A decorative swing gate can add undeniable appeal to your property, and an automatic decorative gate adds increased convenience and efficiency. However, sometimes when you are automating the gate with a gate operator, the operator is visible on and next to the gate. Depending on how much these pieces interrupt the design of your gate, this can be a bit jarring and unseemly. Luckily, there is an in-ground swing gate operator option that conceals all parts of the operator, leaving nothing but your beautiful gate. These gate operators are installed in the ground at each of your gate posts, giving them operation over your gate without any of the clunky machinery.
Is an In-Ground Swing Gate Operator Right for You?
While there is a definite appeal to a hidden swing gate operator, these devices are not right for every application. While they provide a simpler and more clean looking design, their location in the ground requires a hearty and reliable drainage system so the circuitry doesn’t get damaged. Manufacturers will often just recommend a perforated drain tube and a gravel bed (also known as a French drain) for in-ground swing gate operators, but these are not actually sufficient and don’t provide enough force to get rid of any debris. If you are installing an in-ground swing gate operator, we recommend you either have a positive drain or a mechanical pump.
A positive drain consists of a drain tube at the bottom of the gate operator that slopes downward 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 slide of the drainage tube is significant enough or greater than the finish grade in front of or behind 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 potentially get inside the in-ground swing gate operator.
Swing Gate Characteristics
Drainage is key for in-ground swing gate operators, but you’ll also need to make sure all the details of your gate are right for an in-ground operator as well. These operators are limited based on your gate’s weight, width, height and wind load.
Gates that are too wide, too tall, or too heavy are not going to be good applicants for in-ground swing gate operators. Since this style of gate operator closes the gate by essentially twisting the gate shut at the very end of the gate leaf, it takes much more torque to move the gate and large gates are ultimately unsustainable. The manufacturer of your in-ground swing gate operator will have specifications that include maximum width, height and weight.
How much open space your gate has will play a significant factor as well. If your gate is made with a solid sheet of metal, you may not qualify for an in-ground operator. This isn’t necessarily due to additional weight, but because of the wind load on the gate. If the wind gusts, the solid metal will act like a sail on a boat and be much more difficult to control. Gates with a picket design or more openings in their design are more suited for in-ground operators as their wind loads will be much lower.
Just because these operators are installed in the ground doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. Even with proper drainage, you will still need to perform maintenance on this operator type. We recommend a few times a year taking the lid off this operator and allowing the insides of the operator to dry out. This will help prevent any water or mud buildup that could detract from the gate operator’s functionality.
The Bottom Line
While there are specific requirements for an in-ground gate operator, the benefits of the style, clean look and improved appearance of your automated gate. If the sleek and modern “machinery-free” look appeals to you for your gate, make sure to reach out to one of our project managers today and we will work with you to get you set up with exactly what you need.