Garage Door Lights

I am a project guy. I like projects. I like to have a well lighted space to do my projects. When I bought my house I ran into a problem. When the big roll up door is up it blocks the lights on the ceiling leaving a dark spot. This, my friends will not do. When the sun it up I can push my way through. If you are like me and sometimes project into the night, well something had to be done. My solution was to install lights on the garage door itself that moved with the door.

4 foot LED lights at the big orange

The lights that I chose were LED strip lights from Home Depot. They are not the florescent type just in case when the door was closed they got bashed there would not be broken glass everywhere. They were a low profile so they wouldn't stick out much when the door was closed. Also the LED versions put out WAY more light for a whole lot less electricity, they last like 50,000 hours and are fairly inexpensive considering what they are. I bought two 4 foot lights and screwed them to the door ribs making sure to keep enough clearance for the door to open and close. Wired them together with a short piece of extension cord that I had lying around and attached a plug to one end. Thus installed I needed to get power to them. The temporary solution was to plug an extension cord into the lights when I needed them. Two lights, my friends is PLENTY of light to chase away the dark spot.
While this worked it was not as elegant as I wanted it to be. I searched for a solution to bring power to a moving door. Enter the retractable cord reel.
Cord reel from Amazon

These inexpensive reels are sold at home depot, harbor freight, and some automotive stores. I got the cheapest one I could find on Amazon. I didn't need heavy duty as it would only move when the door moved and I was only powering two lights which drew only a few amps.. Since I am not one of those odd and crazy people that actually store a car in the garage, the door only opens and closes maybe twice in a weekend. Some modifications to the reel needed to be done as there is a ratcheting lock inside the reel. Carefully I removed the cover to the reel and simply slipped the lock gear off the shaft. This allowed the reel to spin up and down with spring power but not lock in any one position.

The reel was installed above the garage door and the cord end was attached to the top edge of the door. When the door opened the reel extended and viola' there was power to the garage door. Some house wiring and the power to the reel was connected to the lights in the garage. When the garage lights were turned on the lights on the door turned on as well. This was good and bad. The good was that of course only one switch was used to turn on all the lights. The bad was when the door was closed and the lights were on it was somewhat blinding to have the lights at knee level shining in your face. What I needed was something that would turn the lights off when the door was closed and turn the lights on when the door was open. When the power was connected to the light switch the garage lights would have to be on as well as the door open for the lights to work. Perfect! Now how to accomplish this? This required a limit switch. A quick search on Amazon brought me to a pair of limit switches for 9.00 plus shipping.

Limit Switch on Amazon

The switch was attached to the ceiling with a custom bent bracket. When the door rolled up the little wheel on the switch rolled along the top of the door and turned the lights on. More Perfect!

The bracket will have to be custom bent, pounded, filed, sanded, swore at, bent some more, painted then attached to the ceiling to adapt to your individual door. Some imagination will be required. I will show you what my bracket looks like but your results will vary.

Note: the limit switch that I got had two sets of contacts. One set were normally open (off when the door was not touching the switch) and the other set normally closed (on when the door was not touching the switch) For this application you want to use the set of contacts that are normally open. The contacts are labeled NO for normally open and NC for normally closed.

There you have it friends. May this help you bring some light into your project.

A Machine Tech

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