5 min read

Choosing the Best Automatic Gate Operator for Your Gated Community

October 30, 2020

One of the most enticing amenities available for townhome, condominium, and master planned communities is an automatic gate.  Gated communities provide an unrivaled degree of privacy and security.  Residents choose these communities because of their quiet streets, the luxury of never having to wonder who’s in the neighborhood, and the freedom to allow their children to play outside with limited supervision. 

For these discerning homeowners, there are few things as disruptive as an unreliable automatic gate operator.  An unreliable automatic gate opener causes unexpected delays entering or leaving the community.  Residents endure the inconvenience of contacting property manager, and the undesired wait for the deployment of qualified service technicians. And service to a faulty gate operator can be an even greater inconvenience, as residents wait days, or even weeks with gates propped open during service or repairs.

If you manage properties for a homeowner’s association, you know the pain of receiving call after call from residents when the gate won’t open. A reliable gate operator is a critical amenity for your community. That’s why it’s so important to choose a reliable automatic gate operator, installed and serviced by a partner you can count on.

The Appeal of Gated Communities

The most recent available numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that approximately 10.7 American homes are gated.  More than half of those have utilize integrated access control or telephone entry systems. These installations utilize a variety of access mechanisms, including physical security guards, automobile barcodes, telephone entry keypads, key cards, key fobs, and a variety of additional options.

From a practical standpoint, homeowners choose gated communities for their ability to manage vehicular access, and to related a sense of security this provides.

Choosing Your Gate Opener

For the vast majority of communities, gates and automatic gate operators go hand-in-hand.  Having one without the other simply isn’t reasonable.

A reliable automatic gate opener provides complete practical control over who can, and who can’t access your community.  When choosing the best automatic gate operator for your community gate, it’s important to consider the how your gate opens, your community safety needs, and the power sources available to power your automatic gate opener.

Opening Style

The type of electric gate opener you’ll need will depend first on how your gate actually opens.

In most cases, there are two style options - swing or slide. A swing gate moves in an arc similar to the doors inside a house, while a sliding gate moves horizontally across the opening.

Swing gates are fabricated as both a single hinged gate, and in a split, two hinged form. Swinging gates utilize automatic gate openers that feature mechanical swing arm, or ram arms, with hydraulic or jackscrew-operated pistons.

Sliding gates are an option for communities as well.  In some cases, they can be a more economical option, with a lower cost for fabrication, and lower priced options for automatic gate openers.  Swing Gates typically utilize a chain that runs along the bottom of the gate, which attaches to an operator.

Beyond the style of gate, you also need to consider the weight of the gates, the size of the columns they hang from, and the ease with which they swing. These all affect the power needed in the operator.

Power Source

Today’s gate operators are more versatile than ever, and can be power through a standard electrical connect, or can be paired with solar panels and batteries for power independent of a wired electrical connection.  In certain critical applications, available power sources can be utilized for power redundancy.

I wired electrical connection is the most reliable and affordable option for your automatic gate operator.  To utilize hard wired gate openers, you’ll need to ensure you have an electrical power source available at the location of your gate.

A solar powered connection is ideal for gates in remote locations with limited options for electrical power.  Modern solar panels are more efficient than ever before, and when paired with an array of rechargeable batteries, can be installed to supply reliable power in even the most challenging outdoor environments.

As you consider options for powering your automatic gate operator, it’s important to work with a professional installer to review your potential need for power redundancy, and the frequency with which your community gates are utilized.

Control Types

With evaluating your options for automatic gate openers, it’s important to consider all of the options available for the control of the unit.  There are numerous options available to incorporate access control systems with your community gate.

There are numerous options for operating a community gate from the comfort of a community resident’s automobile.  Communities often time choose options that include IR remote controls, bar code readers, and EZ Tag readers.  These options are easy to distribute and manage, and often times pair with access control software that records resident identity, dates, and times electronically.  As an alternative, systems that utilize access control card readers are perfect for communities managing both vehicular and pedestrian access.

Telephone entry systems, callboxes, and intercom systems, and are great options for facilities that wish to automate the process of managing community visitors.  With these systems, community guests or delivery vehicles can utilize visitor codes or request access from specific residents.

While most automated gate operators are configured for automatic opening and closing when exiting a community, some gate openers and access control systems allow for credentialed exit options. 

Safety Concerns

The gate you choose should include several safety features. Automatic gates are heavy and could cause serious damage if they hit a pedestrian, pet, or another obstacle.

Stop and reverse features use infrared photo beams, which tell the gate when there is an obstacle in its path. The gate should stop closing as soon as the block is detected and open back up.

Ready to Make Your Gate Opener Choice?

The right type of automatic gate opener for your gated community depends on the style of gate, how often it opens, and your power options. The gate will have to serve your residents for many years, so you want to ensure your recommendation to the HOA weighs these factors appropriately.

If you need additional help choosing between different opener systems, our experts at DSC can provide you with information and advice to guide you to the most efficient and secure option. DSC installs and services automatic gate operators from the industry’s most reliable manufacturers, including Door King, Liftmaster, Viking, All-O-Matic, and HySecurityContact us today to explore what works best for your gated community.

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Written by DSC