Ask The Expert


Hello Robert,

Thank you for your column.

We want to put in an electric gate system, but nobody on the board is well versed with these matters. What should I look for? Is it all basically the same standard equipment? Where should I start? Thanks,

Larry L.

Hi Larry,

The best advice I can give you is to get with someone that is very qualified for the layout. If you write me privately, I’ll be happy to provide you a recommendation.

The equipment is as critical as laying out proper hanging of the gates. You don’t want junk. There is a lot of inferior equipment available that will only last a couple of years. You want to work with someone locally in case you need parts. There is a major supplier now that has gone out and bought a lot of local companies. They are out of state, and getting parts from them is not easy.

You’ll also need a telephone entry system, and I strongly urge that you budget for cameras, which have become very reasonable. In 30 years I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen gates hit. Unless you’ve got cameras to go after the culprits, it’s a he-said, she-said situation.

I would also include adequate lighting at night. If you have an entry and exit, be sure and put a set of spikes on the exit side to keep from unauthorized entry. Unless you put a barrier arm in front of a slider or swing gate, you will always get tail-ins.

Stay away from the old style transmitters where you just push rocker switches. People buy an extra remote, give it to a friend, and you lose all access control to the property. I recommend a revolving receiver system. Just make sure everything is restricted so that you have control. That’s the purpose of gates, to control the ingress of the property.

For the telephone entry system, I would not put an entry code where the owner’s can punch in a code and let whomever in. If you have an entry code set up for your landscapers for example, your pizza man will have that code in 30 minutes or less.

I would also replace any factory locks because they open with universal keys — especially the telephone entry systems. Go with a barrel type lock. There is a lot of theft that happens when factory locks are left in place. Everybody and their brother have those keys. They unlock them and walk away with a $1,500 board.

Also change the keys to the lids on the operators. Make it as secure as you can and put the operators inside of the property. It’s not uncommon to see them on the outside of the gates. Anyone can just walk up, take off the lid, short out the terminal, and they’re in.

I could go for days on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to gates. Again, write me privately and I will forward you the companies we work with.

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Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a Commercial, General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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