Choosing the correct gate for your property and use is important, and can be easy with the help of this “how to select your gate” guide. To start out with, there are two basic types of gates that can be easily automated: swing gates and cantilever slide gates.

Automated Slide Gates

Ornamental cantilever driveway gate

Commercial applications often use slide gates because reliability and security are at the forefront of their requirements. Commercial slide gates are usually installed with only a single leaf, but it is possible to have a double drive sliding gate as well. You should consider the following information if you’re considering getting a slide gate for your home or business.

Gate Storage

Due to storage needs, both industrial and commercial slide gates are usually about 50% larger than the gate opening. If you have a 20’ gate opening then you would need a 30’ overall slide gate. The extra 10’ is known as the counter balance and also lets your slide gate easily attach to the gate operator.


So that a commercial or industrial slide gates does not cause significant injury from sliding under its own weight, it is imperative that slide gates be installed level in accordance with ASTM F 2200. As this is a requirement, you should measure the ground’s elevations the entire length that the slide gate will travel, and the gate will be set a couple inches above the highest elevation. If the tail of either a industrial or commercial sliding gate happens to have the highest elevation then the gate could end up being raised a significant distance off the ground at the opening.

Automated Swing Gates

When it comes to residential properties, swing gates are generally the most popular. Home owners prefer the look of the gate swinging open to welcome you to their home. Residential, industrial and commercial swing gates come in both single and double swings. Before you commit to an automatic swing gate, take the following points into consideration.

Arched ornamental double swing gates with decorative pickets and finials
Swing In or Out

Your automated swing gates can swing in our out, but a majority of swing gates swing out. This is true because most driveways slope downward, from the house to the street. Swing gates must remain level as they open, so if the gate is swinging in, it may scrape the driveway before it can open all the way up. However, opening outward may be a problem if your space from the street to the gate is small. Account for room for at least two car lengths, as unsuspecting visitors often will back up when they see the gate swing outward. If you don’t leave enough room, visitors may back up into the street and oncoming traffic.

Single or Double Swing Gate

A major difference between the two options is that single swing gates only require one gate operator whereas double swing gates need two gate operators that communicate back and forth. Commercial, residential and industrial double swing gates have a much shorter swing, so even though the cost of two gate operators is more expensive there are many benefits to reap.

  • Most driveway swing gates swing outward, and in these cases it can be a lot less startling to guests if two smaller leaves open out toward them rather than one large one. This being said, guests who are not used to your gate are much less likely to back out of your driveway into traffic when your gate begins to open.
  • A singular, large gate leaf would probably require a larger gate operator whereas a double swing gate would use two smaller operators powering separate leaves. Automated double swing gates can also act as snow plows in the winter time, but a larger single gate might struggle to push aside pushing even a few inches of snow.

Garden chain link swing gate with middle rail

You need to consider the elevation of your land when considering a swing gate. If you have a single commercial swing gate that is 16’, then that means it will cover 16’ of the driveway from a closed position to an open position.

If the driveway varies at all in slope, the gate leaf could scrape against your driveway or leave an unseemly gap underneath the gate leaf when closed. If you have two 8’ gate leaves instead of one 16’ leaf, the risk of gaps or scraping are reduced.

You should figure out the elevations of your driveway in the entire area that the gate will operate. Whatever the highest elevation is will be your benchmark. The gate will then be installed a few inches above this elevation.This is not an uncommon occurrence because most drives slope upward toward the property from the street.

Additional Considerations

The Secure Option

Commercial and industrial slide gates tend to be more secure than swing gates. Automated swing gates may be easily pried open if not set up with a magnet or electric mechanical lock, allowing someone to squeeze through the gate leaves. Automated commercial slide gates can be very difficult to pry open as they are often set up with a receiver that lets the gate slide into a receiver post.

Swing of the Gate

Both single and double swing gates cover quite a bit of ground when they open and close. You have to be mindful that the span of the swing does not interfere with parked cars, traffic lanes, surrounding structures, etc. Several swing gate operators store your gate leaves against the fence line by opening up a full 180 degrees. This is good news as long as there are no obstacles that could get in this area such as parked cars or trash cans.

Overall Reliability

Basic physics tells us that automated industrial swing gates are often just not as reliable as slide gates. Automated slide gates don’t have to put up with less wind resistance and fewer difficulties from snow. Industrial slide gates have the advantage of moving along a simple line where as swing gates must push through a much larger area span with its leaf or leaves. Even industrial swing gates will struggle after a large snowfall to push through the pile of snow that accumulates around its leaves whereas slide gates can cut through the snow with ease. When swing gates encounter this kind of resistance it can even register to the gate operator as a foreign object and cause it to go into a “safe mode.”

Gate Style

Industrial steel chain link cantilever gate with gate operator and keypad entry

Once you have decided whether you want a swing or slide gate, it is time to choose your gate style. Cantilever and swing gates can both have a basic design of chain link mesh and galvanized framework, or they can be beautiful ornamental gates with decorative rings, pickets, letters, finials and custom designs.

While we can create an innumerable amount of gate designs, you need to be aware that the design plays a big role in the overall weight and size of the gate. Weight and size are key factors when it comes to choosing a gate operator. For more detailed information on how to select your cantilever gate, check out our extensive guide.

Gate Safety Guidelines

To avoid any unsafe or hazardous gates, it is crucial that your gate design is in accordance with ASTM F 2200 and UL 325L:

  • No gate receiver hardware should protrude out into the opening
  • All gates should be prevented from falling if disconnected from the gate hardware
  • Gates should have a positive stop at the full open position
  • Slide gates should not have openings greater than 2 ¼” in the gate
  • Swing gates should not create an entrapment area less than 16” when swinging open
  • All gates should have a smooth bottom with no pickets protruding
  • The gate should not have any obstruction or design component protruding out from the gate that may create a hazard below 8’
  • The area between the post to the hinge point of a swing gate should not be greater than 4”