D o you find it a bother to get down of the car and open the gate every time you are heading to work? Well, everybody does, especially if the weather conditions aren’t the nicest. Two minutes in the pouring rain is enough to ruin your outfit and your day. So, as you have guessed, the solution is an automatic gate opener that can be operated without even opening the car window and leaving all the heat in.
The luxury it brings!
But, aren’t these units expensive? The answer is that they do require a consistent initial investment, but most models are energy-effective, and some can even use solar energy, reducing power expenses to zero. Plus, you can save some money if you take it on yourself to install your device. It isn’t that difficult, and with this straightforward guide we have prepared, you shouldn’t encounter too many difficulties while setting it in place. It is a challenge, but a nice one, so let’s see how you can do it the simple way.
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What Type of Automatic Gate Opener Should You Pick?
This is probably the most important step of the process. If you don’t select the right unit, everything will seem annoying, and you may need to hit the store again to replace it if this is even possible. So, the secret behind making a good choice is to know your gate. And what you expect from it. Here’s a brief classification:
- Swing Gates – They are encountered in most residential properties, so there are many chances that you have one of these. Single or double, this model needs space to open either inside or outside the yard. They are compatible with three types of openers, namely linear, articulated arm, and underground. Each model has its benefits and drawbacks, which need to be put into balance before going for a particular one:
- Linear Units – Are the cheapest of all, and many customers choose them because they are quick to install and have a long lifespan. They can support massive gates made of wood and metal. Nevertheless, the pillar on which the gate is installed shouldn’t be too thick, otherwise, the arm will not reach the gate.
- Articulated Arm Units – Pick them if your gate is attached to a large pillar. They have a special arm, which is longer and can go around the pillar to operate the gate without problems. However, these units are rather bulky, so you can bet they will draw the attention of your guests.
- Underground Units – Elegance is defined by discretion, so if the aspect of your gate is a factor that concerns you, you should pick an underground model. Thus, all the attention will be directed toward your spectacular gates and not toward a plastic element that rarely can match their design.
- Slide Gates – Perfect for small yards or spaces with a slope that doesn’t allow the installing of a swing model, these units have gained more popularity in the past years. If you have one of these units installed or are planning to replace your swing unit with one of these, you should know that they usually require more maintenance, especially if you choose a tracked model. Moreover, the installation tends to be a bit more complicated. But they come with a great advantage, namely, they provide excellent security and are usually extremely solid, being perfect for highly trafficked entrances.
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Installing a Swing Gate Opener
While linear and articulated arm models have almost the same installation pattern, more attention needs to be directed towards the underground type, which requires more preparation. But, for the beginning, let’s see how to set up an above-ground unit:
- Step 1 – Check your gate – Make sure it is in good condition and balanced. If it is difficult for you to operate it, this pressure will reflect on the opener and reduce both its speed and lifespan. Oil the gates, if necessary, and make reparation works to bring them to function properly.
- Step 2 – Read the instructions – Each model has its own particularities, so checking the instructions is mandatory. They will indicate the tools you need to gather around you, and you can use them to check if all the parts have been included in the kit.
- Step 3 – Decide where to place the opener Identify the centerline of the gate and place the opener near it. This will offer the gate stability and reduce flexing or twisting.
- Step 4 – Attach the post bracket – Follow the instructions to assemble it and connect it to the rear mount of the opener. The front bracket needs to be linked to the front mount of the opener while the gate is opened. Adjust the two brackets until you can bring the opener to a leveled position. When you have acquired this balance, ensure it by using C-clamps. This is a temporary adjustment.
- Step 5 – Connect the arm It goes between the gate’s post bracket system and the gate bracket. For the unit to function optimally, you need to make sure that the arm is leveled and well balanced.
- Step 6 – Mount the stop plate – This will add stability to your gate when it closes. Before performing this action, detach the arm from the gate and bring it in close position. Bring the closed position plate to the margin of the frame and move it towards the gate post until you have contact. This is the right position, so fasten the plate’s hardware. Here you have it. Reattach the arm.
- Step 7 – Do the wiring – It can be a bit complicated, but you can pull it through. First, connect the battery wires to their matching terminals. You will have a black and a white wire, and the terminals are color-coded, so you will link them easily. Then, insert the power cable wires through the strain relief slots and connect them. These wires will lead either to a generator or a solar energy source, which will keep the battery charged. Lastly, attach the battery by connecting the red wire to positive and the black one to negative.
- Step 8 – Program your unit – These final touches will help you personalize settings like closing time or resistance when the gate encounters an obstacle. Moreover, you will find warning signs in the packages, so make sure to place them as well.
Optional Step: If your kit came with a control box, make sure to mount it at about three feet above the ground. This will keep it from getting splashed or damaged by water that may collect under the gate. At the same time, do not install it near a power source that is closer than 3 feet, as it can interfere with the opener’s activity.
If you are installing an underground model, you should make sure you can dig a small opening next to the gate’s pillar. If you have a double gate, you will need to dig two of them. In these openings, you will mount a foundation box, which is usually built of steel and resistant to underground conditions. This box will accommodate the motor, which connects directly to the pivot point of each gate through an arm. Except for the part when you need to install the underground box, the installation steps are similar to any swing opener. Nevertheless, check out the instructions first, as each unit has a unique configuration.
Installing a Slide Gate Opener
- Step 1 – Take a look at your gate – Slide it open and closed and make sure it glides easily. Once again, the opener will perform this task from now on, so you wouldn’t want to put too much pressure on it.
- Step 2 – Bolt the motor to the ground – It must be placed on a flattened concrete surface. Some models come with a base plate that can be fixed in concrete, but this is an option only if you are just installing the gate as well.
- Step 3 – Attach the gear rack to the gate – Make sure it is mounted high enough to sit on the motor’s gear then fix it at both ends. Do some tests and make sure the rack can smoothly roll over the motor. If it encounters difficulties, correct the height until the mechanism works properly. If everything is in order, use screws to lock things in place.
- Step 4 – Adjust the rack – In some cases, it may be too long for your gate, so cut the extra length for it to fit perfectly.
- Step 5 – Do the wiring – This is a more complicated step, and we suggest to leave it on the hand of a professional. Nevertheless, if you think you have the skills to do it, the setup manual should include an electrical diagram that will help you match the wires in their sockets. Plus, they are usually color-coded, which makes things easier.
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Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Automatic Gate Running Smoothly
- Keep it clean – The entrance to your residence says something about your cleaning habits, so a clean gate will let people know that you are an organized person, who takes hygiene seriously. But this isn’t the only reason for which you should maintain your gate spotless. By washing it regularly, you can remove dirt and corrosive substances that can reduce its lifespan. You can even wax it for better protection. Not to mention that this would make it look gorgeous.
- Take good care of the electric system – It is the mechanism that turns it from a regular gate into a spectacular one, so you wouldn’t want it to break down and leave you to open and close the gate manually again. Bugs can damage the electrical circuits, while slugs will leave behind a wet and sticky trail that can cause small short circuits. So, try to find a solution to keep pests away. Moreover, although openers are built to stand outdoor conditions, you wouldn’t want them soaking in a puddle, so check if they are high enough above the ground.
- Lubricate your gates – This may not be mandatory if you have purchased a high-end system, which usually has all the components sealed. However, if the pieces in your system aren’t sealed, you will need to grease them periodically. These elements can be the wheels, hinges, or internal chains.
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The Bottom Line
Now that you know the steps, it shouldn’t be hard to set things in place. The secret is to go through the process once or twice and carefully read the instructions before starting the job. It is good to see the big picture before getting down to specialized tasks. And, even if it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, wiring the system is a matter that concerns your safety, so it might be better to leave it to the hand of a professional.
Last but not least, make sure you pick the right opener and that, once it is installed, you will take good care of your ensemble. The gates will last longer if you pay them the attention they need. Think of your automatic gate system as of a car. You want it clean, oiled and shining
Keep your garage secured with a top-notch garage door opener. This device will make your days easier by allowing you to control the door from the distance while, at the same time, will keep it locked while you are away so no intruders can find their way in.