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## 6 Gate Motor Solar Selection Tips

“Going green” is a term that is being thrown around with increasing regularity by everyone from the media to the CEOs of big companies. We can all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint and conserve the environment so that our children and grandchildren can also enjoy this beautiful and unique planet of ours. One way to do this is to make use of solar energy to power your home or office electrical devices, and in an age where frequent power cuts have become commonplace, it could be the way to go. Going solar will not only dramatically reduce your raw energy consumption, but it also means you won’t be left in the lurch when the lights go out.

When it comes to door automation, there are several solar options available. But what size solar panel do you buy? What kind of autonomy can be expected in the event of a power cut? I aim to answer these and other questions in this article. We will look specifically at DC gate motors as the solar panel will be used to charge the battery or batteries.

**1. Check your motor voltage**

There are basically two variants when it comes to DC gate motors, namely 12V and 24V models. 12V models usually use a single battery to power the motor, while motors larger than 24V, which are usually designed for industrial applications or properties with high traffic flow, such as townhouse complexes, have two batteries connected in series. It is important to know if 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 power consumption. Things like infrared safety beams, intercoms, remote receivers, as well as the motor control card itself all consume current and will need to be considered when selecting a solar panel.

**3. Number of hours of sunlight**

Obviously, the amount of rated charge you’ll get from a solar panel depends on how much sun you get each day. If you live in an area that is mostly cloudy, solar power may not be the answer. In general, it takes five hours a day or more for your engine batteries to stay in a fully charged state.

**4. Do the math**

Now that you know the voltage of your motor, how many auxiliary 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 solar panel you need. But first, remember to check your door motor’s documentation to see what its idle current draw is.

Then you get an amp/hour rating by multiplying the quiescent current draw by 24 (the number of hours in the day). For example, if your motor PC board draws 50 mA of current, the ampere/hour rating will be 1.2 Ah (0.050 x 24 = 1.2 Ah). Do this calculation for all your peripheral equipment and also for your solar regulator. If you haven’t decided on a regulator yet, you can use a 30A regulator (which draws about 10mA current) for your calculation. Add up all the totals for the engine, controller, auxiliaries, and regulator.

*Example:*

Consider an average household sliding door that operates an average of 10 times a day. It is fitted with a 12V home operator and also has a set of safety beams attached.

MOTOR CURRENT: 10 (number of operations per day) x 0.111 Ah (energy/net operation) = 1.11 Ah

ELECTRONICS: Motor PCB = 0.384Ah

Safety beams = 1.60 Ah

Solar regulator = 0.24 Ah

TOTAL ENERGY DEMAND: 3,334Ah

**5. Choose a panel size**

Now you are ready to select a solar panel. The schedule below should give you an idea of the load currents and load outputs associated with different sized solar panels:

**Solar panel capacity Load Current load **

20W monocrystalline 1.2A 6.0Ah

40W monocrystalline 2.4A 12.0Ah

65W monocrystalline 4.0A 20Ah

67W monocrystalline 75W 22.0Ah

The load output has been determined by multiplying the load current by the number of effective sunshine hours per day. I used 5 hours for the sake of this example.

Finally, you need to choose a solar panel that has a load capacity greater than the total demand of the system. In other words, if the demand for your door automation system is 3.334Ah as in the example above, a 20W panel will suffice.

**6. You will need the following…**

When buying a solar panel, make sure you also buy a solar regulator. A regulator keeps the charging rate constant so your engine battery is not overcharged or undercharged. If you have a 24V system, you will need two solar regulators, as most regulators are rated for 12V systems.

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