What is an underground operator?
An underground operator is one type of motor used on automated gates, as they need an operator (or motor) to drive the gate leaf open and closed. The operator is effectively is located at the base of the gate post in the ground.
How does it work?
When the operator receives a signal from the control system, the motor is activated and a shaft turns, which is connected to the gate leaf via a link arm. This will then open or close the gate leaf as required.
Why fit them?
Underground operators make the final look of the gates more aesthetically pleasing than the other common back of gate operators.
As they are secured behind a cover plate in the ground, they are also much harder to tamper with by vandals.
Finally, they do not present an aid for climbing over the gate leaf itself, albeit you would be inside the property as the back of gate operator. is generally fitted on the secure side of the gate.
What are the disadvantages?
If the gate breaks down in the closed position, opening the leaf with the manual release can be fiddly, as you have to kneel down to floor level, remove the cover and insert the key. Speaking from experience, this is no fun when the floor is wet and dirty.
Also, it is important that you have your gate regularly serviced as the engineer should check that the manual release is working. It is not unheard of for the manual release to be seized solid and useless.
Plus drainage can be an issue, with the foundation box filling with water. Whilst the operator itself is rated and safe when working submerged in water, eventually this will reduce the life of the unit due to corrosion or perishing of components.
When a gate has not been serviced for some time, debris such as earth can build up in the foundation box. Again, this does not stop the gate working but it does reduce the life span of the components and fault diagnosis is harder (and dirtier) when you cannot see connections or links arms for example.
This is the same operator after Pearly Gates had serviced the gate, which is much cleaner and all components are clearly visible.
Why use them?
Frankly, it’s all about the looks. They are more expensive and more fiddly to open in an emergency but even non gate nerds would agree, a gate looks much nicer when the operator is hidden.