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Choosing Your Self-Storage Facility Gate: Types, Pros and Cons


By Robert Toy

Whether you’re installing a new security gate for a self-storage facility in development or replacing the gate at an existing site, it’s important to research and compare product types. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and knowing these in advance can help make your decision easier. Here’s an overview of the gates on the market as well as their pros and cons.

Slide Gate

This is the most common gate type, but don’t assume it’s going to be best choice for your site. It uses a chain, belt or hydraulic pump connected to pinch rollers to pull the gate open, and any supplier should be able to install it. Limit devices connected to the operator sense when to stop the gate in the open or closed position.


  • Security: Since the gate is a solid barrier, it helps to prevent unauthorized access to the property.
  • Convenience: The gate may display signage that advertises the facility, explains operation of the access system, or shares access hours and safety warnings.
  • Cost: Slide gates generally cost less than some other types of gates.
  • Size: Slide gates can close off a larger opening than any other gate type. Most others are restricted to a maximum of 20 feet for a single operator. A chain-driven slide gate can generally close off an opening of 35 to 40 feet, and a hydraulic/track operator has an essentially unlimited opening width.


  • Space: The gate needs somewhere to retract while opening.
  • Speed: Because of safety regulations, slide gates are restricted to a max opening speed of one foot per second. That can take quite a while if you have a large opening. Dual gate operators in a main/secondary configuration can be used for extra-wide openings. This increases speed, but at the expense of having two gates and operators.

Barrier Arm

These gates are also common and usually paired with a manual or motorized slide gate. This gate uses a motor connected through a belt or chain drive to a lightweight (wood, fiberglass, etc.) arm that can be up to 20 feet long. The arm rises to allow vehicle passage, and then automatically closes once the vehicle is through.


  • Speed: This operator has the quickest reaction time. It typically takes only two or three seconds to open. This can be especially useful in a situation where the entrance has limited space for vehicles to line up, for example, just off a busy street.
  • Cost: These operators are the least expensive.
  • Maintenance: They generally require less maintenance than other types.
  • Space: The operator has a small footprint and requires no horizontal space to retract.
  • Battery backup: Some brands have a built-in battery-backup system.


  • Security: Since the barrier is only a small arm, the path into the facility isn’t secure and the operator only provides traffic control. Therefore, this type of operator is usually backed up by a slide gate that will close after hours.
  • Vulnerability: Since the arm is made of a lightweight material, it can be susceptible to damage from vehicles. However, it can be replaced at a lower cost than a metal gate in the same situation.

Swing Gate

This gate operator is less common than the others. The motor is attached to a pivot arm, which is then attached to a hinged gate that swings open like a door.


  • Security: The gate is a solid barrier, improving security.
  • Convenience: Like the slide gate, the swing gate may display signage.
  • Space: The gate requires no horizontal space to retract, which can actually be an advantage and a disadvantage.


  • Space: The gate needs to swing back when it opens. For this reason, it’s most often used for one-way traffic only. If used for two-way traffic, the keypad on the side the gate swings toward will need to be placed an adequate distance away.
  • Installation costs: The cost of the gate fabrication may be more expensive than that of a slide gate. This gate also requires a more elaborate safety-loop installation than others.

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