Electronic Gate Systems would like to share our experience in an
effort to help customers with their automated vehicle gate
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
- Keep children and pet safely on
- Keep out deer
- Keep out unauthorized visitors
- What are the design considerations,
- 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
- 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
- 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
- When residents are not home
- House cleaner, etc.
- Authorized UPS delivery
Hiring a Licensed
Contractor for your project
Did You Know CA Laws On
Hiring Unlicensed Contractors
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.
A good proposal should clearly address
most aspects of the product and installation, including the
- Detailed description and
specification of materials to be utilized in the manufacture
of the products
- Paint finishes type and detail of
- 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
Understanding the Complete
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
- 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
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.
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.
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
- Electrical and
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
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
- 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
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- Site preparation work including some
or all of the following:
- Final site grading
- Set posts/column
- Run electrical and phone wiring
- Vehicle detection loops
- Concrete pads poured for gate
- Post for phone entry system
- 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
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
- 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,
- Preventative Maintenance
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.
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.
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
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
- Vertical Lift
- Single or Bi-parting Swing
- Pedestrian Turnstiles
- We Can Also
Assist You with Software Issues!