While outdoor security cameras and driveway alarms will alert you to the presence of visitors on your property, they won’t prevent trespassing or soliciting. And, while a gate will solve this issue, opening and closing a gate manually simply isn’t practical. An automatic gate opener will open and close a gate with the press of a button.
Automatic gate openers work with swing-door-style gates found on estates and farms, as well as gates that slide open. They feature powerful motors that open these gates in seconds. They allow authorized users to control the gate via keychain remotes, garage-door-style remotes, keypads, and even smart devices.
This guide will review what features are important to consider when shopping for the best automatic gate opener and review some of the best models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: USAutomatic 020320 Sentry 300 Automatic Gate Opener
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: CO-Z Automatic Sliding Gate Opener
- UPGRADE PICK: Ghost Controls Solar Dual Automatic Gate Opener
- BEST FOR SMALL GATES: TOPENS PW502 Automatic Gate Opener Kit
- BEST FOR LARGE GATES: Ghost Controls DTP1XP Automatic Gate Opener Kit
- ALSO CONSIDER: Gatexpert Automatic Sliding Gate Opener
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Automatic Gate Opener
While gate size and weight capacities are crucial factors to consider when shopping for an automatic gate opener, other characteristics, such as power source and remote controls, are also important. Ahead, learn more about these critical factors.
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.
Since swinging gates are typically located at the front of larger residential properties or on rural properties such as farms, they are not usually near a power source, which makes hardwiring more complicated. With this in mind, most swinging door gates use a rechargeable deep-cycle 12-volt battery with a solar panel charger. This type of battery will generally work for about 100 uses on a single charge. In addition to not requiring hardwiring, this setup ensures that the gate works even during power outages.
Frequency of Use
Gate openers open heavy metal gates while enduring all manner of weather, which means these mechanical devices are put under a significant amount of stress and wear and tear. Additionally, it’s important to consider how often the opener will need to perform the task of opening and closing the gate. Gates that are opened and closed twice a day—once in the morning and once at night—need to endure less wear and tear than a gate that must accommodate numerous daily arrivals and departures. Select a model that can handle the frequency of use of the gate.
Gate controls vary from model to model. Some gates are controlled locally via an adjacent keypad. The gate opens when the visitor or resident enters the correct code. Some gates can be hardwired to the home, allowing the user to control it from an interface inside the house. Other gate openers connect to a smart device or smart home hub, allowing the user to open and close the gates via a smartphone or voice control when paired with a virtual assistant. While the latter offers convenience, an opener hardwired to independent controls is more secure as it is more difficult to hack.
Stop-and-reverse functions: This feature is critical to safety. An automatic gate opener should sense resistance when the gate is closing and respond by stopping and reversing. This safety mechanism prevents the gate from potential crushing injuries to animals or people in the path of the gate.
Remote functions: Automatic gate openers use various remote controls, ranging from keychain remotes to garage-door-style remotes. Some models are even controllable via an app on a smart device.
Infrared photo beams: An infrared photo beam detects approaching vehicles, automatically opening the gate in anticipation, and then closing the gate behind the exiting car. This technology is also used in stop-and-reverse functions, as described above.
Auto-close: Some automatic gates close via a programmable automatic timer. The user sets the amount of time that should pass after the gate opens before it closes, allowing enough time for someone to pass through it but not so much time that it leaves the property unsecured.
Loop detectors: Loop detectors are lengths of wire embedded in the ground or driveway that can sense the metal of a vehicle that drives over them. Once the loop senses the car, it sends a signal to the gate-opening mechanism. Loops are typically used on the ground inside the fenced or walled area to automatically open the fence when a vehicle is exiting the property. Safety loops are installed close to the gate to instruct the gate to stop or close if a vehicle drives into the path of a swinging gate to prevent the gate from hitting the car.
Our Top Picks
The products below take into account the above considerations to narrow the field to some of the best automatic gates on the market. They have large size and weight capacities and can be installed by a competent do-it-yourselfer.
Multiple power options and features that facilitate an easy installation make this gate from US Automatic an attractive option. The Sentry 300’s 12-volt battery for power, which will last for weeks on a single charge, charges either via a 6-watt solar panel or by hardwiring to an electrical source. Sentry makes it easy for a DIYer to install this opener themselves with a “plug-and-play” harness that makes what would otherwise be a complicated wiring process simple. Universal mounting brackets fit most fence types.
The Sentry can handle gates up to 250 pounds, including farm gates up to 20 feet long and iron estate gates up to 12 feet long, fully opening or closing the gate in about 16 seconds. Gate controls consist of two two-button remote controls—a wireless keypad and a handheld remote.
With its ability to handle long fences and a high weight capacity, this sliding gate opener can carry big loads without asking for a significant investment. This affordable model will open a 40-foot gate weighing up to 1,400 pounds, making it suitable for commercial use. A powerful 280-watt motor smoothly opens the fence at a pace of 43 feet per minute.
Once open, the user can set it to close after 12, 24, or 36 seconds to maintain security. It comes with two keychain remote controls, which have a range of 100 feet. This system will support up to 23 remotes, making it ideal for businesses and small communities. This gate runs off of 110-volt power and must be hardwired.
With its ability to open two gate panels without the need for wiring, this automatic gate opener is a worthy option for residential homes or rural farms. This setup includes two separate control arms, each of which can handle gates up to 20 feet long. Weight capacity varies depending on the gate’s length, from 300 pounds for a 20-foot gate to 900 pounds for a 5-foot-long gate.
Ghost designs its gate openers for DIY installation. This one runs off of a 12-volt battery charged by a 10-watt solar panel, so there is no complicated wiring involved. And universal brackets make attaching the controls to the gate easy. This model includes two two-button remote controls that can open one gate panel or both gate panels simultaneously.
Spending a lot of money on heavy-duty gate openers for smaller lightweight gates is overkill. This set of two gate openers is well suited to lighter duties. Each arm can handle a swing gate up to 16 feet long with a maximum weight of 550 pounds. This gate is also a good option for do-it-yourselfers with a kit that includes multiple brackets for installation on various gate types, ranging from wood to steel and vinyl in panel, tube, and chain-link shapes.
This versatile gate will also open inward or outward and offers several options for power. It includes a power supply that plugs into a standard outlet and works with a 12-amp battery and solar panel. Other features include a sensor that stops the gate if it encounters an obstruction and an adjustable auto-close feature with a range of 3 to 120 seconds.
Large gates require a system that can handle longer spans and heavier weight. This model from Ghost boasts a max weight of 900 pounds, making it suitable for wood, steel, or iron gates, with a maximum length of 20 feet. Like Ghost’s other models, this automatic gate is ideal for DIY installation. It functions off a 10-watt solar cell that powers a rechargeable 12-volt battery, so no wiring is required.
A universal mounting kit fits most gate styles. This model also includes a remote with several useful features, including buttons that open one or two gate panels and a “Party” button that leaves the gate open for more extended periods to facilitate partygoers coming and going. This gate also has load-sensing technology, which causes the gate to stop in the event of an obstruction.
With its high weight capacity and ability to handle long gates, this stout opener is an excellent pick for sliding models. Gatexpert boasts a 1,800-pound weight capacity and 26-foot maximum length, making it suitable for heavy metal gates. The gate works via a single-button remote control with a 100-foot range that opens and closes the gate and will support up to 25 remotes.
An infrared sensor will stop the gate from closing to prevent injury or damage to property, and programmable controls let the user set an auto-close time of 12, 24, or 36 seconds. This model uses 115-volt power, requiring a hardwired electrical connection. A detachable clutch that disengages the gate from the motor serves as a backup, enabling the user to open the fence manually in the event of a power outage.
FAQs About Your New Automatic Gate Opener
If you have questions regarding operating an automatic gate opener, read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these devices.
Q. Can I automate my gates?
Automatic gate openers function via remote control. Some models have an app, which allows the user to open and close the gate with a smart device, such as a smartphone.
Q. Do electric gates have a manual override?
Some electric gates have a manual override, allowing the user to release the gate from the motor and open and close it manually. Keep in mind that gates with a manual override can also be easier to disable for unauthorized users.
Q. How do you install an automatic gate opener?
Many automatic gate openers are designed for installation by DIYers. They include universal mounting kits that attach the controller arms to many fencing styles, ranging from tubular metal farm fences to decorative wood and wrought-iron fencing.