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Homeowner's Project Guide
Electronic Gate Systems would like to share our experience in an effort to help customers with their automated vehicle gate project.

Some answers will help to focus the design and scope of the project

  • What are the main reasons for a vehicle gate, access control system ?
    • Beauty, image, fit into the house design
    • Keep children and pet safely on the property
    • Keep out deer
    • Keep out unauthorized visitors
    • Other
  • What are the design considerations, constraints?
    • Swing or slide gate (Is the area for the gate flat?)
    • Columns or posts
    • Gate construction and design (wood vs. ornamental iron)
    • Major foliage, landscaping considerations/constraints
  • Budget/schedule considerations
    • What other home projects is this project competing with; what is its priority; what budget is available?
    • Is there an important time period during which the project must be completed?
    • Can the project be completed in one or more phases or all at once?
  • How will visitors gain access to the property?
    • When residents are home
      • Regular, authorized visitor (house cleaners, car pool pick-up, etc.)
      • One-time visitors (UPS package delivery, meter reader, Girl Scout selling cookies)
    • When residents are not home
      • House cleaner, etc.
      • Authorized UPS delivery
    • Emergency vehicles

Hiring a Licensed Contractor for your project
Did You Know CA Laws On Hiring Unlicensed Contractors ?

  • The saying that "good contractors are busy contractors" is very true so it makes sense to try and source the right one for your project as soon as possible.
  • Check a contractors License
    Look up a contractor license to verify information, including complaint disclosure. Before hiring a contractor or signing a contract, CSLB recommends you read the Hiring a Contractor page.
  • Company overall experience with 3 or more verifiable references over two years old.
  • General liability insurance
    Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance. This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or his employees. The insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing, and/or repairing any damage that occurs. Anyone can say they are insured. Make the contractor prove it by having a certificate of insurance.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance
    Standard auto coverage does not cover you as the homeowner.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
    Make sure your contractor carries workers’ compensation insurance. It protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. Be aware that if the contractor does not carry workers’ compensation coverage, you may be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor, or any of his employees on your property.

  • A reputable contractor can easily supply you with proof of all the above, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Be wary of unusually cheap quotes, because in a market where base steel prices are very high, the only compromise they can make in order to make a margin is on the quality and installation.

The Proposal

A good proposal should clearly address most aspects of the product and installation, including the following:

  • Detailed description and specification of materials to be utilized in the manufacture of the products
  • Paint finishes type and detail of color
  • Site clean up plan
  • Responsible party for supplying power and communication lines
  • Hidden conditions clause, i.e., extra costs associated with the discovery of unsuitable building work conditions, buried boulders, tree roots, utility lines, or unsupportive soil conditions.
  • Full terms and conditions

Analyzing and Comparing Proposals

Start with a well established and reputable company. Obtain a proposal that is all-inclusive and thereafter have other contractors bid on the same items. Compare "apples with apples". This is a good way of leveling the playing field. Please remember that the lowest proposal is not necessarily the best proposal. In fact, it will more likely than not offer the worst value proposition

Understanding the Complete Proposal

A complete proposal addresses a full basket of items that are essential to ensure optimum value, quality and safety. All these items will be explained in the following paragraphs:

  • Product Drawing
    The purpose of a drawing is to see the complete product as it would appear when finished. It should include any posts, columns, and lighting. It is also advisable to see the side-to-side slope of the road, as it would appear under the gate. This is especially important if you have a steep slope to contend with. For gates, a drawing is usually required when obtaining a permit.
  • Site Plan
    The site plan is important for showing the location of both a driveway gate and operating equipment. A good plan will show where all the wiring is buried and is useful for future repairs and any excavating you may want to do later. A site plan is usually required when obtaining a permit.
  • Column Footings
    Concrete footings are required if columns are to be installed. Column footings need to be installed prior to the gate installation. Footing size is determined by column size and soil condition. If the soil is firm and stable the footing must be at least 3 foot down and be at least 12 inches wider than the proposed column on all sides. If the soil is loamy, clay, or sandy then go shallow and wider on the footings. In certain cases, it may be necessary to connect both footings together across the driveway with a grade beam.
  • Underground Services
    Make sure that you call for an underground utilities check before excavating. In most cases this should remove liability if the contractor cuts through a buried utility line. The various utilities should be contacted in this regard to come to your site and mark all underground utilities locations.
  • Posts
    Steel posts can either flank the gate on each side or be internal steel "skeletons" that are imbedded in masonry columns. The skeleton sits in the middle of the column footing and is used to hold the hinges, gate operators, equipment vaults, and lighting.
    Gate posts for swing type gates depend on the size and weight of the individual gate leaf and range from at least 2" x 2" to 12" x 12" and must be set at least between 36 and 60 inches below ground.
  • Grading
    Some sites are level. Those that are not may need grading. Water flow should be considered when grading. All added road base has to be compacted.
  • Gates
    Heavier gates have a tendency to last longer. Where hollow tubing is used it should be of a heavy gauge. The gate must have weep holes to allow trapped moisture to vent or the gate will rust from the inside out.
    All weld slag must be removed before painting or powder coating. Removing slag is a tedious and time consuming process, which, if not done thoroughly, will be a major detriment to the longevity of a gate. Since paint does not get into all the tiny spaces surrounding the slag, it later falls off leaving a bare spot where rust begins. You can tell good workmanship by how smooth the finish feels when you run your hand over it. Check the areas around welds, and check several gates built by your prospective contractor for this point of quality.
    Powder coated finishes are superior to enamel and when correctly applied can last up to 15 years. A good enamel paint job will last up to six years. Single coat paint jobs, also called primer paints, last only two years at best and should be avoided. Hot Dip Galvanizing should be considered if you live near salt water. You may powder coat over Hot Dip Galvanizing if you prefer a different color, however, the galvanizing should be allowed to weather for six months prior to the application of any type of painting. Electro Galvanizing can be powder coated immediately; however, this process will not offer the same protection as Hot Dip Galvanizing.
  •  Electrical and Communication Lines
    National electrical code calls for electrical lines to be buried at least 18 inches underground. Unfortunately we often find these more shallowly placed. It is not a pleasant experience if you hit a power line. Even if you don’t get shocked you will endure a costly underground repair.
    Power and communication lines should be spaced at least 6 inches apart. This will prevent noise being carried by your telephone or intercom system. The conduit should be larger than necessary for easy wire pulls and future repair. The wire should be large enough to deliver the needed current after line loss. Line loss is a voltage drop that happens whenever power is delivered over long runs. Almost all underground conduits fill up with water. Use wire with appropriate insulation to hold up to these prolonged conditions.
    Most single gates (one operator or motor) need 15 amps at 220 volts AC. Consult an electrician before laying long runs underground so that you get the right gauge of wire. Inspection boxes should be installed at least every 100 feet. Direct burial cable installed in conduit should not be used. High quality communication wire, preferably shielded cable should be used in all connections. Not telephone wire.
  • Entry System
    There are many entry systems on the market, many of which are good, though some are more difficult to program than others. Check with your installer on ease of programming. Determine whether you need a simple keypad or one that communicates through your telephone system. Bear in mind that there is a large cost difference between the two. Card reader units are used more in industrial applications and multiple dwelling communities. Make sure the "Goose Neck" or pedestal mount is sturdy and well located. The unit should not move when you use the keypad.
  • Emergency Gate & Lock
    We recommend that you have an emergency pedestrian gate and Knox lock fitted to allow emergency crews to enter your property without damaging your gate or automation equipment. Make sure this item is not left out of your installation, only to find that you have to install it later.
  • Gate Operator
    There are several ways to operate a gate. Swing gates can use three types of operators. A swing arm operator, which is a box, that sits off to the side and has an arm extending to the gate. A ram arm is located on the gate and post and uses either a hydraulic piston or a jackscrew-operated piston. Underground operators are located by the hinge and operate the gate from below ground.
    The simplest to service and install is the swing arm operator. The advantage of the ram is that it is smaller and takes up less space. The underground operator is the most expensive but is very attractive in that you see no equipment. The swing arm is usually the fastest of the operators. The swing arm units also handle a gate very smoothly and slow down toward the end of each cycle.
    Slide gate operators are commonly installed at the end of the gate in the closed position but can also be installed by the end of the gate in the open position. A chain is attached across the gate near the bottom and passes through the operator, which shuttles it back and forth. In the end of the gate/open position you do not see the chain or any operating equipment near the gate. Sliding gates are more hazardous than swing gates and should be equipped with appropriate safety devices.
    Either type of gate operator is available in 110V AC or 12V DC operated. A DC powered gate can run off a low voltage transformer or solar panel. Solar installation requires more maintenance than an AC powered system. Solar should be used only when it is not economical to bring AC to the gate. Quality operating equipment will last from 12 to 20 years before it needs to be replaced, depending on its proper use and good maintenance. Most installations use a built-in timer that closes the gate after a set period of time.
  • Exit Loop
    An exit loop is wire that is either buried beneath the driveway or cut into the concrete or asphalt. It is located behind the gate. Locating it far from the gate is best. A vehicle triggers the loop, which acts like a big metal detector and opens the gate, allowing the vehicle to exit.
  • Safety Loops and Photoelectric Sensors (Eyes)
    "Safety" loops are buried or cut in the pavement in front and behind a gate. They prevent the gate from closing on a vehicle in its path should it stay there past the "momentary open" timer setting.
  • Safety Loops are a weak spot in many gate systems.
    Many installers do not include safety loops in their bids, this should not be the case due to that fact the gate can cause damage, a lot of damage.Photoelectric sensors (eyes) and safety loops are often used in combination with one another. A single photoelectric sensor may be used on a slide gate to hold the gate open in case a vehicle stays too long in its path or reverses if a vehicle enters its path as it is closing. Other "entrapment zones" created by the gate, i.e., sliding behind a fence or wall, also requires a photoelectric sensor.
  • Lighting
    Lighting is often located either on top of gate posts or on top or on the front of columns. The best way to control lighting is with a combination timer-photocell. The timer is set to activate in the afternoon and has a photocell located between it and the lights. Once the timer is activated, the photocell prevents the lights from coming on until dusk. The timer shuts off the lights at a predetermined time, i.e., midnight. In this way the lighting tracks the seasons and you do not have to keep adjusting the timer.
  • Site Cleanup
    A project is not finished until the job site is thoroughly cleaned and restored to its former state. Special circumstances should be discussed, i.e., hauling away certain debris. It should be made clear whose responsibility this is. Contractors should always perform ordinary clean up at the end of each day.
  • Conclusion
    You are more likely to be satisfied with your purchase and the process of getting it manufactured and installed to your requirements, if your contractor can prove his credentials, demonstrate his expertise and knowledge, and focus on value rather than price.

Our process and typical order of events

  • Call Electronic Gate Systems (EGS) to meet on site and discuss the project.
  • Agree with EGS on scope of project and scope of work you would like EGS to perform. Confirm other contractors (if any) with whom EGS needs to coordinate.
  • EGS prepares a proposal quotation.
  • Discuss, refine, adjust, and finalize quotation. Quote signed by homeowner or representative. Deposit paid.
  • EGS (or whoever is providing the gate and posts/columns) provides elevation shop drawings of the gate. Refine if necessary. Drawings signed by the homeowner.
  • Site preparation work including some or all of the following:
    • Final site grading
    • Set posts/column
    • Run electrical and phone wiring
    • Vehicle detection loops installed
    • Concrete pads poured for gate operator mounting
    • Post for phone entry system installed
  • Once gate posts/column are in place, final measurements taken for gates. Gate fabrication and powder coating takes place.
  • Gate(s) installed.
  • Gate automation equipment, safety equipment and phone entry/intercom system installed.
  • Final touch-up and homeowner walk through and sign-off. Preventive maintenance agreement signed. Training on use and upkeep of gate system and what to do in case of no power or reliability issue.
  • Final invoicing and payment.

Regulations and permits

  • UL 325 and ASTM F2200 safety standards
    Since 2000, there have been standards in place established by Underwriter Laboratories that establish minimum requirements for safe automatic vehicle gate operators and their installation. Since 2002 there have been additional standards established by industry groups that set minimum requirements for the safe automated gates. Because these are thoughtful standards and are well known, it is imperative in Bay Cities Automatic Gates’ view that any new installed system fully complies. Please review these standards below in the UL 325 section.
  • Emergency Vehicle Access
    Each local fire department has its particular rules about how emergency vehicles will gain access to a property with an automatic vehicle gate in the event of an emergency. When we install the gate, system we will make sure it complies with these local requirements. In most cases in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, this means installing a Knox Switch. This is a key switch with a red “Emergency” sticker above it to which only the local fire department has the key. When fire department personnel need to gain access to the property, they will turn the key switch and the gate will hold open until they re-turn the switch back to its non-emergency orientation.
  • Planning permits
    Often planning guidelines require certain rules be followed that govern the siting and design of a gate system. These rules may limit:
    • The height of the gate.
    • The distance the gate must be from the road or sidewalk.
    • The design of the gate.
    • The depth to which the gate swing post must be set.
  • Building permits
    Often no building permits are required. However, depending on the jurisdiction and scope of the project, electrical permits may be required and the electrical contractor will need to have their work signed-off before finalizing their work. Some jurisdictions also require permits for the installation of columns or even gate posts. There is a charge for each permit.

Ongoing maintenance, changes, repairs, upgrades

  • Preventative Maintenance (PM)
    It is important to keep your automated gate system in good repair for its reliability and its safety and its durability. We recommend at least annual Preventive Maintenance checks by a professional. When EGS performs PM’s, we check the mechanical operation of the gate and operator and lubricate and adjust it as needed. We also check the phone entry system, check the performance of the transmitters, the batteries and check the performance safety devices including vehicle detection loops, photo eyes, reversing edges and the inherent safety of the operator itself. This is also a good chance to address homeowner questions and issues.
  • System changes
    If you would like to change the time an automatic gate closes, the codes in the phone entry system, or the range of the transmitters give us a call. We may be able to walk you through how to do these on your own. If not we can schedule a visit or address these items as part of a regularly scheduled preventive maintenance.
  • Repairs
    Inevitably, the gate system will need repairs as it grows old or someone bumps the gate with their vehicle. In any case, please call us and we will come out and make the necessary repairs. In many cases, we can do this in one quick visit. If the damage or problem is more extensive, we will give you an estimate and seek your approval before completing the work.
  • Upgrades
    After a period of time, customers may want to upgrade their system. They may want to add CCTV cameras, a phone entry system, vehicle detection loops, hands free vehicle ID or other capabilities. EGS is happy to discuss upgrade ideas and provide a proposal for the best solution.
We Install and Repair :
  • Gate Operators

  • Telephone Entry Systems

  • Card Access Systems

  • Keypads and Keypad Posts

  • Controlled Access Systems

  • Fire Department Key Switches

  • Photo Eye Sensors

  • Safety Edge Return

  • Receivers and Transmitters

  • Vehicle Ground Loops and Detectors

Types of security gates available:
  • Horizontal Slide
  • Barrier
  • Vertical Lift
  • Single or Bi-parting Swing
  • Pedestrian Turnstiles
  • We Can Also Assist You with Software Issues!



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Central Coast Gates
A Division of Electronic Gate Systems, Inc
CA Lic # 619877
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Last modified: 03/26/12.