What Are the Different Options for Gate Automation?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann
Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Electronic key pads, push-button remote controls and electric eyes are all types of gate automation powering methods. In order to make the entry and exit of gated drives and walkways more accessible, many different types of gate automation are available. Factors such as the size, opening style and the climate of the gate's location often dictate that a specific style be used. Remote sensors and push-button activation units are the most common types of activation methods for automatic gate in some areas. Infrared, laser and pressure-sensitive activation switches are also used in gate automation triggering units, and in more secure locations, voice and thumb print recognition devices are used to allow access to a restricted area.

Security is a major concern in many areas, therefore, restricted access is achieved through placing fences and gates around buildings, properties and entire communities. In order to avoid the gates having to be opened and closed by a human being, gate automation is widely used for automatic admission. Many automation systems use a small electronic device that is attached to the rear-view mirror of a vehicle or is held by a person on foot. As the vehicle or person approaches the gate, a signal to open the gate is sent and the gate opens, allowing entry. This type of gate automation closes automatically at a predetermined time period.

In areas that remain free of snow and ice throughout the year, pressure-sensitive activation cells can be placed in the entryway near the gate. This style of gate automation is triggered by the weight of a vehicle passing over the cells, thus opening the gate. The weight required to activate the opening mechanism can be programed by the gate installation contractor. This type of system does not work when the roadway becomes snow-covered. The most basic method used in gate automation is a key pad, requiring a specific code to be punched in to gain access.

For low-security applications, infrared and electronic eyes as well as laser beam activation systems are commonly used. In very high-security gate automation systems, thumb print and voice analysis electronics are used to activate the opening of the gate. Ultra secure facilities often use a multiple activation system which requires the user to posses two or more codes to gain entrance. This diminishes the chance of an unauthorized vehicle gaining access to a single code and moving past the security system.

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Discussion Comments


It's amazing how many different options we have for driveway gates. Some slide open, some swing inward, and I've even seen some that slide up vertically! It's insane!


My sister works at a high security government office. She had to have special clearance to gain access to certain floors. She took me up to the entrance of one highly guarded area, and she showed me how it worked, though I was not allowed to walk through the door with her.

She walked up to a door that resembled an elevator. A black screen with rounded corners was stuck to the wall at a height of about four feet. She placed her thumb on the screen, and in seconds, a green thumbprint appeared beneath her skin as a bell sounded.

The door opened, and she went on through, waving goodbye to me. It closed within four seconds, so she had to hurry.


I have a cousin who lives in what I consider to be a mansion. He has an electronic key pad to open the gate to his driveway.

The keypad is situated on a wooden post positioned so that he can drive right up to the gate and reach it easily. The only disadvantage to this type of automation is that you get wet when it’s raining and you have to roll your window down to type in the code.

I asked him if he had ever had problems with intruders to make him want a gated driveway. He said he hadn’t had any until after he got the gate! He once saw a man standing out there late at night, trying to guess the code. He yelled out, and the guy ran off into the dark.


Those gate automation systems that take commands through rearview mirror attachments can be dangerous in some situations. My friend got tied up and burglarized because of one.

She had parked outside a mall. When she came out, her car was missing. It had been stolen.

She had a GPS device in the car, and her home address was stored in it. Since she had a nice car, the thief assumed she must be rich. He used the GPS to find her home.

The gate was no obstacle for him, because the signal from the car opened it for him. He broke into her home and found her inside. She is lucky to be alive, and she got a higher security gate system.


My sister’s house is located inside a state park, and she sometimes feels unsafe there at night. Criminals often use public parks to find victims, so she decided she needed some extra security.

She got a swing gate that is powered by a remote control keypad. She didn’t want the kind you have to roll down your window or get out of the car to push, in case someone might be lurking out there.

She has a five-digit code that only she and I know. She gave it to me so I could house-sit for her while she is on vacation. I must say, I feel much safer with the locked gate in place than I did before she had it.

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