Are Garage Door Sensors Universal?– Everything You Need to Know About Garage Door Sensors

Are garage door sensors universal? I’ve encountered this question on many forums, like on Quora and it’s time we gave an in-depth explanation.

Garage door openers rely on several components to function properly. Among the components are garage door sensors.

Sure horsepower and drive mechanism are key components in a garage door opener, but so are the safety sensors on your garage door. 

The sensors on your garage door play a pivotal role in opening and closing your garage door. In fact, some garage door openers totally fail to function in the absence of sensors, or when a safety sensor malfunctions. 

The importance of sensors in your garage door system cannot be overlooked. It is therefore important for you as a garage owner to understand the several sensors on your garage door and their role in facilitating the operation of the door. 

Are garage door sensors universal? 

No, garage door sensors are not universal. However, some specific sensors may work with most garage door openers (hopefully including yours!). Manufacturers of these sensors normally indicate compatible garage door openers.

Ensure you check the compatibility of the sensor with your garage door opener.  

Are you looking to replace the sensors on your garage door? I wrote this article to explain how garage door sensors work, why you need them and what to do when they fail. Basically everything you need to know about garage door sensors.

Keep on reading to understand garage door sensors and some of the best garage door sensors compatible with most garage door openers.  

How Do Garage Door Sensors Work?

Ever wondered how your garage door stops and automatically reverses when an object is directly beneath the door? Well, that’s the work of the garage door sensor.

Garage door sensors work by emitting an invisible beam of infrared light across the entrance of your garage. This light automatically triggers the door to stop and reverse when obstructed. 

Garage door sensors are a great safety feature. They detect obstructions on the path of the door and trigger it to stop and reverse. This prevents the door from shutting down on you, your pets and any other objects.

The sensors are placed about 4 to 6 inches above the ground, therefore, ensuring that even the smallest obstruction is detected. 

Types of Garage Door Sensors

There are two main types of garage door sensors: mechanical sensors and photoelectric sensors.

Mechanical sensors trigger the door to stop and reverse only when they encounter an obstruction on the path of the door. These sensors are normally found on old garage door openers. 

Photoelectric garage door sensors are found in modern garage door sensors. They use an infrared laser to map the path of the door and identify obstructions. The infrared beam creates an invisible tripwire that triggers the door to stop when tripped.

There are two types of photoelectric garage door sensors: retro-reflective safety sensors and through-beam safety sensors. 

Retro-reflective sensors combine an emitter and a receiver into one unit. The emitter produces a beam of light that traverses the space beneath the garage door. The retro-reflector on the opposite side reflects the light ray to the receiver. 

When the light is interrupted, it loses its strength and angle of reflection. This interruption is read by the receiver consequently triggering the door to stop and automatically reverse. 

Through-beam sensors are the most common type of sensor. The emitter and receiver are placed opposite of each other. The emitter produces a beam of light which is received by the receiver on the opposite side. The door automatically stops if the light is tripped or interrupted. 

Do I Need Garage Door Sensors?

Yes. Garage door sensors are a must-have for every garage owner. For starters, garage door sensors are your ultimate safety measure. Plus, it’s the law! You must have garage door safety sensors. 

In 1993, a US Consumer Product Safety Commission law made it mandatory for manufacturers to incorporate safety sensors in automatic garage door openers.  This law stipulates that all automatic garage door openers in the US must have safety sensors for automatic reversal.

The automatic reversal feature uses sensors to detect an object along the doorway and automatically reverse the door. 

Automatic reversal helps to prevent child and pet entrapment beneath the garage door. It also helps to protect your car and everything else stored in the garage. 

Common problems with Garage Door Sensors 

Garage door sensors are very pivotal for door movement. Some garage doors fail to function properly when the garage door sensor malfunctions. 

Your door might function erratically. It might suddenly stop and reverse for no reason, or open but not close. Sensor malfunction may also cause the garage door to open halfway and then stop. 

There are several common problems with garage door sensors. The most common is sensor misalignment.

Here are some of the common problems with garage door sensors:

Sensor misalignment

Garage door sensors are made up of an emitter and a receiver. The emitter shoots a beam of light to the receiver.

The two components must be accurately aligned for the beam to reach the receiver. In case of misalignment, the beam barely hits the receiver leading to sensor malfunction. 

Sensors could easily be knocked out of position by a person or a vehicle. Ensure you regularly check for sensor misalignment as part of your maintenance routine.

Dirt and debris

Dust, dirt, and debris might accumulate on the reflector and receiver of the garage door sensor. 

When this happens, the beam of infrared light is barely transmitted, reflected, or received accurately. This in turn leads to sensor malfunction.  

The solution is often to clean up the optical components of the sensor as guided by the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ensure you refer to the manufacturer’s guide on how to clean the sensors. 

Wiring problem

As time passes, the wiring on an electronic device loosens. This often leads to device malfunction. Check whether the wires connecting your garage door sensors are properly welded and connected. 

Obstructions

Garage door sensors emit a beam of infrared light. The sensors automatically trigger the door to stop and reverse when the beam is tripped or blocked. 

Obstructions are common in the garage space. Some obstructions are big and obvious to spot. However, some require inspection. Ensure to check on small obstructions that might be blocking the beam of light from the emitter.  

The Best Universal Garage Door Sensors

Are garage door sensors universal? No, but some garage door sensors are compatible with most garage door openers. 

These sensors are highly compatible with the top garage door opener brands and chances are that the sensors will be compatible with your garage door opener. 

If you are looking to replace the sensors on your garage door, here are some of the most compatible garage door sensors for you. I bet they will work for you. 

  1. Genie GSTB-R STB-BL

The Genie GSTB-R STB-BL is among the top-rated universal garage door sensors. It is reliable and affordable and works exceptionally well with all Genie garage door openers manufactured after 1993. 

It is self-diagnostic and will always alert you of any malfunction while installing and while in operation. 

It comes with a replacement kit inclusive of the mounting brackets and the necessary hardware. It is definitely one to consider when shopping for a universal garage door opener. 

  1. Digi-Code-Universal Sensors CR2149

This sensor works with all major brands. It is easy to install and comes with a mounting bracket. The beams have a self-programming feature making installation really easy and quick. 

  1.  Chamberlain Group G801CB-P

This garage door sensor works with all the garage door openers manufactured by the Chamberlain group. Compatible garage door openers include Chamberlain openers, LiftMaster, and Craftsman openers. 

It comes with mounting brackets and an extension wire making installation and connection really easier. It is affordable and very reliable. 

How to Install Garage Door Sensors

Installing new universal garage door sensors is pretty simple. You can easily do it yourself without expert assistance. The manufacturers also include a detailed installation guide that is clear and easy to follow. 

Here’s a quick guide on how to install any universal garage door sensor

Step 1: Prepare everything you need including the sensors, mounting bracket, screws, wire, wire cutter, and any other necessary hardware and protective gear. 

Step 2: Unplug the garage door opener by pulling the cord and ensure you turn off the house circuit for the garage door opener.

Step 3: Disconnect the old sensors by removing the wing nut from the sensors and cutting off the connected wires. Remove the sensors from the bracket. 

Step 4: Separate the wires on the new sensor and join them with the wires from the garage door opener while matching the colors. Use the crimp wire nut for this process. 

Step 5: Install the new bracket on the garage door and place the sensors inside, approximately 5 to 6 inches above the ground. 

Step 6: Secure the sensor with the wing nut and repeat the same process using the other sensor, on the opposite end of the garage door.

Step 7: Reconnect the garage door opener and turn on the circuit for the garage door opener.

Step 8: Align the sensors correctly so that it steadily glows in green light or as indicated in the installation manual. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are the frequently asked questions on garage door sensors.  

Q: Are garage door sensors universal?

No. garage door sensors are not universal. There are however several garage door sensors that are highly compatible with most garage door openers and will probably work with your garage door opener.

Q: Can I bypass garage door sensors?

Yes. Garage door sensors can be bypassed. However, it is advised that you do not bypass your garage door safety sensors for your safety around the garage space. 

Q: How do I know my garage door sensors are not functional?

Garage door sensor malfunction leads to erratic door operation. Check the sensors when the door does not stop when obstructed, or when it fails to open completely. Ensure that the sensors are aligned and clean.

Q: Can I reuse garage door sensors?

Yes. Garage door sensors can be reused if they are compatible with the new garage door opener. However, new garage door openers come with their safety sensors hence no need to reuse the old sensors.

Q: Where should I install garage door sensors?

Garage door sensors are about 4 to 6 inches above the ground. They are fitted on a mounting bracket on the garage door. They are installed on each end opposite from each other. Make sure the sensors are aligned for proper functionality.

Q: Where do I find the right sensors for my garage door?

The right sensors that are compatible with your garage door opener can easily be found on Amazon or your garage door manufacturer’s website. Search for the sensors compatible with your opener model on the manufacturer’s website or on Amazon. 

You can also install universal and highly compatible sensors that will definitely work with your garage door opener. 

Winding Up

So, are garage door sensors universal? No, garage door safety sensors are not universal. However, some sensors are compatible with most garage door opener brands and probably including yours. 

Safety sensors are very important. They guarantee you a safe garage space experience. You don’t have to worry about the door shutting down on your pet or scratching your car’s bumper. 

Ensure that the sensors are properly fitted, about 4 to 6 inches above the ground. Ensure that they are also aligned and are always clean for proper functionality. 

Lastly, ensure that you immediately replace the sensors when they malfunction. Do not be tempted to bypass the safety sensors. Ensure you stay safe and enjoy your garage space.

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I'm a construction management expert, a former hotelier, blogger and the founder of this website. My goal is to teach you how to make your garage more functional, fun and homely when you need it to be. Enjoy learning.

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