Before deciding that you must have an automated driveway gate evaluate your actual need for one. If you currently have a manual driveway gate and you enter or exit your property one or two times a day, then it's not much trouble to get in and out of your car and automation may not be necessary. If you have a manual driveway gate, and you come and go from your property many times a day, then automation is must. If you don’t currently have a driveway gate, but would like to install one, and are considering automation, start out by inquiring into cost. After you find out the cost then you can weigh the need.
An average driveway usually measures about 14' - 0". If you choose a very basic design for your manual gate, but still keep it custom made, in a double swing layout, rectangular shaped, with no frills or extras, primed and painted black and installed, that will probably cost you between $7,500 to $9,500. If this price fits into your budget then you might want to upgrade by adding iron components to your design to make it a unique look. Ask your iron fabricator about styles and pricing.
Now that you've established that a manual double swing gate fits into your budget, let's talk automation. We'll use the basic rectangular double swing gate design as mentioned above. This design will not be as heavy allowing several choices in gate operator systems. Gate operators are based on height and weight of the gate panels. With the double swing design you will need gate operators to open both sides. The least expensive option is an arm operator. There are many good arm operators to choose from. Whatever you do, don't skimp when it comes to choosing an operator, you don't want it to break down; you want something you can depend on and has a warranty. Keep in mind, that for a double swing gate operator it will be necessary to concrete cut across your driveway so that the electrical can be run from one side of the gate to the other. When the concrete is cut and the electrical wires laid then the cut area is refilled. You will be able to see where the cut occurred because there is no way to match older concrete or asphalt to the new filler. If you love the look of your driveway this option may not be for you. There are always new operators coming on the market and there is one that works like a Bluetooth to communicate from one operator to the other eliminating the need for concrete cutting. This may be the best option albeit more pricey.
There are pad mounted units; these normally cost about 40% more than the arm operated unit. They require that you buy two separate units for the double swing gate application. Each unit requires a concrete pad to be installed adding to the cost of the installation. Keep in mind, that in order for pad mounted operators to be an option, you must have enough room on each side of your gate for the unit to fit and still have amble room for your gate to open completely. Your iron fabricator will know how much room is needed for the unit you choose.
Once you've decided on the correct operator then you need to ask about safety devices. If you want your driveway gate to shut behind you automatically and open automatically when you exit then safety devices must be installed. This application requires loop detectors. These are electrical wires that are embedded into your driveway (again, your driveway will need to be concrete cut so that the wires can be installed). Loop detectors pick up the presence of metal. If a car is detected, in the area where the loop detector has been installed, than the gate operator will not open or close the gate and this protects the car from being hit by the gate.
There are several options for safety features. Another option is photo eyes. These are installed on opposite sides of the driveway and a beam of light extends from one eye to the other. If the beam is broken then the gate operator will not open or shut. There is also a safety edge that’s available and it is installed on the gate itself. The safety edge can sense the presence of an object and will reverse direction so that the object is not hit.
Now that we’ve discussed safety devices we need to talk about how your guests and maintenance people are going to enter and exit your property. There are a lot of new options available and many new devices are coming onto the market daily. An entry system is the most expensive option. This type system allows you to distribute codes or someone can ring your telephone from a button on the entry system. Many systems today have the option of ringing your home or cell phone.
There is also a digital keypad; this does not require a telephone line or Sim card cell phone number. The digital keypad allows you to distribute codes to those that need them, i.e. – maintenance people, family and friends. This option does not connect to or contact any telephone.
All these extras do add up. The cost to install loop detectors adds about $4,500.00 plus to your project. If you wish to install an entry system, then add another $4,000 - $5,500 depending upon the unit. If you wish to have a digital keypad only, add about $900.00.
Don't forget, that if you install an automated driveway gate the Fire and Police departments have to be able to get into your property. You must contact your local Fire Department to ask them about Knox Box Switches. Your local Fire Department has an application that they'll need you complete and then you'll be instructed on what Knox Box Switch to purchase. This switch has to be connected to your gate operator so ask your iron fabricator to include installation in the price.
I hope this gives you an idea of why automated driveway gates are so expensive. They are worth every penny especially if you have high traffic going in and out of your gate and when the weather is foul. If you aren’t sold on automation then have your manual driveway gate installed and live with it for awhile. Automation can always be done at a later date but you may end up paying more.