A decorative driveway gate can add incredible appeal to your home or business, and an automatic decorative gate adds increased security and efficiency. However, sometimes when you are adding the automated gate’s gate opener, the operator is visible on and next to the gate. Depending on how much these devices interfere with the design of your gate, this can be bulky and unattractive. In cases when the customer does not want a visible gate operator, we often may recommend an in-ground swing gate operator option that conceals almost all of the gate opener, leaving just their beautiful gate. These gate openers are installed by their respective gate posts in the ground, giving them control over your gate without any unsightly machinery.
Should You Get an In-Ground Swing Gate Opener?
Concealing your gate operator can definitely seem appealing, but it’s important to note that in-ground gate operators are not right for every application. You need to note that their location in the ground requires a dependable drainage system so the circuitry doesn’t get fried or damaged. Most of the time the manufacturer will recommend a perforated drain tube and a gravel bed (also known as a French drain) for in-ground swing gate openers, but these are not actually very effective and don’t exert enough force to get rid of debris. If you decide to install an in-ground swing gate operator, we recommend you either implement a positive drain or a mechanical pump.
A positive drain consists of a drain tube at the bottom of the gate opener that slopes down and away from the operator. The drainage tube should be sloped in such a way that the end of the tube “daylights,” or reappears and is visible above the ground. This would imply that the slope of the drainage tube is significant enough or greater than the finish grade on either side of the operator, or that you have a ditch to drain into.
If you don’t have the right landscape for a positive drain, you can get an electromechanical pump that will also get rid of the water that could possibly get inside the in-ground operator.
Swing Gate Characteristics
Drainage is key for in-ground swing gate operators, but you’ll also need to make sure your gate is the right fit for an in-ground operator as well. These openers are limited based on your gate’s height, weight, width, and wind load.
Gates that are too heavy, too tall or too wide are not going to be good candidates for these hidden gate operators. Since this style of gate operator closes the gate by essentially twisting the gate shut at gate post, it takes much more torque to move the gate leaves, so large gates are ultimately unsustainable. The manufacturer of your in-ground swing gate opener will have specifications that include maximum weight, width and height.
The amount of open space on the face of your gate will play a significant factor as well. If your gate is made with a solid sheet of metal, you may not be a good applicant for an in-ground opener. This isn’t necessarily due to additional weight, but because of the wind load on your gate. If the wind gusts, the solid metal will act like a sail and be much more difficult to open and close properly. Gates with more openings or a picket design are much more suited for in-ground operators as their wind loads will be much less.
Just because this gate opener is installed in the ground doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. Even with adequate drainage, you will still need to perform maintenance on this hidden operator. We recommend taking the lid off the operator a few times a year and allowing the insides of the operator to dry out. This will help prevent water or mud buildup that could interfere with the gate operator’s performance.
While there are specific requirements for an in-ground gate operator, the benefits of the simple, clean, unobstructed appearance of your automated gate can easily make up for it. If the sleek and modern “equipment-free” style appeals to you for your gate, we highly recommend reach out to one of our project managers today.