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Having an automatic gate opener means you no longer have to get out of your vehicle in bad weather just to drag open the gate. But which is better, a solar or electric gate opener? Electric gate operators have been around for a while, but solar powered systems is still new. Is it worth switching over to solar?
Solar gate openers work best when gates are used 4-10 times a day with plenty of sunlight. Electric gate openers are suitable for gates with more frequent use like business establishments.
There are different types of solar and gate openers, but the functionality is more or less the same. To do this comparison, let us look at all the essential categories.
We are aware there are different types of solar gate openers. How they function will also depend on the environment. But these general guidelines should help you make a comparison and decide which is more suitable for your home.
Solar vs. Electric Gate Opener: Cost
With electric gate operators you pay a monthly bill to the power company. If the gate is used frequently that cost will go higher. You not only pay for the system, but owe the utility comp[any charges too.
With solar power, you only have to purchase the product. The Ghost Controls TSS1XP Gate Opener Kit for instance, has all the parts you need and once installed, no more monthly bills. Solar gate openers use the power of the sun so it is free energy. Solar may be more expensive upfront, but over a short period of time it will pay for itself.
Both types of gate openers have seen a reduction in price. But the difference is you just make a one time payment for solar. This is similar to solar and electricity in general. It costs more at the beginning but becomes a good investment in the end. Compared to wind and hydro, solar is better suited for home.
Bottom line: if cost efficiency is your main concern, then solar power is the way to go. This is especially true if you plan to live off the grid.
Solar vs. Electric Gate Opener: Dependability
At first glance it seems that electric gate openers have the edge. After all electric power is something we all use to the point we take it for granted. However, solar gate operators are also dependable.
The biggest limitation of solar power is it depends on the sun. Without sunlight, there is no power source. But that is longer a problem because these devices have batteries. Similar to solar panel batteries, sun powered gate openers use them to store energy.
The simplest way to understand this is to learn how solar gate openers work. A solar panel or PV module absorbs sunlight. The electronics convert this into electricity, which triggers the mechanism to open and close the gate as needed. The solar panel sends any excess energy into the battery. The gate opener will only use this energy when there is no sunlight available or solar production is unable to meet demand.
If you are familiar with how solar power works, then the explanation above makes sense. Contrary to a widespread solar power myth solar power can be used at night and in any weather if it is connected to a charged battery.
And another benefit worth pointing out. If there is a power outage you can still use a solar gate opener. As long as there is sunlight the panel will run. If the sun has set you can use the battery. If the power is out, you cannot use an electric gate opener.
As far as dependability goes, both score well. However solar has the edge because you can use it anytime including power outages.
Solar vs. Electric Gate Opener: Installation and Configuration
Solar and electric gate openers have specific requirements to work. Which is more practical depends on your property and gate location. Being solar, it also depends on how much sunlight the area receives.
If you have wiring near the gate, an electric operator makes sense. You can buy the gate opener and connect it to the existing power line. The problem is if you do not have a ready electrical connection. If you still want to go electrical, you will have to hire an electrician to install the proper wiring.
Solar gate openers require sunlight. The more frequently you will use the gate, the more sun is needed. At least 5 hours of sunlight is recommended. This is not only for the solar panel, but also for storing extra energy in the battery.
A solar gate opener must have a clear, unobstructed view of sunlight and the panels must be the right size. Position the gate opener so it receives maximum sunlight exposure. Shade, even the slightest, will slow down the charge or halt. This is not likely to be a problem with a well kept property however.
As you can see, both have particular requirements. If you can meet both then you can pick based on your personal preference or based on the criteria here.
Solar vs. Electric Gate Opener: Upkeep Requirement
Solar panels are low maintenance, but a little cleaning will improve performance. Wipe dirt off the panel so it can receive more sunlight. Rain will wash away the dirt, but if it is dry and hot, do not let dust build up.
Electric gate openers need maintenance too. Keep dirt and dust off, but most important, make sure the electrical wiring is working properly. Obviously the cable must be waterproof. It must also be durable enough to withstand chewing by animals and seasonal changes.
As far as maintenance is concerned, solar is easier. It has less moving parts and less likely to break. Because solar panels are designed for outdoor use, you have less to worry about. Anything electrical requires careful maintenance, and if something goes wrong, will require an electrician. You can do it yourself, but it is complicated.
Solar vs. Electric Gate Opener: Frequency of Use
Solar powered gate openers are ideal for gates with minimal or regular use. A home security gate, for instance, is used at least twice, when the occupant leaves for work and returns later. The gate may be opened and closed a few more times during the day. As long as it does not exceed 10 or so, solar power will be do fine.
For more frequent use, an electrical gate opener is better. They are designed for heavy duty use and will not wear down easily and have a consistent power source. There are well built solar gate operators, but electrical systems are generally sturdier. Things will change in the future though as solar powered devices become more durable and long lasting.
When deciding what to buy, research the manufacturer. Also check the feedback on the device and how the company responds to problems. Solar panel warranties last for ten years at least, so make certain you get a good deal there as well.
Do I Need Another Power Source For My Automated Gate? It is best if you do. With electrical gate operators the reason is obvious. If the power goes out suddenly and the gate is open, it will get stuck in that spot. It is also possible for solar gate systems to run out of power and be left open. That is why before you buy, make sure there is a manual or alternate power source built in.
Which Gate Opener Should You Use?
There are three options: go solar, go electric or use both.
Let us start with the last option. Some gate operators have electric and solar capabilities. This is a nice option that allows you to have the best of both worlds. Unfortunately this gate opener is still rare. But if you do find one that is reasonably priced there is no reason not to get one.
The choice is simple. If your security gate is used frequently all day and night, an electric gate opener is more appropriate. If you have a business establishment and people come and go, an electric or hybrid gate operator is a good option.
For most homes, a solar gate operator will do nicely. Provided there is sufficient sunlight and no shade around the gate, solar power will work well. It is low maintenance and with a good battery, can be used even during nights or overcast, rainy days.
Setting up a solar gate opener is not that difficult, and if your home is partly or wholly solar, it makes sense to use it on the gate too. The best part about these devices is they are becoming more common. Just like solar panel kits, solar gate opener kits have the required parts.
Solar powered gate openers are becoming more common, and it is easy to see why. It is easy to use, dependable and cost effective. Unless you have frequent guests, using solar power for your gate is the way to go.
I am an advocate of solar power. Through portablesolarexpert.com I want to share with all of you what I have learned and cotinue to learn about renewable energy.