How Do Garage Door Sensors Work?

garage doors portland

Those garage doors that magically go up and down save lives, save cars and save peace of mind.

Sensors save lives. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, three children each year are killed when garage doors trap them. It’s true that this is a national average and not Portland specific, but the statistic doesn’t include the number of traumatic injuries caused by similar accidents. In fact, incidents occurred with enough frequency that Congress enacted legislation that requires all garage doors manufactured after 1991 comply with entrapment protection requirements.

In short, entrapment protection comes in the forms of “electric eyes” and door-edge sensors.

Electric Eye

These eyes don’t really see you or your kids, pets or cars. Instead, the electric eye is a beam that crosses open garage door space. Sensors that shine beams are aligned near the bottom of each side of the garage door, and the aligned beams form one solid beam. An unbroken beam informs the door that it can proceed down safely; alternatively, a broken beam tells it to scurry back up because someone or something stands in the way.

Door-Edge Sensors

Two flexible, highly sensitive conductive elements string along the bottom edge of garage doors. During normal, safe operations, the elements don’t touch. If, however, the bottom door edge touches a person, pet or car, the conductive elements meet. This meeting, which occurs with even a slight touch, tells the door it must stop and reverse course.

For the continued safety of your family and belongings, you should perform checks monthly to ensure the system still works properly. Kids on skateboards and bikes and beginning drivers are notorious for accidentally knocking electric eye sensors out of alignment, which prevents the continuous beam that communicates with the door.

Use inanimate objects to test the door. If you have an electric eye, roll a ball, a skateboard or your least favorite garden gnome across the door’s path while it’s closing. You have a malfunction if the door doesn’t stop and retract. If you have a door-edge sensor, place a two-by-four or the same garden gnome on the floor. You know you have a problem if the door doesn’t retract on contact.

Unfortunately, sensors are connected to the logic board specific to each automatic garage door system, so you can’t retrofit sensors to garage doors manufactured before 1991. You can, however, contact us at Overhead Door Company of Portland for information on installing new garage doors or to perform maintenance on malfunctioning sensors. Save a life, save a car and save a garden gnome with a garage door sensor that works as it should.