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Automatic gate openers or GTOs are very convenient for obvious reasons, and if powered by the sun become very affordable too. Unlike appliances, a gate opener does not need a lot of solar panels to run, but the set up has to be correct.
A 10W solar panel to run gate opener. Solar powered gate openers should also have a battery backup to run the system at night.
How to Calculate Gate Opener Solar Power Requirements
if you buy a solar gate opener kit like the heavy duty Ghost Protocols TSS1XP you don’t have to do any calculating. The panel, battery and everything else is included.
The solar panel size included in a gate opener kit will depend on its weight rating. A 10W solar gate opener may support a 300 lb. gate. Another GTO might be compatible with an 800 lb. gate and come with a bigger solar panel.
If the gate opener supports solar power, the kit will include the solar panels required. You just have to install the gate opener and if there is enough sunlight, the gate will run.
The heavier the gate the more likely the kit will require a battery, In some cases the battery is bundled but with others this is a separate purchase and will be necessary for large dual gates.
All you need to do is estimate the weight of your gate. Once you have an estimate it is a matter of finding a solar gate opener kit that supports that gate weight.
The gate length should be considered too. Some solar GTO kits only list the supported gate weight. However it would be better if the maximum length was included too. The more information provided about what gates the system can work with, the better.
Of course the weight is only one aspect you should look at. There are other factors that need to be considered such as whether it has a battery or not. No matter what solar GTO kit you buy, a battery back is a necessity.
Why You Need Batteries and Solar Panels
Every solar gate opener kit includes a battery, usually 12V DC, or has support for it. If your kit comes with a battery, you just need to install it with the solar panel and you will be ready to go. If it is not included, buy one that is compatible with the kit.
Solar gate openers need a battery to store energy and work at night. You can use solar power with the gate during the day, but what happens when the sun goes down? Without any battery the gate will not run.
Gate batteries have the same purpose as any solar battery . To store extra energy produced by the solar panel. This energy reserve is what the battery will use to operate the gate at night. Even though solar gate panels are small compared to those used in RVs and homes, they operate on the same principle.
The battery sizes vary depending on the GTO kit. Most gate opener solar panels range from 5 to 30 watts, and the larger the panel, the higher the battery capacity. Sometimes two GTO kits can have the same solar panel wattage but one can support a heavier gate. That means the kit includes a battery that allows it to operate the larger load.
Keep in mind that these solar gate openers also have electrical power support. Running the gate on solar is provided as an option. There will be times when the sun won’t be available, not just at night but during the winter season too. So it only makes sense to have an electrical output included.
How Solar Gate Openers Work
These GTO systems run in different ways according to the design. Basically there are three options, solar panels, battery power or electricity.
The electrical supply is self explanatory. The system has onboard electronics that are connected to the power supply in your home. All the required cables and connectors should be included in the package. Once installed, your gate will run on electricity. As long as there is electricity the gate will keep working.
The gates can also be powered directly by the built in solar panel. If your gate receives plenty of sunlight, running the gate on solar panel is a good idea. The higher the panel watt output, the more times it can open and close the gate automatically.
Large gates require a lot of power to run. If you only use the gate 2 to 3 times, a solar panel might be enough. For gates that see a lot of use, electricity or battery is the better alternative.
If your gate is too far for electrical power, a solar battery is the best option. The battery needs to be fully charged to operate the gate, so make sure it has been charged by the solar panel or by electrical power. Some gate opener kit batteries can only be charged by solar panels, but others accept AC power too.
Some of these kits have extra features and accessories. A controller, keypad and remote control may be included. You have to decide if these items are necessary and worth the extra cost. If the items do not add to the price tag however, they can be nice to have and make gate operations and management easier.
Why is My Solar Gate Opener Not Working?
If you are using the solar panels and the gate does not work, it means there is not enough power available. Make sure there is no shading on the panels as this will prevent the solar cell from producing energy.
Before you install a solar gate opener, check the position of your gate and if solar power is practical. Are there any trees around it? How much sun does it usually get?
Even if the gate is in good position to receive sunlight, perhaps there is just not enough available. But because solar gate openers need little power – only 10 solar watts in most cases – even a bit of sun will be enough. It is not like you are running a pool pump , so a bit of sun might be sufficient.
To ensure reliable performance, keep the battery fully charged. As long as it is connected to the solar panel and the sun is out, it will carry a charge. So when night falls you can rely on the battery to keep the gate operational.
Tips For Choosing a Solar Gate Opener
The first thing you need to do is determine the gate size and if the location is suitable for solar power. If the answer to both questions is yes, you can pick and choose a solar gate opener. There is no shortage of options, but here are some tips to help you make the right decision.
- Essential accessories. Your solar gate opener kit should come with a control box, cable, fasteners, brackets, transmitters and instructions.
- Weight rating. if your gate weighs 300 lbs., the weight support must be at least that, preferably more. Running a solar gate opener at its limit will require a lot of power and could strain the components.
- Solar panel and batter inclusion. A kit that includes the panels and battery is ideal. It saves you time and money, plus you do not have to worry about compatibility.
- Controller. a battery charge controller is essential. This device ensures the battery does not get overcharged.
- Remote and keypad. A remote control makes gate operations easier, and so does a keypad. However some people do not consider them essential in a GTO kit.
- Warranty. The longer and more comprehensive the warranty, the better. Most high end gate openers have a lifetime warranty, so they are the ones you should check out first.
- Safety feature. Start / stop and emergency release are two common safety mechanisms built into these devices.
Installing a solar gate opener is easy, and even better is you do not have to do any complicated math to find out how many solar panels are needed. Because these kits offer three power options – solar panels, battery or electricity – you can operate your gate in different ways.
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.