Your Introduction to How Gates Work

Now, you probably know what happens when you’re driving through an access controlled gate. Your car has to wait for the vehicle in front of you to be let through, and then approach the gate when it begins to close. 

Access controlled gates recognize your car’s entry through different sensors, including edge sensing devices, as well as in-ground vehicle sensors or photo eye sensors. 

Sure, access control gates can be an effective way to manage visitors and enhance security – but how does it work?  


How do they interact with vehicles?

Gate systems work by interacting with every vehicle about to go through the gate. It’s essentially an information exchange between two entities, and it varies depending on what the vehicle is doing. There are two aspects to how access controlled gates work – one, when a vehicle is let through, and another, when the car is exiting. 

Entering the Property

When entering a property, the vehicle needs to stop in front of the gate and request entry. Then, the cars are given a signal to proceed – either verbally from a security agent or by a tone from a digital entry system. 

Once you hear the tone or the signal, you’re good to proceed. The gate sensors will detect your vehicle and open the gates for you. 

All cars need to keep a safe distance to be fully clear from the swing of the gate.

Additional incoming vehicles also must wait for the entry process to finish and not go in behind the first one.

Outgoing vehicles

The exit process is quite similar to its entry counterpart. Vehicles must approach the system slowly and stop at a safe distance, which usually has a mar on the ground. When exiting, a gate sensor detects the vehicle and opens the gate automatically.

That’s because outgoing vehicles don’t require access control like incoming ones. Once the gate has opened, the driver should use a similar speed to when entering the property. The same is true for staying away from the gate swing.

Additional vehicles must wait for this process to end before approaching the gate.

The importance of safety sensors

Automated gate systems need properly functioning safety sensors. They ensure that the gate doesn’t close while there’s a vehicle in its path. Without this, scratches and heavier damage is a possibility.

The sensors come in many types. They could be in-ground, photo eye, and even combinations of both approaches. The latest safety standards for gate systems include an edge-sensing system that stops and reverses on contact with a vehicle to avoid causing excessive damage.  

Additionally, do remember that not all gates have edge sensing devices installed. For instance, older gate installations didn’t need one, as there was no requirement for it under the UL325 safety standards. 

Not all gate systems work in the same way

Gates for standard vehicles, for instance, only helps detect the standard size for a passenger vehicle. On the other hand, commercial properties usually have different sensor placement to accommodate larger vehicles requiring more clearance. The in-ground vehicle detect loop size is what helps the system know if the vehicle meets the ground clearance requirements. 

Improper installations, though, can be problematic. For instance, photo eye sensors for passenger vehicles may fail to detect larger automotive, like trucks. It’s why you need to understand the intended use for your gate system before installing one.