6 Gate Motor Solar Selection Tips
“Going green” is a term that’s being uttered with increasing regularity by everyone from the news media to CEOs of big companies. We can all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint and conserve the ecosystem so that our children and grandchildren may also enjoy this beautiful and rare planet of ours. One way to do this is to make use of solar energy to supply strength to electrical devices around your home or office and, in an age where frequent strength outages have become standard, it might just be the way to go. Using solar energy will not only dramatically reduce raw energy consumption, but also method that you won’t be left in the lurch when the lights go out.
As far as gate automation goes, there are a number of solar options obtainable. But what size solar panel do you buy? What sort of autonomy can you expect in the event of a strength outage? I aim to answer these and other questions in this article. We will look specifically at DC-powered gate motors, as the solar panel will be used to charge the battery or batteries.
1. Check your motor voltage
Basically, there are two variants when it comes to DC gate motors, namely 12V and 24V models. The 12V models usually make use of single battery to supply strength to the motor while the bigger 24V motors – which are usually designed for industrial applications or similarities with heavy traffic flow such as townhouse complexes – have two batteries connected in series. It is important to know whether you have a 12V or 24V gate motor as this will determine how many solar regulators you need to buy.
2. How many additional devices are connected?
This will come into play later, when you determine the current draw and energy consumption. Things like infrared safety beams, intercoms, far away receivers in addition as the motor’s control card itself, all draw current and will have to be taken into account when selecting a solar panel.
3. Number of hours of sunlight
clearly, the amount of moderate charge you will get from a solar panel depends on how much the sun shines on it every day. If you live in an area that’s mostly overcast, solar strength might not be the answer. Five hours per day or more are generally needed for your motor’s batteries to keep in a fully charged state.
4. Do the maths
Now that you know what your motor voltage is, how many ancillary devices are connected to it and how many hours of sunlight you get per day, you can do the following calculations to determine the size of the solar panel you require. But first, remember to check your gate motor’s documentation to see what its quiescent current draw is.
Next, get an amp/hour rating by multiplying the quiescent current draw with 24 (the number of hours in a day). For example, if your motor’s PC board draws 50mA of current, the amp/hour rating will be 1.2Ah (0.050 x 24 = 1.2Ah). Perform this calculation for all your peripheral equipment and also for your solar regulator. If you haven’t decided on a regulator however, you can use a 30A regulator (which draws about 10mA of current) for the sake of your calculation. Add up all the totals for the motor, controller, ancillary devices and regulator.
Consider an average domestic sliding gate that operates an average of 10 times per day. It is fitted with a 12V domestic operator and also has a set of safety beams connected.
MOTOR CURRENT: 10 (the number of daily operations) x 0.111 Ah (Nett energy/operation) = 1.11Ah
ELECTRONICS: Motor PCB = 0.384Ah
Safety beams = 1.60Ah
Solar regulator = 0.24Ah
TOTAL ENERGY need: 3.334Ah
5. Choose a panel size
You are now ready to select a solar panel. The following schedule should give you an idea of the charge currents and charge outputs associated with different size solar panels:
Solar panel capacity Charge Current Charge
20W monocrystalline 1.2A 6.0Ah
40W monocrystalline 2.4A 12.0Ah
65W monocrystalline 4.0A 20Ah
67W monocrystalline 75W 22.0Ah
The charge output has been determined by multiplying the charge current by the number of effective sun hours per day. I used 5 hours for the sake of this example.
Lastly, you need to choose a solar panel that has a charge capacity greater than the total need of the system. In other words, if the need of your gate automation system is 3.334Ah like in the example above, a 20W panel will be sufficient.
6. You’ll need the following…
When buying a solar panel, also ensure that you buy a solar regulator. A regulator keeps the charge rate continued so that your motor’s battery is not over or undercharged. If you have a 24V system, you’ll need two solar regulators since most regulators are rated for 12V systems.