Electric swing gates are a convenient and stylish addition to any property, providing security and enhancing curb appeal. However, they can be vulnerable to the powerful forces of strong winds. To keep your electric swing gates safe and functioning properly, it’s crucial to take measures to protect them from wind-related damage.
This week, a lot of talk has been happening about Storm Ciaran, which is predicted to hit the South of the UK imminently. The Met Office has already issued several severe weather warnings, including amber warnings, with the statement, ‘We expect strong winds and heavy rain this week.’ (https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2023/storm-ciaran-latest)
In this blog post, we’ll explore some effective tips for ensuring your electric swing gates can withstand even the strongest winds.
Understand the safety hazards of extreme winds
Everything in relation to your electric gates must be safety first. Extreme wind can exert tremendous force on your electric gates, which can lead to various safety hazards.
It is imperative to prevent accidents. Unsecured gates can swing uncontrollably during strong winds, potentially colliding with vehicles, pedestrians, or structures. These accidents can result in injuries or property damage. Our advice is always to secure your gates in a closed or open position in events of extreme wind. This may cause inconvenience, but the inconvenience is a lesser cost than an accident or a costly repair.
With the advice to secure your gates we mean the measures of locking your gate leaves together or to a fixed point such as a solid physical gate stop or nearby structure. This can be done either by a temporary measure or by using such products as electric gate locks but the secure connection to a solid object prevents the gate leaf from forced movement.
By securing your gates in closed or open position you can also avoid structural damage. Strong gusts can cause your gates to strain against their hinges or tracks, potentially leading to structural damage. This damage may be costly to repair.
Securing your gates closed will also maintain security. Gate leaves that blow open due to extreme winds can leave your property vulnerable to trespassers or unwanted visitors.
Safety by design
Your electric gate system should also be safe by design. This means that your automated gate system should comply with BS EN 12604:2017+A1:2020. In a very short summary there is legislation around safeguarding against the fall or drop of a structure such as a gate leaf. The standard states:
“Hinged door [or gate] leaves shall be safeguarded against dropping when in normal use or when a failure of a single element of the fixing system occurs. The door [gate] leaf shall not be able to move uncontrolled if a component fails. In case a hinge or other supporting means breaks or is damaged, the anti-drop safety device shall be able to keep the leaf in position with a maximum displacement of 300 mm from the rotation axis”
This means that the gate leaf must be supported by three hinges or have a tethering mechanism in place to prevent the fall of the structure in the event of a single point failure such as one of the hinges on a gate with only one or two hinge points.
This standard and its safeguarding becomes even more relevant during events of strong winds as the likelihood of single point failure increases tenfold.
On swing gates with two hinges or a single hinge at the top and an underground gate motor which acts as a bearing gate pivot, there are products available from Beninca UK to provide the tether to meet compliance with the above standard.
Our 750 Hi Motions safety cable is made of galvanised steel and is a very simple, yet hugely effective safety device. Once fixed around the gate post and gate hinge area of a swing gate, the cable works to provide protection in the unfortunate event of hinge failure and will ultimately stop the gate from falling. Alternatively, we also stock the Locinox B-Safe stainless steel safety cable. Similarly, to the 750 safety cable, once installed the B-Safe gate safety cable avoids the gate falling in case of hinge failure. Thanks to the patented Quick-Fix fixation system, the B-Safe is easily yet firmly fixed into the post. The B-Safe cable is rated up to 1000 kg and prevents gates up to 500 kg from falling in case both hinges might fail.
Correct Installation methods
When the winds may not be extreme but are still referred to, as high gusts, it might not be about the emergency processes to secure your gate system but overall ability of your gate system to work safety and reliable in bad weathers. The first step in wind proofing your electric swing gates is choosing durable and sturdy materials for their construction. High-quality steel or aluminium gates are more likely to withstand strong winds compared to lighter, less robust materials. Ensure that the materials selected are suitable for your local weather conditions and can endure the elements, if you are unsure, you can always seek guidance from the professional installer.
Gate posts should have sufficient foundations. As a rule of thumb, we recommend that the gate post is in the ground at least 35% of the overall height of the gate post from ground level. However this does depend on the width, weight and size of the post so consult with your professional installer. In summary, the posts should be firmly rooted and braced to withstand wind pressure combined with the weight of the gates that are hung from the posts.
It is also important to make sure the gate leaves are hung correctly with an adequate hinge system. Gates should be mechanically sound and free of any tight spots or obstacles during the swing of the gate leaf. Over time, hinges can become loose or damaged, making the gates more susceptible to wind forces. Regularly inspect and maintain the hinges to ensure they remain in good condition. Consider upgrading to heavy-duty hinges if necessary.
You must also consider the locking mechanism of the gate and how effect that mechanism is against strong winds. Most automation products for swing gates have built in physical stops, however these product features are designed for convenience. As an example, the built-in physical stop on linear post mounted ram is not going to be strong enough to withstand the tremendous pressure of gale force winds, they are designed to assist in the automation of the gate, not relied upon as a locking mechanism.
You gate installer should design a locking system that is adequate for the size and style of your gate. It may be that you have open pattern traditional wrought iron gates which are less susceptible to strong winds that a close boarded timber gate. However, the gate leaves should firmly close against a stop and we always advise the use of additional locking, especially for gates leaves longer than 2.1m.
For example, the Locinox ELECTRADROP, an electrical drop bolt, boasting a 120 mm extension, provides a robust anchorage in the ground. It effectively stabilizes the gate wings, relieving strain on the electric motors and adds another level of protection to the perimeter. This versatile addition proves to be a perfect fit for both commercial and residential swing gates.
Windbreaks and Barriers
You may also consider the lesser thought of solutions to protecting your gate system from the elements, such as strategically placed windbreaks and barriers. These can help mitigate the impact of strong winds on your electric swing gates. Planting wind-resistant trees or installing fencing around the gate area can provide protection. Just be mindful that any windbreaks or barriers don’t obstruct the gate’s function or limit access.
Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and performance of your electric swing gates. We always recommend gate systems are serviced and maintained every 12 months by a professional installer. The installer would thoroughly inspect the gates for loose or damaged components, lubricating moving parts, and check for any signs of wear and tear. If any issues were discovered, these should be promptly rectified to prevent further damage and ensure safe practice.
Protecting your electric swing gates from strong winds is a matter of foresight and proper maintenance. By selecting sturdy materials, ensuring proper installation, and implementing protective measures like additional gate safety products, you can keep your gates secure and functional even in challenging weather conditions. We always recommend having your gate systems regularly serviced to make sure the system is set up correctly and working as intended.
We hope the above tips have been useful. If you have any further queries, please do call on 01488 658 276. Our team here at Benincà UK would be happy to answer your questions. You may also find our blog post, Tips for protecting electric gates in adverse weather conditions useful, view here: link.
If you are looking for a professional gate installer in your local area to provide further help or assistance, we can also assist you! Please submit an enquiry here and we will be in touch very shortly.