How Do Gate Safety Beams Work?

How Do Gate Safety Beams Work?

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If you’re planning to install an automated gate or you want to add a gate motor to your existing gate, you will discover that most gates require safety equipment.

In fact, according to UL325, which is the latest standard for automatic gate safety in North America, you need to have a minimum of two safety features installed on your gate. Compliant gate operators won’t even work if you don’t. If you think you might want to use electric gate safety beams, read this.

Why Do We Need Gate Safety Beams and Other Safety Equipment?

As you can imagine, in order to move your heavy gate, your gate motor needs to exert a fair amount of force. If anything – including people, animals, and vehicles – is between the gate and the closing post, and there are no safety features installed, the gate will simply keep trying to close.

In the case of humans and animals, that usually means there’s the potential for serious injury or death. Vehicles and other objects might be seriously damaged by a closing gate.

The safety equipment that is installed on gates either stops the gate from closing because there is something in the gate opening or, in some gates, causes the gate to reverse when it hits something that is before the programmed stopping point.


How Do Infra-Red Gate Safety Beams Work?

Infrared gate safety beams (or photo eyes as they are also known) work by transmitting an invisible beam from one side of the gate to the other.

If something (a person, animal, object, or vehicle) is in the gate opening, that beam will be broken, and the gate motor will know that there is something in the way and that it cannot close.

As you can imagine, a gate safety beam kit has two major components: a transmitter that generates the beam and a receiver that receives the beam or, if it does not relay the information back to the gate operator.

There are some gate safety beams that work with a reflector instead of a receiver too, but they tend not to be as reliable as the transmitter/receiver system.

Of course, because there are two beams and both require power and communication with the gate motor, you do usually need to lay those cables under the gate to connect the two units.


What Else Do You Need to Know About Infra-Red Gate Safety Beams?

One common problem that you should be aware of is that gate safety beams are usually installed fairly low – a foot or two off the ground. This works fine for ordinary vehicles and people but might not be triggered by large vehicles that are higher off the ground.

Gate safety beams can also be triggered while the gate is in motion, so it’s important to be sure that the gate is fully closed before you leave the area. Anyone passing by who knows anything about gates could wave their arm between the beam transmitter and receiver, break the signal and cause the gate to open.

This is also useful if you need the gate to stay open for a while. Placing a sticker, post it note, or something else over the eye beam transmitter will interrupt the signal and prevent the gate from closing. Useful if you need to carry several items through the gate!

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