Remote Control Timed-light Re-purposed From a Garage Door Opener




Introduction: Remote Control Timed-light Re-purposed From a Garage Door Opener

I have a pole barn located in trees about 125' from my house and I needed a way to turn on lights on the outside of the barn to act as street lights for walking to and from the barn at night. In addition, my preference was to have them to be timed so that I would not have to worry about remembering to turn them off. And although I have spare underground conduits to run wire, I did not want to run wires for activation buttons to all the possible location at the house where I might want to turn on the lights from. (A quick count identified 4 locations.) When the garage door opener in my garage stopped opening the door for good it occurred to me I had what I needed in it. The opener was operated by remote control and/or wall button, and when activated it turned on its own lights for a few minutes.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Tools Required

    Caveats: This project involves working with electricity, and power tools, if you so decide. Please exercise the correct caution and safety measures. If you are uncertain about these then do not attempt this project.

    To create this Instructable I took pictures of at least 3 different garage door openers. They are all basically the same so do not let that confuse you.

    I refer to wire colors that I have found to be common in my openers. Maybe they aren't always for all openers.

    • Remote control garage door opener - Mine was a Craftsman chain drive. I understand that they are made by Chamberlain and also under the names Liftmaster, Raynor Pilot, ... The ones I have used all certainly had the same design. You of course will not remove a perfectly good garage door opener from your garage for this project. If your garage door opener no longer seems to work for whatever reason but the light still goes on it will probably work for this project. Else, contact a overhead door install/repair business and they should have a pile of them in their scrap pile. It seems if someone gets their garage door replaced, the functioning door opener is replaced as well. Out of 5 I have yet to find an opener in the scrap pile for which the light does not work.
    • Garage door opener remote - that you think should work with your opener. If it is the original remote for the opener it will be programmed and ready to go. Otherwise check the user/installation manual for the opener regarding security codes and mating the opener and remote.
    • User/Installation manual for the opener - These seem to be readily available online for free.
    • Set of SAE sockets and drive, pretty much 1/2" sockets and under.
    • Flat head and Philips head screwdrivers.
    • Wire cutters
    • Small wire splicing caps
    • Safety glasses if you choose to grind metal


    • Safety sensors - the sensors located at the base of each door rail that let the door opener know if there is an obstruction blocking the path of the door closing.(see last step for a pic)
    • Duct tape
    • Wall socket
    • Wall socket plate
    • Quick splice wire connectors
    • Exterior light fixture
    • 3' - 14 gauge wire
    • Something to cut through sheet metal. I like an angle grinder with a thin cutoff blade.
    • Door opener wall buttons, or a door bell button
    • A punch or suitably sized nail with the point removed to drive out a roll pin.

    Step 2: Step 2: Open Up the Opener and Remove Extraneous Parts

    The photo in the previous step shows where the 4 screws are to remove the metal cover from the opener. Those are the only ones that are usually necessary but sometimes there are more on the ends that screw into the plastic.

    The pictures in this step show the the opener flipped over with the drive sprocket facing down.

    It is not necessary to take out the extraneous parts but why not. At the least you need to disconnect the motor. In the first picture of this step I have labeled stuff that stays in green and stuff that gets removed in red.

    Disconnect the wires to the capacitor. You should be careful with these as they can still hold a charge that can shock you so BE CAREFUL when disconnecting the wires and handling this. Treat it and its posts as you would a charged car battery. There should only be one screw that holds down the capacitor.

    There is a white plastic U-shaped clip on the top of the chain drive shaft. This needs to be removed to remove the gear that engages the motor. Remove the plastic gear. (BTW, from my experience if your opener motor is running but not moving the door, the problem is often one of these plastic gears.)

    Remove the two screws (4 total) on either side of the motor mount that hold the mount to he metal frame of the opener.

    Remove the wire connector, from the circuit board, that connects to the limit adjusting thing. This is NOT the connector with red, blue, orange and white wires. See photo.

    Wiggle and cajole the motor assembly and limit adjusting thing to slide up and free of the drive shaft.

    Clip the blue and red wires, that used to connect the capacitor to the circuit board. See photo. Leave enough that you can place a small wire splicing cap on the remaining wire.

    Optional: Remove the three screws that hold the plate that holds the drive shaft. Leaving this in place is not a big deal but in a future instructable I will show how to make a fidget from the chain sprocket.

    Optional: Separate the drive shaft from its holding plate by prying off the c-clip and driving out the roll pins.

    Put the holding plate back on with the 3 screws.

    Step 3: Step 3: Bench Test Add Outlets and Reassemble

    At this point we should have the bare bones functionality promised. There is a light socket from the original unit on either end of the unit. This is an excellent time to test the progress.

    Visually check the wiring. There should be no loose wires, EXCEPT the remote antenna wire that sticks out of the enclosure somewhere. The power cord comes into the unit. The ground wire connects to the unit's metal; frame. The black and white wires go to the circuit board. A pair of orange and white wires goes from the circuit board to each of the two light sockets of the opener.

    All the units I have seen will light the bulbs when power is first hooked to the unit so put a bulb in one or both of the sockets and plug it in. The light should come on immediately and go off after a few minutes. If it doesn't, check the wiring. If you can't see the problem toss the opener in the scrap heap and start over with another. Maybe there is a problem with the circuit board. I have not have this happen so far.

    On the end of opener there is a place to connect wires for the wall button and door sensors. Check the user manual to see where yours are and what they are. On older models they are three screw posts. I will referring to one of these older models.. Quickly jump post #1 to #2 to simulate the wall button being pushed and released. The lights should come on again. Depending on the age of the opener the lights may or may not blink, say 10 times, before coming on steady. Lights with or without blinking is good. If they don't come on at all check the user manual to verify where the wall button connects on your unit. If no luck, get another opener and start over I guess. I've never had that problem.

    If you have the original remote for the opener you should be all set. Test to see if it triggers the lights. Otherwise check the user/installation manual about remote controls. Following the manual, program the opener to work with the remote(s) you have. There have been some security measures introduced over the years that affect the compatibility between openers and remotes. I have been lucky enough that I have a remote with dip switch settings that works with a similar opener and with a newer opener that requires the opener to learn the settings from the remote.

    The opener must be protected from the outdoor elements. I have two inside a barn and third up under a porch's roof. If you just wish the opener to light the area where it is located you may be done. In that case just replace the metal cover and put bulbs in the units original sockets.

    If you want exterior lights you will need to tap into the timed power supply for the light sockets in the unit. In this way the opener can be located inside the building with wires running to the light fixture outside. Use quick splice connectors to tap into the orange and white wires for one of the sockets. In the photos I have installed a wall socket in the metal cover to make it easier to reconfigure what I power from the door opener. I used an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel to cut a hole in the cover. You could also skip this outlet and hard wire a feed to an outside light fixture.

    There are enough existing holes in the base of the opener to feed wires through.

    Step 4: Step 4: Mount the Door Opener and Stop the Blinking

    Having the motor removed, the opener enclosure is now rather empty and lightweight. Depending on you circumstances locate the unit where it has access to a wall outlet for power while considering where the light fixture will be located. I have chosen to mount mine high to get them out of the way, put them closer to the light fixtures, and provide more benefit from any bulb I may put in the units themselves, i.e., provide some light to the interior as well as the exterior of the building. In the photo it can bee seen that I attached a male wall plug to the cord leading to the outside light fixture and plugged this into the wall socket on the opener.

    Depending on the age of the opener the lights may or may not blink, say 10 times, before coming on steady when activated by the remote or wall button. (This does not occur when restoring power to a door opener.) This blinking indicates that the path to close the door is not clear. In this case it is because our door opener does not have the safety sensors hooked up to indicate an all clear. After blinking, the light resumes its steady on for a few minutes. While this is functional as is, it looks foolish after a while.

    To eliminate the blinking light take a pair of the safety sensors and wire them to the opener as described in the user/installation manual. Point them at each other until they signal all clear. In my case this is a green light on the side of each sensor. The older model sensor I used has "eyes" that are shaped in such away that they can be aligned and duct taped together easily. Place the taped together sensors in an out of the way place. One pair of sensors can be used on multiple openers at the same time. In my case the sensors attach to posts #2 and #3 on one opener. Then I ran a single wire from each post #2 and #3 to its respective post on another opener and it eliminated the blinking on both openers.

    Just placing a jumper between posts #2 and #3 does not work. The manufacturers must have realized that was too obvious a shortcut for the un-safety minded.

    In my case I also have wall buttons in the barn to trigger the light for my walk back to the house in the dark. The remote typically stays in the house because it can be used through the window/walls of the house and I have a few minutes to get to the barn.


    Despite lit traveling from point A to B being the initial application, this setup gets the most use when I walk the dog at night. It provides better light than a flashlight near the barn and it provides an informal timer so I can indicate when we have sniffed the air in one spot long enough. When doing this I carry the remote to re-trigger the lights

    In cold weather with not new batteries I get near to 300' range with the remote.

    The door opener says 100 watts maximum per light socket. Since I use CFLs and LEDs I do not come near that. I have not yet come up with another application for a low-power timed purpose.

    I am into re-use and re-purpose. This instructable is the second in a
    series using parts from garage doors. Another project is Others projects will include a log cant, wall hooks, a fidget, ...

    Green Electronics Contest 2016

    Runner Up in the
    Green Electronics Contest 2016

    Be the First to Share


      • Cardboard Speed Challenge

        Cardboard Speed Challenge
      • Sculpting Challenge

        Sculpting Challenge
      • 3D Printed Contest

        3D Printed Contest

      5 Discussions


      3 years ago

      I applaud you for using things as they are. However, you could have simply taken out the circuit board and installed it in a very small construction box and run wires to your lights. And even removed the sensors and fixed the board to never need them to operate correctly. But either way, a good use for otherwise thrown out junk.


      Reply 3 years ago

      How would I fix the board to never need the sensors?


      Reply 3 years ago

      If you follow the two sensor wires back to the circuit board, it will either need a short to allow the circuit to work or an open at those terminal connections. Simply determine which is needed and remove the sensors from the setup. Try removing the sensors and see if it works and if so there you go. If that does work run a jumper at those connections to see if that works. With two wires, it can only be a closed or open signal from them. I am assuming that there are using a photo-transistor to close a circuit to operate correctly. And if that closed signal isn't sent to the board, then it doesn't operate. That is why anything in between the sensors stops the door from operation in a typical setup. JMHO


      Reply 3 years ago

      Thanks. I had considered trying to remove the "flasher" component (if I
      knew what it looked like) but I have never tried to modify a circuit
      board before. New territory.
      want to put another unit in an enclosed stairway whose light is always
      being left on. The wall buttons will eliminate the 3-way switches which have
      been acting flaky.


      3 years ago

      For heavier loads, use a definite purpose contactor- a relay by any other name- and activate it with the 100 watt signal:

      I salvaged a garage door opener from a neighbor's curb, alas the motors in these units are only rated for very intermittent use and go into thermal cutout in short order. I even tried adding a cooling fan to no effect, but the reversibility of them is a nice feature so I'll still hang onto it anyway. ☺