I preface this column with the declaration that this is my opinion based on 30 years in the automatic gate business. Others may have a different opinion based upon their experiences.
If you use any of the online search engines to gather information about automatic gates or gate automation products, you will get many results from companies that are selling pre-fabricated gates in various designs or a combination of gates and gate equipment to be installed by the purchaser who is frequently the end user i.e. the homeowners. BEWARE!
If you are considering the purchase or installation of an automated driveway gate, one of your primary concerns after appearance and design is how the system components (gates and operating equipment) will perform over time in terms of years, not days or weeks. You might think that this statement is ridiculous, but ask any automatic gate company how many Internet Gate Systems they have replaced and you will get the same answer: Lots of them!
And there is the additional issue of liability. See the UL325 website below for more information.
Like almost everything else in life, you usually get what you pay for and this is certainly applies to gates and gate operating equipment. In general, the factory manufactured gates are offered in the lightest weight material possible which allows the manufacturer to offer them at a very low price and also cuts the cost of shipping but offers very little in terms of strength, durability and longevity.
As an example, most Internet Gate Systems supply hinges that bolt on. Why? Because the hinge posts and the gates themselves are made of such lightweight material that quality hinges and other mounting hardware can't be used because the material is too thin to be welded. Look at any automated driveway gates in your area and you will see that most if not all of them use welding to mount the hinges or other gate hardware. WELDING IS GOOD! BOLT-ON IS BAD!
As far as gate automation equipment is concerned, many of the Internet Gate Systems use off-brands of inferior quality equipment in order to keep the price down. I and many other automatic gate professionals refuse to work on the Internet Gate Systems equipment because keeping it running is frequently an endless and hopeless task.
It is very difficult to set and maintain operating tolerances because of the bolt together one-size-fits-all nature of the equipment. Programming these systems is also a nightmare compared to the commercial equipment that automatic gate professionals normally use. Much of what is offered with these Internet Special packages is a problem-in-a-box and most gate professionals won't touch them.
There are indeed fabricators you will find online who offer products that meet professional quality standards for metal work. As for gate automation, you are much better off using a professional gate automation company who understands that automating a gate is much more than connecting a gate operator.
There are three components to consider in an automatic gate system. They are affordability, durability and liability.
Yes, LIABILITY. If you are contemplating the installation of an automatically operating, unattended mechanical system, you need to be aware of the liability issues involved and what safety devices may be suggested or mandated based upon your particular situation. Go to www.ul325.com to learn more.