A Complete Garage Door Monitor System
The Garage Door is the Biggest Entry Door Into Your Home
For the safety of you and your family, you should make sure that your garage door—the biggest entry door into your home—is closed most of the time. But maybe you have kids, or you sometimes can’t remember if you did a final check of the garage door before going to bed or not.
Note that this roll-up door monitor system could also be used on your garden shed, tractor shed, detached garage, or other structure near your house with a roll-up door.
Was the Garage Door that Just Opened Yours, or Your Neighbor’s?
This is difficult to keep track of if you live in a townhouse or other multi-unit building, where garage door opener sounds can be heard between units, and you’re not sure whether your neighbor is coming and going or if your garage door just opened for some reason.
The Indoor Receiver
The Power Cord for the Receiver
The Solution: A Garage Door Monitor System
Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell if your garage door is open without having to get up, stumble across the house half awake, and go downstairs in your bathrobe and slippers—or across the back yard, if you have a detached garage or shed—and check: an inexpensive garage door monitor system, with one or more sensors depending on how many garage doors you have. Most models of garage door monitors can support multiple sensors if you have more than one garage door. There are a number of models on the market, but they all work on the same basic principles and generally cost $15 to $35.
There are two main components to a garage door monitor system: the sensor and the receiver. The battery-powered sensor attaches to the inside of the garage door, near the top. Indoors, there is a receiver with an antenna to catch the signal from the garage door sensor and tell you whether the garage door is open or closed at all times. The receiver can be placed in any room of your house and generally runs on household current, as is shown in these pictures. Whether you place it on a night stand or mount it to a wall, this is where you will find out whether the garage door is open or closed so you want to place it in the most convenient spot.
Tip: Although easy to install and program, don’t skip the step on the instruction sheet that says to test the system with the sensor and receiver a few feet apart—that will ensure that the system is working correctly and, if not, saves you from having to install the sensor only to uninstall it minutes later to troubleshoot problems or return a malfunctioning system to the store.
The Sensor Component of the Garage Door Monitor
The Garage Door Sensor: Inside the Case
Installing Your New Garage Door Monitor
Follow the instructions in your manual carefully, test the system before you install it, and make sure that all parts are out of the reach of children and pets.
Tip: You might want to wait a few days before permanently installing the monitor until you’re sure you’ve found the most convenient spot to put it to keep track of the garage door. Unfortunately, some installation locations that are convenient for you may not receive the signal from the sensor on the garage door well and you may need to move the receiver to another spot in your home.
Important: Make sure that you keep your instruction sheet that indicates how to work your garage door opener system and includes service contact information for the manufacturer. File the instructions in a binder with the other appliance instructions for your house.
You will need to re-program the receiver each time there is a power outage, and the receiver lights will blink in different patterns to indicate loss of signal, dead/low battery in the sensor, and any other conditions your unit may measure.
A Close-Up of Installing the Battery into the Sensor
The Reassembled Garage Door Sensor Component
The Indoor Receiver Mounted to the Wall
How the Monitoring System Works
So, exactly how does the garage door monitoring system work?
When the garage door is closed, a small mechanical switch in the sensor remains out of contact with a circuit, and therefore the circuit periodically sends an “all’s well” radio-frequency (rf) signal to your receiver’s antenna inside the house, and the light(s) glow green (or whatever indicates that the garage door is closed on your particular unit).
When the garage door opens, that tiny mechanical switch inside the sensor attached to the garage door slides down and comes in contact with the circuit. This means the garage door is open, therefore the sensor sends a “door open” signal to the receiver inside, causing the “door open” light to come on. This system would work equally well if the contact with the circuit meant that the door was open, too, and some systems may work that way with equally good results.
One thing to remember is that your sensor on the garage door does not send a continuous signal to the receiver to conserve battery life. (The brand that I have says to change the battery every year.) Instead, it sends a “heartbeat” signal every few seconds—something like a telephone ringing periodically rather than constantly—which the base will receive within a few seconds.
What do You Think?
Tip: Keep an extra garage door remote control next to the sensor so that if the sensor indicates that the garage door is open then you can close it remotely, too.
About the Author
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All text, photos, videos, and graphics in this document are Copyright © 2013 Laura D. Schneider unless indicated otherwise or unless in the public domain. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Vince on December 13, 2017:
Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 08, 2012:
This is clever and a good extra safet procedure!
Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on May 18, 2012:
Hi, Don! Thanks for stopping by! I hadn't even thought about someone darting into an open garage to escape the law, and that would apply to all kinds of garages... Time for new batteries for my sensor, just to be sure. Cheers!
Don Simkovich from Pasadena, CA on May 18, 2012:
Our garage door is detached from our house. But you're right. The opening is huge and it is the biggest entryway into a home for those with it attached. Although we live in a neighborhood, we have a "wash" behind our house and our garage could be a place that someone fleeing the law would duck into to escape a police pursuit. Hey, this is So Cal! Our auto door isn't working but I should get the sensors checked. Nicely formatted hub, too.