Garage door remote upgrade

When I built my new garage I installed Sears garge door openers. Seemed like a good brand with good features. It didn't take long for the remotes to start losing range and performing poorly.

A search of the internet revealed this is an all too common occurence. People have tried all sorts of things to fix this with limited success.

I found this kit from Liftmaster. It's a retrofit kit for older garage door openers. I decided to see if it would be more reliable than the Sears system.

The kit is pretty simple: Receiver, remote, and installation supplies. The receiver is not much more than a remote-controlled relay that contacts when you push the remote.

Sears wired opener with pushbutton removed.

The plan was to solder the new remote receiver wires to the button that is pushed by the wired door opener. It's the blue button in this picture. This way the garage door opener would 'see' the retrofit kit as the button being pushed.

The solder joints for the blue button are greyed out in this picture. I was prepared to do some soldering but was pleasantly surprised to find the screw terminals are connected to the button. No soldering required!

I connected the wires to the screw terminals, remounted the controller, and gave it a try. Worked fine. I walked around the outside of the garage to see how well the range was. Not good. The metal siding really blocks the signal.

I used an extension cord to allow me to put the new receiver next to the wall, then drilled a small hole in the wall and stuck the antenna outside. This greatly improved the range! A small negative of the retrofit receiver is that it plugs directly into a wall plug, so mounting options are limited.

Everything worked well enough that I ordered two more kits for my other doors. I'm hoping these kits are more compatible with my Jeep's Homelink system than the Sear's remotes were. I'll update any new findings.

Update: Over time the range of this door opener degraded like all the rest. What I ended up doing was buying a long-range opener used for gates. It was only $20 more than a normal opener. It has awesome range and has stayed consistent for years.

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