Automatic Gate Openers ?

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Chris

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Mighty mule gate opener auto close and have the safety feature to open back up if something touches the gate while moving. Everything is adjustable including how far it opens and closes
 

zannej

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Mighty mule gate opener auto close and have the safety feature to open back up if something touches the gate while moving. Everything is adjustable including how far it opens and closes
yeah, I saw you can control how much force the obstacle must exert before it stops. And I think it opens to like 110 degrees max. I'll have to play around with settings.

For the solar panel, do you think it needs the overcharge protector thingy?
 
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zannej

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My mother ordered the battery, box, and wire for the gate opener. What do you think I will need to connect the 16/2 wire to it? I got the box that has the ports to connect it on the outside (so the box can remain closed and not have holes). This box. I couldn't find any other boxes that already had holes on the sides for wires or that didn't have vents on the top that would let rain in.

We ordered the 10w solar panel for $25 as well. Since Mighty Mule said the control panel would prevent overcharging, we didn't get the overcharge protection thing.

I am also looking for a good light. Someone on another forum recommended this light but reviews say it is not entirely waterproof and the sensor needs to be sealed up somehow. Not sure how to do that. I asked how to connect it and was told "Connect the light directly to the battery posts using the fuse in the positive line for protection." only I'm woefully ignorant and don't know exactly how I would connect it. LOL. And I wonder if I need little rubber caps for where it connects on the outside or some sort of water protection. I will get some protection being under trees, but I want to make sure it doesn't get shorted out.

I'm hoping 100' of wire will be sufficient. I think the distance is about 75' give or take 10'. I haven't actually measured and am having to guess.
 
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MrMiz

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I had a Mighty Mule on solar about 800ft from my house. I hated it. It worked most of the time when the sun was out and it was nice, but on those miserable days with rain, or snow it only made it about half a day. The gate got pretty heavy use. If it was cloudy outside for more than a day it was down the whole time, and it if snowed it covered the panel so you had to make sure you cleared it. Then one day it just stopped working. Check the solar and was getting output, check the battery, and it was the same. So I took it apart and the actuator blew the main aluminum bracket that held everything together. At that time I didn't know how to weld aluminum ( which sent to me enroll in welding in the local community college.). I decided I wanted to run a hard line all the way to the gate. At first it freaked me out cuz I thought copper was the only option, but then I found out you can still get large gauge aluminum. It was still an investment but now that it's done it was worth it. I did have to trench 800ft as well. I also put a weather proof outlet and a yard light at the gate and both have served me incredibly well over the last 2 years. I upgraded the gate openers too after watching some tear downs of the Liftmaster gear online. I would do the hard run again in a heart beat.

So, this is my front gate from the outside:


Well, part of it. I think it is 12 to 16ft and is hollow tube style. It seems fairly heavy, but I think it is under 200lbs.

Currently it is a pain to open and close (the anchor post needs to be replaced). The current locking mechanism is a chain that wraps around a post.

I need to be able to keep my gate closed so my cows don't get out and opening and closing the gate in the rain or extreme heat is very inconvenient-- to the point that my brother refuses to close the gate behind him.

I want a solar powered unit so I don't have to worry about failure during power outages or having to run long runs of electricity from the house out to the gate since it is quite a distance.

Here is a small section of my yard (I have over 30 acres) from google maps. You can't really see the gate because it is under trees. The security light pole is over 100ft away from the gate.


I was thinking of mounting the solar panel on the light pole because it is the closest spot out from under the trees. Alternatively, I could try to mount it on the car port, but that would be a lot farther and part of the car port needs to be replaced because it was smashed. I'm not sure just how to mount the panel though or in which direction to aim it for the best sun reception.

When I was looking for gate openers, there didn't seem to be much of a selection. The brand that had the least sucky reviews was Mighty Mule. So, I'm making a list of things I would need, but I'm also open to suggestions that might help keep costs down or would make it more efficient.

Here is the list of necessary items (that I know of so far):

Optional items:

Does anyone here have one of these or have experience with them? Will it damage the mechanism of the opener if someone pushes the gate manually without using the remote to open or close it?


I'm trying to figure out the best solution for dealing with package delivery. Unlike other people in my area, my gate is right at the very beginning of my property instead of being set back, so I can't really put anything out in front of the gate on the outside without it being in the way of the power company & timber company. Currently with the gate open, FedEx and UPS drivers can just drive right in. I would say I could put my phone number up and have them call me to be let in, but most of them can't get cell signal to be able to call from there. I thought about a "honk to be let in" thing, but I hate when people drive up and honk (usually only Jehova's Witnesses do it)... Maybe I could set up some sort of sensor that makes a noise in the house?



I would love to have an intercom so people could talk to us inside, but I'm not sure where the best place to put the internal unit would be.


I still have absolutely no clue what cables/wires to get for the solar panel. I know it will have to be more than 100ft to reach the battery (unless I see if I can put the panel on top of one of the old dog houses out front)-- and it will require digging to put wires underground. So I will need conduit to put it in.
 
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zannej

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Thanks, MrMiz. Trenching and running line would be problematic due to the trees and waterlines-- it would intersect some. I tend to get a lot of sun and the gate would be used maybe two to four times a day-- generally only two and on some days zero. I'm hoping the battery will hold enough of a charge from all of the sunny days that it won't be an issue.
 
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Chris

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Thanks, MrMiz. Trenching and running line would be problematic due to the trees and waterlines-- it would intersect some. I tend to get a lot of sun and the gate would be used maybe two to four times a day-- generally only two and on some days zero. I'm hoping the battery will hold enough of a charge from all of the sunny days that it won't be an issue.
I never had an issue with mine in a fairly sunny area.
 

zannej

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My one concern is that if there are several days of rain the panel might not get enough power. But, worst case scenario, I can always remove the pins to allow the gate to be opened manually if it won't open electrically. And I believe I have a battery charging thing somewhere that I could use to connect to the battery to charge it.

I now have all of the essential things except for the lag bolts (which I plan to get in at HD). I will be going up to Alexandria tomorrow when I pick up my sister from the airport. I've been trying to power through getting things cleaned before she gets here. My brother didn't come home until 5am so he's probably going to sleep all day and refuse to help.

Other than the lag bolts, I still need to either stabilize or replace the gate posts. The guy who was supposed to help on that front hasn't come out in awhile bc his girlfriend was in the ICU with diabetic ketoacidosis. He was supposed to come out today, but it rained really hard last night so I'm not expecting him to come.

While I'm thinking on the gate post, if I do have to set a new one, any tips? In the past my father used treated lumber ones and poured some concrete around them-- but they all seem to have rotted. Should I spray the lower part with some sort of rubberized stuff like flex seal (or a generic version) so that any part touching concrete will be protected from moisture? The part where the gate locks is treated timber and the one it hangs from is an old utility creosote pole.

Unfortunately, I might not be able to get around to the install until February (unless I work on it while my sister is visiting).
 

MrMiz

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I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but I swear that my solar gate ONLY worked when it was nice outside. Ever single time there was bad weather we had to manually operate it. I guess I'm just one of those lucky exceptions, but it drove me mad. I think it only took me a little less than a day to use a backhoe and dig an 800ft trench and roll out the aluminum line. The hook up took me a lot longer because I can only do my projects on the weekend, but it all worked out good.
 

zannej

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I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but I swear that my solar gate ONLY worked when it was nice outside. Ever single time there was bad weather we had to manually operate it. I guess I'm just one of those lucky exceptions, but it drove me mad. I think it only took me a little less than a day to use a backhoe and dig an 800ft trench and roll out the aluminum line. The hook up took me a lot longer because I can only do my projects on the weekend, but it all worked out good.
I'm getting a high efficiency solar panel. Maybe solar panels have just improved over the years? I know some can charge with less sunlight than they used to require. I'm hoping that I won't have any problems.
I don't have a backhoe. That reminds me though, I'll need to get a tool for trenching.
 

MrMiz

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If I remember right the solar panel was pumping out a constant 12v or 24v DC (can't remember now which one) as long as there was good sun. So the likely culprit in my situation was the battery. However I did change it out for a new one so I don't think that much has changed in the last 2/3 years with batteries in this application. However if it has it might be worth your dime to upgrade your battery to the new "hotness". That might keep you from running into what I had.
You can rent those 18" or 32" ditch witches from Home Depot now(at least in my area and we are somewhat rural). You still have to hand dig where you have existing lines but manual trenching is for the birds. I crossed a phone line, water line, and gas line with my trench. Though now that I think about it my water line was 6'+ down so I never crossed it I just dug down to confirm and didn't go down any farther then my test holes. I called the locator service had them come out then hand dug to find and confirm. Then I stopped my trenching at about 2ft from my lines and hand dug from the trench to the line. It's easier to hand dig when you have a trench already dug within 2 ft. The ground in my area is rock hard about 6" to 10" so getting under it and chipping into the trench makes it way easier.
Anyway I should stop trying to convince you to run a hard line! But I guess if your solar does make you nuts then you can always come back here for this info. :)
 
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nealtw

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If I remember right the solar panel was pumping out a constant 12v or 24v DC (can't remember now which one) as long as there was good sun. So the likely culprit in my situation was the battery. However I did change it out for a new one so I don't think that much has changed in the last 2/3 years with batteries in this application. However if it has it might be worth your dime to upgrade your battery to the new "hotness". That might keep you from running into what I had.
You can rent those 18" or 32" ditch witches from Home Depot now(at least in my area and we are somewhat rural). You still have to hand dig where you have existing lines but manual trenching is for the birds. I crossed a phone line, water line, and gas line with my trench. Though now that I think about it my water line was 6'+ down so I never crossed it I just dug down to confirm and didn't go down any farther then my test holes. I called the locator service had them come out then hand dug to find and confirm. Then I stopped my trenching at about 2ft from my lines and hand dug from the trench to the line. It's easier to hand dig when you have a trench already dug within 2 ft. The ground in my area is rock hard about 6" to 10" so getting under it and chipping into the trench makes it way easier.
Anyway I should stop trying to convince you to run a hard line! But I guess if your solar does make you nuts then you can always come back here for this info. :)
Depending on the experience from the first installation, she could add another battery or another panel if needed. If that was still easier or cheaper than hard wiring.:)
 

zannej

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Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.

I'm not sure where my phonelines run or how deep they are. That is something to consider. My waterlines are not all that deep. My soil is sandy loam and clay with an abundance of tree roots. Basically, most of the state I live in used to be a delta. I don't plan to dig too deep. How deep are phonelines usually buried?

I'm really hoping that my friends will have time to get a lot of stuff done before they have to leave (I think one of them has to work at 4pm) tomorrow. They were going to test some of the wiring and also check on the gate posts to see if they can be reinforced. My sister's flight comes in a little after 6pm so I'll probably have to leave around 4, run the truck through the car wash, and so forth.

I have to say that I'm very pleased with the new LED shop lights. Only put up 3 out of the 4 because the outlets or wiring in the shop is not getting power where I wanted to plug in the 4th one. Old lights were fluorescent and dim. New ones are very bright and just 2 lights made a huge difference.
 
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zannej

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Just went and got the lag bolts today. They have a "washerhead"-- built in washer. We couldn't find them at first so I pulled out my phone and looked up the bolts on homedepot's website (I forgot to write down the aisle and bay number beforehand). Found the ones on the list and then started searching. They were in a bin on the very bottom shelf. My back hates me today so it let out a big Grumpy Cat "Nope" on bending down to get it. Fortunately, my mother was with me in a riding cart so she could reach it.

So, now we have what we need to make it function (aside from the post stabilizing/replacement).

Will I need special connectors for the battery though?
 

MrMiz

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depends on the battery. Mine had the crimp type you push on the terminal. I'm going through past comments to see if you posted what battery you got. I attached a picture of what mine looked like from google. If your battery is in a weather proof enclosure those should work fine. If not you might want to wrap them or buy some kind of exterior grade ones.

Just went and got the lag bolts today. They have a "washerhead"-- built in washer. We couldn't find them at first so I pulled out my phone and looked up the bolts on homedepot's website (I forgot to write down the aisle and bay number beforehand). Found the ones on the list and then started searching. They were in a bin on the very bottom shelf. My back hates me today so it let out a big Grumpy Cat "Nope" on bending down to get it. Fortunately, my mother was with me in a riding cart so she could reach it.

So, now we have what we need to make it function (aside from the post stabilizing/replacement).

Will I need special connectors for the battery though?
terminals.jpg
 

MrMiz

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I couldn't find if you posted which battery you ordered. So you might have to wait till it shows up, or post a link in here and I'll try to get back to you.
 

zannej

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depends on the battery. Mine had the crimp type you push on the terminal. I'm going through past comments to see if you posted what battery you got. I attached a picture of what mine looked like from google. If your battery is in a weather proof enclosure those should work fine. If not you might want to wrap them or buy some kind of exterior grade ones.
I couldn't find if you posted which battery you ordered. So you might have to wait till it shows up, or post a link in here and I'll try to get back to you.
Thank you!
What are those things called? (I'm woefully ignorant when it comes to this sort of thing).

I got this battery: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QGLAHWS/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

And this box https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003BMCL4M/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 with 2 external 12 VDC auxiliary plugs
 
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zannej

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I have pretty much everything needed to make it function now-- just need to stabilize/replace the posts & get some help with the labor. Haven't heard from the tractor guy but I know he must be busy. My friend who lost his father has also been very busy. Other guy who was cutting trees for $ never came back to finish the work and hasn't spoken to me since he asked to borrow a lot of money and we declined-- he's now in another state for the next 6 months doing some high-paying manual labor job. When my ankles heal enough that I can get back on my feet again, I'm going to do some measurements and check the posts to see if they are rotted (if not, I will try to stabilize them).

In terms of stuff that would just be nice to have for the gate, I was thinking this intercom might work. It can operate up to 1500 ft away, operates at 462MHz, the transmitter can be mounted outdoors, and the chimes for the doorbell like part can be changed. It went up in price since I last looked, so I might wait for it to go down again. I'm considering this light for the gate post to illuminate the intercom & keypad.

I'm also thinking of getting some things to make it look like there are cameras (out of reach for people on the outside of the yard) and signs saying it is being monitored by video to discourage creeps from trying to steal the intercom or keypad.
 
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zannej

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While AT&T was out repairing my phoneline (was a bad line in their box) the technician was kind enough to track and mark where my phonelines were buried underground. Fortunately, it is nowhere near where I need to dig for the solar panel wire. I need to make sure they give him credit because he was getting chewed up by mosquitoes and was very polite the whole time. As an aside, I made the customer service lady laugh pretty hard when I told her that the tech should worry about the cow instead of the dog. I said if the cow was out he needed to honk his horn so I could go out there and make sure she left him alone. So, I heard the honk and went out. She behaved though-- just watched him a bit while she was grazing and didn't try to get up in his face like she did with people from the power company. She was actually afraid of his sensor thingy that detected where the wire was.

When I'm able to check whether or not my gate posts are rotted or if the concrete was just too small to hold them securely to keep them from tipping, I will know if I need to replace the posts or just shore them up. I saw an interesting technique where a person used some pressure treated 2x4s rated for ground contact. He dug a hole about a foot wide, dug a little deeper just the size of the post. Set it in, leveled it, tamped the ground around it to make sure it was sturdy and compacted, then screwed a 2x4 to the side of the post flat against the ground to prevent it from tipping forward. Then used another 2x4 perpendicular to it that jutted out on both sides to keep it from tipping side to side, then buried the boards and filled in a few inches above. I'll need to see what depths he was working with and figure out if I can do something similar, but the concrete my father used might get in the way a bit, but hopefully I can figure something out.
 

zannej

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Your smart with this kinda stuff you'll figure it out i have faith in you
Thanks, Tuffy. I'm not as handy or strong as my father was, but I did help him put up fences, gate posts, etc years ago. We would work on projects together and sometimes I would come up with ideas to make things work a little better and he had the skill to implement it. I was told that he always had very strong hands/arms-- even as a toddler. Apparently as a toddler he pulled his playpen apart with his bare hands so he could get out. The anniversary of his death was last weekend so I've been thinking about him a lot.

Btw, this was the guide I read about how to make a gate post stable. I didn't get the details right on the stabilizing. They used boards at different heights and then filled it in.

The post I'm working with is rounded instead of square. I haven't even seen ones like it for sale anywhere in years. It's pretty much like the posts on the fence in this video (only darker in color).
 

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