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Solar Gate Openers

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2010
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    SE Qld
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    Default Solar Gate Openers

    Iím after a bit of guidance from anyone with some Solar knowledge.

    We have to automate our driveway Gates, due to council (but thatís another story), and the cost to run electricity out to them is prohibitive. The two gates are very lightweight farm gates (swing), just galvanised frame with chainlink mesh.

    The position is clear of any trees, etc. so solar would be clear to recharge. We would probably need the gates to ďcycleĒ up to a dozen times a day (open / close = 2 cycles).

    Does anyone have any experience with Solar Gate Openers, and what type, size etc.

    Cheers

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Melbourne
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    302

    Default

    I'd approach it as two separate problems.
    Firstly, you want to find a gate opener system that runs on 12V (there are plenty of those around), and secondly you want a car battery and a solar charging system. Then you just need to build some housing & mounting for it all.

  3. #3
    4K Club Member OBBob's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
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    Melbourne
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    Default

    There are plenty of solar powered gate openers around ... I'd just be very conservative with the manufacturers estimations on power / run times. i.e. get the biggest panel and battery you can.

  4. #4
    Old Chippy 6K
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    Mar 2007
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    Canberra
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    Default

    They have been around for years and work really well and are trouble free. Buy a kit don't try to build your own. They don't need very big solar panels - just the right sized battery which is trickle charged. The more use each day the bigger the battery needed, but even small ones can open quite large gates without a problem. Remember the effort/ load is quite small as it is simply moving a gate on a swinging hinge and the systems have gearing of various types too. Just take note of the various specs and ensure you buy one that suits - not a size that is at the list of its capacity. The slide gates need more power, but swing gates are cheaper and easier. Most will have sensors for obstructions etc and look for an override mechanism so they can be manually operated if power is lost for some reason. EG: Australian Made – XP Auto Gate Operators in DIY Kits – SWING GATES
    Advice from me on this forum is general and for guidance based on information given by the member posing the question. Not to be used in place of professional advice from people appropriately qualified in the relevant field. All structural work must be approved and constructed to the BCA or other relevant standards by suitably licensed persons. The person doing the work and reading my advice accepts responsibility for ensuring the work done accords with the applicable law.

  5. #5
    1K Club Member
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    Sep 2010
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    Default

    I have had a bit of experience with these, particularly solar charged. Both on my own place and I have installed a couple for friends. My views are...

    Avoid the low priced linear actuator types. The starting load (due to the very acute angle of attack) is quite high and I know of some that have failed mechanically because of this. The worm and pinion drive types have a constant load which is also much better for the battery as there isn't a big starting drain. Mine is G-Force which mechanically seems similar to the XP mentioned above. The prices are similar so it is probably a case of "what you pays for is what you gets".

    Some makes have space in the case for an extra battery which will double your capacity and "life" if you get a spate of cloudy weather. My batteries have been going strong for about six years now and have never run out of charge. The small solar panel supplied with my unit seems fine for my usage (a bit like yours... sometimes two or three, sometimes five or six times per day).

    Spend a bit of time with the electrical installation, ideally putting any exposed wiring in conduit (provides mechanical and UV protection) and ideally well buried if you go under the driveway. Also make sure your push buttons are located so that the gate can swing clear of visitors vehicles (but they always panic and back up anyway). You, of course will have your on-board push button.

    Some form of easily decoupled linkage is needed if the electrics fail. Mine involves using an allen key to move a coupling mechanism. This is simple and works OK but not if the allen key goes missing, in which case you simply unbolt a link, but you still need to find a spanner! A better arrangement would be to have a knob or lever to move. Having said that, I have only needed to leave the gate open a few times for deliveries etc.

    I suppose that the allen key approach provides a bit of security if you want the gate to "lock" (i.e. it is possible to get key locked push buttons). Good luck!

  6. #6
    Apprentice (new member)
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    Jun 2011
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    Macedon Ranges
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    Default

    SabreOne I've just purchased a solar farm gate kit from G Force Auto Gates. I found this to be the most straightforward way rather than trying to build a unit myself. I will have at least 5 vehicle movements a day, and I chose visitor buttons with key locks.

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