If your gate operator is hit by lightning (or damaged by a power surge from a nearby lightning strike, which is what usually occurs), there are many things that can make the problem worse. Here’s what to do—and not do—if a lightning strike damages your gate operating system.
If you suspect storm or lightning damage, don’t try to force your system to work. You could end up damaging the system even more, making your gate operator replacement even more expensive.
Almost every modern automatic gate has a photo eye, which uses light and infrared beams to signal the gate to open or close. (Photo eyes are also a safety precaution, as they prevent people and vehicles from being struck or trapped by the gate.) It is possible that fog, water, or debris has clouded up the sensor, and there is nothing actually wrong with the gate. Therefore, make sure the photo eye is perfectly clean before giving us a call. It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often we arrive to a gate to find this is the only issue!
Write down and record evidence of damage. This will help us diagnose the repair, and be useful for your insurance [How to Protect from Lightning] later. First, disengage the arm from the gate (you will need to consult your gate operator manual to do this, as there is a different procedure for every brand.) Next, open up the control box, and take pictures of any burned or smoking parts. If there has been lightning damage, it will probably smell like burned plastic or toast. Jot that down, too, and let us know about it.
A couple of clients have asked us over the years if solar-powered gate operators will reduce their risk of lightning damage. Unfortunately, while solar power has many other benefits, this is unlikely to be the case. Although solar power does offer less pathways for lightning to reach the operator, lightning is not selective. It usually hits the ground spreads out like a spider web, jumping onto the wires in the ground and shocking the access control devices. Lightning can also hit the gate that the operator is attached to, causing damage. It is much better to follow these top tips to prevent lightning from striking your gate.
If your gate operator or gate has been struck by lightning, please don’t hesitate to give James Access Controls a call. Our gate operator repair services will have your gate operator up and running in a jiffy. Contact us to request service here.