How Does Sunlight Effect Garage Door Sensors?

Has the following ever happened to you? You get home, park your car in the garage, hit the wall button to shut it, and halfway through the garage door stops and reverses back up. After ensuring that nothing is blocking the sensors’ beam and checking that all wires are connected properly, the same thing continues to happen repeatedly. Garage door sensors work by using two infrared beams to sense when an object is in the path of the garage door as it shuts. Sunlight can interrupt the signal flow between the two infrared sensors causing your garage door to not work even if the sensors are clean and no unsafe conditions exist. In this article, we will go over how the sun interferes with the sensors on your garage door and go over a couple of ways you could go about remedying this issue. 


Many years ago, sensors weren’t common. Nowadays, for safety reasons, most garage doors have them. The two sensors on either side of your garage door are the heart of the automatic opener system. The sensors are located low on each side of the garage door, and the two beams constantly send an infrared signal from one side of the garage door opening to the other. The sensors only work when the door is in the process of closing. As long as the system senses that the receiving sensor is receiving the infrared signal from the sending sensor, it allows electricity to flow to the opener motor so that your garage door can open or close. If the signal is blocked or interrupted, the system will interrupt the flow of electricity and prevent your garage door from operating.


Sunlight can interfere with the sensors’ beam and cause them to act as though an object is blocking them. The problem is that infrared energy is part of the light spectrum. Garage door sensors use infrared light and the sun also carries infrared light which is more powerful than the light of the sensors. If the light of the sun overpowers the light of the infrared sensor, the sensors might not be able to signal one another. This is why a garage door might stop closing if strong sunlight is shining on the eye of a garage door sensor. Sunlight also contains heat energy and garage door sensors use convex lenses that will focus that light from the sun onto the electronic components inside. Prolonged exposure to sunlight could cause your sensors to overheat and stop working permanently.  In some cases, dust or cobwebs can catch sunlight and direct it toward your garage door’s sensors which is why Haney Door Service recommends cleaning your sensors with a dry cloth about once a month.

How to Remedy Sunlight Interference

  • Shield one of the sensors with your hand or a piece of paper. If the other sensor isn’t in direct sunlight, this technique could help boost the signal strength so the garage door can open and close normally.
  • Wait a couple of minutes. Since the sun has to be at just the right angle to interfere with the sensors try waiting for a few minutes to allow the sun to get to a different position in the sky. 
  • Move or swap around the sensors. Moving the sensors further into the garage and out of the sunlight is another solution. You can also try switching the sides of the sensors. One of them transmits and the other receives so swapping them around might solve the problem.
  • Make your own DIY sun shields. Putting small pieces of cardboard, like a toilet paper tube, or  a short section of PVC pipe around the sensor will block much of the sunlight, just be sure to avoid blocking the beam.
  • Purchase purpose-made sun shields for the sensors. The shields attach to the sensor using a wing nut, making them less likely to come off over time.  These are also made by the manufacturer, so you are going to get a product that works hand-in-hand with your garage door opener.

If you’re still unable to fix your sensor, we recommend seeking guidance from a garage door repair company such as Haney Door Service. Serving Sacramento, Stockton, and the Bay Area, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we’ve earned a reputation for comprehensive, fast service that puts your needs first. You can request a free, on-site estimate online or by calling us at (916) 534-4538. Our team will answer your call any time of day, all days of the week, to ensure we’re available whenever and wherever you need assistance.