Are Garage Door Sensors Universal? (Find Out!)
As you install a new garage door opener, you might consider leaving the old sensor in place. Or maybe you purchased a new state-of-the-art sensor that you’d like to use with the door opener. But you’d soon find yourself wondering: are garage door sensors universal?
Typically, yes, Any sensor should work with a garage door opener mechanism. The principle of operation of sensors and openers is rather simple. However, it’s not uncommon to see mismatches or old sensors refusing to cooperate with new door openers.
In this article, we’ll explore further the possible scenarios of paring different garage door sensors and door openers.
How Garage Door Sensors Work?
Photodetectors are versatile devices that you’ll find in a wide variety of applications from faucets and pulse oximeters to factory production lines.
They work on the simple principle of transmitting a ray of infra-red light and then receiving it. If it is blocked or attenuated, then there’s an object blocking its way. And in that case, it sends a signal to a control system to carry out a particular job.
In the specific situation of garage door sensors, the interruptive signal would be to stop closing, then reverse the action, and open it back up. All that in less than 2 seconds, to make sure that no one gets hurt and no accidents happen.
There are two main types of garage door sensors:
- Through-beam sensors: where the transmitter is on one side and the receiver is on the other side.
- Retro-reflective sensors: where both the transmitter and receiver are on the same side.
Can I Use Old Sensors With a New Garage Door Opener?
Automatic garage door openers were invented around 1926. They were pretty basic mechanical systems back then. In the 1940s, radio controllers were introduced. The system was convenient, but unfortunately, it wasn’t safe, and many accidents were reported.
That’s why installing photosensors became a necessity. It was the best way to make sure that kids, pets, and cars wouldn’t be harmed by a garage door closing while they’re around it. And as of 1993, they were mandated by law.
Since this tech is more than 4 decades old, it’s not unusual to see some aging sensors still installed. If they’re well-maintained and match the door opening mechanism, then they could serve for a few more years.
Electronics show signs of time though, and quite frequently they might seem operational, but then they work erratically or suddenly fail. Safety systems, in general, should be highly dependable and in provable good condition.
What Are the Common Problems With Old Sensors?
Photodetectors depend on the soundness of their optical and electronic components to work well. In time, some of these parts deteriorate or are affected by various environmental factors.
Here are some of the common causes of sensors’ problems:
The transmitter and receiver/reflector both need to be accurately aligned for the signal to pass on correctly. Old installations could easily be knocked off their positions by a person or a vehicle. In that case, they would cease to perform and would need re-alignment.
It’s worth noting that this is among the routine maintenance checks for any photodetector. But we most often see this issue in the ones that have been hooked for more than 5 years.
Dirty Receiver or Transmitter
The clarity of the optical system is imperative for the signal to be transmitted, reflected, and received. It’s normal that dust, dirt, debris, and humidity accumulate on these parts.
It’s often sufficient to clean up the optical components as per the manufacturer’s recommendations. But if the system remains glitchy or unresponsive, then the sensor needs to be replaced by a new one.
The wiring of any electronic system stiffens and cracks after some time. This is quite natural, and it reflects the longevity of any device. Disconnected wires could be welded back in place, and cracked wires could be changed.
However, when an electronic system reaches the point where its wires start showing that level of fatigue, it’s often best to replace the old device with a new one. This recommendation becomes stronger if it has to do with safety, and the replacement is affordable.
Are There Any Universal Garage Door Sensors?
It’s hard to say a big yes to that, but there are some sensor brands that are highly compatible with most of the door opener mechanisms.
It’s a bit challenging to test these sensors with every door opener label under the sun, but if they prove their worth with the big names, then we can accept their validity as universal garage door sensors.
Here are some of the brands with a high compatibility record:
1. Chamberlain Group G801CB-P LiftMaster
This is a reliable sensor that’s fully matched to Chamberlain, LiftMaster, and Craftsman garage door systems. They work best with models made after 1997 and might have some pairing issues with the Craftsman 100 series.
It might not be hugely compatible with every type of garage door opener, but Chamberlain is a trustworthy brand, and this sensor set is among the easiest to install.
2. Digi-Code-Universal Sensors
This universal sensor has a self-programming feature that optimizes the transmitted signal to the installed door opener.
It works well with most door openers like Chamberlain, Craftsman, Liftmaster, Genie, Stanley, and Challenger. In addition to several other models that were built after 1995.
3. Genie GSTB-R STB-BL
This is a budget-friendly option that works well with most of the current door opener brands, plus the Genie models that were made after 1993.
That was the detailed answer to the big question of whether or not garage door sensors are universal.
The takeaway is that there are some sensors with wide compatibility, but it’s still not absolute. It’s best then to read the manual of any sensor and match it to your current door opening brand, before committing to a purchase.
As for the pairing of an old sensor with a new garage door opener, the main concern is the reliability of the sensor. It might still be operational and even matches the new system. However, when it comes to safety systems, we prefer using reliable devices at all times.