What’s the Trouble?
If you have been having some trouble with your garage door opener and remote, as in it will work sometimes and sometimes it won’t work, and can’t for the life of you figure out what the problem is, you should probably look to see what lights you are using around your garage door opener.
Why the LED?
The problem is in the control circuit that provides the long life that LED lights are known for. These lights use their efficiency from what’s called a pulse width modulation. This turns the light off and on more than 15 times per second. Its energy efficient because it actually only uses the light half the time. The government actually has guidelines for the LED manufacturers that require them to control circuits to operate on frequencies between 30 and 300 MHZ, and most garage door opener remotes use anywhere from 288 and 390 MHZ. We actually want to encourage our customers to switch from using these LED or CFL (compact fluorescent lights) even though they are more cost efficient.
So What Was the Problem?
There was a large apartment complex building that began receiving some complaints of their garage door openers not functioning right around Christmas time. Come to find out the problem got traced to a Christmas light display that happened to have a lot of LED lights. Every time the Christmas lights got turned on, all the garage door openers went crazy. Not only garage door openers but also radio-controlled toy cars and other low powered devices with limited range are what the Federal Communications Commission classify as “license free spectrum or bands”. Which just means that they are loosely regulated, therein lies the problem. So manufacturers are essentially on the honor system when it comes to controlling the frequency of these objects. Even some of the best designed products can cause unintentional problems from the signal leaking outside of its intended use. Similar conflicts include why airline companies are sometimes so strict on their usage of cell phones being used while in flight, and also why gas stations ask you not to use your cell phone while you are pumping gas.
What’s the Solution?
You can have a professionally trained technician come out to your home and confirm that the interference is coming from your light bulbs and not from another source (baby monitors, sprinkler systems, Verizon Fios boxes, you name it!). But if you want to save some money, you can opt to change your type of lighting in your garage or change the brand of bulbs you might be using. So if your garage door opener has suddenly gone on the fritz, it might be as simple as changing light bulbs!