Gate Remote Controls for Automatic Gates
Handheld remote controls for automatic gates, also known as transmitters, zappers, clickers, buzzers, keys, or do-hickys, are commonly referred to as remote controls for simplicity. These devices have become compact enough to fit on a key ring and are equipped with two or four buttons to accommodate multiple gates or garage doors. For added security, they use digital encoding.
In addition to traditional remote controls, there are alternatives such as using a smartphone as a remote control with Bluetooth when in proximity to the gate or using WiFi or 4G from anywhere in the world.
How do remote controls work?
In contrast to TV remote controls that use infrared light, remote controls for automatic gates transmit digitally encoded radio signals. These signals can be picked up by the gate operator from a distance, eliminating the need for pointing the remote control directly at the gate. The gate operator checks the signal's validity and opens or closes the gate accordingly, provided the user is within range.
Before a remote control can operate a gate motor, it must first be programmed with its code. This is usually accomplished by putting the gate motor into a learning mode and pressing the desired button on the remote control.
It's worth noting that most automatic gate motors are sold with their own proprietary remote controls, which are compatible only with that particular brand of gate operator. Attempting to use a remote control from a different brand may require installing a compatible receiving unit.
Remote control range for automatic gate motors is typically around 20m from inside a car, although this range may be reduced by metal fencing or other obstructions. However, range can be extended with an extension antenna installed above the fence, which can provide up to 50m of range in most cases or more in open areas.
When multiple houses share an automatic gate, it's important to configure the remote controls to only open the gate, not close it. This prevents confusion and accidents when multiple users attempt to operate the gate simultaneously. The gate will automatically close after a set time delay or via photocell control.
Standard remote control receiver units typically work with 20 to 200 different remote controls. However, if a remote control is lost or stolen, it can be challenging to remove it from the receiver's memory, and all remote controls may need to be erased and reprogrammed. Receiver units designed for large numbers of users offer individual remote control removal, simplifying the management of many remote controls.
While cheaper, Chinese clone remote controls can replace lost or damaged originals at a lower cost, they are typically lower quality and may not last as long. Regular replacement may be necessary.
WiFi, 4G and Bluetooth Gate Controls
For those who want to control their gate using their smartphone without the need for an intercom, there are stand-alone controls available that use WiFi, 4G, or Bluetooth connectivity. These controls allow the user to know whether the gate is open or closed and control it from their smartphone.
WiFi gate controls have a device that connects the gate motor to a home network using WiFi, allowing users to control their gate from anywhere in the world via an app on their smartphone. However, the gate needs to be within WiFi range of the house and have a direct line of sight.
4G gate controls use a device that connects to the Internet using the 4G LTE mobile phone network, allowing control from a smartphone app without the need for a home network. These are useful when getting WiFi to a gate is difficult or there is no line of sight between the gate and house. They require a SIM card, but the call cost is typically low.
Bluetooth gate controls open an app on a smartphone automatically when approaching the gate, presenting a button to press to open the gate. This eliminates the need to unlock the phone, open the app, and press the button. The gate can also be set up to open whenever a phone comes into range, making it ideal for gated communities where many residents share one gate. These controls are also useful when getting WiFi to a gate is not feasible and mobile phone signal is weak or nonexistent.
Progamming Remote Controls
If you find yourself with a remote control that doesn't come with clear instructions or is in a foreign language, don't worry, this guide can help! Most modern remote controls use digital coding systems that involve a "Learn" or "Set Remote" button on the electronic control board found in the gate motor or a separate box. Look for the circuit board with an antenna or a small wire hanging from it, as this is likely the receiver board.
To get the remote control working, press the "Learn" button on the receiver, which will usually light up or beep. Press a button on the remote control, and the light or beep will indicate that it is being received. Sometimes, this is all that is required, but other remotes may need a confirmation press or have specific timing requirements. Some may also require holding down the "Learn" button while pressing the remote control button. If the remote control still doesn't work, try all the alternatives. With a bit of trial and error, you should be able to get your remote control working in no time.
Deleting Gate Remote Controls
In most cases, it is not possible to remove individual remote controls from a receiver unit. However, some receivers allow you to unset a remote control using the same process that was used to set it up in the first place. On the other hand, "Mega Code Receivers" or "Access Control Receivers" enable individual remote controls to be removed, even if they have been lost or stolen. These receivers are typically used when a high level of security is required, and many people use one gate. These receivers require you to select a memory number before setting the remote control, and you can unset it by selecting the same memory position.
If you don't have this type of receiver, you'll need to remove all remote controls from memory and set them up from scratch. To remove all remotes from memory, you can press and hold the "Learn" button for 10 seconds or more, hold it for a few seconds and release and hold it again, or remove the power from the receiver and apply power with the "Learn" button held. Test one remote control to see if it still works after performing one of these methods, and if it doesn't, try the other method and test again. If neither of these works, you should contact the receiver's agents for assistance.
Remote Control Code Types
Rolling Code or Hopping Code is a highly secure digital coding system for remote controls, which was developed to prevent people from gaining access by recording the signal sent by a remote control. Rolling Code was first used in remote control central locking systems for high-end cars and is now used in Automatic Gates and Garage Doors. The system ensures security by generating a different digital code each time a remote control is used, and the receiver uses a complex system to confirm that the code is correct. The code is encrypted using various factors, including the manufacturer's ID, making it impossible to crack the code without knowledge of the system used.
On the other hand, Tri-Code or Multi-frequency uses three different frequencies to avoid interference. If one frequency does not work, the system tries the other frequencies until it finds one that works. These systems also use Rolling Code to provide high levels of security. By using multiple frequencies, the chance of interference is minimized, and the likelihood of successful access is increased.
Can you use any Remote Control type for your gate?
No, you cannot use just any remote control for your gate. It is crucial to use the correct remote control for your gate or a compatible one. The majority of gate and garage door remote controls are not interchangeable, and it is improbable that the remote control for your gate will work with your automatic garage door opener or vice versa. Even sticking to the same brand of gate and garage door opener does not guarantee compatibility.
Although there are many brands of learning or duplicating remote controls available, they will only work if you have at least one working remote control, and they must be at the same frequency. While there are cloning options for specific remote controls that will work for that brand, duplicating remote controls are not likely to work with most Rolling Code, Hopping Code, Tri-Code, or Multi-frequency Remote Controls.
Remote Control Frequencies
Improving Remote Control Range with Automatic Gates
If your gate motor is located behind a metal fence or other types of walls with metal framing, it can reduce the range of your remote control considerably because the radio waves from your remote control won't go through metal easily. Adding an antenna that is above the metal can solve this problem. However, just adding a wire as an antenna won't work because it upsets the tuning. Instead, the wire between the receiver and the antenna must be co-axial cable that connects to the common ground terminal of the receiver.
The frequency used by the remote controls is crucial for the antenna used to work properly. Today's small key ring-sized remote controls usually operate on a frequency of either 433.92Mhz or somewhere between 300Mhz and 315Mhz. Older remote controls, such as the larger cigarette package-sized ones, typically operate on a frequency of 27Mhz. It's best to use an antenna designed for the frequency used by the remote control.
Interference can be a problem even when the gate motor isn't behind any metal and has an antenna fitted. If you still only get a few meters range from your remote control, the receiver in the gate motor may be picking up interference from other wireless devices, preventing it from receiving your remote control properly unless very close. In such cases, it's better to get a Superheterodyne receiver with at least 110db sensitivity. These receivers work well with one specific frequency over a much longer distance and reject interference.
If interference persists, getting a new receiver and remote controls of a different frequency than the one suffering from interference is another option. Multi-frequency remote controls that work on three different frequencies are also available. If one frequency suffers from interference, at least one of the other two will work.
In conclusion, the range and capabilities of remote controls vary greatly depending on the system and factors such as frequency, interference, and obstacles like metal fences. Proper antenna installation and selecting the right receiver can greatly improve the performance of remote controls.