Whether you own a farm or a walled property, a manual gate is a headache to operate. You’ve got to get out of your vehicle, open the gate, drive through, then get out and close it again. Even if your gate has a numeric keypad, this is still a waste of your time. A better option is simply to use an automatic gate opener. With an automatic gate opener, you don’t have to get out of your vehicle. You just push a button, much in the same way you’d open an overhead garage door. Some automatic gate openers even allow you to use a smartphone app, to open your gate from anywhere on earth.
When it comes to how your gate is going to be powered, you have options. Plugging into AC power provides the simplest solution for most people. However, this assumes that there’s an AC outlet near your gate. Otherwise, you’ll have to have one installed. AC-powered gate openers are also vulnerable to power outages. The last thing you want is to be locked out of your own gate just because there’s a power outage. Finally, AC openers aren’t very practical for agricultural or off-grid use. For those purposes, as well as for backup, a solar powered opener will be your best option.
Today, well be reviewing three of the best solar powered automatic gate opener kits available on the market. We’ll begin by reviewing the Mighty Mule MM571W. This opener can manage an 18-foot swinging gate up to 850 pounds in weight. Next, we’ll look at the Ghost Controls TSS1XP. This opener is made for the largest, heaviest swinging gates. Finally, we’ll check out the CO-Z Solar Powered Sliding Gate Opener. This is a sliding gate opener, compatible with driveway alarms, lights, and other security devices. But which one is the right choice for you? Let’s take a closer look at each one of these openers, and see how they compare.
Choosing the Right Solar Powered Automatic Gate Opener
Before we review these gate openers, let’s go over some basics. Why would you choose one gate opener over another in the first place? Here are a few factors you should consider while you go about your search.
What Style Gate Do You Have?
The first thing you need to consider is whether you have a swinging or a sliding gate. Because of their design, you’ll need a completely different opener for each type. Swinging gate openers usually consist of a hydraulic piston that can pull or push the gate open or shut. A sliding gate opener will typically have a belt or chain that pulls the gate open and shut.
For swinging gates, there’s an additional complication. Some swinging gates are a single piece, while others consist of two opposing pieces. For a dual-swing gate, you’ll need an automatic opener that’s designed for that purpose. Resist the urge just to buy two separate single-swing openers. This can lead to complications, and cause issues with your remote controls.
How Big is the Gate?
Once you know what type of gate you have, it’s time to perform some measurements. It’s also helpful if you know how much your gate weighs. Different openers are designed for different weights of gate. The heavier the gate, the more powerful opener you’re going to need. Hopefully, you have this information, or you’re able to find it. If not, try to make an educated guess. Keep in mind that aluminum is lighter than steel, while wrought iron is generally the heaviest kind of gate. Compare your gate to others with a similar size and material, and make an educated guess. This should get you close, but it’s still better if you know your gate’s exact weight for sure.
Along the same lines, consider how easy or hard it is to open your gate. Some gates swing almost effortlessly, while others require a serious shove to get moving. If the gate is very easy to swing, you can probably get away with a lighter opener. If you find yourself grunting and sweating as you open or close the gate, look for a more powerful opener. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but it’s still something you should take into account. Also, remember that gate posts and walls will settle over time. A gate that opens easily today might be harder to open a year from now. So it’s really better to go with a more powerful opener if you can manage one.
Now, measure the length of your gate. This is the distance from the hinge to the end of the gate. For a dual-swing gate, make sure to measure both sides. An opener will be rated for the length of a given side, not for the total. And since the two halves might be of unequal lengths, you’ll want to measure the length of each. The length of sliding gates is even more important. If an opener doesn’t have a long enough chain, it won’t be able to reach the end of the gate!
Finally, look at the size of the gate posts and columns. Depending on the design of the opener, it may require a certain sized post or column for mounting. If your motor has a 1-foot bracket, it’s not going to attach easily to a 6-inch post.
Do You Have Enough Power?
Solar panels are relatively low-wattage devices. They won’t directly power your door opener. Instead, a solar gate kit uses a solar panel to charge a battery, which in turn powers the motor. This way, the battery is constantly being topped off, and can open the gate by night and day alike. However, a battery can only open your gate so many times before it runs dry. If you use your gate many times a day, this can be problematic. It’s particularly problematic if you come and go a lot at night, when the battery cannot be recharged. Make sure your solar powered gate opener has a powerful enough battery to meet your demands.
Most gate openers will come with a remote control for easy operation. In most cases, you’ll want to keep one in your car. Make sure to know the controller range before you buy. Some work from only a few dozen feet, while others can work from more than 100 feet away. Some newer gate openers can even be connected to the web, and operated from anywhere via an app. Finally, you can often attach keypads if you want to easily allow access to multiple users.
Nowadays, most gate openers are designed with an automatic revers feature. There should be both an infrared sensor, as well as a pressure sensor built into the system. This will keep the gate from closing on a person, pet, or vehicle. However, many gate openers also offer optional safety features for additional peace of mind. Depending on the model, they may be compatible with driveway alarms, security cameras, and lights, among other things.
Mighty Mule MM371W
The Mighty Mule MM371W is a complete kit with everything you need to assemble a single-swing gate opener. It consists of a compact black motor, attached to a matching black piston. In total, it can handle a gate up to 16 feet long, or up to 550 pounds. This makes it capable of opening just about any single-swing gate on the market.
The kit includes a gate opener, which will operate from up to about 100 feet away. It’s designed much like a garage door remote, complete with a clip for attaching to your car visor. Alternatively, Mighty Mule also has a smartphone app that allows you to open your gate from anywhere in the world. However, using the app requires your gate opener to be connected to the internet. To do this, you’ll need the MMS100 Wireless Connectivity Kit, which is sold separately. This is a powerful WiFi receiver that can connect to your home’s wireless network from up to ½-mile away. As a result, it can be used even on a very large property.
The MM371W is powered by a solar panel, which includes a metal mounting bracket. It also comes with 10-foot wires, which gives you a bit of flexibility. If the gate post itself is shaded, you can hopefully extend the wires to a patch of sun. Depending on how much sunlight you get, it’s rated to provide between 14 and 38 close/open cycles per day. For most people, this should be more than enough. However, if you use your gate constantly, it may not be sufficient. Even so, the MM371W makes a fantastic backup system.
Ghost Controls TSS1XP
The Ghost Controls TSS1XP is a very powerful opener for even the largest of single-swing gates. This monster has a similar construction to the Mighty Mule, but is just plain beefier. In fact, it can handle even 20-foot gates, or gates as heavy as 900 pounds. Not only that, but the included remote control is exceedingly powerful. It can open the gate from 1,000 feet away, so you’ll never have to wait for it to open.
That said, this opener does come with a major downside. While it does include a powerful, 10-watt solar panel, it doesn’t come with a battery pack. Unmodified, you’ll either need an AC to 12-volt DC adapter or an deep cycle battery array to make it work. Alternatively, you can purchase the ABBT2 Battery Box Kit add-on and install your own batteries. You can also add up to an additional 30 watts of solar power, which may be necessary for off-grid operation.
The TSS1XP meets all modern safety standards, including a pressure sensor that stops operation if it encounters resistance. In addition to that, it can be wired with a variety of other devices, such as lights and driveway alarms. Finally, you get a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. If you register your opener online, this is extended to two years, and lifetime for the motor and gearbox.
CO-Z Solar Powered Sliding Gate Opener
The CO-Z Solar Powered Sliding Gate Opener is entirely different from our last two options. Instead of swinging gates, it’s made to open sliding gates as long as 40 feet, and up to 1,100 pounds.
The kit installs directly behind your gate column, and includes a 20-watt solar panel. This panel charges a pair of 12-volt, 9Ah batteries with enough power for dozens of cycles per day. Whether for emergency or off-grid use, you should rarely have to worry about losing power. If you do, you can take advantage of the manual release keys to open your gate in an emergency. This opener can also run on normal AC power.
The kit includes a pair of key fob remotes, which can open the gate from up to 100 feet. You can add up to 25 remotes for apartment complexes or commercial sites. However, each fob will need to be manually paired with the opener for security. You can also plug in other devices like driveway alarms and lights.
As you can see, each of these automatic gate opener kits has something to recommend it. The Mighty Mule MM371W is a complete kit, and provides the best value for most single-swing gates. It’s powerful enough even for large, heavy gates, and it can work for up to 38 cycles per day. Not only that, but the WiFi add-on allows for online control even on very large properties. For many people, this is more than you’ll ever need.
The Ghost Controls TSS1XP is an even more powerful opener. It can also be expanded with up to 30 watts of additional solar power, for true off-grid operation. However, it doesn’t come with any batteries. If you don’t already have batteries, you’ll need to invest in some before this opener will even work.
The CO-Z Solar Powered Sliding Gate Opener is an excellent choice for all but the largest of sliding gates. It works both on and off the grid, so you can install it in just about any situation. Meanwhile, the ability to connect multiple fobs makes it perfect for commercial buildings or apartment complexes. You can easily give access to up to 25 people without compromising your security.