Master The Challenges of Automatic Gate Operators

Aug. 2, 2018
Certification, UL 325 Safety Standard compliance and reliable products are key for safe, reliable operation

Gates and gate operators have always been an important market for my professional security endeavors. While my career was providing factory access control support, I frequently was asked by our dealers for help with integrating and controlling gates.

As a locksmith, gate operators were a lucrative sideline. We bid new ones and also provided upgrades and support for existing systems.

I can recall numerous gate arm operator projects which were used for parking control. Several pedestrian gates required a credential or PIN code to transgress. Also there were countless residential gate systems, protecting both single-family and multi-family homes.

Servicing gate systems had some challenges.

There was the client who is angry because after he has spent a considerable sum on a gate system, but it still wasn’t working.

There were the gate installer contractors who took the money and ran, but often did not display skill in their installations or take pride in their work.

There was the equipment which had to withstand the insults of vehicle altercations, end-user abuse, and year round weather conditions.

Mixed into the mix was the occasional botched DIY system

These jobs were generally profitable, since the clients would do or pay whatever they had to in order to keep the original installer off their property.

Most gate operator systems are supplied with an abundance of documentation and safety precautions, and the biggest challenge is to take a deep breath and read it before commencing work.


Many of our readers are already familiar with door operators and have either obtained formal training or on-the-job training. The American Fence Association (AFA) is an industry group which offers resources and a training certification program for Automated Gate Operator system designers and installers.

Two certifications of particular interest the AFA offer are Certified Automated Gate Operator Installer and Certified Automated Gate Systems Designer .

Their website offers a lot of valuable information.

The following is the description of the Certified Automated Gate Operator Installer designation:

“The Certified Automated Gate Operator Installer (CAGOI), administered by the Institute of Door Education and Accreditation (IDEA), offers eligible candidates the ability to distinguish themselves from competitors and promote this certification to the public.

Created by a coalition of industry leaders from the American Fence Association, the International Door Association, the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association, the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association, the Automated Gate Operator Installer Certification program aims to validate the credentials of individuals who have the experience and skills in the installation and servicing of automated gate systems.

The CAGOI is open to automated gate operator installers who have a minimum of two years’ experience installing and servicing automated gate operator systems. There is a $250 fee which includes a study guide for the examination, testing, and three years of certification.”

For safe and reliable Automated Gate Systems, use certified installers.

UL 325 Safety Standard

The standard to which vehicular gate operators are designed, manufactured and tested is UL 325; Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Standard for Safety: Door, Drapery, Gate, Louver, and Window Operators and Systems.

In addition to the 325 standard, vehicular gate operators must also be tested to UL 991; Tests for Safety-Related Controls Employing Solid-State Devices.

The UL 325 Standard has undergone significant revisions over the past several years. The purpose of the revisions is to create entrapment prevention criteria for vehicular gate operators and systems, and to increase overall safety of the product.

The standard also calls out for specific construction specifications for the vehicular gate itself.

ASTM F2200 is an important document covering specifics of gates, and an excellent explanation can be found at the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association website:

If a gate operator is UL 325 compliant, some of these entrapment protection devices are mandatory (the automated gate system will not operate without them being installed).

Here are some details of UL 325 as they apply to residential gate operators.

Readers may notice that the codes relating to door operators focuses more on low energy versus high energy, and that a low energy operator does not require auxiliary safety devices, wheras gate operators are differentiated by whether they are residential or commercial, and the residential operators DO REQUIRE auxiliary devices.

The UL 325 Safety Standard requires at least two entrapment prevention devices for each potential area of entrapment. A gate operator typically uses an inherent system as one device and the installer will provide external devices to meet the requirement.

An external device(s) is required - otherwise the gate operator will not run.

Entrapment protection devices are installed in areas where entrapment hazards exist. These devices include contact (electric edges) and non-contact (photo-electric) sensors. These devices are monitored by the gate operator. Should the gate operator sense a fault in these devices, or if they are not connected, the gate operator will not run.

Warning signs are placed in an area where they are visible from each side of the gate.

Gate controls are installed in such a manner that a person operating the controls cannot come in contact with the gate or gate operator. Safety standard requirements state that controls must be a minimum of six (6) feet away from the gate. Emergency access control devices are exempt from this requirement.

The gate operator is appropriate for the construction and class of the gate.

Rollers are guarded. Pinch points are eliminated or guarded.

CLASS 1 is a vehicular gate operator (or system) intended for use in a home of one to four single family dwellings, or garage or parking area associated therewith.

Class I required safety measures: Type A and B1, B2 or D

A. Inherent entrapment sensing system: An automatic sensor system that senses the entrapment of a solid object and “responds” to that entrapment within two (2) seconds. The system must be incorporated as a permanent and integral part of an operator.

B1 Non-contact sensor: Provision for connection of or supplied with a device that senses a potential obstruction of the gate without actual contact between the obstruction and the gate being required; i.e., a photo-electric or photo-reflective sensor or equal.

B2 Contact sensor: Provision for connection of, or supplied with, a device that senses an obstruction of the gate when actual contact between the obstruction and the device or gate is detected; i.e., an edge device or equal.

D Continuous pressure to maintain opening or closing motion of the gate: Provision for connection of, or supplied with, an actuating device (such as a push button) requiring continuous pressure to maintain the opening or closing travel of the gate.


DoorKing®, Inc. (also known as DKS®) was established in 1948 and is one of the leading manufacturers of telephone entry systems, vehicular gate operators, parking control products and access control systems in the United States. I’ve used their operators and telephone entry systems for decades and like them a lot.

The unique configuration of DoorKing’s 6100 Series Swing Gate Operators allows the gate arm to rotate from underneath the operator, enabling the arm to attach to the bottom rail of the gate, where it is virtually unseen from outside the gate. The fully enclosed operators prevent water from contaminating the output shaft, bearings, and electronics. Additionally, the frame is built from G90 galvanized steel to prevent rusting. These operators can be installed directly on a concrete pad, or post-mounted to meet any installation requirements.

With safety in mind, these operators contain an electronic and mechanical inherent reverse system for two methods of obstruction detection. The automatic electronic limits, along with the microprocessor-based electronic control board provide advanced features not typically found in oOperators in this class.

DoorKing’s new model 9024 DC Slide and model 6524 DC Swing operators feature built-in battery backup and solar power options -- ideal for a powerless remote installation. These operators are whisper quiet and are great for both residential and commercial applications.

Door King’s 9100 Series slide gate operators offer advanced features that allow the user to control their automated gate system in a manner suitable to their needs. Both the swing and slide gate operators are designed as fail-safe units, providing emergency entrance whether power is available or not. Fail-safe operation is required by many fire authorities throughout the country.

All DoorKing gate operators are listed to the UL 325 safety standard helping to provide a safe gate operating system.

More Info:

Linear Pro Access

Linear Pro Access offers a complete line of gate operators designed to meet a wide variety of gate automation requirements, including single-family residential, gated communities and commercial applications such as parking management or property access control.

The Pro-SW2000XLS is designed for residential or commercial gate opening needs. It works on all types of gates: chain link, tube, panel, ornamental, wood and vinyl. Its full featured control board includes an adjustable obstruction sensing, gate sequencing and auto close settings.

Features include:

  • Dual sense technology
  • Cost efficient: no need for additional entrapment protection devices
  • Quick install: no electrician/welder or photo beams required
  • UL 325 compliant
  • Easy transmitter programming with the touch of a button
  • Soft start / soft stop
  • 2-year warranty (residential applications only)
  • Solar Compatible
  • Includes battery backup, 318 MHz RF radio receiver, entry transmitter, AC transformer and all necessary mounting hardware

Linear’s GSLG-A Industrial / commercial slide gate operator series isavailable in 1/2, 3/4, and 1 horsepower, various supply voltages and phases, 12" per second gate speed.

Features include:

  • Integral APeX Controller
  • Direct motor to gear reducer drive
  • C-face brake
  • #50 roller chain
  • 1/2, 3/4, or 1 HP motor
  • All voltages, single or three-phase
  • Emergency manual disconnect handle
  • Powder coat finish
  • Post mount standard; pad mount optional
  • 1/2, 3/4, or 1 HP, 115 or 230 VAC, single phase, thermally protected, heavy-duty PSC motor
  • 1/2, 3/4, or 1 HP, 230 or 460 VAC, three-phase heavy-duty motor
  • Double C-face brake
  • Power on/off switch
  • Emergency stop/reset button on front cover
  • Duplex receptacle on 115 VAC units
  • On-board APeX Controller three-button control station
  • AC and DC power available for access control accessories and reversing devices
  • All accessory connections 24 VDC
  • Easily adjustable rotary limit switches

More Info:

Mighty Mule

Gates That Open, LLC designs and manufacturer of the Mighty Mule®, GTO/PRO, and GTO Access Systems brands of gate operators and access controls. Mighty Mule gate openers are designed for home, ranch, industrial and light professional applications and are marketed to DIY’ers.

All GTO gate operators meet and exceed all national and federal safety standards, and are certified and listed to be in compliance with UL325, Latest Edition.

The MM260 - Single Swing Gate Opener features Mighty Mule's Dual Sense Technology that meets UL325 6th Edition Standards. It is designed for gates up to 12 ft (3.7 m) long or 300 lbs (136.1 kg)

The gate can be operated with or solar power. It works with an automotive or marine battery (not included) which optimizes performance in cold weather

Kit Contents: Mounting hardware, transformer, transmitter, installation manual and DVD, opener arm, and control box with built-in receiver.

The FM123 - 10-Watt Solar Panel Kit is an excellent option to use as an alternative source that allows for increased power that maximizes sunlight for increased usage for your Mighty Mule or GTO/Pro Automatic Gate Opener.

Residential homeowners can qualify for an energy efficiency tax credit on an operator system, accessories and installation.

More Info:

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.