How do garage door safety sensors work?
Safety beams represent an invisible tripwire, created by converting electricity into an infrared beam of light. For the door to close, it’s requires these beams to have continuous visibility of each other. One sensor transmits the signal, while the other receives it. The sensors are to be placed 6″ from the ground, as this aids in detecting small children, pets, car tires, and more. If the beam of light is ever disrupted, the garage door opener will promptly reverse its action, resulting in the door opening instead of closing.
A Brief History of Garage Door Safety Photo Eyes
When President George H.W. Bush signed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 1990, it became a requirement for all residential garage door openers to automatically reverse upon contact with an obstruction by January 1, 1991. By January 1, 1993, the Act further mandated Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to identify a suitable device that would provide an extra level of protection against entrapment. From that point on, terms like “photo-eyes,” “safety-sensors” and “out of alignment” became part of the everyday vocabulary for garage door dealers.
While garage door sensors are now widely used, a significant number of homeowners remain unaware of their functionality. The primary purpose of photo eyes is to ensure unobstructed closure of the door by detecting any potential blockages in its path.
Common Garage Door Sensor Problems and (3) Troubleshooting Tips
If you’re having trouble closing your garage door electrically, your safety sensors or photo eyes are likely the cause. Below are two common scenarios:
- The garage door starts to close, but then quickly stops and reverses, with no obstruction in its path.
- The door closes the whole way, despite there being an obstruction in its path.
Garage door safety sensors may malfunction due to three primary factors: misalignment, dirty lenses, and damaged wires. Lets explore potential remedies for each.
Garage door sensors can easily become misaligned due to their location within 6″ of the ground. This can occur when objects like trash cans or pets brush against them. If you observe the sensors with a blinking light, it indicates misalignment. It’s important to note that the transmitter and receiver sensors typically have two different colored lights. Dependent on the manufacturer, these are commonly seen as red for the transmitter and green for the receiver. To rectify this issue, simply tighten the screws on the bracket using a screwdriver or gently adjust the bracket back to its original position. Once the photo eyes are realigned, the blinking lights will become solid and your garage door should close electrically once again.
#2. Dirty Lenses
Garage door sensors can easily become dirty due to their low proximity with the floor. Similar to eyeglasses or a camera lens, the safety sensor’s photo eye is composed of glass. Due to its size, even a small amount of dirt or dust, leafs or spider webs can cause issues. When this occurs, you will notice one or both safety sensors blinking. Cleaning it is as simple as using soap and a soft rag. By removing any residue from the photo eye’s surface, your garage door sensor problems can often be easily resolved.
#3 Nicked or Damaged Wires
If the indicator light on your photo eyes is not visible, it is possible that the wires are damaged. These low voltage wires typically run from the main powerhead unit in the garage ceiling to the photo eyes positioned just inches off the ground on either side of the door. When there is any damage to these wires between the connections, the photo eyes will not illuminate. This indicates potential issues with either the wiring or the photo eyes themselves. In such cases, it is necessary to replace one or both of them. We recommend seeking professional assistance when encountering this situation.
(2) Easy ways to bypass safety sensors to close your garage door
For security reasons, you may find the need to close your garage door when your sensors are not working properly. Below are two ways to overcome this issue. Exercise caution when employing these tips, ensuring that the opening remains unobstructed and nothing poses a risk.
#1 Press and hold the garage door wall console button
If you are encountering an error and want to bypass the garage door sensors, one of the easiest ways to do it is to simply press and hold the garage door wall console button. By applying “constant pressure”, this will override the safety feature and allow you to close the garage door electrically. This method will not work with a wireless keypad or handheld remote.
#2 Switch door to manual operation
To bypass the garage door sensors, you can alternatively switch to manual operation. Simply pull the red cord attached to the garage door to disengage the automatic opener. This allows you to operate the garage door manually.