The experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has made us all more conscious of who is coming and going from our property. Whether it is a family home, business premises or public building, property owners want full control over access for protection and peace of mind.

As a provider of access control technologies, we are seeing a growing demand for automated gates with a variety of access control systems. There are a number of considerations that buyers need to make when investing. And as an installer, there is advice that you can offer to help your clients make the right choice for their property.

Here are some of the key considerations you’ll need to make and discuss with your client. Whomever you buy from, you should be offered more than a simple instruction manual.

Electronic locks, magnetic locks and code security

In the first instance, you’ll need to advise on the type of lock and access control available.

Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open. Locks are required for all non-locking (also known as reversible) operators and are recommended for any gate on a multi-user site or any gate over 2.5m. Apply the same logic to an automated gate as you would to a domestic door – for example, you wouldn’t fit your front door with a lock on the same side as the hinges or a drop bolt at the hinge end of a manual gate so why dispense with this logic when the gate is automated?

Electronic locks release on the operation of the automation system to allow the gates to open

There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks. These are all designed for external use.

While the gate itself will provide physical security, the customer will want to feel in control of who enters their property, when and for what purpose. Consider access for mail and deliveries, waste disposal and visitors arriving on foot etc.

There is a range of options available. Intercom systems will allow the user to vet visitors, keypad entry can allow remote access for visitors with a specific code, remote controls allow an oncoming driver to open the gates without getting out of the vehicle, and a timer control can be used to open or close the gates at certain times of the day. Vehicle detection loops can be installed discreetly under the tarmac allowing the presence of vehicles to exit the gates and prevent closing while obstructed.

Sliding gates versus swinging gates

There are a number of locks on the market including magnetic locks, drop locks that “shoot” a bolt into the ground and side latching locks

Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open and in the case of swinging gates, the opener may be concealed underground or gate mounted. The most suitable opener for your installation will depend on the space available and the type of gate selected.

Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates. However, where gates are fully infilled (typical of many timber designs), gate mounted openers are concealed from the front of the gate by the gate leaf and present a cost-effective option.

The choice between slide and swing is largely down to space - swing gates require a clear space for their opening arc while sliding gates require space to one or both sides of the gate. Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited, as they use the least space when opening.


Most swing gate and sliding systems are available in 24v or 230v. The 24v systems still need 230v mains power – there is a transformer built into the 24v control panels. Deciding which voltage to use can include a combination of factors such as the material of the gates, the location of the system and the safety features you want.

Concealed underground automation is ideal for highly ornate gates

With wrought iron gates, the wind can pass through them whereas with fully boarded wooden gates (popular because they give full privacy) the wind has nowhere to go, so they act like sails.

For commercial or industrial applications with larger entrances and a heavy gate, you may need 3 Phase 400v power (sliding gates only).

Installing gate motors in confined spaces

The environment in which you are fitting may well influence which gate and motor you recommend. Will it be in an exposed area which is subject to the elements? Will it be positioned on a slope?

Sliding gates are perhaps the best choice where the drive slopes or when drive space is limited

Installers have always faced the challenge of installing gate motors in confined spaces. When fitting a pedestrian gate, there is often limited space in which to work – potentially making an installation time consuming and technically demanding.

If this is the case for you, consider a gate operator which is designed specifically for installations with limited space for maneuver. An example of this is the E5 compact gate operator. The operator is not only small but has an optional slide lever attachment designed for installations where there is extremely limited space, meaning that just 8cm of the pillar is needed for installation. What’s more, improved fixing points and a simple ‘hook and fasten’ process means assembly is safe, quick and straight forward.

Ultimately, you’ll be looking for a good quality, reliable product with good service. Work with a supplier that offers more than just a manual. If they are happy to offer training, their time and advice when you buy, the chances are you’ll get their support long term.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Matthew Batson Director, Bft Automation

Matthew Batson is a Director at Bft Automation UK Ltd and runs the Northern operation.  Matthew has been working in the automation industry since 1996.

In case you missed it

Motorola Solutions Acquires Pelco For $110 Million
Motorola Solutions Acquires Pelco For $110 Million

Motorola Solutions, Inc. today announced it has completed the acquisition of Pelco, Inc., a global provider of video security solutions based in Fresno, California. Pelco designs, develops and distributes end-to-end video technology, including video security cameras and video management system software. The company’s scalable solutions and commitment to service delivery enables customers of all sizes to mitigate risk, increase operational efficiencies and enhance safety.  “Video continues to play a more powerful role in enabling safer cities and securing businesses around the world,” said Greg Brown, chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions. “Pelco’s track record of innovation, internationally recognized brand, global channel and customer installed base enable us to further expand our global footprint with enterprise and public safety customers.”

What are the Security Challenges of Protecting the Cannabis Industry?
What are the Security Challenges of Protecting the Cannabis Industry?

The advent of a truly new market for the physical security industry is a rare occurrence. Particularly rare is a new market that is both fast-growing and provides an environment that is not just conducive to application of physical security technologies but that actually demands it. Such is the case with the market for legalized marijuana. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of protecting the cannabis industry?

Wireless Technology Is Transforming Motion Detection
Wireless Technology Is Transforming Motion Detection

Motion detection is a key feature of security systems in residential and commercial environments. Until recently, systems have relied heavily on closed circuit television (CCTV) and passive infrared (PIR) sensors, which both require significant investment and infrastructure to install and monitor. Developments in wireless technology are increasing home security possibilities. Few years ago, these developments led Cognitive Systems to discover that the wireless signals surrounding oneself can be used to detect motion. Known in the wireless industry as WiFi sensing, this technology brings many benefits that other motion detection solutions have not been able to provide. The working of WiFi sensing At Cognitive Systems, the company has used WiFi sensing technology to develop a motion detection solution called WiFi Motion™, which measures and interprets disruptions in RF signals transmitted between WiFi devices. When movement occurs in a space, ripples in the wireless signals are created. WiFi Motion interprets these ripples and determines if an action, such as sending a notification, is needed. Enabling this functionality in a space is incredibly simple. With a software upgrade to only one’s WiFi access point (or mesh router), motion sensing capabilities are layered into one’s WiFi network. Existing connected WiFi devices then become motion detectors without detracting from their original functions or slowing down the network. Using artificial intelligence (AI), WiFi Motion establishes a benchmark of the motionless environment and learns movement patterns over time, which could be used to predict trends. This allows unusual movement patterns to be detected with greater accuracy while decreasing the potential for costly false alerts. WiFi Motion requires no line-of-sight or installation WiFi sensing and other home monitoring solutions All of these capabilities are made possible by WiFi sensing and together create a motion detection system that provides unparalleled accuracy, coverage, privacy and affordability compared to other solutions on the market. PIR integration is far more complex and imposes electronic and physical design restrictions compared to WiFi sensing. In terms of placement, PIR systems are difficult to install, requiring line-of-sight and a device in every room for localization. WiFi Motion requires no line-of-sight or installation and is also a scalable solution compared to PIR. Much like cameras, PIRs can only cover so much space, but WiFi Motion can cover the entire home and even detect motion in the dark and through walls, without adding additional devices to the home. WiFi Motion detects less distinguishing context than cameras and microphones, but more context than regular PIR sensors for the perfect balance of privacy and highly accurate motion detection. Privacy solution While cameras have been the security solution for years, WiFi Motion offers a more affordable solution that can rival the privacy and coverage capabilities of even the most high-end cameras. With such a wide coverage area, one might think that WiFi sensing infringes on privacy, but actually, the opposite is true. With WiFi Motion, the contextual information collected cannot be used to identify a specific individual, unlike cameras which can clearly identify a person’s face or microphones, which can identify a person’s voice. It is different from other smart home security options that use cameras and microphones because it only senses motion using WiFi signals - it doesn’t “see” or “listen” like a camera or microphone would. This provides opportunities for added security in spaces where privacy might be a concern and installing a camera may not be a comfortable solution, such as bathrooms and bedrooms. The data collected is also anonymized and highly encrypted according to stringent industry privacy standards. Existing connected WiFi devices then become motion detectors Additional WiFi sensing applications Since WiFi sensing technology requires no additional hardware or subscription fees, it is much more affordable than other motion detection solutions. It can be used as a standalone solution, or it can be easily layered into more complex systems. This ease of integration, scalability and relatively low cost brings a lot of potential for various applications. Motion detection can trigger other smart devices in the network to turn lights on or off In eldercare, for example, WiFi sensing can be used to help seniors live comfortably in their homes for as long as possible. With the increasing aging population and high costs associated with care homes, the market for this application is considerable. Caregivers can use an app to monitor movement in their loved one’s home and be alerted about unusual movement patterns that could indicate a concern. For smart homes and other environments that have a network of smart devices, the artificial intelligence (AI) component of the technology allows for improvements to automated features. Motion detection can trigger other smart devices in the network to turn lights on or off or make adjustments to the temperature in a room. Security for the commercial sector For office buildings and other commercial properties, it is easy to see how all of these features could be scaled up to offer a highly accurate and cost-effective motion sensing and smart device automation solution. Cognitive Systems is closely involved with the development of WiFi sensing technology, working with various industry groups to establish standards and help it reach its full potential. WiFi Motion is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of motion sensing possibilities, but its applications in the world of security are undeniably compelling. It is an exciting time for the wireless industry, as one works with stakeholders in the security space to explore everything this technology can do.