Adding photobeams to existing garage door


Active Member
Has anyone added these beams to an existing garage door opener? The house we moved into doesn't have the beams in place, and we have small children so I/wife want to add them.

When I look at the opener itself, it only has 4 screws, 2 of which are in use - 24VDC and push button. The other two are courtesy light and radio power.

If I buy photobeams, does anyone know - do they just connect between the "push button" and 24VDC? So it looks like a push button to the opener? That doesn't make sense to me because then it could trip when the door is open (beams get broken by my car backing up and looks like someone pushes the button so it starts to close).

So does it make sense that I'm SOL with this opener? Or does anyone have other ideas? Can existing (old) openers be retrofitted?

My other idea is to wire it to my HVPro, and use it to decide if the door is open and if it's closing and the beam is tripped - "push the button" again to reverse the direction of the door.

Open to ideas. As usual, thanks for the help! :lol:
I have a Genie opener with those photobeams, and it has 4 screw terminals as well. Here is the manual for my model:

It shows how to hook them up. It doesn't mean it will be the same for yours, but should give you an idea. I would try to find out what model you have and look up the manual online.
SOL, I'm afraid. At least as far as hooking it directly to the opener. A safety circuit needs special logic (tripping is only enabled while closing and a trip always causes the door to open).

How old is that opener? I haven't seen one that didn't have a provision for a safety switch in maybe twenty years. Might there be other terminals hiding somewhere on the unit? Inside, maybe?
Actually the more I think about it, the more I think this is not going to work. My opener will not work without these sensors connected (Safety feature), my neighbor mounted his on the ceiling just to keep the opener happy, but out of the way. Unless the olders can operate without them connected, but I would be surprised. We really need a model #.
Thanks for the quick replies. I will try taking it apart to see if there is something else inside, but I can't see any at first inspection. I'm betting it's an original opener, probably 18-19 years old. It's a Raynor (still in business). I'll contact them Monday.

If I can't make it work, I may rig up a combination of a motion sensor and a photobeam to my HVPro and let it act as a barrier (it already knows the state of the door, just need it to control the open/close activity and I should be fine).

I think this is a DIY project. AFAIK, older openers simply did not have provisions for beams unless they were included as part of the opener when purchased. I believe the safety beams became mandatory in 1994. My old house was built in 82 and didn't have beams. When I had to replace the opener sometime in the late 90's, it came with mandatory beams. As I recall, the beams hooked up to dedicated terminals and the opener would not move without them connected as they are part of a special safety circuit. Not having kids and too much junk in the way, I screwed the sensors to a piece of board (looking at each other) and put it on a high shelf.
Unless they make something specific for that product line, I doubt it will be possible. And even if they do, you can probably replace the operator for less money than the "upgrade' would cost.
Depending on the age of your children, $100 +or- might not be out of line for the safety of your children. Plus you will get the added security that newer models have for the radio controls.
Sears has one (and usually others on sale) for $139... might be time to "step up" :lol:
Yeah, I had an old Genie w/o the trip beams as well and I toyed with the idea of adding them by using two magnetic switches, a universal module connected in dry contact momentary mode to the door switch, a powerflash module connected to a lightbeam sensor system and some automation programming. It was a cool challenge as the trip would have to stop the door if it was going down and reverse it. This meant that the system would have to know door direction then send two timed pulses to the controlled opener switch (one to stop and one to reverse direction). There would have been two magnetic sensors: one at the top of the door travel and one at the bottom used to determine beginning door position and hence door direction when the lightbeam was tripped.

In the end however, when my daughter and son started walking, I purchased a new opener. The bottom line was that my automation system's 99% accuracy wasn't high enough to entrust the safety of my children to it. There were just too many "moving parts" in the solution.....
Yeah, when it comes to safety, it's worth the money to leave it to the pros. I mean the companies that have invested in reducing their liability (hopefully with engineers, and not with lawyers).
kwilcox said:
There would have been two magnetic sensors: one at the top of the door travel and one at the bottom used to determine beginning door position and hence door direction when the lightbeam was tripped.
. . . and here is where the logic breaks down. The door is going down, and the automation controller knows it, based on the sensor indicating it started from the top. The beam is tripped, and it stops and then starts going back up. The beam is tripped a second time, and the door stops, and starts going down again.
That's why it was a cool programming challange: the "avoidance response" triggered by a beam trip when the door was in downward motion, could only by re-armed by the triggering of the door up sensor. That way beam trips while the door up response was engaged would be ignored. Conversly: if the down sensor was triggered during this response then the "call 911" macro would kick in.... :lol:

There were a few other wrinkles too IIRC...
excellent feedback, and I've been trying to work out some of these issues as well. My basement garage door opener is newer, it has the sensors already, and like yours Wayne, they are pointing at each other in the attic (that one will be easy to remedy). Unfortunately, our main door doesn't have them... so I will have to work it out with the wife if she wants to buy a new one or if she trust my automation skills :lol:

It's a lot of work for the very unlikely possibility that one of my kids is not paying attention when a noisy big garage door is one it's way down... and isn't smart enough to get out of the way! ;)
Also, a little off topic, but I remember my older garage door having a "force limit" with its travel. In other words you would control the amount of force the garage door needed to apply to get all the way closed and if it had to exceed this force (i.e. someone or something trapped underneath it) it would automatically open. I sort of remember the instructions saying to place a broom stick under the door to calibrate it. Just not sure as it has been a while.
Both my old & new openers had this same force limit. But unless your door opens a lot smoother and easier than mine does, this force has to be set fairly high to make sure the door closes reliably. I would trust this force limit switch to protect my opener motor from burnout, but I don't know that I would trust it to protect a human underneath.

But, as bfisher observed, I don't know how real a threat this is, but then I don't have kids. IMHO if the kids aren't smart enough to stay out of the way of the door, then they shouldn't be there unsupervised. </soapbox>
Correct Wayne, I didn't mean this as the "only" defense, just an addition. I'm betting most people don't even know about it. :lol:
BraveSirRobbin said:
I sort of remember the instructions saying to place a broom stick under the door to calibrate it.

In my old house I had Sears openers installed (circa 1999) They had the "force sense" feature. The instructions said to adjust it so that it would not smash a roll of paper towels. Mine worked pretty well set that way but I had new doors and tracks installed at the same time.