How to Install an Electric Sliding Gate Motor

The first, and possible the most important thing to do is to check that your sliding gate is running smoothly along the whole length of the track, and that it is in good condition. That is, no rust or rot. If its hard to push or pull, or binds on the track, fix the problem before you do anything else. The gate must be in good working order, and not bowed.

Next, you will need to run a power cable from the consumer unit, through a RCD circuit breaker, to the location of the motor. A residual-current device (RCD) is an electrical wiring device that disconnects a circuit when it detects that the electric current is not balanced between the live and the neutral conductor.

Such an imbalance may indicate current leakage through the body of a person who is grounded and accidentally touching the energized part of the circuit. A lethal shock can result from these conditions. RCDs are designed to disconnect quickly enough to prevent injury caused by such shocks. This work should be completed by a qualified electrician. Or you could fit the type of motor that can run on solar power. Although the initial cost of a solar kit may be a little more than hiring an electrician to lay the cable, free electricity is always a good idea.

Now is the time to purchase the motor, a kit is usually the best way to go, as they come with control electronics and receiver fitted internally. This way you can guarantee that all the components are compatible. It will come with a base plate to secure the motor to the ground. It will also have the correct rack and remote controls and photocells, and most of the fittings required.

If your drive is already laid with concrete I would strongly suggest that you secure the plate using anchor bolts. If your drive is gravel or dirt you must dig a hole where the motor is going to fit and fill with concrete, at the same time embedding the plate into the wet mix. Don’t forget to bring the power cable up through the plate, and take another cable out for the photocells.

The position is critical. Not only must it be perfectly level, you must also remember to measure the distance from the side of the gate plus the size of the rack (that’s the bar with teeth) and the spacers that they are fitted with. The rack should fit over the middle of the toothed wheel on the motor. Make sure that the gate doesn’t have any large nuts protruding from around the wheels, as these could foul the motor. Once the base plate is fitted you should refer to the instructions that came with the kit. If you fitted the plate into concrete I would suggest that you let the mix set for 2 weeks before you fit the motor

When the motor is securely in place proceed to fit the rack to the gate. This can be accomplished either by welding or screwing the rack in place.

Fitting the rack.

  • Rest the first rack element on the gear and fit it to the gate with screws and spacers, sliding the gate backwards and forwards.
  • For correct positioning of the next piece, clamp a section upside down to the first, and then the next piece sits on top. Fix this to the gate. Continue until all in place.
  • There must be a clearance between the rack and gear of at least 1 mm so that the gate never weighs on the gear motor.
  • It is important that the gear motor is firmly secured to the ground during the gate travel.
  • Position the two limit stop brackets on the rack and move the gate by hand to fix them in place.
  • Fit the limit stops so that the gate will not knock into the mechanical stops.

Fitting the photocells.

  • The photocells should be fitted about 60cm above ground level to give protection to most cars.

Photocells or Photo Electric Beams use a beam of invisible infra-red light that passes from a transmitter unit to a receiving unit. If the beam is broken you know something is in the way. These are used with automatic gates on either side of a driveway as a safety device to prevent a gate closing. These must be fitted to all new installations.

There are three types of Photocells:

Reflector Beam – this has the transmitter and receiver on one side with a special reflector on the other. The advantage of the reflector beam is you only need to run wiring to one side of the driveway. Reflector beams are not recommended for outside use as any rain on the reflector can stop it working.

Point to Point Beam – this is best for Automatic Gates as there is a transmitter on one side of the driveway and the receiver on the other. These tend to be very reliable when used outside.

Dual Beam – which is basically two point to point beams built- in the one unit. You must break both beams before it will work. These are normally used for outdoor security perimeter alarms.


  • The important thing when installing Photocells is to make sure they are aligned with each other. The beam of light coming from the transmitter is quite narrow, if not aimed at the receiver properly it may not work. Worse still, if they only just work, some rain on them will stop them working, which will leave the gate open.

When all the electrical connection are made check that the gate moves correctly. Memorize the remote controls to the fitted receiver.

Follow the instruction manual in testing the installation. Make sure that everything is tight and that there is no movement of the motor when the gate starts and stops.

Job complete.


The civil liability policy, which covers possible injuries to people or accidents caused by defects in construction, requires the system to be to existing standard and to use original manufactures accessories.