Automatic gate openers come in two varieties, those that swing open and those that slide open. Swing gates open much like a door, swinging inward or outward to open. Most swinging gate door openers work with either single gate panels or gates with dual panels. Their controls allow the user to open one panel or both panels simultaneously. Dual versions require two mechanisms—one for each door—and are therefore more expensive. Some swing gate openers allow the door to swing open in either direction.
Sliding gates consist of a single fence panel that slides open by following a track that runs parallel to the adjacent fencing or wall. Keep in mind that swinging models require more clearance to allow for the gate panel’s sweeping path than sliding models that hug the existing fence or wall line.
Gate Size & Weight
Assessing the gate’s size and weight is crucial to selecting the proper opener, as most openers are rated to handle specific loads and lengths. The longer the gate, the less weight the opener can handle. For example, an opener may be strong enough to handle a max weight of 900 pounds for a 5-foot-long gate and 300 pounds for a 20-foot-long gate. Many manufacturers include diagrams listing the weight capacity based on gate length.
Automatic gates use a variety of sources to power the gate. Most sliding gate openers are used in commercial and industrial settings to open wide metal gates. As such, they have larger motors that can handle these heavier loads. These motors typically require a hardwired 115-volt electrical connection to power the motor.