How to Install a Swing Gate Motor

Normally to install a swing gate motor (Operator) you'd follow the instructions that came with it but if these are in a foreign language or are so badly written they may as well be, then this page is here to help! 

There are two types of Swing Gate Motor: the Articulated Arm that is basically a box with a bending arm that connects to the gate and the Linear that looks more like a hydraulic ram.

Articulated Arm Motor  Linear Motor

Articulated Arm Motor Linear Motor 

Most Swing Gate Motors are Electro-mechanical that is they have an electric motor and gearing whereas some are hydraulic with an electric motor, hydraulic pump and actuator.  Its important to use a suitable sized motor for the gate otherwise if its too small it won't last long and is unlikely to be reliable.

Choosing the correct type of swing gate Motor  

Articulated arm motors are ideal if you have very wide gate posts, are in a dusty environment or don't want a hard stop in the middle of your driveway and have plenty of space behind the gate when it is open.  They are also easier to install.  Linear motors also referred to as "worm drives" are ideal if there is only a small amount of space behind the gate when open and are more suitable for gates in windy areas, gates with very wide opening angles and gates with rising hinges. Which ever type you choose it is important that it is rated for the size of gate you have and for gates with rising hinges they should be even larger again because the motor needs to lift a portion of the gates weight.


If a push button, key switch or Digital Keypad is installed to open the gate, they should be within sight of the gate but not placed so the user will be tempted to reach through the gate to open it.

Double swing gates should have a delay between left and right hand panels closing because if they close at the same time and a small child gets in between them they could be crushed.  If each side closes at a different time then this cannot happen as the forces applied are much less.  

Type of Use

Gate motors are rated for residential or commercial use.  Residential motors are intended for one residence that gets used only a few times a day although a good quality residential motor will work fine for up to four residences sharing one gate or up to 60 operations per day on average.

If more than one residence is sharing a gate then it is necessary to use the Auto-close feature with access controls set to Open only mode (or condominium mode) so the gate will only close after a time delay. Point to Point Photo Electric Safety Beams (Photocells) should be installed to prevent the gate closing on a vehicle.

... more on Photocells

For Gated Communities where traffic can be up to 300 operations a day a Commercially rated gate motor is necessary as a residential motor will wear out very quickly.  There's also other considerations such as peak traffic flow, controlling access.

... more on Automatic Gates for Gated Communities

Gates for Commercial premises don't necessarily need a commercially rated motor, if the gate is only to be opened in the morning automatically with a timer then closed at night then it's not getting a lot of use and so long as the motor is large enough for the gate a residential motor will do.  Although if the gate is exposed to a lot of public foot traffic, steps may need to be taken to make the motor more vandal proof ie. a metal cage put over it.  If the gate gets a lot of use then a Commercially rated motor is required.

... more on Automatic Gates for Commercial Gates

Power Options

A majority of motors available need to plug into a power point at the gate or can be hard wired to mains power.  Some motors have a Low Voltage Power Option where they plug in away from the gate and low voltage cable only is required to the gate, which can be much more economic than installing mains voltage and they come with a battery back up so you don't need to worry if there's a power failure.  A third option is Solar Powered although it's best to stick with a motor designed specifically for Solar Power for reliable operation.

... more on Power Options for Automatic Gates

Installing Cabling 

For mains power to be run out to the gate it needs to be trenched 600mm down in most area's, you'll need to get your local electrician to take care of installing mains power cabling.  For low voltage cable including cables for a second motor and accessories you can do this yourself.

... more on Installing Low Voltage Cable

Preparing the Gate 

The gate must open and close freely without hinges binding or gate dragging on the ground.

Posts for swing gates must be strong enough to not only support the weight of the gate but also the weight of anyone trying to climb the gate.  Posts should be steel or seasoned hardwood that won't warp as this may cause the gate to drop and drag on the ground and stop working.  If the gate does drop DO NOT USE A WHEEL to fix this problem, the correct solution is to replace the posts and hinges as a wheel creates a lot of drag and is not suitable for automation.

Remove all gate latches and install a gate stop if needed with the chosen motor.

... more on Hard Stops and Electric Locks for Swing Gates

How to install an Articulated Arm Motor >>>

How to install a Linear Motor >>>