Solar Powered Electric Gates
This is a very popular search term on google. So what does it mean?
To some it is a little confusing. I had an email about that this morning.
Gate kits are either solar powered or electric mains powered. Where it also gets confusing, is when we explain that even an electric gate kit is low voltage, ie 24v when it runs. All electric mains powered kits have a stepdown transformer fitted to take the 230v AC down to 24v AC to connect to the control board, and then the control board has a bridge rectifier built in that converts the 24v AC to 24v DC just the same as two 12v batteries in series. The Control boards are all low voltage so no one gets hurt from touching anything on the board that could kill.
So is electric better than solar?, that is an interesting question and there are many answers to that.
Mains powered kits plug into a power socket and the gate kit can get all the power it needs at all times, BUT what if the car down the street hits a power pole and knocks out the power in the street? Well no gate would operate. That is an issue in some rural areas where power goes off quite often for all sorts of reasons. BUT if you install battery backup, then when the mains power goes down, the control board switches over to the backup batteries and carries on until the power comes back on... How do the batteries stay charged for months on end? well some control boards have a trickle charge system that operates when the system is connected to the mains power.. so all good. the batteries are always charged. I must say here that some manufacturers say that their system has a trickle charge system built in, but they don't so the batteries eventually go flat and when the mains power goes down, the batteries are flat so no gate...
So what happens if I go solar? well a solar system works just fine providing certain things are happening. There must be sun, usually a few hours a day is enough providing you don't over use the open/close per day. Most batteries will last up to 6 open/closes per day if they can get a few hours a day of sun. So what happens if it is winter and raining for a week? The batteries will usually last a week in these conditions but not much more and it depends how many times a day you operate it. One disadvantage using solar, is that all acid batteries have a life span, just like your car battery, so 18 months or so is about the life of the small acid batteries, then they start to hold less charge over time and they will eventually not charge and hold the charge enough to operate the gate. That means that every year to two years you need to replace the batteries, and if they are 12v 9ah batteries they will cost about $100 for the pair. Or if you buy cheap batteries off ebay for $29 don't expect them to last as long. Here is an interesting fact, Do you know how to tell the quality of an acid battery? answer is the weight. A good quality 12v 9ah battery should weigh around 2.8kgs, A cheapie would weight arounf 2.4-2.6kg Don't go there. cheers Graeme