While they are not the only safety features, the photo eyes are the most important sensors of the garage door. Not that the reversing mechanism is any less important. It’s actually the sum of safety features combined that makes garage doors safe. But let us focus on the two black boxes on the two sides of your garage door right now, the safety sensors. Let’s view some things you need to know about the garage door opener safety sensors.

The anatomy of garage door opener safety sensors

garage door opener safety sensors.They are called garage door opener safety sensors because they are part of the electric operating system. What you see is two small black boxes – one on each side of the overhead garage door. What’s inside is a mechanism with cables extending all the way to the opener box on your ceiling. Power is transferred from the garage door motor to the sensors and they take this energy and turn it into an infrared beam.

Typically, there’s a light on each box. One is green, indicating that the sensors work just fine. The other is red, indicating all is clear and there’s no obstruction between the two boxes – the sensors.

How do the safety sensors work?

While there are some small differences between safety sensors, they all work on the same principle. The idea is to ensure that there is no one or anything in the way that would block the garage door movement, obstruct its way, or put anyone in danger.

And so, when the electric garage door opener is activated, one safety sensor shoots the infrared beam of light to the other one to see. The key word here is see.  No wonder why these safety sensors are also known as photoelectric eyes.

When there’s no obstruction, the beam of the infrared light travels from one side of the garage opening to the other, the green sensor light is on and the red light gives the okay for the garage door to descend. If there’s an obstruction, the sensors send a message that something is wrong. The garage door stops and reverses its movement upwards. To do all that, the installation of the sensors must be done right. Let us explain.

The importance of proper safety sensors installation

Naturally, it’s very, very important that the wires of the safety sensors are connected with the opener and that they are connected correctly. Then, the placement of the black boxes is equally important. It has to do with how high over the ground they are installed. The ideal height is 6 inches above the ground. The whole idea here is to have the sensors low enough so that they can catch any movement from your child or pet. The whole point is that they see your foot or a small object – anything at a low level, so that there won’t be an accident or damage.

What’s the purpose of the safety sensors?

sensorsNaturally, the purpose of the photo eyes is to prevent accidents and property damage. By seeing the obstruction, the sensors order the reverse movement of the garage door and so such nightmares don’t happen. What’s important to remember is that the safety features are part of the opener system by law since 1993. The safety guidelines created then keep renewing and involve not only the mandatory installation of safety features but also their correct installation. Keep that in mind if you plan a garage door opener installation.

Keep your eyes open for the photo eyes

With the photo eyes installed correctly, you won’t worry about your safety. But you should still keep your eyes open in case the photo eyes don’t work.

When there’s a problem, the garage door may reverse without reason. If you see that happening and there’s nothing obstructing the garage door, there’s likely a problem with the sensors. Such problems occur when there’s no good wiring connection. They often happen when there’s dust covering the photo eyes. Many times, the sensors are pushed accidentally and if they are not aligned, they cannot see each other and so, they won’t work. It’s also good to know that their function may be affected by the natural light – if they are exposed to it for many hours during the day.

What’s alarming is that when there’s a problem with the sensors, the garage door may close down instead of reversing. And it may do that even if there’s an obstruction. So, it’s best to keep your eyes open to make sure the sensors are aligned, clean, and well-connected to the opener.