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Why Surge Protect Gates & Outdoor Keypads from Lightning?

It’s late and your client is on his way home with the family.  It’s also raining and a lightning storm just passed through the area.  The homeowner gets to the front gate and it does not open!  Your client cannot get to the house and now everyone in the car is upset.  The frustrated homeowner decides that he needs to solve the problem quickly and phones the installer or worse gets out and starts cutting wires until the gate unlocks and he is able to push the gate open.   Hopefully, at this point your client is asking himself why he didn’t go with the surge suppression you quoted him to protect the gate and keypads he now has to repair.

HOW IT WORKS

A quality Transient Protect Design protects all pathways (power, coax, data, and phone).  Driveway gates are notorious for having lightning and surge damage to their motors and keypads. Why is this?  Having a gate connected to a home’s electrical system is about the same as having a lightning rod in the middle of the yard.  It’s going to get hit by lightning, if not today, someday!   The power from the house to the gate is a direct pathway to the unprotected gate motor.  The further the gate is from the house the more potential for lightning, whether a direct strike or a nearby strike (up to a ¼ mile away), to get on to the power line from the house to the gate.  These surges can go towards the house as well as the gate motor, so it is advisable to install a suppressor on the electrical panel in the house feeding the gate.  Lightning surges can also get onto the communication lines to the gate damaging both the keypad and house end electronics.  Ground loops are another potential disturbance that can damage the keypads and electronics in the home.   Some gates have an even larger chance of getting struck by lightning because of the metal fence that is connected to the gate.  That fence is another lightning attractor system.   Gated communities are spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on service calls on gates for these unprotected pathways.  See an example design diagram here.

CLIENT BENEFITS

Peace of mind! Safety! Security!  Failure to surge protect gates and keypads can negate the security the gate was designed to provide. The power feeds to the gate also leave unprotected pathways back into the house.  Clients should be given the option to protect both the gate and the house when the gate is being installed.  It is the client’s responsibility to protect his or her equipment, whether it is a gate keypad or a computer or a home theater, and it is the system integrator’s responsibility to show the homeowner how to protect it.