How To Prevent Your Garage Door Opener from Becoming a Lightning Rod

Don't be sorry you didn't equip your home with one of these!

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A few hours






Installing a surge protection guards agains power surges and lightning strikes.

For most of us, a garage is a lot more than a place to park. We use it to build big projects, we load it up with everything from Hot Wheels to Harleys, and sometimes we party or just hang out with our friends there. And for all these purposes, you want more than the basic four walls and a roof.

Automatic garage door openers are one of those everyday conveniences we tend to take for granted, one of those things that can make that space much more functional for you. But when it’s not working, it can be a real inconvenience. Like any other electronic device, garage door openers are vulnerable to power surges. They can also be damaged by lighting strikes.

In fact, the wiring for the photoelectric eyes and the wall buttons on the openers can act like a lightning rod, pulling energy into the opener, damaging the circuit board, leaving your garage door opener dead and your cars stuck inside until you can get it fixed. But you can prevent this by installing a surge protector.

A new circuit board costs $60 or more. Adding a surge protector is a pretty simple DIY project that will only take you about 15 minutes. And it’s time well spent, since adding one of these surge protectors greatly reduces your risk of surge damage.

The surge protector units won’t set you back more than $50, and you can pick them at home centers or online retailers like Amazon. Do note that you will need one for each opener in your home. For this project, we installed a Chamberlain Garage Door Universal Surge Protector.

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

Setting up the surge protector

  • Unplug the garage door opener from the outlet.
  • Then, remove the wall button wires from the opener, noting their polarity.
  • Connect those wires to the correct terminals on the surge protector.
  • Next, remove the photoelectric eye wires from the opener and connect those to the surge protector, following the same procedure.
  • Finish by stripping and connecting new wires (included with the surge protector) to the surge protector and corresponding terminals on the opener.
  • Plug in the protector and the opener.

garage door opener surge protectorFamily Handyman

Step 2

Connect the wall button wires

Depress the tab on each terminal of the surge protector and insert the wires from the wall buttons in your garage.

Step 3

Connect the new wires to the opener

Insert the wall button and photoelectric eye wires into the correct terminals on the opener, paying attention to the polarity.

garage door openers wiresFamily Handyman