Using CFL Bulbs in Garage Door Openers

Solution to a lightbulb burnout problem? Not so fast

CFLs are replacing incandescent bulbs almost everywhere, but before you put one in the garage door opener, be aware there's more to it than just saving energy.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Replacing a garage opener bulb

Ordinary light bulbs often burn out quickly in garage door openers, but are CFLs the answer to the problem? We contacted the two largest residential garage door opener companies to ask about CFLs and possible damage to the opener. Both companies state that CFLs will NOT damage your opener. However, since electrical interference from the CFL ballast can reduce the operating range of your transmitter, they recommend always using an incandescent bulb.

Garage door openers produce a lot of vibration, which can kill incandescent bulbs prematurely. To fix the problem, tighten all the bolts on your unit and make sure it’s solidly mounted to the ceiling. Then, install a “rough service” bulb (available at hardware stores and home centers). These bulbs have heavy-duty filaments with extra support wires to keep them from breaking. Before anyone sends us letters about how “ungreen” incandescent bulbs are, wait a minute. The average opener light is on only a few minutes a day.

If your opener doesn’t have a plastic lens, the bulb is unprotected, so choose a rough-service bulb with protective coating. The coating prevents the glass from shattering if it’s ever struck.

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Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Rough service light bulb