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Getting the best from automatic gates

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Many clients who contact Crown Securities for security gate installation already have a good idea of the type of gate they want to install.

But they often have a rethink when our specialist staff take them through the options available — the different types of gate, the positioning, material and access controls.

The best solution to a security problem may include elements that clients may not even have considered such as safety, usage, aesthetics or convenience for users and operators.

So here is a brief rundown of the options you may wish to consider before deciding on the gate system that meets your specific needs.

Why install security gates at all?

Not so many years ago, security gate installation was the preserve of the wealthy. Controlled automatic gates were expensive to buy, costly to install and difficult to maintain.

That is not the situation these days. New technologies and materials along with advances in electronics make automatic gates a reasonably priced lifestyle product that will fit most pockets.

That said, automatic gate installation is not a trivial matter, and many questions need to be answered before making any significant investment.

Are security gates an effective deterrent?

A determined burglar will not be put off by an automatic gate but it is a fact that most break-ins and thefts are 'opportunistic'. The mere presence of a barrier can be enough to deter a potential intruder as it makes access and exit from a property all that more difficult.

Gates also send out a message that the householder takes security seriously and, if an automatic gate is installed, there will probably be burglar alarms, CCTV cameras and other security devices to tackle later on.

As well as providing a barrier to keep unwanted visitors out, gates can also help to prevent pets and young children from straying outside. This can be especially useful on properties situated near busy roads.

What are the advantages of automatic gates over manual?

Human nature is such that manual gates are left open far more often than they are closed. Constantly closing a gate behind you can be a huge inconvenience, especially if you have to get out of the car in bad weather to do it.

Automatic gates are usually operated remotely, so you remain inside your locked vehicle when entering or leaving, and the gate can close behind you after a pre-set time.

Unlike many manual gates, automatic barriers can automatically lock when they close.

How are automatic gates powered?

A standard domestic power supply is perfectly up to powering an automatic barrier. The power supply system will need to be installed by a competent electrician and to comply with all the regulations for this type of installation.

When choosing a company to install your gates it is a good idea to check that they use their own electricians and don't sub-contract the work. We at Crown Securities have in-house electricians that have been security-vetted and who are expert in the products that they install.

Emergency overrides will also be needed to allow the gates to operate manually in the event of a power failure or accidental damage to the system.

How safe are electric gates to use?

Safety should be a top priority in any automatic gate installation, and Crown Securities is a member of Gate Safe, an organisation that campaigns for improved gate safety.

Automatic gates should always have a reliable safety system that prevents them from opening or closing unless the entrance is clear of obstacles, including people. Modern automatic gate systems should never cause injury or damage provided they are regularly maintained and tested by competent professionals.

Many gate systems use sets of photocells mounted on the gate posts such that if this beam is broken the gate opens. Others use extra photocells to prevent the gates closing as someone walks through the arc of gate travel and an emergency stop button for added protection.

What is the best control system for automatic gates?

There are so many to choose from it's mainly a matter of personal taste. Electric gate control systems vary from manual keypads to voice-activated consoles.

Many choose a simple key fob system which opens and closed the gate at the press of a button while others prefer digital pads where you can tap in a personal code, another layer of security if the pad or fob gets misplaced or lost.

Wired audio and visual intercoms are also available and while more recent developments include GSM gate control systems linked to registered mobile phone numbers so users can simply 'phone' the gate to open it.

Each system has its advantages and drawbacks, and experts at Crown Securities can help you decide which is the best one for your needs.

Which is best, a swing or slide gate?

The choice of swing or sliding gate very much depends on the situation. For swing gates, you will need to consider the arc of swing while sliding gates will need room on both sides for the sliding gate to fit.

Other practical considerations are vehicle movement and waiting while the gate opens and how pedestrians can access the property as well as which safety features you wish to incorporate and where they can be placed.

Swing gate usually uses linear ram motor arms to open and close the gate. They are relatively inexpensive and reliable. Other use underground motors but they are more expensive to install as they must be able to withstand very wet conditions and have a good drainage system.

Many sliding gate motors have cogs coupled to a toothed track fixed to the bottom of the gate. They need guide tracks or cantilevers to keep them on track and the power needed depends on the gate weight and length of travel.

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