- Comparing the Best Automatic Gate Openers of 2020
- What are Automatic Gate Openers?
- Types of Gate Openers on the Market
- Automatic Gate Opener Reviews (Updated List)
- 1. Best Overall: Mighty Mule MM562
- 2. Best Dual Gate Opener: Liftmaster LA400PKGU
- 3. Best Single Leaf Opener: US Automatic Sentry 300
- 4. Best Solar Gate Opener: Ghost Controls TSS1XP
- 5. Best Gate Opener for Sliding Gates: ALEKO AC1400
- 6. Best Medium-Duty Option: Mighty Mule MM360
- 7. Best Heavy Duty Automatic Gate Opener: Mighty Mule MM-SL2000B
- 8. Best Heavy Duty Runner-Up: E8 400MM Stainless Steel
- 9. Viking K2 Sliding Gate Opener
- 10. LiftMaster SL585-5011G3 Heavy-Duty Gear-driven Slide Gate Operator
- 11. CO-Z Automatic Sliding Gate Opener Hardware Sliding Driveway Security Kit
- 12. E8 500MM Stainless Steel Automatic Gate Opener for Gates with Wired Keypad, Safety IR Beams, and Exit Push Button for Dual Swing Gate
- Why You Should Trust Us
- A Complete Buying Guide for Automatic Gate Openers
- Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Purchasing an Automatic Gate Opener
- What is My Available budget?
- What Type of Gate Opener Features Do I Need?
- How Long and Heavy is My Gate and What Type of Automated Gate Opener Would Actually Suit Me?
- How Do I Plan to Power It and My Frequency of Use?
- Are There Any Trusted Brand Preferences?
- What are the Maintenance Requirements?
- What are Some of the Laws Regarding Automatic Gate Openers?
- Is My Gate Opener ADA Compliant?
- Will I Be Able to Install it Myself Using the DIY Kit?
- Warranty, Repairs and Customer Support
- What are the Key Features to Consider When Buying an Automatic Gate Opener
- What are Some of the Risks Associated with Automatic Gate Openers?
- What Are the Benefits of Installing an Automatic Gate Opener?
- What are Some of the Best Brands of Auto Gate Openers that I Can Trust?
- How Automatic Gate Openers Actually Work?
- Methods to Open Driveway Gates
- How to Clean and Maintain Your Automatic Gate Openers
- FAQs about Automatic Gate Openers
- Can I install the automatic gate opener myself?
- How to power up the gate? What are my options?
- How are the methods to open and close the gate?
- What are the ways to troubleshoot the gate opener if it stops working? Is there any manual override?
- How long is the average life of a good automatic gate opener before it needs to be replaced?
- What are add-ons to include with the installation?
- Does the gate opener need any support from the top? My garage ceiling is quite high.
- Is there any possibility of injury or damage to my car if there’s an obstacle in the way of closing my garage door?
- Is it possible to hack the automated gate system? How good is the security?
- What if I lost my remote control? Is it possible to stop unauthorized access in that scenario?
- Are there any issues of radio interference that can hinder normal operation of the gate opener?
- Wrap Up
While many people view automatic gate openers as a thing of luxury, they serve a much more practical purpose that can benefit anyone. Not only are they convenient, but they can also do a lot to keep you, your family, and your property safe. According to recent FBI statistics, over 7.5 million property crimes were reported in 2017. Because of those staggering numbers, the need for property security systems has been in high demand.
It’s estimated that the market for electric gate openers is going to reach 18 billion dollars by 2023. It’s not hard to see why. Ask any member of law enforcement and they’ll tell you that gates are one of the most effective deterrents against theft. They pose an obstacle to would-be thieves. Attempting to scale a gate increases their risk of getting caught. On top of that, a property gate shows that you care about security. It indicates that your property may have other deterrents that are ready to catch them in the act. So, most burglars will simply move onto a home that seems like an easier target.
An automatic gate opener takes things a bit further and adds a high-tech twist to standard security measures. These gates don’t require physical intervention at all. A series of motors, sensors, and electronic locks do all the hard work for you. Instead of having to manually open your gate each time you want to enter or exit your property, you can stay inside the comfort and security of your vehicle.
In this guide, we’re going to help you find the best automatic gate opener for your home or office building. Thanks to the growing popularity of these products, the market is flooded with options. Before you rush out and purchase the first opener you see, there are some things that you need to know. These are heavy-duty machines that have a lot to offer property owners like you. However, they can only do their job if they’re properly installed and compatible with your gate. We have created this guide to help you find an automatic opener that works for your unique needs.
Comparing the Best Automatic Gate Openers of 2020
Our goal is to give you a closer look at the best of the best that the automatic gate opener industry has to offer. To do that, we have created a comparison chart. The chart includes all of our recommended picks alongside some key features and basic information. You can use the chart to take a quick look at how these openers stack up. For more in-depth information, check out our review section below.
|Rank||Product||Suited for Length up to||Supported Weight|
|1.||Mighty Mule MM562||18 ft.||850 pounds|
|2.||Liftmaster LA400PKGU||16 ft.||850 pounds|
|3.||US Automatic Sentry 300||14 ft.||1000 pounds|
|4.||Ghost Controls TSS1XP||20 ft.||300 pounds|
|5.||ALEKO AC1400||40 ft.||1400 pounds|
|6.||Mighty Mule MM360||16 ft.||550 pounds|
|7.||Mighty Mule MM-SL2000B||30 ft.||1000 pounds|
|8.||E8 400MM Stainless Steel||26 ft.||1200 pounds|
|9.||Viking K2 Sliding Gate Opener||30 ft.||700 pounds|
|10.||LiftMaster SL585-5011G3||75 ft.||1900 pounds|
|11.||CO-Z Sliding Gate Opener||40 ft.||1400 pounds|
|12.||E8 500MM Stainless Steel||30 ft.||1250 pounds|
What are Automatic Gate Openers?
Whether you have an intricate wrought-iron gate that provides a grand entrance to your home or a sturdy cedar fence that separates your farm from the outside world, an automatic gate opener can serve you well. As the name would imply, these machines are all about giving you the convenience of automatic operation.
The first electric gate opener was invented back in 1881. In those days, the technology was used for railway systems. Eventually, they were adopted by horse tracks before coming to residential neighborhoods. Today, you can find automatic openers on homes, commercial properties, farms, and so much more.
Having a large fence is great when it comes to protection and privacy. Unfortunately, they also come with the added hassle of having to open up the equipment each time you want to leave. No matter how much you enjoy the benefits a gate offers, you’re probably less excited about having to get in and out of your car each time you want to leave the property. When you throw inclement weather into the mix, your gate starts to look more like a hassle than a convenience.
An electric gate opener takes away some of that frustration. These machines work with an electric motor that’s physically attached to the gate. When you’re ready to open or close the gate, all you need to do is provide the motor with an electric pulse signal. This can be done with a remote or some fancy access system. We’ll get into that a bit later on in the guide.
It doesn’t matter if you go with a simple gate opener or one that’s filled to the brim with high-tech features, you’ll be happy you made the investment.
If you think that getting an automatic gate opener is a lengthy process that will set you back a pretty penny, you may be surprised at some of the options you find. There are several gate opener kits available. They have all the tools and equipment you need to set the system up yourself. Best of all, many of those kits are compatible with solar devices. So, you can take advantage of all the benefits they offer no matter how “off the grid” your property is.
Types of Gate Openers on the Market
As you may know, not all gates are made the same. Some slide to open while others operate on a swinging hinge. To accommodate the needs of everyone, manufacturers offer a few different types of gate openers.
One of the most popular types of openers available is linear ram. A linear ram opener is made for swinging gates. As the name would suggest, a linear ram motor is used. Also referred to as a linear actuator, these motors push and pull the arm in a linear motion. How the motor does this will depend entirely on the brand and product you choose. Some options utilize advanced hydraulics to get the job done. These are typically reserved for heavier swinging gates. Then, some openers operate with a worm drive.
Whatever the case may be, these openers operate on the same basic principles. One side of the ram is installed on a hinge, much like the gate itself. The other side is mounted onto the swinging gate. When the arm retracts, the motion causes the gate to swing outward. When it is extended, the gate remains closed.
An underground gate opener is ideal if you’re concerned about the aesthetics of your property’s entrance. While a linear ram uses an external motor that you can visibly see, all of the equipment used in an underground opener is hidden. It’s discreet but provides much of the same benefits.
Typically, the motor is buried inside a durable case to protect it from the elements. The articulating arm that’s responsible for creating the opening and closing movements is installed to the bottom of the gate. In most cases, the opener is located at the pivot point of a swinging gate so that it’s as hidden as possible.
Before you pull the trigger and go with an underground opener, there are some downsides. The first is the price. Installing an underground opener tends to cost a bit more due to the complex nature of the equipment. On top of that, these openers aren’t suitable for heavy gates. Because the articulating arm is installed at the pivot point, it has to work harder than other types of openers to get the job done.
If you’re looking for something that could work on a heavy gate with large pillars, an articulated arm opener may be for you. It operates similarly to that of a linear ram. However, the key difference is the arm itself. Rather than moving in a single linear motion, these openers have a hinge joint. Essentially, two arms are connected with an articulating pivot point. Think of how your arm moves with the assistance of your elbow. This type of opener operates on the same principles.
The great thing about an articulated arm gate opener is that they are incredibly versatile. Much like your own arm, an articulated arm has a wider range of motion to open large gates without taking up too much room.
Finally, we come to sliding gate openers. Obviously, these devices are specifically made with sliding gates in mind. The unique thing about these machines is that they are relatively simple in terms of design. They operate with standard cogs. The opener itself is installed directly next to the gate. When it’s powered on, the motor will spin the cog. In turn, the teeth of the cog will align with the gate’s guide track to move it in the direction you want it to go.A big part of installing a sliding gate opener is choosing one that has enough power for your gate. Sliding gates tend to be on the heavier side. This ultimately applies more stress and pressure onto the mechanics of the opener. If you don’t have an opener that’s powerful enough, the gate may move slower than you expected.
Automatic Gate Opener Reviews (Updated List)
Welcome to our gate opener reviews section. Here we have rounded up a selection of some of the best rated automatic gate openers that money can buy. Below, you’ll find detailed reviews about what each product offers. We strive to update our recommended picks regularly to provide you with the freshest product selection available. We’ve done the research and gathered the most relevant information to help you make a purchasing decision that you won’t regret.
1. Best Overall: Mighty Mule MM562
- Compatible with dual swing gate setups
- Can support leafs up to 18 feet long and 850 pounds
- Includes remote control transmitter
- Comes with AC transformer and 12-volt battery
- Linear ram protected by ABS plastic
- Aluminum mounting brackets
- 18-month warranty
This Mighty Mule kit is the best on the market thanks to its reliable performance and versatility. While other options have a difficult time moving gates that are only a few hundred pounds in weight, this equipment can handle up to 850 pounds per gate leaf. Not only that, but each leaf can be as long as 18 feet wide. It’s meant to be used on grand estate-like fences and can support virtually any material.
The thing that we like most about this opener is that you can install it yourself. It’s a DIY kit that includes everything you need to get started. There’s even a DVD to guide you through the process.
Mighty Mule offers a slew of accessories. Whether you choose to use the included remote control or want to connect the system to a keypad, this kit works with it all. The control box already has connectors for any equipment you want to add in the future. The opener has all the features you need to customize your gate setup how you want. For this reason, it has earned our number-one spot.
- Includes detailed manual and installation DVD
- Battery can perform 185 cycles
- Compatible with solar panel
- Can be used with Mighty Mule accessories
- Meets UL325 standards
- Dual Sense safety system
- Slower operation
2. Best Dual Gate Opener: Liftmaster LA400PKGU
- Dual swing gate opener
- Supports solar power
- Includes battery backup
- LED diagnostic display
- Compatible with HomeLink systems
- Includes backup battery
- Lifetime warranty on motor, one year on parts and accessories
- DIY Kit
As one of the most prestigious brands in the industry, LiftMaster has a lot to offer. This dual swing gate opener performs pretty well across the board. However, it narrowly missed our top spot due to a few notable issues. The first is the opener’s compatibility. It can support up to 850 pounds. However, that’s only for short gates that measure 10 feet wide. If you go up to a 16-foot leaf, the opener will only carry 550 pounds. This is significantly less than our top recommendation.
The second issue is its lack of an entry device. It can support up to 50 remote controllers but there are none included. At this price point, we would have hoped that the kit included at least one.
Despite the issues, this is still one of our favorite openers. It’s compatible with solar power and many of LiftMaster’s accessories. Like the Mighty Mule option above, this is a DIY kit that you can have up and running in no time. Plus, it has great additional features like an LED diagnostic display, Bi-part delay system, and HomeLink compatibility.
- Battery provides enough power for 96 cycles
- Can support up to 850 pounds depending on gate length
- Automatically monitors and adjusts opening speed
- Quick close feature
- Can be connected to DC power source
- Easy to diagnose issues
- Does not come with remotes
- No UL325 certification
3. Best Single Leaf Opener: US Automatic Sentry 300
- Single-leaf linear ram opener
- Includes two remote controls
- Comes with 12-volt battery
- Battery can be charged with solar connection or AC power
- Versatile setup
- Works with gates up to 20 feet long
- Three-year limited warranty
If you’re on the hunt for a beefy opener that can handle large gates without any issues, this option from US Automatic might be for you. It can handle gates up to 20 feet long depending on the material and design. Like most openers, this device is compatible with solar panels if you don’t want to deal with a direct power connection. The good news is that the opener has an AC transformer built right in, so you can connect it to any standard 110-volt outlet.
Despite its commercial-grade status, this opener is very DIY-friendly. It has a “Plug-N-Go” wire harness to make quick work of the wiring job. Furthermore, the system is very versatile. You can set it up to open your gate by pushing or pulling, the choice is yours.
- Can be installed in an hour
- Includes in-depth instruction manual and DVD
- Adjustable safety system
- Compatible with US Automatic accessories
- Provides 400 pounds of thrust
- Only takes 16 seconds to open or close
- Can’t lock the opener to gate
- Jerky movements
4. Best Solar Gate Opener: Ghost Controls TSS1XP
- Single-leaf swinging opener
- Includes solar panel
- Can support lightweight gates up to 20-feet long
- SafeForce system
- Multiple operating modes
- Uses remote control
- Lifetime warranty on motor and gear assembly
This DIY kit from Ghost Controls performs well across the board. It’s a single-leaf opener that uses a linear ram to open up gates as long as 20 feet. The system performs best with lightweight tube gates. However, it can support up to 900 pounds if the gate is only 5 feet long. To keep everyone safe, the opener has a unique SafeForce system. Essentially, limited force is used to move the gate to minimize the chances or injury.
Ghost Controls includes a 10-watt solar panel with this kit so that you can use it in off-the-grid locations. Unfortunately, the biggest flaw of this model is that it doesn’t include the battery you need for operation. This will require a separate purchase. Plus, it’s pretty limited in terms of installation. If you have anything other than a pull-to-open gate, you’ll need additional hardware.
- UL325 certified
- Simple setup
- Minimal opening force for safety
- Quiet operation
- Minimal maintenance requirements
- Protected gear box
- Doesn’t include required 12-volt battery
- Requires additional brackets for certain setups
5. Best Gate Opener for Sliding Gates: ALEKO AC1400
- Made for sliding gates
- Supports up to 100 remote controls
- Reverse safety functionality
- Maximum weight of 1,400 pounds
- Can be used with gates as long as 40 feet
- Uses remote control
- One-year warranty
The Aleko AC1400NOR opener is a great choice if you have a large sliding gate. It’s driven with durable chains. The chains work to push and pull gates that weigh as much as 1,400. One thing that we like about this system is that it’s scalable.
With the included equipment, you can move a 40-foot long gate without any issues. However, Aleko does offer longer chains to accommodate massive gates. Plus, you can program as many remote controls as you want by purchasing additional receivers. As a result, this gate is perfect for commercial applications.
- Durable aluminum alloy chassis
- Small footprint
- Resistant to corrosion
- Stops when obstacles are detected
- Easy to set up
- Weak remote signal
- Sensors can malfunction if dirty
- Does not work with solar power
6. Best Medium-Duty Option: Mighty Mule MM360
- Single-leaf swinging gate opener
- Supports up to 550 pounds or 16-foot gates
- DIY-friendly kit
- Works with most gate materials
- Compatible with solar power
- Can be used with Mighty Mule accessories
- One-year warranty
While not as powerful as our top-rated opener from Mighty Mule, the MM360 is still an excellent product. It’s a medium-duty opener. So, it’s not going to be able to move heavier gates. If that’s not a deal-breaker for you, the easy installation process will get you set up in no time.
All of the necessary mounting equipment is included. The only thing you will have to purchase separately is the backup battery. Like other Mighty Mule products, this opener can be installed a few different ways. You can choose to use solar power or connect it to a direct AC line. Of course, all of the brand’s accessories are up for grabs as well. To keep you safe, the opener has dual-sense safety system. Rather than using physical sensors to look out for obstacles, the opener will stop operating the moment it detects any resistance from a car or person.
- Detailed installation guide and DVD
- With backup battery, opener can cycle up to 145 times
- Dual-sense safety technology
- Meets UL325 standards
- Includes all required mounting hardware
- Comes with remote control
- Doesn’t include battery
- Not as strong as other options
7. Best Heavy Duty Automatic Gate Opener: Mighty Mule MM-SL2000B
- Made for sliding gates
- Supports up to 1,000 pounds
- Can move gates as long as 30 feet
- Built-in accessory terminals
- Compatible with solar power
- Protected from elements
- Includes 12-volt battery
- Limited two-year warranty
It’s not hard to see why this sliding gate opener from Mighty Mule is so popular. The kit comes with all the equipment you need to install the opener yourself. That includes a 12-volt battery and a concrete pad mounting kit. The cool thing about this opener is that it’s relatively compact. You can easily hide it behind a large column or wall and let the durable chain do all the work.
If security is a top priority, you’ll be happy to know that this opener has an internal friction brake lock. The feature prevents people from manually sliding the gate open. When you factor in the adjustable obstruction sensor, the device is a very safe alternative to other products. However, problems do come up if you live in a colder environment. The opener has been known to experience performance issues once snow is added to the mix.
- Friction brake lock
- Adjustable safety sensor
- Fast operation
- Compact size
- Comes with concrete pad kit
- Performance issues in snowy environments
8. Best Heavy Duty Runner-Up: E8 400MM Stainless Steel
- Dual swing gate opener
- Uses screw-driven linear rams made out of stainless steel
- Supports up to 1,200 pounds
- Can move gate leaf as wide as 26 feet
- Compatible with AC, DC, and solar power
- Backup battery
- Includes 3 remote controls
- One-year warranty
This dual gate opener from E8 takes durability to another level. While most brands cover their components in thick plastic, E8 uses tough stainless steel. The linear ram arms are built to last, ensuring that you can get years of use without any issues. On top of that, the material makes the equipment very low-maintenance. Aside from the occasional cleaning and lubrication, there’s not much that you have to do.
The automatic gate opener performs well with most gates. It’s a dual-leaf system. Both sides can work with gates that are as long as 26 feet and weigh up to 1,200. That’s some pretty impressive capabilities, especially when you consider that most gates don’t weigh nearly as much as half a ton.
- Naturally resistant to corrosion
- High-quality construction
- Includes emergency release key
- Can be installed to open inward or outward
- Expensive replacement parts
- Can be loud
- Made for sliding gates
- Maximum weight capacity of 700 pounds
- Supports 30-foot gates
- Safety photo cell sensors
- Compatible with AC, DC, and solar power
- Backup battery
- Includes 2 remote controls
- Five-year warranty for residential use
There are a lot of bells and whistles in this gate opener from Viking. To help with diagnostics and maintenance, the device has a number of LED status indicator lights. While most equipment keeps the important stuff hidden away, Viking has chosen to provide users with complete access. You can learn how your opener works and make adjustments to fine-tune its operation.
Beyond the fancy features, this opener performs well across the board. It can support gates that weigh as much as 700 pounds and can be set up a variety of ways. Whether you’re wanting to hardwire the opener to your main power breaker or take advantage of solar energy, the device can handle it. For peace of mind, it also meets all UL325 safety standards and uses sensors to detect obstacles.
- Moves a foot per second
- Meets UL325 safety requirements
- LED status indicators
- Battery can power 100 cycles in emergency
- Can be used with additional receivers and remotes
- More complicated installation process
- Isn’t protected from elements
- Made for sliding gates
- High torque rating
- Overload protection
- Supports gates up to 1,900 pounds
- UL325 compliant
- Direct AC power
- Works with most entry systems
- Lifetime motor warranty
We recommend the LiftMaster SL585-5011G3 for commercial or industrial applications. Not only is a heavy-duty opener that can handle massive gates without breaking a sweat, but it can be used continuously. If you have people constantly coming in and out of your property, this gate opener will be able to keep up with the demand.
In terms of safety, the opener is top-notch. There’s a built-in entrapment alarm to alert anyone around of any issues. To prevent those problems from occurring in the first place, the opener also has a reverse function. It can automatically stop and go back on its path if obstacles are detected. When you factor in the opener’s ability to work with most LiftMaster access systems, this option can cover the needs of most commercial building owners.
- Heavy-duty construction
- Can be used continuously
- Entrapment alarm
- Emergency reversing function
- Built-in accessory outputs
- Works with remotes, keypads, card readers, and more
- Doesn’t include a remote
- Can only be powered by AC line
- Made for sliding gates
- 200-watt motor
- Supports 1,400-pound gate
- 20-foot chain is compatible with gates up to 40 feet long
- Stainless steel and aluminum construction
- Compatible with up to 25 remote controls
- Can be used with DC power or solar panel
CO-Z might be a lesser-known brand compared to some other options on this list, but the company’s sliding gate opener is a worthy investment. It’s affordably priced and has some great features that add tons of convenience. The biggest is the automatic closing feature. Once the gate is fully opened, it will close after a predetermined amount of time. You can extend the open time to as long as 36 seconds, giving you ample time to safely exit.
Another thing we like about this opener is the security of the remote controls. Each remote uses a radiofrequency hopping code. The signal is sent through many different frequency channels, making it nearly impossible for people to hack. The downsides of this model? The lower price tag comes with the sacrifice of safety features. It does have some small safety measures in place. But to make things as safe as possible, you’ll need to purchase separate sensors.
- Quiet operation
- Adjustable closing times
- RF hopping code for remotes
- Protected from elements
- Slower operation
- Requires additional accessories to take advantage of safety features
12. E8 500MM Stainless Steel Automatic Gate Opener for Gates with Wired Keypad, Safety IR Beams, and Exit Push Button for Dual Swing Gate
- Made for dual swing gates
- Linear rams made of stainless steel
- Supports dual-leaf gates that are 30 feet wide combined
- Maximum weight capacity of 1,250 pounds in total
- Compatible with AC, DC, and solar power
- Comes with backup battery
- Includes IR sensors, keypad, and exit button
- One-year warranty
Like the other E8 opener on this list, the 500MM has the added benefit of being made of stainless steel. Both of the linear rams used in the dual-leaf opener are made out of the durable metal for years of use. It’s low-maintenance, resistant to corrosion, and looks great. To add versatility to the product, E8 includes a universal mounting bracket. You can use this to create a push-to-open or pull-to-open setup.
Another thing that sets this automatic gate opener apart is the accessories that are included. It does come with standard remote controls. However, there’s also a keypad and stainless steel exit button. You can connect all three entry systems to the opener at once, giving you plenty of versatility in how you use your investment.
- IR beam sensors detect obstacles
- Low-maintenance design
- Comes with keypad and remotes for versatile use
- Universal mounting brackets
- Detailed instruction manual
- More complex installation process
- Not suitable for ultra-heavy gates
Why You Should Trust Us
Every member of our team is passionate about security and safety. Like you, we have families and properties that we want to keep safe from the outside world. If you have ever experienced a burglary attempt, we feel your frustration. Some of our crew have gone through the exact same experience and understand the emotional toll it can take. It doesn’t feel great when you can’t feel safe on your own property.
These experiences have resulted in hours of research and hands-on trial and error. We’ve taken care of all the hard work and are passing out knowledge on to you. Our real-world experience with automatic gate openers has given us a lot of insight into what makes these products so great. We know what to look for and what brands have the most to offer in terms of performance and features.
Of course, we also consider the user experience. To get a better understanding of what people think about each product, we took a look at reviews from real users. We compiled all of our research and know-how to create this guide. Our goal is to help you find a product that makes you feel safe and comfortable. To do that, we have taken an unbiased approach to each product and looked at them for what they truly are. This allows us to provide you with honest recommendations that we believe can help you out.
A Complete Buying Guide for Automatic Gate Openers
Now that you have a general idea of how automatic gate openers work, let us dive a bit deeper into the details. There are a ton of options at your disposal. Unfortunately, not all of them are built to the same high level of quality that you deserve. Not only that, but not all models can work in all situations. The key to finding the right product for your needs is to understand what you’re looking for. In this guide, we’ll cover all aspects of what makes a good electric gate opener.
Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Purchasing an Automatic Gate Opener
What is My Available budget?
The first thing you should be asking yourself is how much you’re willing to spend. Electric garage gate openers can range in price from a few hundred dollars up to several thousand. They’re not a cheap product, so it’s important that you come up with a budget that you can stick to. Remember, more features don’t always equate to a higher cost. However, you can usually expect better performance and solid construction with products that cost a bit more.
What Type of Gate Opener Features Do I Need?
Next, take a look at your gate and consider all of the important features you need. If you have a sliding gate, you’re clearly going to focus your search on best sliding gate openers in the market. However, you should also look at factors that go beyond the basics. For example, how heavy is your sliding gate? This will directly affect how powerful your auto gate opener needs to be.
If you have a swinging gate, you need to consider its design. Wide swinging gates with a single leaf are going to need a heavy-duty gate opening system. Meanwhile, a dual gate setup may require more wiring and a lengthier installation process.
Finally, think about the length of your gate and each individual leaf. Most driveways are between 9 and 12 feet wide. If you have a double driveway, you may have a gate that’s over 24 feet in wide. Make sure to take accurate measurements. These will come in handy later.
How Long and Heavy is My Gate and What Type of Automated Gate Opener Would Actually Suit Me?
As we mentioned earlier, not all gate door operators are capable of moving every type of gate out there. Most products are built with a specific length and size in mind. If you have a heavy wrought iron gate, you will need to get a topnotch gate opener system with a high torque rating to ensure that it opens smoothly. In this case, you might even want to consider an articulation opener.
Consider how your gate operates and how it’s built. Keep these factors in mind and choose an good quality gate opener that’s specifically made to work with them.
How Do I Plan to Power It and My Frequency of Use?
Next up, you need to think about how you’re going to deliver power to your auto lock system. There are several options available. Selecting the right power source for your property is about more than just seeing what’s available. You also have to consider how frequently the gate will be used.
If you’re installing an electric door opening system on a commercial property, there’s a good chance that the device is going to be used heavily throughout the day. In these cases, direct AC power is always best. AC motors are very common. However, your gate needs to be close enough to a power source. On top of all that, you will need to dig a deep trench, purchase a PVC conduit, and make sure that everything is done to code. If you choose to go this route, you may want to hire an electrician to ensure that the job is done right.
Your second option is to use a solar panel. Many garage door drive systems are compatible with solar power kits. These are perfect if your gate is located more than 1,000 feet away from a power source. The panel will need to be placed in an area that receives plenty of light so that it can charge the solar powered automatic gate opener’s battery. Of course, you’ll also need to choose a panel that can handle as many power cycles as you need. If your gate is going to be opened a couple of times every hour, you’ll need a pretty large solar panel to make sure that the system has all the power it needs.
Last, but not least, there’s a battery backup. Most automatic gate openers have a backup system to let you in and our of the property whenever the power goes out. These batteries are low-voltage and will need to be replaced every few years. They also need to be connected to a secondary power source, such as a direct AC line or solar panel, to keep them charged.
Are There Any Trusted Brand Preferences?
Several brands manufacturer electric gate opening systems for residential and commercial use. Some of these brands have been around for several decades and focus solely on gate openers. Others treat their opener product line as an afterthought. This is very important to consider. Buying a gate opener is a sizable investment. So, you want to go with a reputable gate opener brand that offers a good warranty, reliable customer support, and products that last.
What are the Maintenance Requirements?
Like any other piece of equipment, garage door openers require ongoing maintenance to stay in good condition. You’ll need to keep this in mind when you’re choosing a product. Some designs require more frequent inspections than others. Typically, the amount of maintenance you’ll need to perform is directly related to how many moving parts there are.
For example, linear rams, hinges, chain drives, and articulating arms all need to be lubricated a couple of times a year. Constant exposure to the elements can lead to rusting and sticking. Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that the path of the gate and the motors aren’t blocked by debris. Bugs and pests like to nest in dark places, so you must also keep housing boxes and circuit boxes free and clear.
What are Some of the Laws Regarding Automatic Gate Openers?
Before you even start shopping for a perfect auto gate opener, you should check with your local building, safety, and fire codes. Unfortunately, not everyone remembers to check with their local jurisdiction and are faced with steep penalties for violations. While gate openers are meant to keep people out, they must still be safe and accessible by emergency services.
One of the most important things you’ll need to take a look at is your local fire code. These guidelines differ from municipality to municipality. The codes are in place to ensure that fire services can reach your home safely in the event of an emergency.
Local building and electrical codes are also important. They are catered toward the safety of you and innocent bystanders that may walk by your property every day. While they are rare, accidents do occur. To ensure that your gate and door opener doesn’t cause any issues, you must abide by all local codes and ordinances.
Is My Gate Opener ADA Compliant?
The ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act, became law back in 1990. It’s meant to make buildings and properties more accessible to those with disabilities. While the guidelines within the act are focused more on commercial building doors, there are some rules with gates as well.
Most of the guidelines refer to the width of the opening, available clearance to move through, and the power of the mechanics. The best automatic gate openers are ADA compliant. If you’re unsure, check with the manufacturer to be sure.
Will I Be Able to Install it Myself Using the DIY Kit?
DIY gate opener kits are a great way to save some money during the installation costs. They have all the equipment you need to get the job done right. With that being said, you should only tackle DIY kits if it’s within your wheelhouse. Remember, automatic gate operators have strong motors, several moving parts, and a power source. If you feel confident performing all of the tasks on your own, go for it. While instructions are always included, you should never attempt to do electrical work if you’re not comfortable. Not only is it dangerous, but you run the risk of damaging the opener and your powered gate.
Warranty, Repairs and Customer Support
Auto gate systems are complex devices that are not immune to issues. When problems arise, is the manufacturer of your opener going to help you out? It’s important to scrutinize the company’s warranty and repair policy before you pay a dime. Most reputable gate opener brands will offer warranties that last a few years after purchase. They’ll cover the cost of repairs and replacement parts if issues come up during that period.
Some companies also use a staggered warranty system. This means that they may cover the mechanical elements for two years, but only offer one year for the battery or remote. Read the details of the warranty to make sure that you’re not met with any surprises when you try to make a claim.
It’s also a good idea to go with a manufacturer that has a responsive support team. Having a cell phone number to call or email address to message can make all the difference if you’re having trouble during the gate opener installation process.
What are the Key Features to Consider When Buying an Automatic Gate Opener
When you’re shopping for the perfect auto gate opener for any residential or commercial property, there’s a lot to consider. Even the smallest element can affect your gate opener’s performance and efficiency.
An auto gate opener is only as good as its parts. Pay close attention to what the door operator is made of and how it’s put together. Are the brackets and hinges made to last? How about welded joints? All of these elements will affect your opener’s longevity.
Before you purchase an automatic gate system, consider how easy it is to install. Many manufacturers have downloadable instruction manuals on their websites to give you a better idea. The instructions should be clear and concise to make opener installation a breeze.
In addition to seeing how easy the gate opener kit is to install, see how it performs. How difficult is it to program the transmitter or keypad? Consider the range of the remote gate controller and what type of technology it uses to ensure that you can operate it effortlessly.
Earlier, we mentioned that many components in your automatic gate system will need some maintenance. While this remains true, some brands have made the process as easy for you as possible. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance gate opener, look out for anti-corrosive treatments that will keep the parts in good condition.
Warranty and Guarantee:
A generous warranty policy is always welcome. Sticking to a brand that will assist you long after you’ve purchased the best gate opener can make a huge difference in the long-run. Guarantees are also a nice touch. Usually, brands that offer a satisfaction guarantee took the time and effort to make sure that their auto gate system is top-notch.
Size and Weight Handling Capacity:
One of the most important things to consider is the gate system capabilities. A simple single swing gate opener is not going to be able to handle a massive wrought-iron gate. Check with the size and weight specifications and compare them to your gate. Taking some extra time to check these measurements now will save you a lot of headaches during the installation process.
A lot can go wrong if your auto gate system is used in a climate that it can’t handle. This is often seen in colder areas. Once the temperature drops, batteries lose efficiency and lubricants have a harder time flowing. Thankfully, most manufacturers design the gate openers to work in most environments. Though, if you happen to live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures, you’ll need to double-check the equipment’s operating range.
Running Speed and Traction:
These two measurements represent the amount of force that the equipment uses to open and close the doors and how fast it gets the job done. On average, most gate openers can move about 4.5 inches per second. This is a healthy medium, as it doesn’t take long to move the gate to the open position. If you choose to get an auto gate opener that moves faster or has higher force output, you may run into some safety risks. The force the opener uses is measured in newtons. Most equipment is in the safe range of 500N to 700N.
Available Safety Mechanisms:
At the end of the day, gate openers are mechanical devices that are powerful enough to cause some damage if used incorrectly. Fortunately, many top brands include built-in safety features to avoid accidents. They include obstacle detection, which stops the gate from moving if any force goes against the gate, and thermal protection to prevent the motor from overheating.
An emergency release system is a must-have feature for any good quality gate opener. In the event that the power goes out or the mechanics inside the opener stop working, the emergency release will let you open and close the gate freely.
Energy Efficient Design:
It’s recommended that you check to see how much electricity your gate opener uses. Not just when it’s operational but also when it’s in standby mode. The equipment is always looking for the signal from wireless remote gate controller. As a result, power is always being used. It’s not a ton of power, but that energy consumption can accumulate over time.
What are Some of the Risks Associated with Automatic Gate Openers?
If you’re thinking about forgoing safety features to save on upfront gate opener costs, we strongly recommend that you reconsider. Safety technology has come a long way since these automated systems were first invented. But, that doesn’t mean that there are no risks involved. Approximately 2,000 people are treated for injuries every year. 800 of those people are young children.
In many of these cases, injuries come from the motion of the gate. Getting a limb or your entire body caught by the gate while its moving can result in serious injury or death. To avoid these problems, there are a couple of things that you can do.
Purchase a Tested Gate Opener
The first thing that you can do to avoid accidents is to invest in a door operator that is tested. Manufacturers will often provide a label to state that the product meets UL325 safety standards. UL325 applies to all electric gates and doors. To get this stamp of approval, the auto gate kit has to go through rigorous testing.
Post Signs and Provide Clearance
Warning signs will let drivers, gate keepers and pedestrians know that the gate is electronically powered. While it may seem simple, signs can increase awareness and force people to watch out for any potential hazards.
The signs should warn people to stand clear from the path of the auto gate. At the very least, there should be 10 feet of distance between the car and the gate. If you have a keypad or card system to grant access, it needs to be far away from the gate to keep everyone safe.
Inspect the Components Regularly
Regular inspections can make all the difference when it comes to safety. By taking a close look at the mechanics, brackets, and electronics, you can spot issues before they become a hazard.
Perform Safety Tests
The most useful safety feature that an automatic gate can have is a reverse sensor. High-quality gate openers can detect when someone is in the path of the door and will back off to prevent injury. Of course, components can stop working at any time. So, you must test this feature every once in a while.
To do that, use a large solid object to block the gate’s path. You should never use your own body or an arm to do this. Your best bet would be to use a scrap piece of lumber or a shovel. If the garage door system is working correctly, the gate will stop when it makes contact with the object and move in reverse. This should all happen in less than two seconds. In the event that the automatic gate opener doesn’t stop, you need to get it serviced as soon as possible.
Invest in Guards and Shields
The motor and rollers of your gate opener should be covered at all times. These are some of the most dangerous parts of the system. There have been several reported cases of children getting hands and feet stuck between the moving parts. A properly installed guard can prevent these types of accidents.
Keep an Eye on Children and Pets
Children and pets should stay away from your gate opener at all times, even when it’s closed. It might seem harmless, but there’s a very real possibility that the gate could be triggered at any moment.
As a good rule of thumb, gate openers should be reserved for automobile use only. They shouldn’t be used to grant access to a pedestrian. Instead, have a separate entrance that’s at a safe distance from your gate opening system.
Also read about: 12 Best Car Ramps for Home Garage
What Are the Benefits of Installing an Automatic Gate Opener?
It’s no secret that automatic gate openers have a lot to offer both residential and commercial property owners. Here are just a few benefits that you can take advantage of.
Let’s face it, no one likes having to get out of their car to open and close the gate. It may seem like a menial task, but those few extra minutes can be a huge hassle. This is especially true when it’s raining or you’re dealing with mobility issues. Not only that, but what if you were to ever experience an emergency? In an emergency situation, every second matters.
With an electric gate opener, you can save a lot of time and effort every day. Most devices use remote controls to send open signals. However, several models use an automatic triggering device or cellular technology as well.
If you work in a commercial setting, openers can save you a lot of time controlling access. In these instances, keypads and access cards can be used to save you the trouble of having to identify anyone who wants to get in.
For both residential and commercial applications, gate openers give you the opportunity to get some more privacy with a push of a button. You can guard your property and prevent any unexpected visitors from coming in.
Safety and Security
As we mentioned earlier, gates are a great way to deter thieves from trying to enter your property illegally. A gate is like having a “Keep Out” sign, minus the threatening demeanor. In addition to protecting your property from outside threats, a gate opener can also keep everyone inside safe. For homeowners, they can act as a barrier to keep pets and children away from busy streets.
For a lot of people, watching someone else use their driveway or property to turn around is infuriating. While it may seem like a minor nuisance, these kinds of acts can pose safety and security threats. Luckily, a gate opener can put a stop to unwanted vehicles entering your property.
The same goes for commercial buildings. If you run a business where security is key, having controlled access to your building can make all the difference.
Despite all of the electronics and mechanical components that are used inside gate openers, they’re quite durable. These machines are heavily protected. Not just from the elements, but also physical damage. While they’re not indestructible by any means, they are engineered with durability in mind. Most are capable of lasting for several years without any issues.
After the initial investment, a gate opener is a cost-effective solution to secure your property. For commercial property owners, it saves you the trouble of having to hire a team of security personnel at the gate. Plus, the gate can help you save on your property insurance. Insurance companies love it when owners take the measures they need to prevent theft and liability. A gate opener does just that.
This benefit is more catered towards commercial property owners, though it can also be useful for homeowners. Many gate opener models allow you to customize passwords for each person that uses it. This is great for a couple of different reasons. First, it lets you have complete control over who goes into your property. Secondly, the use of custom passwords ensures that you don’t have to reprogram the entire system when you want to revoke access. Finally, you can use logging programs to see when people entered your property.
In terms of aesthetics, a solid gate and complementary opener can do a lot to improve curb appeal. The best automatic gate openers can work with all kinds of gates. You can get a gate that matches your building’s exterior design. Plus, the added opener equipment makes your property look modern and tech-savvy.
Increases Value of Property
It’s always nice to find ways to increase the overall value of your property. Gates and openers are a great way to do this. Not only does it help save money with insurance, but it pays to have security features. Think about homes in gates communities. They always have a higher price tag because people value security and peace of mind. By installing an automatic gate opener, you’re investing in something that not everyone has. It makes your property stand out, thus increasing value.
What are Some of the Best Brands of Auto Gate Openers that I Can Trust?
If you’re unfamiliar with the players in this industry, we have you covered. Here’s some information about some of the most popular brands on the market. No matter which type of opener you’re looking for, you’re bound to encounter these companies during your search.
1. Mighty Mule
Mighty Mule has been around for more than three decades. The company was created to provide a solution for DIYers wanting to get an opener that didn’t break the bank. Currently, Mighty Mule offers a wide range of DIY opener kits and accessories to make your setup your own.
2. US Automatic
Based in Lewisville, Texas, US Automatic is a relatively small company. However, that hasn’t stopped them from making a big splash in this industry. They offer sliding openers, swinging openers, and many accessories to customize your setup. The company is dedicated to providing good customer service, so you should have no problem getting into contact with them if you have any issues.
LiftMaster is most known for producing high-quality garage door openers. However, the company also has a solid line of gate openers and control access systems. They offer products for home and business owners.
4. Ghost Controls
Ghost Controls is a company that’s focused on innovation. They have many heavy-duty openers available for both residential and commercial applications. The company has developed many efficient technologies to make their products as safe as possible.
ALEKO is a relatively new brand that was established in 2005. Since then, they have made a name for themselves by producing quality openers that don’t break the bank. The company also expanded its product line to include a range of gate accessories.
E8 is a bit unique compared to all of the other brands. The company does not sell openers directly. They are manufacturers that work with distributors to make their products available to the masses. Currently, E8 has several different openers that utilize advanced safety technology.
Read more: What are the 7 Best Portable Garages
How Automatic Gate Openers Actually Work?
Gate openers, while complex in nature, operate on very basic principles. Whether you’re using a sliding opener or one with a linear ram, the opening mechanism is attached to a motor. This motor waits for an electric signal. When it receives that signal, it kicks into gear to open the gate.
Most openers will remain in the open position for a predetermined amount of time. Then, the motor will work to reverse the gate and bring it back to its original position. Of course, advanced safety features and sensors add a new level of complexity to the equation. However, the basic functions of what an opener does to grant access to your property are the same across the board.
Methods to Open Driveway Gates
Now, the way you signal the opener to start working is where things get interesting. There are several options available to you.
- Remote Entry: The most common method is with remote control. Small, battery-powered remote controls send the electrical radio signal to the opener. You can keep a remote in the car and press the “open” button as you’re approaching your driveway.
- Card Entry: Ideal for commercial properties, card entry systems utilize a separate piece of equipment that’s connected to the motor. It’s usually installed 10 feet away from the gate on the lefthand side of the driveway for easy access. Inserting or swiping a card into the reader will open the gate if you have the right authorization.
- Code Entry: This method is similar to card entry. However, rather than a card reader, the auto gate system is connected to a small keypad. You can assign unique codes to everyone that you want to grant access to. This entry method is a great option for both residential and commercial settings because there’s no need to worry about losing a remote control or card.
- Telephone Entry: Some of the most advanced automatic gate systems have telephone entry. Often used in apartment and office complexes, these openers take advantage of a wired intercom system. When a driver approaches the gate, they can use the intercom to call the person they are trying to visit. Depending on the technology powering the telephone system, you may be able to provide access by pressing a code on your phone or through a dedicated entry hub.
- Proximity Entry: This is one of the newest gate entry methods available. These systems use radio frequencies to provide access. Next to the gate, a contactless reader is installed. Proximity cards are then provided to those you want to have access to your property. To open the gate, all you have to do is bring the card close to the reader. It will quickly authenticate the card and open the gate.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Automatic Gate Openers
Once you have your new gate installed and ready for operation, the work doesn’t stop there. Regular maintenance can prolong the life of your investment and keep things in good working condition. Plus, a well-maintained opener is a safe opener. Here are some tips to care for your automatic gate opener.
- Grease Hinges: Swing-type assemblies rely heavily on smooth hinges to operate efficiently. Unfortunately, the constant friction of the metal paired with moisture from the environment can lead to sticking and rusting. To keep things running smoothly, apply grease to the hinges a few times a year.
- Lubricate the Chain Drive: Sliding gate openers need to be lubricated as well. The component that needs the most attention is the chain drive. You can apply a few squirts of grease on the outside chain. When the gate opens, the movement will spread the lubricant throughout the system.
- Treat Hinges with Silicon Spray During the Winter: Once the winter months roll around, it’s important to spray all hinges with a silicon spray. The unique material created a protective layer that prevents freezing. However, it does not affect performance. Even when everything else around it is frozen solid, properly treated hinges will move effortlessly.
- Clean and Lubricate Push-Pull Tubes: The push-pull tubes are responsible for moving the gate. As your gate is opened and closed, the tubes are exposed to moisture and dirt. It’s recommended that you clean these tubes once a month. All you need is a soft cloth. When you’re done removing any debris, you can apply a fresh layer of lubricant to reduce friction and prevent movement issues.
- Clean Remote Control with Compressed Air: With daily use, even your remote control can start to experience issues. To prevent dirt and oil from clogging your control buttons, blast the device with compressed air. This will get rid of any gunk that could cause the controller to send messages to the gate unintentionally.
FAQs about Automatic Gate Openers
Can I install the automatic gate opener myself?
It is possible to install the opener on your own with a DIY kit. But, this should only be attempted if you know what you’re doing and feel confident with your electrical and mechanical skills.
How to power up the gate? What are my options?
Gate openers can be powered through a direct AC connection that runs from your building to your gate. Alternatively, solar panels and low-voltage batteries can be used as well.
How are the methods to open and close the gate?
There are several entry methods available. These include remote controls, identification cards, contactless proximity cards, numeric key codes, and telephone intercom systems. Most openers will close automatically after a few moments. Though, some require manual operation through the remote control.
What are the ways to troubleshoot the gate opener if it stops working? Is there any manual override?
If the gate does not open with the proper entry method, you can still gain access to your property with the emergency release. Pulling the release allows you to open the gate manually. Once you get in, you can start troubleshooting the problem. Start by attempting the entry method again. If you have a remote control, check the batteries to ensure that the signal is being sent.
Next, check the opener’s power source. A faulty fuse or tripped circuit breaker could have cut power to the opener. Then, examine the opener manually. Look for any obstacles that might be preventing the device from opening. Clean off any debris and apply some lubrication before trying again.
How long is the average life of a good automatic gate opener before it needs to be replaced?
This all depends on the quality of the construction, conditions of the parts, and how you maintain it. With a good maintenance regime, the best automatic gate openers should last for roughly 10 years.
What are add-ons to include with the installation?
There are several accessories that you can use to customize your gate setup. Most brands offer compatible card or keypad entry systems that work alongside remote controls. You may also want to invest in backup batteries, a solar panel, or additional sensors for safety.
Does the gate opener need any support from the top? My garage ceiling is quite high.
Gate openers do not need any support from above. They are mounted on support walls or columns. Some are also mounted below the gate.
Is there any possibility of injury or damage to my car if there’s an obstacle in the way of closing my garage door?
As long as your opener has built-in safety systems, the gate will not cause any injury or damage. Most modern openers have obstacle detection features that will prevent the gate from continuing on its path if there’s something in the way. The opener will stop automatically and move in reverse to provide additional clearance.
Is it possible to hack the automated gate system? How good is the security?
Physically, gate openers are very secure. They often have security features to prevent tampering and damage. When it comes to hacking, gate openers are slightly more vulnerable. It is possible to hack a remote control, but the chances of this happening are very low. The system operates on a specific frequency that’s difficult to replicate without some advanced equipment.
If you lose your remote control, you can delete its code from your receiver. Each controller you use has a unique identification code. So, you can easily remove that controller’s code from the system without affecting the rest of the entry devices that you use.
Are there any issues of radio interference that can hinder normal operation of the gate opener?
As we mentioned earlier, gate openers operate on very specific radio frequencies. The exact frequency is chosen because it is out of range from other wireless devices that may get near the device. As a result, you don’t have to worry about interference.
An automatic gate opener can transform your property in many ways. Not only does it make it more secure, but it increases its overall value and adds tons of convenience. You don’t have to break the bank to get an opener that you can rely on. Every single one of our recommended picks can be installed with a bit of research and know-how. In the end, you’ll save some money while taking advantage of all the benefits the best automatic gate opener has to offer.