While buyers are often put off by the higher cost and reliability concerns surrounding solar-powered automated gate openers, the development of systems which consume extremely modest amounts of energy in standby could give a pivotal boost to energy efficient home security.
Solar-powered gate openers have been on the market for some time and would initially appear to be the ideal fusion of economy and efficiency in home security.
They can operate independently and dispense with the inconveniences of either frequent battery replacement or a connection to power sources, which are often situated at considerable distance from the gates themselves.
The adoption of solar-powered gate openers has been impeded in some quarters, however, by their additional cost - with quotes often running to around 25 per cent more than standard systems due to the need to install photovoltaic panels, as well as doubts over their reliability due to the limited amount of energy they can harvest under inclement weather conditions - even when equipped with batteries as back-up power supplies.
Technological advances have the potential to overcome these hurdles, however, with new sensors for gate openers requiring only a minimal amount of energy to operate while in standby, thus making solar power sources a more viable choice.
One such device is the Cartell GateMate (CP-3) developed by Preferred Technologies. According to CEO Jonathan Bohannon, the GateMate has the lowest current draw in standby amongst free exit systems on the market.
"It humors me when I hear out competition boasting about their standby current being in the low Millilamps," Bohannon said. "Cartell is working in Microamps. There are one thousand Microamps in one Milliamp, so you see, there's no comparison."
According to Bohannon, the device requires a mere 90 to 150 Microamps to operate in standby mode, which is up to 90 per cent lower than its closest rivals.
Low energy systems like the GateMate could greatly facilitate the adoption of solar power for automated gate operators, by enabling them to operate for longer on just a single charge, and thus assuaging consumer concerns about their want of reliability.