Fluorescent lights interfere with Infra-Red devices even when switched off!?!?!?

Here's one for the electrical/electronics gurus.

Our new Wayne-Dalton iDrive garage door opener operates its associated light fitting via an IR beam: the opener proper installs right above the door, while the light fitting can be mounted to any convenient outlet within "view" of the opener.

The light operated correctly when it was first installed, but then would sometimes switch on but not be able to be switched off except by killing the power to that circuit -- and even then the light would sometimes switch on and stay on as soon as power was restored.

I called Wayne-Dalton Customer Service. The rep. asked whether we had fluorescent lights in the garage. I replied that we did but that the problem existed even when the fluorescents (CF) were turned off. The rep. then said, "We have found that fluorescent lights can interfere with infra-red sensors even when the lights are turned off." I told her I couldn't see how that could be, but there was no point in arguing, because she was only reciting her official spiel.

They are going to send a new light unit and a new motor-control board (mine is an older revision, it appears), but . . .

Please tell me that there's no way a switched-off fluorescent can interfere with IR circuits.


Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy
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"There is no way a switched-off fluorescent can interfere with IR circuits".

Unfortunately, there are few absolutes other than death and taxes.

The tube is a reflector - it could be reflecting other IR sources onto the detector.

A warm, but switched off tube is still a source of IR.

There are other straws, about as likely.

It is, of course, pure bs. Even if it wasn't, garages often have them, so it should have been designed for. You could simply have argued that

- and that the unit, by their own definition, was unfit for purpose, with an intrinisic, designed-in flaw. Unless their literature said not to be installed in the proximity of such lighting.

In the UK, they would probably have asked if any other electrical equipment, eg washer, drier, freezer, etc was installed or used in the garage (which they often are) and blamed that...

Reply to

Okay, there's no way a switched off flourescent can interfere with anything. Switched on of course is a whole nuther ball game, particularly if the fixture uses an electronic ballast.

But in this brave new world where every doodad manufactured includes a microprocessor, a switch-mode power supply and a wireless link, the other possibilities are endless.

Someday everything will just come to a dead stop because the electromagnetic spectrum will be nothing but hash.

Reply to
Wes Stewart

a complete WAG........

Change the CF's to incandescent and see if the problem goes away. If it does then change brands of CF's

Like I said WAG...

Reply to

Electrically speaking the CF bulb is inert when switched off because it has no standby mode, it is just off.

But... stretching my imagination, can the IR light from the beam interact with the phosphors of the bulb and reemit light that interferes? Unlikely but seems plausable. The phoshhor should absorb UV and emit visible, I don't know of its performance in the IR band.

Most IR beams are not ON/OFF but have pulses encoded in them so that they are not easily fooled by passive IR sources.

Try to find the Radio Shack Infrared sensor card (276-1099). It has a patch of phosphor on it that glows red in the presence of an IR beam. It is useful to see where the beam goes.

Reply to

I have no idea if it is true, but if so, the design is dumb. Many garages have fluorescent light making the IR opener useless in their case.

Reply to
Edwin Pawlowski

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 14:40:45 -0400, "Percival P. Cassidy" Gave us:

There is no way a fluorescent lamp in any state can affect a properly designed IR comm link.

Reply to

Aren't garage door openers RF in IR? What good would a line of sight device do when your on the other side of the door?

Reply to

Read the original post carefully. The IR is used to communicate between the opener (mounted over the door instead of in the middle of the room) and the light (mounted somewhere in the room).

Charles Perry P.E.

Reply to
Charles Perry

Sorrry there wasn't much of the OP when I replied!

Reply to

I bought the opener in question at Menards because they had a "10% off Everything" sale. It has a Date of Manufacture code of 0903 (presumably Sept. 03). Lowes has what seems to be a later revision with better instructions and a different wall-mounting control having at least one additional feature, a "vacation lock."

Lowes (and perhaps HD as well) turn their stock over more frequently and may have more up-to-date products, it would appear. And Menards is a sizeable chain; what are your chances of getting the new and improved versions at "Joe's Hardware?"


Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy

On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 19:30:24 -0500, "Yepp" Gave us:

The opener remote device used from outside the door within a car is a radio device. The safety eye devices that are placed at the lower half of the door closure are optical make/break devices.

Reply to

For my senior project I designed a car that could drive around obstacles. It had infrared sensors. It also had a electronic compass mounted to its roof for directional help. It worked beautifully. That is until I presented it in class where they had flourescent lighting...

The thing banged around aimlessly, lol. And the motors were scrambling the compass which I didnt notice since the sensors were working. It was all good in theory, but in practice was another thing.

Any idiot, self included, should test their design at the intended target location. I had no experience so it was excuseable. That garage door opener using IR is inexcuseable. I guess thats why it was in the grab bin.

P.S. My car worked better with the classroom lights off.

Reply to
CL (dnoyeB) Gilbert

On 08/24/05 09:45 am CL (dnoyeB) Gilbert tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

No, it wasn't in the grab bin: it was on the shelf with all the others at full price (less the "10% off everything -- the same as our employees" discount). The later-revision ones at Lowes still have IR control for the light; perhaps it's an improved version -- and they're supposed to be sending me a new light unit and motor-control board.

Anyway the problem with the original one is more a range thing: the only reliable switching occurs with the light unit (plugged into an extension cord for testing purposes, as an earlier customer support rep. had suggested) just 3 or 4 feet from the opener -- whether the fluorescent lights were on or off. Beyond that distance there were positions in which it would turn on but not off again and positions in which it would turn off but not on again.

Even if the thing is susceptible to interference from fluoro. lights that are switched on, if one is opening the garage door when arriving home, the fluoro. lights probably aren't going to be on to interfere with the IR control, so the garage-door light should still go on -- but if one then switches on the fluoro. lights before the garage-door light goes off there could be interference.

When one is leaving the house and closing the garge door, one is presumably not leaving the garage lights on to interfere with the IR switching.

Note that I am assuming that the claim that even switched-off fluoro. lights can intefere with IR switching is a bunch of baloney.


Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy

I certainly don't have a clue why they would interfere, but then again I don't see why they would make that reason up. Now if they said that was the problem & there was nothing they could do about it, that would be a different story. However, since they are sending you a new board & a new light that would say to me that yes there was a problem & they did something to remedy it.

For the record I have no affiliation or dealings w/ Wayne Dalton, but they are a large company in this industry & when there are a large number of units in use, the manufacturers are usually pretty good in determining what causes a problem as crazy as the problem may sound.

That's my 2-1/2 cent opinion anyways. Doordoc

Reply to

Perce, I'm not sure I understand this phrase:

" operates its associated light fitting via an IR beam:"

I may be wandering down a byeway but are you saying that

- when you open the door, a light should turn on automatically?

- the 'switch' for this came with the door opening kit?

- the switch is controlled by infra-red from the main unit?

- That the light is a flourescent?

So the question might be whether the flourescent light is a suitable load for this electronic switch, and not whether it interferes with an IR beam?


Reply to

may be yes but not due to switch off fluorescent. I wonder that may be interfere due to dipping supply caused by machanical switch and motor control itself.

try to rasionalize your situation.



Reply to

On 08/25/05 12:23 pm P.R.Brady tossed the following ingredients into the ever-growing pot of cybersoup:

When the door is operated, the light should come on, remain on for 5 min., then switch off again. The wall-mounted *wireless* control that came with the whole set also has a separate button that is supposed to operate the light, toggling it on and off -- but, again, the light is controlled via the IR link from the opener proper: Wireless switch sends RF signal to opener, which in turn sends IR signal to light fitting. So the light fitting needs only a convenient outlet -- no control wires. BTW, the IR sensor on the light fitting can be aimed fairly readily at the opener proper.

I have used only a regular incandescent bulb in the opener-associated light fitting: it will normally be on for only a few minutes at a time, so the expense of a CF bulb would take years to recover. The fluorescent lights in question are the CF ones in the original ceiling light sockets

-- but whether they are on or off makes no difference.


Reply to
Percival P. Cassidy

According to Percival P. Cassidy :

Let me get this right:

You have CF lamps, unconnected with the garage door unit, that appear to cause problems with the garage door unit, and the problem will "initiate" EVEN IF the CFs are off?

I suppose it's very marginally possible that their assessment is correct, but it shouldn't be that sensitive.

A couple things you could try to rule in/rule out: try putting an optical barrier between the CFs and the GDO, or block off the IR sensor so that it only can "see" the directions where the actuators are. Check to make sure that the CF switching actually switches off the hot, not the neutral. Pull the CFs from their sockets and see if the problem persists.

If it were a classic tube fluorescent, the first thing I'd do is make sure the fixture case was solidly grounded and that it was only the hot being switched.

Reply to
Chris Lewis

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