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.
On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 14:40:45 -0400, "Percival P. Cassidy"
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.
"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
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...
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.
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?"
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
P.S. My car worked better with the classroom lights off.
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
Note that I am assuming that the claim that even switched-off fluoro.
lights can intefere with IR switching is a bunch of baloney.
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.
Probably in your case, but not always. I live in a block of apartments.
The building's stairwell and garage area lights are on a timeswitch--an
old fashioned mechanical relay arrangement that goes THUMP when it
One cloudy afternoon as I felt my way down the stairwell in the half
gloom rather than switching on a dozen lights just to go a few flights,
out of the corner of my eye I imagined I caught a brief flash of light
from a CF fitting I was passing under. Intrigued, I waited, and waited,
and discovered to my amazement that every 4 or 5 minutes this globe would
give a momentary low-intensity (to my eye) flash of light! It was just an
ordinary CF globe that I'd installed.
I have not been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation for this.
In case there was a leakage current, I made sure after that to always have
at least one globe an ordinary incandescent.
John Savage (my news address is not valid for email)
I have found some CFs to flash from leakage current. Ones with glow
switch starters (and magnetic ballasts) may have the starters very dimly
glow or flicker a purplish color.
I saw this mainly when I tried switching a CF with the Radio Shack
"Plug-N-Power" switching system. The receivers intentionally leak some
current to detect whether a load is in place. I suspect CFs could even
have extra wear from dimly glowing or flashing when "off" with the
"Plug-N-Power" system, since their filaments will not be at the proper
operating temperature. Starters may not like to be glowing all the time.
However, I do not expect the much lower leakage currents found elsewhere
to cause much wear to fluorescents.
- Don Klipstein ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
try to rasionalize your situation.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.