Automatic Gates Buyer’s Guide

Automatic gates can be broadly split into two main groups – Swing Gates and Sliding Gates.

Swing Gates

Swing or hinged automatic gates can be automated in a number of different ways. The choice is dependent on a number of factors:

Space restrictions.

Above ground systems require space behind the gate when in the open position. The ram arm type typically needs about 180mm between the gate and any obstruction and the articulated arm types need a large pillar of at least 200mm, more for larger automatic gates and motors. Underground motors need the top hinge pivot point to be at least 60mm from the post.

The Angle of Opening.

Ram arm types will open to a maximum of 130 degrees although above 120 is difficult to achieve. Articulated arm type between 90 and 110 degrees. Underground motors as standard are usually about 110 degrees but an optional kit will allow the motor to turn through 360 degrees.


You may not wish to see the motors on the back of your automatic gates or pillars and require a discreet underground system with the motors hidden below ground level.


An underground system is usually more expensive than an above ground system, mainly because of the labour time involved rather than the cost of the equipment. However, if you are installing the system yourself this may not be a factor.

Sliding Gates

Sliding automatic gates are of two types. The type that runs on wheels on a track and the cantilevered type. The factors which may determine your choice would be:


The equipment required and the labour time involved makes the track type cheaper. As well as the hardware required the gate itself will need to be extended by a third to provide the lever to cantilever the gate.

Ground contours.

If the ground is not level across the opening then the cantilevered type may be the best option.

Firmness of Ground.

If the surface is loose or the ground soft and liable to subsidence then a track may not be dependable.


The motor used for a sliding gate is the same type whether cantilevered or tracked. They operate via a toothed cog which engages with a toothed rack fixed to the gate. The main determining factor for the motor model used is the weight of the gate. You must ensure that the motor is sufficiently powerful to move the gate with some capacity to spare. The force required to move the gate is finely adjusted electronically either by a manual setting or automatically depending on model. – See more