates; barrier arms, and other styles. The width of the entry way that the gate needs to span is important to  consider when choosing what type of gate to install. A barrier arm, for example, might not work well for an extremely wide space, whereas a cantilevered sliding gate might require more width for a counterbalancing section than you have available. Finding an automated gate that fits within your needs will likely require a professional opinion.


How frequently will the gate opener be used?


Approximately how often the gate will need to be opened and closed in a day is important to know before you choose a system. Some models may be meant mainly for home use and won’t stand up to the continual use they get in a business setting. Usage frequency also has to do with wear and tear on the gate opener, which will help you decide on what kind of power you need in the door opener’s motor.


Will the automated gate be handling excessive traffic?


This is a function of how much traffic the gate will be handling and in what context. If only one or two cars are likely to be waiting for entry at any given time, a slower speed may be OK. If usage is heavier, a faster speed may be needed to avoid backups. If your gate is to allow access and egress to and from a loading dock, you want an automated gate system that’s high-cycle and high-speed so you don’t slow your tractor trailer drivers down.


What’s around the gate area?


You need to consider the surroundings of your automatic gate, both in terms of human activity and available space around it. If you’re in a densely-packed part of a city, it may limit your design options. And if you’re in a neighborhood with children, tougher safety features may be required, as well as extra gate and door hardware like surveillance systems. When installing a new automated gate, there are plenty of security options available such as video surveillance, access control or an intercom.


Where is the gate placed and who is using it?


While more about aesthetics than anything else, the way your business looks to outsiders is important. While a standard design industrial rolling gate is perfectly fine for out-of-view lots with no street frontage, you likely want to put more thought into the design of the gate if it’s visible to the public.


Is the gate on flat ground?


Typically, gate operators are meant to open and close gates on a level surface. If the location of the gate means that when it’s opening or closing it’s being pulled up a slope, then you may need a more robust operator. This can change the automated motor type, sensor, or what materials you can use. The gate now must be significantly lighter for power usage. This is also important for the wear and tear on the gate itself as the opener moves it automatically. If the gate installation and service isn’t done to account for the slope, you’ll have dragging, unbalanced wear and tear, and increased repair, maintenance and replacement costs for the gate’s opener and moving parts.


Can I automate my existing gate?


Generally speaking, it is not the best of ideas to add a mechanical opener to a gate that was originally designed to be opened by hand. A mechanical gate is meant to operate as a complete system, with custom hardware to make sure that the gate opens smoothly and reliably when the operator is activated. It is possible to add on an automated system, but you’ll generally want to have a new installation. If you want to save costs, contact a local installer to see if it’s possible to upgrade your existing gate.


Does the gate need a backup system?


In the event of a power outage, malfunction, or other emergency, ensure people and vehicles can enter and exit the area safely and quickly is a top priority. Automated gates can have a backup battery system installed to ensure usage during a power outage, but an emergency access system should be considered as well. Your options will vary based on your installer, so when speaking to a professional be sure to ask about emergency backup options for your automated security gate.


There’s a lot to consider about installing an automated gate; you can’t just go to a business where they sell and install gates and pick one out “off the shelf”. If you need to update your existing gate and its automation hardware, or to replace a manual gate with an automatic one, contact your local commercial door and gate installers for expert advice that’ll help you navigate the process.