It’s a dark and stormy night and your power has gone out. You’re in need of fresh flashlight batteries and decide to head to the store to pick a few up, along with a pint of ice cream to enjoy while you wait for internet access or DVR to come back on.

There’s just one problem: You’re looking at a closed gate and wondering how you’re going to get your car off your property and on the road to ice cream… and batteries.

Open Sesame

When the lights go out, if your driveway gate was installed by a competent automatic security gate installer, then one of three things should happen.


  • Either the gate will automatically open and stay open until the power comes back on;
  • The gate will continue to function as normal until there is not sufficient backup power and will then stay open until the power comes back on;
  • Or the gate will default to the unlocked position, allowing you to open it by hand without any tools or keys…


The Rules

It is a violation of national fire code to have any equipment installed that does not respond to a power outage in one of the three above mentioned ways.

Any driveway gate that requires a key to unlock, or a handle, pedal, or crank to be turned to release in the case of a power failure is an unnecessary hazard that should be avoided at all costs.

National fire code requires that an electric gate default to the unlocked position in the case of a power failure. Gate operators satisfy this requirement by either having:


  • a single open battery backup device (upon a power outage, opening the gate immediately or one time using a key switch);
  • a multiple open battery backup devices (allowing the gate to open multiple times until the battery dies);
  • or a mechanical lock that releases upon power failure, allowing you to push or slide the gate open.


A Dire Scenario

Imagine an electrical fire that causes the breaker panel to blow and leaves the gate with no power. First responders arrive to find a locked automatic driveway gate that does not respond to their activation device.

They lose precious time trying to open the gate and opt to wrap a chain around your gate, doing thousands of dollars of damage by pulling your gate down with the fire truck. Only after they manage to get the gates out of the way, can they make it up your driveway only to offer aid…

Seconds count in an emergency. Don’t let seconds turn into minutes by choosing an unqualified driveway gate installer who might put your property or loved ones at risk.