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Automatic Gates: Luxury or Liability?

automatic chain link gateViewed as the ultimate in home protection, an automatic driveway gate combines security, privacy and convenience into one electronic package. But installing one on your property is not something to take lightly. Does adding an automatic gate make sense for your needs, budget and priorities? Or will it simply be a high-tech toy guarding your front door?

Here are some key questions to ask before deciding to invest in an automatic gate:

Why do I need an automatic gate?

The most common motives for installing an automatic gate boil down to two goals: security and appearance. These factors can help determine which type of fencing material will work best for you.

  • If security is your top priority and you already have a fence installed, ask yourself if you truly need the extra protection. If you’re just safeguarding against teenage vandals and wild animals, wood or chain link gates might be sufficient. If you’re concerned with greater threats in the neighborhood, consider aluminum or wrought iron gates with spear-pointed pickets to discourage trespassers.
  • If appearance is your primary motivator, there are plenty of decorative options for every aspect of your gate, including design, opening style, entrance and exit options, and even manual access methods.

What kind of gate is best for my property?

How your property is constructed plays a significant role in your available options for gates. Here are the two most common types of automatic gates:

Double drive swinging gate. Double drive gates are made up of two components that swing outward to allow entry and connect together in the middle of the driveway to lock. They work best on level driveways, as they need to be able to swing freely. This type of gate is most commonly paired with chain link fencing and is a good solution for guarding large entryways.

Rolling opening or sliding gates. Sliding gates offer the same level of security as double drive gates and can be configured to allow multiple cars entrance at once as an extra touch of courtesy for guests. These kinds of gates are harder to force open, offering additional security over swinging gates.

How much control do I want?

When you install an automatic gate, you immediately increase your level of control over access to your property. Before installing your gate, you’ll need to decide how much control you’d like over who comes in.

The most common methods of controlling access to driveway gates include:

  • Intercom: For maximum control, install an intercom at the access point of your gate. Requests for access will be sent to a dedicated point in the house.
  • Telephone entry: The telephone interface gives your guests alternate ways to contact someone for access, which may be handy if the house is frequently empty.
  • Keypad: For trusted parties, keypads and corresponding access codes will grant access as they see fit. Only share access codes with people you know well. If possible, change access codes on a regular basis.

How will my gate handle power outages?

An often overlooked yet incredibly important aspect of automatic driveway gates is how to handle power outages. Because automatic gates have interior sensors for exiting cars, an extended power outage could restrict traffic both into and out of your driveway. To avoid such problems:

  • Plan ahead for a backup battery generator or solar-powered solution when constructing your driveway gate.
  • Ensure that a reliable manual override option is built into your gate, and test it regularly.

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