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Garage Door Opener Safety Sensors and Photo Eyes

In the past, automatic garage door openers could be dangerous because they operated on only two principles: If the garage door is open, then the automated system closes it, and if it is closed, then the system opens it. This means that if someone or something was in the path of the garage door, it could be crushed upon its closing. This risk was identified early in the history of garage door openers, and finally, technology has allowed for a simple solution in the form of garage door safety beams and garage door safety sensors.

Garage door opener safety sensors are now required on all automatic garage door openers. These sensors are located near the floor of the garage just inside the door, and they shoot a beam of light across the door opening to a receiver on the other side. Should anything interrupt the beam, the garage door is prevented from closing. However, these garage door opener safety beams may malfunction and need to be replaced periodically.

If you have any questions about our garage door photo eyes, beams or safety sensors, or how to order online, please give us a call at 952-818-6633 or email us. Were happy to help! In stock, same day shipping available!

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Liftmaster Sears Craftsman garage door opener photo eye safety Sensor repair kit 41A5034 Stanley 22594 photo eye safety beam protection set
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Genie 37909S Series III Photo Safety Beam Brackets Allstar All Clear Garage Door Opener Photo Cell Package Universal Sensor Guards to protect your garage door photo eyes!  In stock, order today!  Works with any garage door opener brand.
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Garage door opener wall button or photocell bell wire spool 95' 22 gauge 2 wire 35265B Marantec garage door opener photo eye safety sensor kit Digi-Code CR2149 Universal Safety Sensors
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Garage Door Safety Photo Eye Beams

Purpose

Garage door safety beams, also know as photos eyes, are used to protect people, pets and property. When properly working, they will detect a moving object that either passes through the garage door opening or if something is obstructing the door opening. The photo eyes are considered a failsafe type of safety device.

The garage door opener will not close the garage door using normal means with the electric opener if a problem occurs within the safety system. There are several ways to determine if your photos eyes are faulty. By using a few simple tests and a little examination, you can trouble shoot and repair the problem with simple hand tools.

Symptoms of Failure

The tell tale sign there is a problem with your photo eyes is when you press and release the wall button or remote control transmitter button and your garage door opener light blinks and the door will not move in the downward direction. In some cases your garage door may close part way and then reverse at some point during its travel and return to the open position. When that occurs, the light on your garage door opener will flash for a brief period of time. All of these symptoms can occur on Liftmaster, Sears Craftsman, Chamberlain and Genie brand garage door openers, so you can use these troubleshooting steps to repair most brands.

How To Troubleshoot the Problem

When your garage door opener shows the symptoms described above, you can do a simple test to see if you are on the right path. Start by making sure your garage door opening is clear from people, pet or objects. Take a moment and examine the photo eyes closely for any spider webs, dust, debris, etc., and wipe off the lens. Also a brief note here, blowing leaves in the autumn are notorious for tripping photo eye safety sensors, check to make sure there are non blowing about your garage door.

Assuming your garage door is in the open position push and HOLD the garage door opener wall button. Your garage door should travel in the closed direction and when you let go of the button it will reverse and the light on the garage door opener will blink.

You can use this process to get your garage door closed until you can get to the repair.

Simply push and hold your garage door wall console until the door reaches the closed position. Timing this can be a bit of tricky procedure and may take several attempts..

Another tell tale sign you have a problem with your photo eyes that requires a little more investigating is to check and see if the lights on your safety beams themselves are both lit up and not dark or flashing. Most photo eyes have one of the following colored lights: red, amber, green or yellow. In some cases the lights will be the same color from one unit to the next and in some cases they will have different colors.

If you notice one of the lights on your safety beams is solid and the other is blinking this can indicate an alignment problem. Alignment issues almost always are caused by someone or thing bumping into the safety beams or brackets.

The blinking light is the same as if you had an object blocking the path between the two beams, so make sure you look for the obvious.

Spider webs, dust, dirt, & blowing leaves or paper can cause photo eye problems as well.

A shovel, broom or maybe even the new trailer hitch on your car or truck maybe simply blocking the travel of the beam.

If you have one or both lights out this can be an indicator you may have a bad photo eye or possibly a wiring problem. Many of the older safety beams utilized a plug to connect the sensor to the wiring. The manufacturers thought this was a good way to allow easy repairs of the sensors but quickly found out this connection ended up corroding or becoming the weak spot in the system. The main operator manufacturer, the Chamberlain group, who manufacturers garage door openers for Sears Craftsman, Liftmaster, Raynor, Master Mechanic and Wayne Dalton now hard wire the leads into the photo eye. Genie utilizes a screw terminal on their safety beams for easy change out and connection of the wires.

The Repair

If you have a door that goes down past half way and then reverses and you notice the photo eye light blinks or flickers when the door reverses you most likely have a loose sensor or the bracket that holds the sensor may be mounted on the track and it causes just enough movement to bring the eyes out of alignment. You will want to check to make sure the door track is mounted securely and that the tracks are not too tight and causing the door to push the tracks over as it closes. Also make sure the fasteners are tight on the track and photo eyes. This is a good time to check the plug connection if applicable. If you move the wire near the plug and the light flashes you may have found your problem.

When the problem is that one or both lights are not lit, always begin with a quick inspection of the wiring. A staple through the wire or pinching of the wire, can cause a short circuit in the system. A quick way to check your wiring, is to take your photo eyes loose from the brackets and cut the wire leaving 6-12 of wire still attached to the photo eyes and strip back the wire insulation and connect them directly to the power head where your photos were originally attached. Then while holding them in one hand so that they are aligned looking at each other, push the remote control button and release, or if you have a helper, have them push the wall button and release it. If you can get the photo eyes to work using this technique, you most likely have a wiring problem.

If both lights are out you may have experienced a power surge that damage your safety sensors. Make sure if you replace your safety sensors, you order a surge protector to insure this does not occur again. We strongly recommend a surge protector as it is an inexpensive insurance policy.

Replacing your photo eyes is a quick and easy fix. Most kits come with new photo safety sensors and splicing hardware if they do not have screw terminals. All you need is a several simple hand tools such as a screwdrivers, wrenches, wire striper to remove the insulation from the wire and a pliers to crimp the wire connection terminal. We recommended using electrical tape to protect the connections from moisture after the splices have been made. Some of the most common part numbers for photo eye safety beams replacement sets are for Liftmaster, Sears Craftsman, Chamberlain are 414373A(old style with thru bolts), 41A5034(new style with carriage head bolts) and Genie and Overhead Door part number 37220R. Wayne Dalton and Challenger uses part number 252118.

Federal Regulations Impacting Garage Door Openers

In 1993, Federal law required that residential garage door opener (GDO)manufacturers add certain safety features to their products.

Effective January 1,1993 they required residential GDO manufacturers to include many new safety features in their products to reduce the risk of entrapment and or death.

They required the residential GDO manufacturers to have a reversing feature that would initiate within 2 seconds of sensing an obstruction, a reversing timer that would open the door to the full open position within 30 seconds of it not reaching the fully closed position. A secondary system for entrapment protection, which could be an external system, such as safety sensor eyes or electrical edge sensing device or an integral door and operator system that had the ability to determine excess force was required to close the door and initiate door reversing sequence with in 30 seconds.

The federal & state laws applying to the installation and repair of new and existing residential GDOs vary from state to state. So, to be certain, you would want to check with your local municipal building inspection/code enforcement officials to get the most current applicable law for your area.

There are no federal laws that restrict you from repairing non-compliant residential GDOs, but state and local laws may have different regulations regarding this, so best to check with your local building code enforcement folks.

You can tell if your unit has the new safety features by examining the date of manufacture, if it its January 1 of 1993 or there after it is required to be compliant with the federal GDO UL325 standard.

The safety features on these residential GDOs are required to be tested monthly for proper operation.

The automatic reverse feature can be tested by placing a 1 board flat on the floor beneath the garage door and closing the door on it by using the door opener button.

The door safety reverse feature should initiate within 2 seconds of the door closing on the 1 board, if it does not the downward force adjustment should be decreased until the door does reverse with in 2 seconds of contact.

Most states allow the us of a 2 x 4 wooden block, which is nominal 1 thick, however, Minnesota and New York require the use of a 1 thick block, so to be certain use the 1 block for testing purposes. Some states do not allow you to repair or adjust the downward force, the unit must be tagged with a red danger tag, the tag nomenclature varies from state to state.

Its always a good idea to check the safety sensors (photo eyes) for proper operation. They should mounted be no more than 6 above the floor. Momentarily, place an object (perhaps a small empty cardboard box) directly in the path of the photo eye as the door begins to close from fully open to closed.

The door should sense the obstruction, and immediately stop the door, and initiate the door reverse sequence. If this does not happen, the safety failsafe is malfunctioning. Immediately, unplug the opener & pull the emergency disconnect for the door/trolley and contact service personnel to inspect and repair the safety system .

Do not use the operator until it can be inspected and repaired.

Although it maybe an inconvenience to raise and lower your garage door, it will eliminate the possible danger of entrapment from the door.



Garage Door Opener Replacement Photo Eyes and Safety Beams