Does it really work in rainy old Britain?
Short answer is definitely YES, but good planning is vital.
- Our solar panels use crystalline photovoltaic cells which simply require day light to produce electricity, so even on a cloudy winter’s day, our solar panels still provide charge.
- We use our own design of solar panel mounting brackets set at 23 degrees to the vertical to maximise the winter harvest
- We set the panels to face SOLAR SOUTH, which can be very different to magnetic south
- We use a 24volt DC system, proven to be up to 50% more efficient than a 12volt DC system.
- We can even supply an optional App for your phone to see exactly how much solar energy has been harvested on any particular day, the usage on any day and the battery charge remaining.
Most importantly, we tailor the size of batteries and solar panels to suit the usage that your gate has, however many that may be per day, and your chosen solar friendly gate control accessories. Over 100 cycles per day are not uncommon.
It is not a case of “How many openings will the solar panel provide?” but rather “How many openings do you require?”
Do the solar panels need maintenance?
No, once mounted, they are maintenance free.
Can the solar panel be mounted away from the gate?
Yes, the solar panels come as standard with 10 m of cabling allowing you to site the panels away from the gate. This can be extended with our standard 10mtr extension cable ducting kit (or even further if required, up 100mtrs without significant power loss)
How can I tell if the solar panel is charging the battery?
There is a small light in the MPPT charge controller which indicates when the solar panel is charging the battery. Maximum charging known as BULK charging, the light quickly flashes; ABSORPTION occurs at 80% charge and the light slowly flashes, then on FULL CHARGE the light is constant.
We can now optionally supply an App for your phone giving real time info such as current charging and battery level as well as 30 day historical usage and charging.
Which direction should the solar panel face?
SOLAR SOUTH is optimal to maximise efficiency. This is NOT the same as magnetic south and is found by putting your exact location into our calculator, giving you the exact time on any given day of the year when the sun is at its highest and so at Solar South. This can have a variance of over 40 MINUTES from noon!
Can the automatic opener be fitted to my existing gates?
Yes, our systems have been designed to fit almost all types of gate, wooden and metal, and each brushless motor ram mounting bracket is custom designed for your hanging post.
So there is no need to dig up my drive?
Yes, that’s correct. No costly electric cables to lay or any need to disturb the surface of your drive. The only exception is if you require a double gate system in which case a duct will have to be laid under the drive to take power to the second motor. Otherwise, we offer a full range of totally wireless accessories.
Has your system been specially designed to work in the UK?
Most definitely YES, Extensive research has been done by us to ensure that the output of the solar panel matches the capacity of the battery for the useage required, taking into account the changes in length of daylight and light intensity that we expirience in the UK. All components are individually tested during manufacture to ensure maximum electrical efficiency.
We have even had special brackets constructed that allow you to maximise the winter sunlight at 23 degrees to the vertical, unlike the traditional 45 degrees used by many other firms, who do not fully understand the needs of a UK solar gate operating system.
How is the gate opened and closed?
A brushless ram/actuator is used. Our rams use a brushless electric motor and drive and therefore have no hydraulic oil, so no leaks, and cannot be forced open or shut, so holding the gate in place at all times. The brushless technology gives unrivalled gate control being adjustable to the last millimetre of travel, slow start and stopping, and gives total precision throughout the entire gate cycle.
Why do we use a 24 volt system?
A 24 volt system gives a large increase in minimising power loss ( can be as much as 50% increase) over a 12 volt system. Brushless motors become more efficient with a higher voltage too.
Linear rams power open and shut the new roof at Wimbledon……hydraulic rams were NOT an option due to potential leaking, and linear rams can be computer controlled to all work at exactly the same pace!
How are the linear rams/actuators operated?
1. Remote controller and/or
2. Coded Keypad and/or
3. Mobile phone
1. Remote controller can have up to 64,000 different codes loaded for added security. Standard range of over 200 metres from the gate.
2. Coded keypad options are wired to the gate (100 codes) or wireless (150 codes)
3. Mobile phone. The gate uses a SIM card with a telephone number, and will only recognise any of the up to 200 ‘friendly’ numbers you have programmed into the system. When it receives a call from one of the ‘friendly’ numbers, it drops the call so that NO CHARGES are incurred and opens or closes your gate. So you can use your mobile as your personal remote. Range is anywhere on the planet!
How secure are my gates when closed?
The linear rams or actuators ensure that the gate is held firm, both in the open and closed position. This is due to the inherent design of the linear ram. However, we can provide our bespoke solar powered solenoid lock for extra security if required.
Can the gate be locked?
Yes, we can supply an unique solenoid lock particularly for solar use (requiring extremely low power) that comes with a lifetime warranty, and which will solidly lock any single gate.
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What happens if I cannot open my gates?
Our system allows you to unlock the motor with a key so that the gate can be operated manually.
Does the system work in a power cut?
Yes, we use the charge stored in the batteries, independent of the National Grid (and also with NO BILLS!)
Does the system work in the dark?
Yes, The batteries are kept fully charged during daylight hours to carry on working through the night. The standard specification batteries have enough stored power to give over 1000 gate cycles with no further charging. We can guarantee this due to the super efficient brushless motor design.
The Science Bit
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are semiconductors that directly convert sunlight into energy. A PV cell consists of two charged layers, in balance with a semi-conductive material (silicon). When sunlight hits the cells, a reaction is created that knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As electrons flow through the cell, they generate electricity. Our PV system simply requires daylight to generate electricity and so will still generate power even on cloudy days.
SOLAR ISN’T A NEW IDEA….DID YOU KNOW THAT LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452 – 1519) PLANNED INDUSTRIAL USE OF SOLAR ENERGY & THE FIRST SOLAR CELL WAS CONSTRUCTED BY CHARLES FRITTS IN THE 1880’s!