You may have heard about the recent trend in automatic gates: solar powered gates. With increasing awareness of environmental issues, this technology has started to gain traction. However, whether solar powered gates are the right choice for you and your home or business depends on a range of factors. Let’s explore them.
How do Solar Powered Gates work?
To understand whether solar gates are right for you, it’s important to understand how they work. All automatic gates need electricity to power them. Traditional automatic gates get their power from the normal 240 Volt household electric supply. Solar powered gates on the other hand have a solar panel which converts the sun’s rays into electricity. This is stored in a battery and is used when the gate is operated, even if the sun’s not shining.
The benefits of solar gates
Solar powered gates have a number of advantages.
1. Independence. Solar gates can be installed almost anywhere without needing to be connected to the electricity supply. This means it can work in rural areas that can’t easily connect to the electricity grid. These gates will also continue to operate even during extended blackouts.
2. Cost. As solar gates don’t draw on your electricity supply, you’re not paying your power company costs for usage, reducing the ongoing operational cost. (See below for some of the hidden costs associated with solar gates)
3. Environment. By not drawing on the electricity supply, you’re also doing your part to help the environment and reduce the impact of climate change. Power companies often rely on fossil fuels, which can negatively impact the environment. Solar power of the other hand is pollution free.
4. More advanced and affordable. While solar gates are not yet cheap, the technology has improved considerable over the years and the cost has come down, making them a viable option in some cases.
Despite these advantages, it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks of solar gates.
Disadvantages of solar gates
1. You need lots of sunlight. Solar powered gates are entirely dependant on sunlight. Which means if your property is not located in a place with many hours of sunlight, it may not have enough energy to function. Similarly, if trees or buildings are obstructing the light, this may seriously affect performance.
2. Limited use. Most solar powered gates have enough power to open 8-10 times per day. This may be sufficient for some homes, but if you think you’ll need to open and close your gate more often, this may pose a problem for you. Alternatively, you would need to purchase a higher capacity system with a larger solar panel and battery to meet your needs, thereby also increasing the cost.
3. Extra costs. Typically, solar systems are more expensive to purchase and install than traditional automatic gates. They also require more regular maintenance, including changing the batteries every few years and pruning any overhanging trees that might create shade. This may result in an increased lifetime cost of the system. Although you might be able to find cheap imported systems online, be careful: many have low quality solar panels and inadequate batteries, resulting in problems down the track.
If you’re interested in a solar gate for your home or business, we suggest speaking with an experienced gate technician to determine the best system for your needs.
Gate Gurus has years of experience in automated gates and we’d love to help you with your solar gate requirements.