As diverse as driveway gates themselves can be, so too are the electric openers or “operators” that make them work automatically. When choosing a new opener, you should think about factors like space, maintenance requirements, and expense, as well as whether you’re getting a sliding or swinging gate installed with it, or which type of system you already have (some operator types are only suitable to one kind of system).
The Articulated Swinging Arm
The most common and inexpensive swinging gate opener models use a pair of uncurling robot arms to push each side open. These openers are easy to maintain and easy to troubleshoot, but take up a lot of space and tend to be less aesthetically pleasing. The exposed joints of the robot arms are also relatively vulnerable to rust and jamming, and the aboveground motor is an obvious target for thieves and other unscrupulous types, but that same exposure also makes them simpler to repair.
The Turning Jack
This type of a swing gate opener is usually hidden completely underground, and gives your system an almost majestic quality as it opens without a visible mechanism. The undergate jack works by turning a pole inside of each gate’s frame, causing it to pivot open and closed. Turning jacks are much more difficult to install and repair, but for the same reason are much less vulnerable to damage from the environment; essentially, an underground opener won’t need maintenance as often, but the operation will be more complicated when something does need to be adjusted or repaired. Models of this type are also somewhat more power intensive than swinging arm openers, and work much better with residential-sized systems than with larger commercial ones.
Sliding Gate Chains and Belts
If you have a sliding gate, most opener options will be devices mounted on or near the fence beside the entrance and attached to the system with a flexible chain or belt. When activated, the motor spools up the chain, dragging the gate open along on its wheels or roller track. There may be some maintenance required every so often, especially with a chain-based unit. Some adjustment and lubrication on a regular basis can help the system last longer. Electric sliding gates aren’t as nice to look at, and take up a lot of space. Most homeowners tend to prefer the swinging type, which operates in a way that is similar to a regular door. However, as far as large and heavy commercial gates go they are by far the most efficient option.