What Is the Difference Between Residential and Commercial Gate Motors?

What Is the Difference Between Residential and Commercial Gate Motors?

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If you’re not in the fence and perimeter security industry, you might be a little baffled about gate motors. They all seem to do the same thing, but there can be a huge difference in price between entry-level models intended for residential use and commercial and industrial gate motors.

Let’s take a look at some of the important differences between residential and commercial or industrial gate motors.

Gate Size

The first thing that differs between residential and commercial gate motors is the size and weight of the gate they can be used on.

Residential gates are rarely much wider than a driveway, and they’re usually a lot lighter than a commercial or industrial gate. Commercial and industrial gates, on the other hand, are often designed to allow access to large vehicles, so they need to be much bigger and heavier duty.

When you are looking for gate motors, make sure that the quotes and information you get are for the right size and weight of gate.

Duty Cycles

The next important thing that differs between residential and commercial or industrial gate motors is duty cycles. That’s not a term everyone understands, but it simply means how many times a gate motor is designed to open and close in a day.

A gate motor that you install at your home will probably only open and close a few times a day. A gate on a commercial or industrial site might have to open and close dozens or even hundreds of times a day.

Residential gate motors aren’t designed to do that much work, so if you try to install one on a busy entrance or exit gate, you can expect to replace it very soon!


Another big difference between residential and commercial or industrial gate motors is the voltage they can operate on.

Most residential gate motors are designed to be used with standard household power, and they’re all single-phase. Commercial and industrial gate motors often operate on different voltages, and often, they can be wired into a three-phase power supply.

You should always know what kind of power you will be using for your gate so that you can get the right gate motor for your needs.

Optional Peripherals

Usually, residential gate motors are basic models which don’t have a lot of options for a variety of peripherals. They may only have inputs for one or two items, like remotes or keypads.

Commercial and industrial gate operators usually have many more inputs available so that you can add exit loops, intercoms, keypads and more to your entry system.

Materials and Manufacturing

Very often, gate motors that are intended for residential use are manufactured with plastic enclosures, small backup batteries and lighter materials and equipment. That’s okay if they’re installed on a residential property but would not stand up in a commercial or industrial setting.

Commercial and industrial gate motors often have steel enclosures that are lockable and harder to tamper with, and they are usually made out of higher quality, more robust materials. You should also ensure that the gate motor you choose is rated for the climate you’re in. Different types of gate motors work in different types of climates, and if you use the wrong one, you might find it doesn’t work due to extreme heat or cold.


Of course, there’s a big price difference between residential gate motors and those that are intended for commercial and industrial use. That applies to the materials and equipment and the labour to install them.

Often, commercial, and industrial gate motors are part of a larger integrated perimeter security system, which means they need to be connected to a fence, management system, camera, lighting system and more. You should only ever use contractors and installers for commercial and industrial gate motor installation that are trained for that type of installation.

Also, remember that commercial and industrial gate motors usually have longer warranties and better after-sales support. If you have a commercial site that needs to be operational at all times, that’s very important!

Let Your Gate Be Your Guide

The worst thing you can do when you’re choosing gate motors for any project is to make price the primary factor.

There is a vast difference in the quality of gate motors out there, and in this case, you usually get what you pay for. If you choose a cheap gate motor just because it’s cheap and ignore everything else about your gate, there’s a good chance you will replace it sooner than you think.

The best advice we have for you if you’re in the market for residential or commercial and industrial gate motors is to speak to a reputable installer in your area. This is not really a job that should be tackled as a DIY project, and professionals will know what kind of gate motor you need for your particular gate and design.

Contractors and installers also usually get preferential pricing from suppliers, so while you will pay for the installation, you’ll get a better gate motor for your money.

Choose Recognised Brands with Local Representation

Our final tip for choosing the right gate motor for a residential, commercial, or industrial gate is to choose well known brands that have local representation in your area.

There are lots of cheaper imported options out there, which can save you money in the short term. However, getting parts (and someone to do repairs if needed) can be very difficult or even impossible if you need them down the line.

Gate motors are also designed with different needs and installation method in mind. So, motors that are designed for warm climates won’t work in cold places, and vice versa.

So, make sure you do your homework before you invest in a residential or commercial and industrial gate motor, and get the right one for the job.