About Garage Door Sensors

Written by valerie david
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About Garage Door Sensors
(Photo c2009 Valerie David)

These tiny plastic devices may not look like much, but they use infrared beams and radio signals to monitor and even control the operation of your garage door. Simple safety sensors can stop the full weight of a closing garage door and reverse its direction, protecting anyone or anything that may have been crushed in its path. Garage door sensors can also monitor your garage and doors for a variety of safety and security measures to give you peace of mind.


Garage door sensors are electronic devices that are used to monitor the garage door's operation and maintain the safety and security of your garage and home. Sensors are mounted on the garage door itself or on the door rails. Sensors can be used to automatically stop, open or close the garage door when there are obstructions or other safety issues. Sensors can also be used simply to alert the homeowner when the door is left open.


The main type of garage door sensor is a safety sensor that became legally required on all doors manufactured after January 1991. (See Resources for link to mandatory CPSC standards.) This two-part sensor mounts on each side of the garage door, alongside the rails, typically 6 inches from the garage floor. An infrared beam stretches from one sensor to the other. If anything obstructs the beam, the garage door stops and reverses to avoid crushing whatever has broken the beam.

Doors may also be equipped with pressure sensors on the bottom edge of the garage door. If these sensors come in direct contact with an object, the door will stop and reverse.

Another type of door sensor is battery-operated and mounts to the door itself. This sensor sends radio signals to a monitor panel mounted inside the home. A basic sensor will alert the monitor when the door is left open for longer than a programmed amount of time. More complex sensors will automatically close the door, with an audio warning signal to alert anyone in the vicinity.

Garage door monitoring sensors are also available with CO detectors. If the CO in the garage exceeds safety limits, the garage door will automatically open to let in fresh air.


Follow all manufacturer's instructions for installing safety sensors. Sensors must be perfectly aligned in order to work properly. Test the system by placing an empty cardboard box in the door's path. Never use a person or valuable object to test the sensors. Test the system regularly to verify that it's still in working order.

Monitoring sensors come with different ranges that the signal will carry. Buy the system with the best range you can afford, particularly if you need to place the monitor far inside the house. The more objects between the monitor and the sensor, the more likely the signal won't reach.

Consider using a licensed installer for safety sensor installation, particularly if you have an older door that wasn't originally equipped with sensors. A professional can guarantee that the system will be set up correctly and work when you need it to.


AAA Remotes notes on its Website that between 1974 and 1995, at least 85 children were killed or suffered permanent injuries due to accidents with automatic garage doors. The simple process of adding safety sensors helps protect the lives of children, as well as adults and pets.

Safety sensors also protect your car and other belongings. Everyone has at one time or another forgotten to pull the lawnmower or other equipment all the way into the garage or neglected to park the car far enough inside. The weight of a garage door can severely damage or destroy vehicles and equipment. Install electric eye sensors as well as pressure sensors to protect your investments.

Leaving the garage door open all day or overnight can lead to weather damage to the items inside as well as lead to potential theft of those items. The sensor monitoring system alerts you and reminds you to close the door. In some cases, the system can even close the door for you.

Working on the car in the winter, some homeowners may close the garage door to stay warm without realising the danger. A garage door CO sensor automatically opens the door when CO levels reach dangerous levels or if carbon monoxide is making its way into the house. These safety measures can save the homeowner from illness or even death.

Replacement Parts

Replace the garage door sensors if they are damaged or malfunctioning. Replacement sensors can be purchased without having to buy a whole new system or garage door opener. Not all sensors are alike, however, so only buy parts made for your particular manufacturer and model. Use only the correct size and type of replacement batteries. Contact a licensed garage door installer or electrician for assistance if you have any problems connecting your new sensors.

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