The benefits of installing solar energy in your home simply can’t be overstated, and using solar energy to operate your driveway gate is an excellent use of the technology. With a solar gate opener, you can automate your gate without drawing on your home’s utilities.
Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of installing your own solar gate opener. This DIY guide will take you through all aspects of the installation from start to finish.
What You’ll Need
- A solar panel
- A power drill
- Open-end wrenches
- Both Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
- A tape measure
- A level
- Wire strippers
- A mounting plate (in some cases)
What's In This Article
Step 1: Measure Carefully
The first thing that you need to do before installing a solar gate opener or doing any home repair work is to measure carefully. For a proper solar gate opener installation, your gate needs to be level and solidly in place before you start.
Then, clear your work space. The solar gate opener will go on the same side as the hinges of your existing gate, so make room in that area. If your gate requires a mounting plate or another fix to accommodate the opener, consider this during your measuring step.
Step 2: Install the Gate Opener
When you’re ready to install, the next step is to attach the brackets to the gate post. Then, you’ll attach the mounting hardware to the gate. Depending on the hardware that comes with your solar gate opener, you might need a screwdriver, wrench, drill, or other standard tools.
Consider your gate’s design and materials — you might need a mounting plate or a horizontal bar or bracket in some cases.
Your gate’s materials will also dictate what types of tools you need. Obviously, attaching hardware to a wood fence is simpler than drilling into a metal driveway gate. Ensure that both sets of hardware line up so your opener fits.
Step 3: Install Your Panel
Once you know where your gate opener is going, you’ll need to install the solar panel nearby. You can attach the panel to an existing fence post or the gate’s post, ideally closest to the opener side. Make sure the panel receives direct sunlight — and that it doesn’t wobble.
However, do know that solar panels will still collect energy even when it is cloudy outside (1).
Although sunny days will produce more solar energy, solar panels will continue to draw energy even when the weather is cloudy.
If you need to buy a post to receive enough sunlight, you can get one at virtually any hardware store. PVC piping can also come in handy for protecting any wires that you need to run to your panel’s accompanying battery.
Step 4: Connect Your Gate Opener
Here’s where you’ll connect your already-installed gate opener to its solar power source.
Make sure that your control box is fully shut down to avoid accidents or injuries, then fix the panel’s wires to the control box. Red wires are for positive terminals, and black wires are for negative ones. This is the time to use your protective gear (2).
Even low-light conditions can create sufficient voltage to cause injury.
In addition, if you need to use an extension cord, you can, but ideally, the panel should be reasonably close to the box itself. The farther the distance between your solar gate opener and your gate, the more energy you stand to lose (3).
Step 5: Test It Out & Adjust
Before you plug your gate opener system in and call it good, run a few tests and see whether adjustments are needed.
A gate opener that’s too powerful will swing faster, but even though it’s not wasting energy, it could damage your gate or fence.
Ensure that the gate has a full range of motion and is moving at the appropriate speed. Then, reassemble your solar gate opener, replace its cover, and you’re all set.
For those looking for a visual of this whole process, we highly recommend this helpful video from Guildbrook Farm:
After watching the video, I’m sure you can achieve similar results with your solar gate opener installation. Lastly, to apply what you’ve learned here, you can check out our top DIY driveway gate ideas. The sky’s the limit these days, my friend!
What Are The Benefits of Using Solar Gate Openers?
The benefits of using solar gate openers include installation flexibility, a lower monthly energy bill, and a move towards a more sustainable future. Compared to other automatic gate openers that must be tied to your electrical grid to function, they’re often the greener option.
Who Can’t Use Solar Gate Openers?
The only individuals who can’t use solar gate openers are those who don’t have a permit (and their city requires one), and those who don’t receive at least eight hours of sunlight per day to keep them running.
If you live in an area where you don’t get much sun, or if the solar gate opener is obscured most of the time, you should consider another option. If you’re still unsure, check out this guide to determine if solar is right for you.
How Can I Maintain My Solar Gate Opener For The Long Run?
To maintain your solar gate opener for the long run you need to keep the area between the sun and your gate opener unobscured. This generally means trimming trees or bushes to keep the line of sight clear.
Ultimately, doing this and a simple cleaning from time to time will keep the total costs of an automatic driveway gate to a minimum. Otherwise, there’s not much maintenance to worry about with solar gate openers.
- Top Four Benefits of Installing Solar Panels on Your Home. Retrieved from: https://www.usgbc.org/articles/top-four-benefits-installing-solar-panels-your-home
- Solar Energy: Safety Risks and How to Prevent Them. Retrieved from: https://www.thehartford.com/resources/energy/solar-energy-risks
- Lost In Transmission: How Much Electricity Disappears Between A Power Plant And Your Plug? Retrieved from: http://insideenergy.org/2015/11/06/lost-in-transmission-how-much-electricity-disappears-between-a-power-plant-and-your-plug/