How to Change the Frequency on a Garage Door Opener

If you’re trying to address common issues with your garage door opener and its remote controls, this is the article for you. Learn how your garage door remotes work and what you need to do to troubleshoot some basic problems.

October 04, 2019

Photo by: Shutterstock/NIKCOA

Shutterstock/NIKCOA

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First, Let’s Talk About the Term ‘Frequency’

You might be suprised to know that nearly every single garage door opener operates on roughly the same frequency. Radio frequencies in the United States are heavily regulated, and many of those frequencies require you to have a license to operate a particular device on them; air traffic communications are a good example of this. The purpose of this is to ensure that your garage door opener's frequency doesn’t interfere with your neighbor’s favorite radio station or the airplane flying overhead.

Your garage door is likely using a frequency clustered around the 2.4-GHz band that’s been designated the ISM band, otherwise known as the Industrial, Scientific and Medical band. This band of frequencies is free to use, doesn’t require you to have a license to operate devices on and is preferred by the companies that manufacturer almost all of your gadgets. So, your car’s key fob, your Wi-Fi router and your lowly garage door opener are all operating on the same band of frequencies. All of that to say, you genuinely cannot change your garage door frequency, and it might be illegal if you did.

Ok, So Then Why Doesn’t My Car Key Open My Garage Door?

Your car key and your garage door opener have one basic similarity. They exchange secret codes with the device they’re designed to operate. Older garage door openers from the ’60s had a singular unique code that was shared between the remote and the opener. Thieves caught on to that, figured out how to intercept the codes, and a rash of garage thefts ensued. Fast forward to today, and your garage door now uses what’s known as a rolling code that changes every time you open the garage door.

When you open the door in the morning, the opener generates a new code and sends it to the remote for the next time you need it. So, every time you open your garage door with a remote, you're using a brand new, unique code that only gets used one time and then is discarded. So, now it’s still possible for a hacker to intercept the code you just used, but as soon as you close the garage door, that code will be rendered useless. Each code only gets used one time!

So Why Isn’t My Remote Working?

Odds are good that if you’re having difficulty using your remotes or your entry pad, the problem is simply that the connection or “handshake” between your devices and the opener has been lost. The easiest way to solve this problem is to clear your codes from the garage door opener and have it reacquainted with your remotes.

How Do I Do That?

Every garage door opener is a little different, so it’s always a great idea to visit the manufacturer's website for instructions or to consult the user’s manual (if you still have it). The basic process goes something like this: First, you’ll want to open the access panel on the backside of your garage door opener. Look for a button that says “Learn” and hold that down until the light starts blinking. Now you’ve reset your door codes and your remotes should not work. Next, press the “Learn” button one time until the light comes on and, at the same time, press the button on your garage door opener. Do any additional remotes you need at that time and then press the “Learn” button one last time to finish the process. The light should turn off, and all of your remotes should start working. If you’re having difficulty, it’s always best to consult the original documentation that’s specific to your brand of door opener.

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