Access Control FAQ

What are my options for opening a motorized gate?
There are many options for opening your gate ranging from simple to sophisticated:

Slide Gate Operators:
These operators are perfect for motorizing a cantilever or overhead track type gate. These systems will fully open and close the gate. You must take into consideration the type of gate, length, weight, and cycles of use. Slide gate operators are available in various horsepower, voltages and phases. In cooperation with other access devices, a slide gate operator will provide security and convenience to your gate.

Swing Gate Operators:
These operators are perfect for opening and closing a swing type gate. You must take into consideration the type of gate, length, weight, and cycles of use. Swing gate operators are available in various horsepower, voltages and phases. In cooperation with other access devices, a swing gate operator will provide security, convenience and prestige to your residence.

Barrier Arm Operators:
Perfect for controlling traffic flow, these operators place a vinyl or aluminum arm across the lane of traffic. With the use of various access devices, the arm can be easily raised or lowered. Barrier Arm Operators are available with various length arms. Take into consideration the width of your drive, frequency of use, voltage and phase when selecting your operator.

What types of systems are available to control the movement of my gate?
Access control systems range from a very inexpensive single code, key or card that provides access but no programming to complete access control system that independently controls multiple gates and users access to them by time, day and number of uses.

Access control systems can be organized into the following categories:

1. Standalone Systems
A standalone system controls a single gate, Any additions or deletions of users must be done at the each unit individually, usually through a ten number keypad. The most popular applications are sites in remote locations where cost is a prime concern. Most standalone systems provide some limited access control such as time zones, but they lack in the powerful features and benefits found in other systems.

2. Programmable Systems
Programmable systems control multiple gates through a master controller, system hardware, phone line and a personal computer. Controllers are located by each gate and wired together for data communications to a computer or modem. Each gate controller can be programmed so users have defined levels of access by day, time of day, holidays, hierarchy and other means. The controller stores users’ activities and can produce a report for managements review. Management makes changes to users through a computer connected directly to the access control system or remotely by an optional modem. The most common applications are apartment complexes, gated communities, commercial and industrial facilities and single family homes.

The devices listed below will most likely be available in both standalone and programmable systems.

What specific devices are available to control my gate?

Transmitters & Radio Receivers:
Just like your garage door opener, this device may be located on your vehicle’s visor. Simply push the transmitter button and a radio frequency code is sent to the transmitter. If an authorized code, the gate will open. A transmitter will often open a closed gate or stop a closing gate and return it to the full open position.

Standalone transmitters often use a mechanical dip switch technology where you match the dip switch settings on the transmitter to the receiver. Rolling code technology is also available in standalone systems to prevent others from guessing your code through sending hundreds of codes to your receiver in a matter of seconds. Programmable transmitters that integrate with an computerized controller allows you to provide an individual code to each transmitter to track use and manage time zones.

In today’s newer automobiles, you have the option of a built in “Homelink” type system that takes the place of the independent transmitters. These systems will also work with your gate operator as well as your garage door opener.

Key Pads:
With the use of a four or three digit code, you can operate your gate remotely from a weather-tight enclosed keypad on a goose neck stand (not included). Available with a lighted background, call button and intercom features.

Standalone keypads are programmed at the keypad and have very limited users and capabilities. Programmable keypads are linked to a controller and your computer. Programmable units are available with an almost unlimited number of users. The individual wanting to enter the gate simply types in a three to six digit code using keypad. Some keypads are equipped with a light that varies from red to green when a code is accepted. If the light remains red, the code is not an authorized code and the gate will remain closed.

Proximity & Card Readers:
Just like swiping your credit card at the grocery store, you can incorporate a card reader to open and close your gate. This unit will be located in a weather tight enclosure and attached to a gooseneck stand (not included). Simply swipe the card through the reader. These units often incorporate red and green lights to advise you if your card is a valued card capable of opening the gate. If valued, the reader will send a message to the gate to open or close.

A more user friendly type device is a proximity reader. The card is not swiped but simply waved in front of the reader. In this event, the card or the reader is less likely to wear and fail to read over time. A proximity reader is less sensitive as you only have to get the card close to the reader. Proximity readers also utilize key fobs which may be attached to a key chain and are about the size of pocket watch. More sophisticated readers provide greater range and flexibility where you can simple place a card up against your front windshield and drive slowly past the reader head, allowing the reader to read the card.

Standalone systems utilize a single card with the same identity. Programmable units allow you to provide a card to each user with its own individual identity thus tracking use of the card and controlling entry via time zones. From your home computer, these systems will also allow you to quickly remove a card’s authority to access the gate.

Telephone Entry Systems:
These systems are wired to an existing phone line or will require a dedicated line. When an individual approaches the gate, they will have the option of entering a code on the touch keypad and entering. If they do not have a code, they may simply press a “CALL” button. Once this button is pressed, a call is placed to the homeowner’s house phone. A call from the telephone entry will have a distinct ring. The homeowner may then pick-up the phone and carry-on a conversation with the individual at the gate. At some point, the home owner may press a button on their phone’s keypad that signals the gate to open.

Standalone systems are typical on residential applications where there is just one phone number to be dialed. With these systems, simply programming may be done at the unit or by phone.

Programmable systems provide users the ability to scroll a tenants’ list, find the tenant’s name and dial their three digit code on the keypad. If the tenant answers their residence phone, they may speak to the individual and provide access by simply touching a button on their phone. These systems come with several options, including: computerized programming via modem, time zones for activating specific keypad codes, full screen for viewing, scheduling automatic gate opening and closing cycles, etc.

What other devices may I need to operate my gate?

Loop Detectors & Loops:
These devices are perfect for detecting vehicle traffic while on top of the loop. Designed to open a closed gate, keep an open gate open or reverse a closing gate to full open; a loop detector will provide both safety and access for vehicles. Wired to the swing or slide gate operator, the detector can be adjusted for sensitivity and frequency. Loops (not included) are installed in the pavement below the vehicle and wired to the detector.

Battery Back-up:
Designed for safety and security, a battery back-up can be installed in the operator to function when the power goes out. The back-up unit will sense the loss of power and respond with closing the gate (fail secure) or open the gate (fail safe). Larger systems will provide repeated but limited operation for opening and closing the gate after a loss of power.

Gooseneck Stands:
Mount your keypad, card reader, or any other control device on this cantilevered stand, making it easier to approach and operate. The stand mounts to the concrete with the use of anchors (not included) or may be set in a concrete footing.

Three Button Stations:
The most simple means to remotely activate a gate operator, a three button station can be used to open, close or stop the gate. Weather enclosures sold separately, these devices are perfect for manually operating the gate while in view. These devices are available in a two and single button configuration.

Keyed Switch:
Perfect for installation both inside and outside the gated area. Weather tight enclosure available, this device provides those with a key to open and close the gate.

Magnetic Locks:
For use on swing and slide gates, these devices can provide up to 1,300 pounds of holding force. Perfect for securing pedestrian gates in cooperation with other access control devices. Designed for outdoors use with various brackets for mounting.

Photoelectric Cell:
To meet compliance with the UL325 Code, these devices are capable of detecting vehicle and pedestrian traffic, providing safety from injury. With a 30’ range, the cell will detect anything that crosses its path. Available in various voltages, this device is wired to the operator. When its path is broken, the cell will send a message to the operator. Power is necessary at one end of the opening to the detector while a reflector is installed at the other end.

Infrared Detector:
To meet compliance with the UL325 Code, these devices are capable of detecting vehicle and pedestrian traffic, providing safety from injury. With a 75’ range, the infrared detectors will detect anything that crosses their path. Available in various voltages, a device at both end of the opening is wired for power and controls. When its path is broken, the detectors will send a message to the operator.

Seven day timer:
This device can be installed in your gate operator to open and close a gate at a specified time each day of the week. Wired to the operator, you may program the time for the gate to open and then close for a seven day cycle. This device should only be used in conjunction with pedestrian and vehicle safety devices.

How will my gate know when to close?
There are a number of options but the most common is to have the gate automatically close through the use of a timer to close. The timer is adjustable from just a few seconds to over a minute. The timer can be set from the time the gate is opened or from the time the car clears a certain point. These timers are included with the gate operator.

What prevents the gate from closing when something is in the way?
All motorized gates must be installed with safety devices that prevent property damage or injury in the event of an obstruction to the gate. All gate operators supplied by American Fence conform to industry standards regarding safety. In addition for full compliance we will install additional safety measure to help prevent injury or property damage.

What about safety?
Automated access controlled gates are now under the watchful eye of the United Laboratories.

What is UL?
Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., a not-for profit organization established in 1894, is self-described as “the leading third-party certification organization in the United States and the largest in North America.” UL’s primary stated mission is “to evaluate products in the interest of public safety.” Note that while UL declares it is the “leading” third-party certification organization, it is not the only one. There are other testing laboratories and certification organizations in the United States.

What is a UL Standard?
UL standards are voluntary standards that establish minimum requirements and are developed via an open, non-exclusionary process. “Voluntary” means that the standard has not been initiated through any government or similar regulatory agency mandate. “Minimum” means that the industry and those who developed the standard believe that the requirements should be met by all participants affected by the standard, and that more stringent provisions may be adopted by some in the industry. Finally, an “open, non-exclusionary process” indicates that any interested party can participate in the development of a UL standard. In addition, a number of UL standards have undergone a “canvass” (ballot) process in order to obtain recognition as American National Standards.

The purpose of this process is to gain a wider acceptance of a specific standard. The canvass process typically includes interested individuals and organizations that may have direct or material interest in a particular standard. UL 325 is one of the standards that have attained the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) designation.

What is the UL 325 Standard?
For products within the scope of the standard, UL 325:

  1. Contains the basic qualifying factors that products must meet in order to be documented (listed) and marked (labeled) as complying with the requirements of the UL 325 voluntary Listing and Labeling program.
  2. Provides methods for testing products, primarily related to safety performance.
  3. Covers installation of products in accordance with the National Electrical Code, which is maintained by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and is in force nationwide. UL 325 is to be harmonized with this Code.
  4. Addresses safety concerning potential fire and electrical hazards, as well as the safety of the general public.

How is UL 325 Used?
UL 325 is used as a basis to test products at a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Gate operators that choose to participate in a listing and labeling program submit their products for testing. If they are found to be in compliance with the UL 325 standard, they are “Listed” and receive a “Mark.”

It is very important to remember two facts:

  1. There are laboratories other than UL that are capable of listing and labeling products. A “UL label” is not a generic term. For example, many people use “Kleenex” or “Band-Aids” as generic terms when in fact they are specific brand names. UL is a brand name, and “UL label” should not be used generically.
  2. Products are not approved by UL or other laboratories. Approval implies acceptance of responsibility for compliance with standards. This responsibility lies with the listing and labeling applicant and not with the laboratory. The burden of proof regarding data always lies with the manufacturer.

Development of UL 325
The first edition of UL 325 was released in 1973. That edition was primarily focused on the electric operation of garage doors and did not contain provisions for gates. After federal laws were enacted in the early 1990’s, citing the provisions of UL 325 as applicable to garage door operation, DASMA members of the gate operator industry initiated the inclusion of electric gate operator provisions in UL 325. Some government agencies and other interested groups have monitored the standard’s progress and have provided input on the final format of the provisions of the standard that relate to gate operators.

Overview of UL 325 and Gates – Highlights of UL 325 include the following:

  1. A glossary which defines each type of operator
  2. Different “classes” of gate operators
  3. Entrapment* protection criteria for each “class” of operator
  4. Entrapment* alarm criteria
  5. Requirements for gate construction and installation (for detailed requirements regarding construction, see ASTM F2200, Standard Specification for Automated Vehicular Gate Construction)
  6. Instructional requirements placing increased responsibility on installers
  7. *In the document, “entrapment” is defined as “the condition when an object is caught or held in a position that increases the risk of injury.”

A key part of the UL 325 standard is a table (Table 31.1) that summarizes the entrapment device options for different classes of operators of the various types of gates included in the standard. Refer to the table as you read about the provisions that are described in the following sections. Usage class

Gate operator category

Horizontal slide, vertical lift, and vertical pivot

Swing and vertical barrier (arm)

Primary typea

Secondary typea

Primary typea

Secondary typea

Vehicular I and II


B1, B2, or D

A, or C

A, B1, B2, C, or D

Vehicular III

A, B1, or B2

A, B1, B2, D, or E

A, B1, B2, or C

A, B1, B2, C, D, or E

Vehicular IV

A, B1, B2, or D

A, B1, B2, D, or E

A, B1, B2, C, or D

A, B1, B2, C, D, or E

Note – The same type of device shall not be utilized for both the primary and the secondary entrapment protection means. Use of a single device to cover both the opening and closing directions is in accordance with the requirement; however, a single device is not required to cover both directions. A combination of one Type B1 for one direction and one Type B2 for the other direction is the equivalent of one device for the purpose of complying with the requirements of either the primary or secondary entrapment protection means.
a Entrapment protection types:
Type A – Inherent entrapment protection system. See 31.1.5.
Type B1 – Provision for connection of, or supplied with, a non-contact sensor (photoelectric sensor or the equivalent). See 31.1.6 – 31.1.9.
Type B2 – Provision for connection of, or supplied with, a contact sensor (edge device or the equivalent). See 31.1.7 and 31.1.10 – 31.1.12.
Type C – Inherent adjustable clutch or pressure relief device. See 31.1.13.
Type D – Provision for connection of, or supplied with, an actuating device requiring continuous pressure to maintain opening or closing motion of the gate. See 31.1.14 and 31.1.15.
Type E – An audio alarm. See 31.1.16, 31.1.17, and 31.1.18.


Gate Definition and Types
UL 325 defines a gate as “a moving barrier such as a swinging, sliding, raising, lowering, rolling, or the like, barrier that is a stand-alone passage barrier or is that portion of a wall or fence system that controls entrance and/or egress by persons or vehicles and completes the perimeter of a defined area.” The main types of gate operators/systems addressed in UL 325 are barrier, vertical pivot gate, horizontal slide gate, swing gate and vertical slide gate. It is important to note that all gates included in UL 325 are defined as vehicular gates and NOT PEDESTRIAN GATES. Property owners are expected to provide a separate entrance for pedestrian access.
Gate Operator Classifications

Four distinct types of classifications have been established:

Class I: Residential usage, covering one to four single-family dwellings.

Class II: Commercial usage where general public access is expected; a common application would be a public parking lot entrance or gated community.

Class III: Industrial usage where limited access is expected; one example is a warehouse property entrance not intended to serve the general public.

Class IV: Restricted access; this includes applications such as a prison entrance that is monitored either in person or via closed circuitry.

UL 325 defines the allowable entrapment protection options for each class as follows:

  1. Each class must have primary and secondary entrapment provisions;
  2. Each class must have different types of protection for the different classes of operators as well as for the different categories of operators; and
  3. The same type of device cannot be used for both primary and secondary protection.

An exception to compliance with the provisions of Table 31.1 has also been noted in the standard. An operator considered exempt would require all of the following:

  1. Operates a vehicular barrier (arm) that is not intended to move toward a rigid object closer than 2 feet;
  2. Does not have a pinch point between moving parts by virtue of the operator’s design or complying installation; and
  3. Is not required to be provided with means to protect against entrapment.

Provisions of Note Regarding Gate Operators
We have identified the following notable provisions included in UL 325 that affect gate operators and related safety devices.

  1. Class I and Class II operators must have an audio alarm which shall function if 2 sequential activations of the entrapment protection device occur. The “2 sequential activations” is noteworthy in that it is hoped that “nuisance” alarms will be kept to a minimum while still enhancing safe operation.
  2. Class I and Class II slide gate operators shall not exceed a speed of 1 foot per second when the operator is pulling 75 pounds or more. Since both classes listed involve general public usage, this maximum established speed strikes a balance between any perceived security issue (a person immediately following the party controlling the gate) and any danger from a person being struck by a gate.
  3. A Type B1 or B2 device serving as a Primary Safety Device shall be monitored for the presence and correct operation of the device, including the wiring to it, at least once during each open and close cycle. This requirement is included because these types of safety devices are often used as backup safety devices.
  4. Manufacturers will be required to specify a brand and model number of external sensors compatible for connection to an operator. This provision arose from concern over the gate operator external devices acting in tandem as a system, with a fault rate of 6 failures in 1 million hours of use (which equates to 115 years of continuous operation).
  5. After sensing an obstruction, reversing must begin within 2 seconds. This requirement is intended to keep a person from being entrapped in a stationary position by the gate system. After the first contact the gate must reverse and travel a minimum of 2 inches. If there is a second contact, the gate must stop, and requires a wired device to reset the operator.
  6. After any obstruction reversal by either an A or B2 device, the timer-to-close is disabled until reset. Both A and B2 devices sense direct gate contact with an obstruction, and the devices must perform their intended function without interference from a timer-to-close action.
  7. Stop the gate upon sensing a second sequential obstruction, and then not operate until an intended hard wired input is received in most situations, depending upon the combination of types of primary and secondary entrapment protection devices that are used.. A person within the line of sight of the gate must see what has caused the second sequential obstruction and must resolve this obstruction before operating the gate.
  1. If a Type C device is chosen, swing gates must not exert more than 40 pounds of force after initial start-up. The reasoning here is similar to the reasoning given for the speed limitation for horizontal slide gates.

Effect on Installations
The new provisions will have several effects on gate and fence dealers:

  1. Gate and fence dealers should look for an indication of the Class of each operator, which will be specified by the gate operator manufacturer.]
  2. Fence dealer sales personnel must match the site application with the Class of operator. The gate operator manufacturer should be contacted if there is any question about the site application.
  3. Both primary and secondary safety devices must be provided and matched to both the operator and site conditions. Although the gate operator manufacturer will either provide or specify these devices, the gate/fence dealer should insure that they are installed and correctly matched. Any questions should again be directed to the gate operator manufacturer.
  4. Warning signs must be permanently affixed to the gate panel. UL 325 includes specific requirements on the format, content, and placement of these signs.

Factors Related to Gate Construction and Installation
Vehicular gate operators should ONLY be used on vehicular gates and never pedestrian gates.

Adequate clearance should be provided between a swinging gate and adjacent structures to reduce risk of entrapment.

A sliding gate should work smoothly with easy rolling/movement in both directions, prior to the installation of the operator.

Controls should be as far away from the gate as possible, at least 6 feet from the gate, to prevent “reach-through” occurrences.

Warning signs and placards must be installed and be visible in the area of the gate.
See DASMA TDS-370 for information about gate construction and ASTM F2200, Standard Specification for Automated Vehicular Gate Construction.

Device-Specific Installation Instructions
There are also specific installation requirements for certain types of entrapment protection devices. These specific requirements emphasize the care and attention that each device must be given prior to and during installation.

For gate operators utilizing non-contact sensor devices (Type B1), instructions should be consulted for placement for each application, care should be exercised to reduce the risk of nuisance tripping, and one or more of these devices must be installed where the risk of entrapment or obstruction exists.

For gate operators utilizing contact sensor devices (Type B2), several requirements are spelled out in UL 325.

One or more contact sensors shall be located at the leading edge, the trailing edge, and also post mounted both inside and outside of, a vehicular horizontal slide gate; at the bottom edge of a vehicular vertical slide gate; and at the entrapment point of a vehicular vertical pivot gate.

A wired contact sensor shall be located, and its wiring arranged, so that communication between sensor and gate operator is not subjected to mechanical damage. A wireless contact sensor shall be located where the transmission of the signals is not obstructed or impeded by building structures, natural landscaping or similar obstructions, and shall function under the intended end use conditions.

For gate operators utilizing a continuous pressure activating device (Type D), controls must be placed so that user has full view of the gate area when the gate is moving. A placard must be placed adjacent to the controls and no other activation device shall be connected. Most importantly, an automatic closing device shall not be employed.
Statements in Manufacturer’s Instructions Concerning Installation

Gate and fence dealers can expect to see in gate operator instructions the following statements:

  1. The operator must be appropriate for the construction of the gate and the usage class of the gate. The appropriate primary and secondary safety devices to be used are a major consideration to support this requirement.
  2. All openings of a horizontal slide gate, and the portion of the fence where the slide gate passes, must be guarded or screened. These specific requirements in UL 325 that govern this provision were developed to address “reach-through” occurrences. For example, slide gates must have a protective cover 48 inches in height extending from the bottom of the gate/fence panel.
  3. All exposed entrapment points must be eliminated or guarded. It is up to individual gate and fence dealers to identify these points on a product-by-product basis, or on a job-by-job basis.
  4. Guarding must be supplied for exposed rollers. Exposed rollers are regarded as potential pinch points