Garage Door Openers: Here Comes The Science

Garage_door_sliding_up-768x1024Someday soon, you may find yourself sitting in your driveway somewhere in Atlanta staring at your old  garage door opener wondering, “Why doesn’t this thing work?” Just know that you’re not alone. Do you need to call a garage door repair company? Well, truthfully, we hope so, but maybe not yet! Here’s something you can try first. Take the cover off of the battery compartment where you’ll find a bunch of technical looking stuff. You’ll see maybe 8 to 12 up/down switches. Those little guys are called “dip switches” (named after some…, well, nevermind). Just put the cover back on and take comfort in the fact that what you’re holding in your hand makes an 8-track look fancy. The staff here at Atlanta Door Company spends a lot of time on the phone trying to educate people between the old and new garage door opener technology, so we thought we’d spend a minute here to help. Garage Door Openers With Dip Switches Let’s begin our class with a brief explanation of what a dip switch garage door opener actually is. Dip switches are just a type of electronic coding that allows the opener to talk to the garage door mother ship motor hanging inside your garage ceiling. When this technology first came out, we hadn’t yet walked on the moon and all radio signals used the same frequency which meant you could have a little fun with your neighbors garage door as he came home from work. Anyone with a remote could open doors on the same frequency. Obviously, this caused some fist fights so the code system was developed. The basic was it works is like this:  you set the up/down switches in your remote to match the settings of the switches in the back of your motor (called the receiver). In the typical garage door, there are 8, 12 or 16 switches that all must match each other. If one switch is off, the garage door opener will work about as well as you waving your finger to open the garage door. What we’re saying is that you’ll be locked out. But, here’s the problem- while the dip switch system initially provided a pretty good system to keep the bad guys out, a burglar who is motivated enough could mathematically figure out which switches matched which house. He (or, I guess, she) could walk right in and take the all the goodies. So, dip switches are not considered secure any more due to the lack of security. Garage Door Openers And Star Wars Ok, no one has ever said, “May the garage door opener be with you”, but technology has advanced in this area significantly to achieve garage door security. It’s called rolling code technology. Think of rolling code technology as a digital solution to an analog world of dip switches. Rolling code takes the old 8-16 switches and bumps those numbers into the billions! There’s a small computer chip built into both the garage door opener and the garage door receiver communicate via code that’s way more advanced that the binary up/down switches. You see, if you have 8 switches, that’s about 256 combinations), but if you have a chip that can contain thousands of switches, the possibilities become math that’s too hard for us (or your average bad guy). That’s the security you want in your garage door! Plus, with rolling code technology, not only are you dealing with an insane number of possible combinations, but you’re also dealing with computer chips that generate a new code each time you click your garage door opener. To break the code, a burglar literally has a one in a billion shot at getting in. So, like everything else, the new, sexier rolling code technology in garage door openers are gradually taking over for dip switches everywhere. The rolling code garage door openers are the last stop short of opening our garage doors by using Jedi mind tricks. But, soon, my young padawan. Soon. Atlanta Door Company has been busy helping home owners and businesses with their garage doors, garage door openers, commercial entry doors and other types of doors since the earth cooled (or 1987). We are a family owned and operated business here to serve our friends, neighbors and loved ones in the metro Atlanta area.

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