The Importance of Photo Eye Sensor Safety Systems

Modern garage door openers are very safe. This is largely thanks to their photo eye sensors, which act in combination with the auto-reverse function of the opener to prevent the door from closing on people, pets, cars, and anything else that find its way in its path.

However, garage door openers weren’t always as safe as they are today. It’s only since 1993 that openers came standard with photo eyes and since 1991 that auto-reverse has been a mandatory feature. Previous to this, there was a very real risk of people, in particular young children, getting pinned under a garage door, which can result in injury or death.

At Creative Door Services™ , we recognize that safety is a important in the products we supply, service, and maintain, and we are dedicated to putting your safety and security first. To ensure your garage door does not pose a risk of injury to you or family, we retrofit photo eyes on older doors as part of our garage door services. In this week’s blog, we tell you everything you need to know about this safety feature.


How Photo Eyes Work

Photo eyes, also called electric eyes or garage photo eye sensors, are contraptions resembling mini video cameras that are fixed on either side of a garage door, about six inches off the ground. They ensure that the garage door stops and reverses direction if anything comes into its path while its closing. They’re able to sense people, pets, and objects thanks to an invisible infrared beam that extends across the garage door opening. When the beam is interrupted, the garage door reverses.

Why Photo Eyes Are So Important

A standard garage door weighs between 130 and 350 pounds. If your garage door system includes neither photo eyes nor an auto-reverse function, your garage door can pose a risk to anyone or anything that gets caught underneath it. This is why it’s important to educate your children and keep an eye on your pets to ensure they do not play around your garage door.

If your garage door opener is equipped with photo eyes, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your children will be safe from dangerous garage door accidents.


Why Auto-Reverse Is Important

The auto-reverse function refers to a sensor at the bottom of the garage door that communicates with the opener. It detects the slightest resistance when the garage door is closing, causing it to instantly reverse direction if it hits anything. Although it only became mandatory in 1993, the auto-reverse function has been a voluntary industry standard since 1982, so some older openers may be equipped with it.

The auto-reverse function serves as an important safeguard in the event that your photo eyes aren’t working properly.

Retrofitting Photo Eyes

It’s possible to retrofit photo eyes on some, but not all, garage door openers manufactured before 1993. Ask a qualified garage door technician if you want to know if your opener can accommodate photo eyes.

If your opener can’t be retrofitted with photo eyes, it’s time to switch it out for a newer model. You’ll be happy you did: your new garage door opener will not only be safer, it will also be more energy-efficient and will operate more smoothly and quietly. Besides, if it’s too old to have photo eyes and an auto-reverse function, you can be sure that it’s past the end of its useful life and will soon need to be replaced.

Photo Eye Troubleshooting

Having photo eyes for your garage door is essential. However, it’s also important to ensure that they’re working. Photo eyes can be a little finicky, especially in older models.

Typically, when photo eyes malfunction, they become overactive. In this case they will sense an object in the garage door area when the it’s actually clear and prevent the garage door from closing.

There are a few things that can cause an opener to malfunction:

  • Misalignment. This is the most common issue. If the two photo eyes become misaligned with each other, they will malfunction. Usually, realigning them involves loosening the wing nuts on the housing then moving the sensors into alignment.
  • Dirtiness. The lens on the photo eyes can get dirty and this can interrupt the beam. If there’s dirt on the lenses, clean them with a soft cloth.
  • Faulty wire connection. Sometimes the issue is an electrical one. Look for breaks or damage in the wires leading to the photo eyes.

Check your user’s manual for further troubleshooting instructions. If you can’t resolve the issue yourself, call in a garage door technician to perform the fix.


Garage Door Safety Experts in Western Canada

Are you looking to retrofit your garage door opener with photo eye sensors? Or are you in the market for a new opener? The qualified technicians at Creative Door™ can handle all your garage door opener maintenance, repair, and installation needs. Contact us today to learn more about our openers and other garage door products.

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