Automatic gate openers may seem like a novelty to some or a luxury comfort feature to others. But in reality, the best automatic gate openers won’t just make your life easier, they will also make operating the gate a lot safer.
A good electronic gate opener will allow you to open the gate from far away, without having to get close to the mechanism. It might also prevent the gate from closing as a result of a malfunction and it could work off a battery alone if you need one in a remote area.
Best Automatic Gate Openers - My Top Picks
Check out some of my favorite picks in this niche to understand why they’re so useful for residential and commercial properties, alike.
- Best Automatic Gate Openers - My Top Picks
- Different Sizes of Gates
- Weight to Size Ratio
- What You Need to Know About Gates
- Accessories You’ll Need
- Are There Any Financial Incentives for Choosing Solar Powered Automatic Gate Openers?
- Important and Less Important Motor Features
- The More Wireless Features the Better
- Customization Options
- Warranty and Pricing
The Mighty Mule MM560 18’ model is a single gate opener that comes with a complete installation and operational kit. You can use it to open single swing gates up to 18’ long. You should know that the maximum weight supported is 850lbs, which is a very impressive number by any standards.
All necessary accessories are also included in the package. You’ll find that the MM560 comes with a Mighty Mule FM150 battery and a FM135 remote control. One of the reasons I recommend the MM560 is because it works with all types of gates such as panel, tube, chain link, etc.
The installation process is not the easiest around and it may even take you up to three hours if you try to do it yourself. But, the instruction manual is very detailed and should guide you through the process seamlessly. There’s also a DVD included with the gate opener kit which should offer more visual cues.
You’ll also notice that the opener features a soft-start function which will improve the longevity of the hardware.
The Ghost Controls TDS2XP automatic gate opener is solar powered. It’s essentially the beefed up version of the Ghost Controls TDS2, with more quality of life features and on the greener side of electronic hardware.
Although a bit expensive, know that you can get the TDS2XP in various kits. You can get a single or a dual gate opener, with or without the 10W solar panel. However, I recommend the solar powered model even if you don’t live someplace sunny like California.
It looks great, it’s easy to install, and can save you some operating costs in the long-run. In terms of raw power, the TDS2XP can handle gates up to 300lbs, or roughly 20’ long. This is no small feat, especially considering that it runs on a standard 12V battery like most other automatic gate openers.
I should also point out that this design has been optimized for tubular type gates. Although it can be installed on other types too, it seems to respond best to tubular gates. One gate type you should avoid is the solid panel gate.
If you’re looking for something to open up a massive gate, then the CO-Z gate opener might be your best bet. This automatic gate opener is designed to work with gates weighing up to 1,400lbs and up to 40ft long.
It comes with a 20ft. chain that can hold an impressive amount of weight. Although this opener runs on a 200W DC motor, it operates pretty quietly. Of course, nothing says fully automatic like an auto closing feature. You can configure the CO-Z opener to close the gate after 12, 24, or 36 seconds, which will give you some maneuvering room.
I also like the range on the remote control. You can use it from up to 100ft. away effectively. This means that you won’t have to get out of the car to activate the system. The remote also has four buttons: open, close, stop, and close stop.
The installation might take you a while since this system is intended for massive gates. But, considering how much the chain can pull and the fact that it can operate at about 43ft. per minute at low noise volumes, it’s not a bad deal at all.
Whether you’re looking for a small single gate opener or a dual gate option, the Mighty Mule MM260 has you covered. This system is primarily designed for smaller gates, up to 300lbs in weight or up to 12ft. in length, making it more suitable for the average household.
It’s affordable, especially considering that it comes with its own RB570 AC transformer and the FM135 one-button remote. As it is standard with all Mighty Mule gate openers, a detailed manual and instructional DVD will also be included to help guide you through a DIY installation.
What’s perhaps even more impressive is that the system can be installed on any type of gate from chain link to vinyl and wood. One minor downside is the fact that the battery is not included in the package. You’ll need to buy a 12V battery that can produce at least 250 CCA.
Of course, the MM260 can also use solar power if you’re looking for a more energy-efficient alternative. This system is compatible with both FM121 and the FM123 solar panels (5w and 10W). The solar panels are not included, so it’s up to you to decide which one you prefer.
The Topens DK1000S comes in many configurations. I personally prefer the solar kit version due to its versatility and convenience. This system can handle gates as heavy as 1,600lbs or as long as 40ft. I find it most useful in high-end residential areas or commercial areas.
You also have an option to run this system on battery, so there won’t be any issues regarding bad weather, lack of sun, etc. The high-performance motor has an impressive pulling power and operates at low noise levels.
You should also know that the DK1000S comes with full mounting hardware. You won’t need expensive tools or much of a background in engineering to set up this system. Another cool feature is the soft-start/soft-stop feature which ensures the system’s longevity.
A manual release key is also included, which is pretty great to have in case of a power outage. Among the many other useful quality of life features, the DK1000S also comes with adjustable auto closing times. Available intervals include 30, 60, and 90 seconds. But, what’s even better here is that you can also configure the stall force in order to avoid putting extra strain on the motor.
The EZGO solar gate opener comes as part of the Mighty Mule E-Z gate opener kit. It’s a complete package that includes two FM135 remotes and a high-performance FM123 10W solar panel. Of course, the system can also run on AC power.
In terms of power, the motor is quite good as it can open gates of up to 550lbs or 16ft. long. This makes it useful in residential areas, as well as in some commercial areas or on small farms. The system is quite energy efficient, too due to the large battery design and superior power reserve capacity.
The battery has been rated at 1,500 recharge cycles which is no small feat for a medium to heavy-duty gate opener.
Customer support, a detailed user manual, and an instructional DVD are also included. As is the case with most Mighty Mule automatic gate openers, this system will work on any type of gate, whether it’s chain link, panel, or wood. The range on the on the wireless receiver is also impressive and it will come in handy in many situations.
You can find this system in two configurations - for single and double gates. It’s an AC powered automatic gate opener with a solar option that should be suitable for a huge range of remote properties. The compatibility of this system is very good, with ornamental gates, chain link gates, and even large 20ft. long farm gates all being within its reach.
The motor is very powerful and can easily deal with large, heavy gates of up to 1,000lbs. I also like the battery capacity. On a full charge, the battery will give you up to eight weeks worth of power even if it’s constantly cloudy. The Sentry 300 also has an AC transformer, meaning that it can be used all year round and under any weather conditions.
Another reason you might be interested in the Sentry 300 over other models are simple and quick installation and ease of use. This system comes with a Sentry Plug N Go wiring harness. This takes a lot of the guess work and tedious wiring out of the equation. With a bit of experience you might be able to install and configure the system in under one hour. That’s usually not the case with medium to heavy-duty automatic gate openers.
The Aleko AC1400NOR is a mid-priced, heavy-duty automatic gate opener. It is designed to work on large gates, think upwards of 1,000lbs. The maximum capacity is 1,500lbs. It can also operate very long gates, commercial or farm gates of up to 50ft. in length.
When it comes to build quality, the AC1400NOR is impressive. Its aluminum alloy chassis has good corrosion resistance. That being said, this system is not too heavy and you won’t need help installing and configure it.
The opener features a powerful 110V motor, two remotes, and a 20ft. long chain to pull some of the biggest gates out there. It also comes with a cool safety feature for you and for the mechanism - this gate opener stops working the gate once it detects an obstacle. The feature is available both when you’re opening and closing the gate.
Another reason why I recommend this product is because of the well-known longevity of Aleko motors. They’re built to last a lifetime even under consistent pressure. However, this motor won’t give you a soft start, so it might make a bit of noise when the gate starts opening.
The DS1U automatic gate opener can handle anything between 300lbs and 1,000lbs. The maximum gate length is 20 ft. It has its uses in residential and commercial areas, and you can install it on just about any tubular gate. While it may lack in the compatibility department, its tubular gate-specific design makes it one of your best choices for this type of gate.
You’ll get more value out of the DS1U if you use it on a heavier gate, since that’s why it is equipped with a longer operator arm in the first place. The installation should be equally simple, no matter what size gate you install the system on.
I also like that the DS1U comes with a solar-powered option and that it runs on an affordable 12V battery. However, note that neither the battery nor solar panels are included in the price of the system. I recommend going for the AXDP solar panel kit.
You may also like the Ghost Controls ABBT2. This is a special lockable box that can protect the battery against acid leaks, water infiltration, and other issues. Another cool thing is the SafeForce feature which limits the amount of force exerted by the motor when opening and closing the gate, to avoid injuries.
The US Automatic 020320 Sentry 300S is a very durable solar powered automatic gate opener. This system is there for ornamental gates up to 20ft. long. It works off a 12vdc battery which can be charged with a solar panel or with the included AC transformer.
The large capacity battery is the same one used in the more high-end Sentry 300 series gate openers. This means that you will get up to eight weeks of use on one full charge. Regarding the installation process, this system is easy to set up on your own thanks to the Sentry Plug N Go wiring harness.
While you can find the 020320 in both single and dual gate configurations, the price to performance ratio may not be the best when dealing with dual gates. I recommend the single gate 020320 model, if you want more value for money.
11. OrangeA AC600
The OrangeA AC600 is a sliding gate opener that can handle weights up to 1,400lbs. The operating speed is 43ft. per minute, which is right up there with some of the best automatic gate openers on the market right now.
If you have to open a long gate, the 100ft. range of the remote control should cover you. This is important because the motor has a soft-start which is great for the system’s longevity, but not ideal if you’re closing in fast.
This system can also support more than two remotes and can also be fitted with infrared sensors, as well as other accessories. However, the AC600 comes with a rather basic kit.
I also like the quiet operation which is well under 60db, being as loud – or quiet – as the regular conversation. Another reason why I recommend the AC600 is its impressive weather resistance. The system has an operating temperature range of -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to +50 degrees Celsius). This means that you’ll be able to use it all year round and in any type of weather.
Different Sizes of Gates
One of the obvious questions that pop up when you’re trying to find an automatic gate opener is how much does the size of your gate matter. The answer is – a lot. Manufacturers almost always specify the maximum gate length that the opener can handle.
You can find automatic gate openers for rather large property gates, up to 50ft. long or even larger. But you have to also be careful about what type of gate the gate opener is designed for. For example, some are designed to only work with ornamental chain link gates.
Others are designed to work with multiple types of gates, but can’t handle the same length of every type. Always check for specific details like these when dealing with gate openers designed for multiple gate types.
Weight to Size Ratio
Here’s something you’ll likely see on a lot of automatic gate openers - “rated at up to 1,500lbs.” You may be tempted to think that this means that the gate opener can handle any 1,500lbs garage door. In reality, however, things are a bit different.
There’s always a gate length to weight ratio that you have to account for. Some gate openers may be rated for 1,500lbs but can only handle 5 ft. long gates. Installing such a gate opener on a 12ft. gate will lower its weight capacity considerably.
There’s no golden ratio here because the mechanisms and the motor power differ hugely from one system to another. But manufacturers typically provide charts that detail the weight to length ratio so that you’ll know if the gate opener will fit your gate.
What You Need to Know About Gates
Say you’re looking for an automatic gate opener but you haven’t even settled on a gate design just yet. Here are some guidelines that might put things in perspective for you.
If you opt for a single swing gate, all you’ll need will be one automatic gate opener. This means lower investments, simple installation, and lower operating costs. But, you will need to allow more swing distance. Typically, clearance will have to match the gate length – 5 ft. for a 5 ft. gate, 12 ft. for a 12 ft. gate, and so on.
Double swing gates, on the other hand, usually need only half that clearance. They also open up faster and are more practical for wide driveways. With that in mind, the investment will be steeper and you’ll have to install more hardware.
Slide gates are great alternatives too. They work like a charm in tight and compact spaces. Slide gates are also more suitable if your driveway is on an upward slope. That’s because with swing gates you would have to install them so that they open outwards which is not advisable.
Accessories You’ll Need
Electric automatic gate openers don’t draw as much power as you think. Now, not all gate openers will run on AC power, some will work on DC, so be careful before you buy.
There are also numerous solar-powered options on the market today. Of course, this is where things get tricky. Obviously, you’ll want a battery as a backup for power outages and other unforeseen issues.
But do all manufacturers include them in the installation kit? Unfortunately, some of them don’t. Sometimes you’ll have to buy a separate battery if you want to run your gate opener independent from the power grid, at least some of the time.
Here are some of the most important perks to look for when buying an automatic gate opener: large capacity battery, AC/DC transformer, solar panel, a spare remote. Solar panels should be at least 5W, if you want to charge your battery fast. 10W panels will charge the battery even faster.
And, it’s important to have a high capacity battery if you want to install an automatic gate opener on a remote property. Some batteries can last for up to eight weeks or more on one full charge.
Are There Any Financial Incentives for Choosing Solar Powered Automatic Gate Openers?
This will often depend on state legislation. Some solar-powered automatic gate openers might qualify for a 30% federal tax deduction. But, you should keep in mind that this is a highly situational occurrence.
For example, if an automatic gate opener can run on both AC and DC power, it’s not technically considered solar-powered. Not in a true sense, anyway. It just means that it’s solar energy compatible or that the solar panel is an extension or bonus feature of the system, not an essential component.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that not all manufacturers might participate in such programs that offer discounts, financing, or tax reductions.
Important and Less Important Motor Features
Here’s how I look at things when it comes to motors. If you’re living in a residential area, opting for a motor that’s excessively loud is not a good idea. Consider the fact that the noise won’t just annoy you, but also your neighbors. Not an ideal solution if you’ll be using the gate opener at late hours.
As far as how powerful the motor should be, that’s highly debatable. Some manufacturers put 400W, 1/2hp motors on gate openers designed for residential use. That’s overkill in most cases if you ask me.
But, there are some advantages to having a powerful motor. The stronger the motor the more quality of life features the automatic gate opener system may offer you. Things like slow start and slow stop are very important, but they’re usually not featured on systems with weaker motors.
The stronger the motor the easier it will be for the system configuration to handle adjustable speeds and quick breaks. Quick breaks are basically safety features which stop the gate from closing or opening when the sensors detect an obstacle.
Last but not least, the durability of the motor and overall build quality is very important. No matter how great the motor case is, it doesn’t mean that the motor shouldn’t be made of premium-quality materials. It will be installed outside and it should be built to last.
The More Wireless Features the Better
Hopefully, you’re not planning on installing a key pad next to your gate. Therefore, you should go for as many remote accessories as possible. Remote controls for the gate are a given, and the more range you get on them the better. Shoot for at least 100ft, especially if the gate doesn’t open particularly fast. This will give you enough time to open the gate, so that you won’t have to wait in front of it when pulling up the driveway.
A remote control panel or keypad is also a neat feature to have. This will let you operate the gate remotely for guests, without having to leave the comfort of your house. It also makes things safer from another perspective, that of the user.
Working with your hands around a moving heavy gate, whether it’s a swing gate or a sliding gate is never advised. The further away you can place the external gate opener interface, the better.
As far as the remote control is concerned, you won’t necessarily need a lot of buttons on it. Some manufacturers have one-button remotes and they’re the easiest to use if I’m being honest. But, if you want to get fancy about it, consider the four-button remotes then.
The four common buttons are for start/stop and pausing when closing or opening the gate. To be fair, these buttons shouldn’t even be necessary if the gate has a good proximity IR sensor that stops the motor and keeps the gate locked in when they detect an obstruction.
Some automatic gate openers come only with the bare bones necessities. But it’s nice to find a system that can be slowly upgraded, overtime, as you have more funds to invest. Look for systems that allow you to install aftermarket IR sensors, photo beam sensors, or loop detectors.
Protective battery boxes are also great if you can fit one onto your automatic gate opener system. These can keep the battery protected from wind, water, dirt, and physical damage. Battery boxes will also protect you and your property from potential acid leaks from a faulty or overworked battery.
Warranty and Pricing
Pricing can be all over the place when it comes to gate openers, so it is best to stick to a budget you can afford and look for the features that matter most to you. With that in mind, things are a bit different when it comes to warranty.
Many manufacturers offer sweet three to four-year warranty deals on paper. But more often than not, the warranty won’t extend to accidental damage, damage from bad weather, and stuff like that. Mechanical and electronic manufacturing defects will almost always be covered.
That’s why it’s important to go with reputable manufacturers. Even if you’re buying a gate opener with fewer bells and whistles, at least you’ll know that all the moving parts are top-quality and that you’ll get a decent warranty.
Never Get out of the Car Again While It Rains
Solar power is all the rage these days when it comes to gate openers. It just makes things so much easier and simpler. You don’t have to deal with power cable management, especially when you have a long driveway.
If you’re ready to give yourself a useful gift, an automatic gate opener might be it. Just pick one off this list that fits your gate best. Alternatively, you can use the tips provided in the article to pick the most cost-efficient gate opener for you, and never walk out in the rain to open the gate for your car.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.