LED lights are trendy among the tech-savvy. Suppose you’re someone who likes to have the latest gadgets or is simply aware of how tech can make your life easier. In that case, you’ve likely already added LED lights to your home, or you’re planning to.
It’s the same with garage door openers. Why have a manual garage door when there’s a simple tech option to do it automatically?
It’s much easier and lets you do it without having to get out of your car, saving time too.
But is it true that LED lights and automatic garage door openers don’t always get along?
Yes, some LED bulbs can interfere with a garage door opener’s radio signals. Often the problem is compounded because the jamming signal is amplified by the wiring. Install shielded wires or add ferrite beads to reduce the noise and stop the problem.
To help you get the perfect working solution for your home – and prevent you switching back to older incandescent bulbs – I’m going to explain to you:
- Why LED bulbs cause interference
- How to fix the problem
- Whether nearby landscape lighting will also be a problem
Why LEDs Jam The Signal For The Opener?
Firstly, you need to understand how a garage door opener works. They operate on a circuit that includes the mechanism to open and close the door and a receiver.
This receiver uses radio wave technology – when you press the button on your door opener, it registers that it needs to open or close the door.
Simple enough – but the problem is that radio waves are susceptible to interference. If you’re over 30, then you’ll probably remember the days of your car radio and mobile phone fighting and causing some horrible noises.
LED bulbs also create a small amount of radio noise. It’s not the actual diode itself that causes the signal but the circuitry inside, including the transformer, which steps the AC current down to DC to a safe operating level.
Some high-end bulbs have shielding in place to prevent this noise from spreading, but many don’t. The problem is then often amplified by the wiring of the circuit, which boosts the radio signal.
Once this happens, the extra radio waves can confuse the door opener signal and mask it, preventing the door from working when you’re jabbing at the controls.
What should be simple tech to make your life easier can become frustrating very quickly.
If you’re interested in the technical details of how much radio interference different bulbs can generate, then this page from LED benchmark has some tested examples of A19, MR16 and tube LEDs.
You can see a spike in RFI emissions which has even, by some users, interfered with nearby digital TV reception for not just the owners but the neighbors as well!
How To Fix The Interference With The Garage Door Opener?
Fixing the problem is simple in theory, but in practice, it can be tricky. You need to block the interference either with shielding wires or by adding a ferrite bead.
Shielding the wiring is not a straightforward job.
You can either replace the existing wiring in the fixture or add tubing (Amazon) which is lined with a mesh that blocks the RFI signal. You’ll need access to all of the wires next to the fixture to do so.
A lot of the tubing needs to be slid over the cable, so you’ll have to disconnect the wiring to add it.
It’s a big job and can be a bit tricky to do – plus, you’re dealing with metal braided mesh, so make sure all power is disconnected before you start messing with the wires.
It will conduct the current if you’re not careful.
The slightly more accessible option is a ferrite bead. These are clever little accessories that use a ferrite core to insulate RFI signals, cutting them down to prevent interference.
You might’ve seen them on various electrical products you already own – they’re a small black cylinder that’s usually near the plug on a wire, and they’re common on laptop chargers.
Because most of the RFI signal boost is happening on the wiring rather than the LED light, you can just place ferrite beads on the wires to suppress the extra noise that the cables are generating.
They’re simple to install – they just clip over the wires – and they don’t cost much either. You want to place them on the power cable that’s closest to the device, causing the interference – so the light fitting.
The bead stops or dampens the signal once it’s been created, which happens when the power is stepped down inside the bulb, not before it. It should be placed on the negative cable leading from the bulb, as close to the fitting as possible.
Can Multiple Landscape LEDs Interfere With Garage Door Openers?
Unfortunately, it’s not just LED lights inside the garage, on the same circuit as the door opener, that can cause radio interference. If you’ve got LED landscape lights on the driveway, these could give you the same problem.
One LED landscape light on the driveway that’s not close to the door opener receiver is unlikely to cause enough interference – the radio waves will travel in every direction and won’t be strong enough to block the signal from the remote.
But a lot of people have multiple landscape lights to fully illuminate their driveway. And the combined noise could absolutely block or mess with the signal when you try to open or close the door, either constantly or intermittently – which can be very frustrating.
The solution is the same – and with multiple lights, the easiest option will be to buy a multipack of ferrite beads (Amazon) and add them to the wiring around each fitting, rather than insulating the entire circuit.
Adding a ferrite bead on either side of each light fitting will still be discreet, and it’ll make sure that any radio wave signal is dampened to prevent it from stopping your opener from working.
I would argue that LED bulbs are always worth installing where possible – they’re incredibly efficient both in power consumption and performance. They have a fantastic lifespan compared to other bulb types.
I’d recommend trying to resolve the issue using one of the answers above, rather than swapping back to a less efficient bulb which you’ll need to replace sooner.
It’s up to you, but for the cost of a couple of dollars, you could add ferrite beads to any problematic wires, and you should have no further problems with radio interference.
Have your LED bulbs ever caused you problems with radio interference? Did you swap them out, or were you able to fix it? Let me know in the comments below.