Electric Gate Opener Problem

res0zvleDecember 1, 2007

I'm having a problem with my front entry gate. It's powered by a 12 volt battery with a trickle charger attached. When the ourtside temps are lower, the gate delays in opening and sometimes will not open at all unless I attempt to open & close it several times. Even when the gate fails to open, I can hear a constant clicking so it seems it's not a transmitter problem. Thanks for the help! Jim

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Your 12volt gate opener is basically an automotive starter motor linked to a drive system for the gate and the symptoms you describe are very common for automobile starters when the weather turns colder.

First off, as the temperatures drop all the metal components in the drive system contract. In addition, any lubricants, especially any grease type lubricants will thicken unless they are a type of grease especially formulated for cold weather service thus the coefficient of friction increases ergo it requires more power to move the gate.

The next part of the problem is the battery. No doubt the battery is in a metal battery box that is exposed to the wind. As the temperature drops the internal temperature of the battery also drops, which then reduces the electro-chemical reaction necessary to produce the electrical current to operate the system. This is further evidenced by the fact that it will work after you try it a few times. Quite often when you have a weak battery in an automobile that wont start the car you can turn the headlights on a for about 30seconds to a minute then try the starter and it will fire right up. As silly as that sounds the reason is quite simple. When you repeatedly try your gate motor or when we turn the headlights on in an automobile it creates an internal resistance in the battery that physically warms the battery a bit, often just enough that the battery can then drive the motor. The clicking sound you hear is indicative of a battery solenoid switch trying to close when the power is weak.

There are some corrective steps that you can take and if taken in order you may resolve the problem very inexpensively.

1.Disconnect the battery cables and clean both the cable ends and the battery terminals.
2.If you have a metal battery box line the bottom and sides of the box with a thin layer of Styrofoam insulation. Even as little as a ¼ will be sufficient but be sure you DO NOT cover the top of the battery. Lead acid batteries give off Hydrogen gas when charging and the top of the battery and the battery box must be vented to dissipate the hydrogen to prevent an explosion.
3.Check the electrical connections on the solenoid switch. If they show any evidence of corrosion clean the terminals.
4.Clean all the rollers or bearing surfaces and grease with a grade of grease that is formulated for cold weather. (You can get the grease at any automotive parts store).
5.Check the trickle charger to be sure it properly charging.

If the above steps do not resolve your problem take the battery to an auto parts store and have them test the battery under load. You may need to replace the battery. If you replace the battery you should get a battery that is rated for "High Cold Cranking Amps" not a "Deep Cycle battery". High Cold Cranking amp batteries are designed to deliver maximum amperage for a short duration even when the battery is cold whereas deep cycle batteries are designed for long continuous small amp loads such as lights or electronics on boats or recreation vehicles.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 11:23PM
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I had the same issue however the battery was not the problem. In the winter and especially at night when it gets even colder, the weight of the gate is enough to make it open a foot then close. I found that if you adjust the Stall Force on the controller you can compensate for the weight of the gate. The Stall Force is a safety feature so don't just disable it. Check out your manufacturer's website for detailed information on adjusting the Stall Force. It worked great for me.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 1:04PM
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gee i hope the OP had already resolved this issue since it has been over a year and no further follow ups. please don't drag up old threads just to comment on them.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Hmmm looks like my post go through. I'll retry.

By the way most modern gates use small lead-acid gel type batteries now days. Not sure if the auto-parts can load test them. You are talking about small 7 to 8 amp hour batteries. Also many gates have gone to using actuators (screw jacks) to open the gates. The batteries usually have a life around 5 years the most.

"It don't hurt to post on an old thread because someone else may have a smiler problem and the new post may be the solution. I know that I have searched many old and even ancient threads looking for my solution."

Opps sorry. Didn't meant to resurrect this old thread. :-)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 1:09PM
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