5 things to check before installing automation on your pipe farm gate
This is a question I get all the time. Is it possible to install a motor on my pipe frame farm gate?
Yes it is but there are 5 things to check first...
- It matters how long your farm gate is as all gate swing motors are not equal.
- Does your gate touch the ground at any point. That is a big no no.
- Does your farm gate have a wheel. also a no no.
- Is it level when open and level when closed.
- Is it well oiled and free so that any child can open and close it.
so lets go over these one by one.
All swing type gate motors have what is called as a stroke. That is the difference between fully in to fully out so basically how much travel the motor has. The larger the gate, the more stroke is needed. Motors are usually 300mm, 350mm, 400mm, 450mm, 500mm in stroke. As a general rule, a 3m ish gate we use a 400mm -450mm stroke. If the gate is say 4.3-5m long we use a 450-500mm stroke. You have to visualize what will happen. If you have a 300mm stroke motor which has lighter components inside because it is smaller, and you attach that to a 5m gate. The overall length of the motor is small and the gate is very long so as you can imagine, the leverage of the motor is huge. What this means is that the gate is 5m long and the motor is probably about 750mm long, that will be so hard on the motor, it will not last. Not only that, if someone were to force the gate by pushing, it would be really easy because of the small lever so easy to cause damage if that happens.
But if the motor is say a 500mm stroke, it would be around 1200-1300mm long overall so it is attached further along the gate, it is not under so much stress and a lot harder to push by hand.
So 750mm pushing 5m gate or 1300mm pushing a 5m gate. See the difference. Basically the longer the motor the better it is and the longer everything will last...
Does your gate hit the ground at any point?. that will not work, here is why.
Well easy really, all gate motors have what is called a Stall force. This kicks in if the gate is opening or closing and it hits something like a car or person. mainly safety but also this is how it stops at the open and close points. So imagine the gate is running and it touches the ground at some point and creates a resistance to running freely. The motor will think it has touched something and the controller will turn the motor off. The same goes for having a wheel on the gate. The only reason you would have a wheel on your gate is because the mounting post is moving or the gate does not swing level because of the weight. The same thing applies here. if the gate is running on the wheel and the wheel hits a small stone on the drive, the controller will think that it has hit someone and turn off. Both of these issues are very common and they cause so many problems for people. You can change the settings on the controller to increase the stall force but if you do and the gate hits something like a child or the side of a car, it will keep pushing and push harder, That could hurt a small child by pushing them over, or making a dent in the door of your car.
level when open and level when closed is important but not for the reasons so far. I have seen gates level when closed, but because the hinge holes in the post are in the wrong place, the gate goes uphill or down hill when it is fully open. This puts a huge strain on the motor end fittings. Usually the motor ens use a tight stainless pin with not too much movement in it. Just imagine the strain on the motor end it the gate opens uphill with the motor attached forcing huge pressures on the end pin at this point. Some motors have plastic ends or aluminium ends and I have seen a lot of damage done to the motors in this case, and I sell a lot of replacement end brackets for motors, so I know what causes it to happen.
Keep your hinges oiled and free running and watch out for all these other things and even your cheap import motor can last for up to 10 years with normal use.