UPDATE: For anyone curious about what I ended up doing -- I bought 6 motion sensor plugs, plugged those into the existing outlets, then plugged the lights into that, and the garage door opener plug went into the existing outlet. Now everything works just fine, and I can walk in and out of the garage and the lights automatically turn on with motion, and the garage doors always have power. I bought these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0106IYO2K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

So I just spent about a month re-doing a 36 year old garage garage from top to bottom in preparation for new garage doors being installed. The previous garage doors were manually operated when I bought the house 4 years ago, however, they did have an old broken garage door opener installed on one of the doors.

I re-did the walls, some of the ceiling, some electrical, patched holes, removed cabinets, sealed every nook and cranny, and re-did the entire floor. The day the garage doors were installed (after everything had already been re-done and painted), I realized the outlets where the openers were to be installed were switched only, and not half hot (it actually didn't even cross my mind until we installed them).

So now my new openers do not work unless the garage lights are on. I'm now looking for any possible alternatives to not have to open up the wall, run wires, etc. as it will be a complete mess.

The garage has 6 outlets on the ceiling, 3 per side. The outlets are on a two way switch, so you can turn the lights on and off in the garage from either the entrance, or the back of the garage.

Neither of the two boxes where the garage opener plugs into has a constant hot.

  • I've already thought about leaving the switch on 24/7, and buying 6 motion adapters to plug the lights into, but IMO it's expensive long-term as it's possible they'll eventually fail, have issues with turning the lights on, issues with lights going on in the middle of the night from bugs, etc.

So, what are my options?

The switches on the wall control the ceiling outlets.

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  • Off topic... It looks like some of the knockouts on the side of the electrical panel are missing. If that's true, those holes should be closed up. You should be able to find knockout seals/plugs at your local hardware store or online, that will simply snap into the holes.
    – Tester101
    Sep 24, 2018 at 10:45
  • It seems like the lighting is run separately. When I first read the question I thought these switched ceiling outlets were switched because the lighting plugged into them, but that doesn’t appear to be the case since I can see surface fluorescent fixtures being fed with surface conduits. You may be able to sleuth the wiring out a figure a simple change that will make the plugs all hot. I can’t see enough from here to make a specific statement about where to look tho.
    – Tyson
    Sep 24, 2018 at 12:27
  • @Tester101 -- thanks will look into that -- this panel was used for old garage machinery that was removed, so only 1 breaker in the box is actually active. Sep 24, 2018 at 12:36
  • @Tyson -- the lights are hardwire lights which I actually wired to plugs, so that they could plug into the ceiling outlets that were existing. The surface conduit you are referring to is actually just a wire mold I used to hide the wiring that is run from the garage door sensors (I like to keep things clean looking :)) Sep 24, 2018 at 12:36
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    You’d need to map out how the circuit works, then you can determine what change could be made. It’s entirely possible there is a simple change that helps you. There isn’t enough detail here to guess tho.
    – Tyson
    Sep 24, 2018 at 12:44

2 Answers 2


One option, would be to install a new electrical circuit in the panel, and run it up to the ceiling in surface mounted conduit.

  • Yes it would be the easiest option but least elegant solution (I already removed a ton of electrical conduit that was running allover the walls/ceilings for old machinery the previous owner had in the garage). The biggest pain is that I'd have to run it to two separate parts of the garage, which is separated by that large steel beam. Sep 24, 2018 at 12:37
  • I'm sure the ideal solution would be to use the existing wiring. However, I don't think that's possible. Without adding additional wires, you're not going to be able to do split receptacles. So you can either have the receptacles controlled by the switch, or have them always hot. If the existing wiring is run in conduit, you may be able to pull additional wires. But There's not a simple way to rewire this to work the way you want.
    – Tester101
    Sep 24, 2018 at 12:57
  • I figured, I honestly was just trying to figure out if there was something I was missing here but I guess not. Thanks for the help. Sep 24, 2018 at 13:56

I think motion / occupancy sensors mentioned in the original post is a good solution, as is simply running conduit as suggested in another answer - or wiremold if you prefer the appearance.

The other answer would be to use wireless controls for the lights, with wireless switches at the three doors, and supplying the openers with constant power.

You can get plug-in wireless controlled receptacles, or you could change the ceiling boxes to two gang, with one wireless controlled receptacle and one always-hot duplex receptacle.

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