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Currently, my genie Is550a garage door opener functions as intended, opening and closing my single garage door by pressing the single button (similar to a doorbell) activator.

Upon opening the door, the lights in the garage door unit remain lit for several minutes, but eventually turn off and cannot be turned back on without pressing the activator again to close the door.

I would like the ability to control the light contained within the unit manually, to be able to turn them on without having to open or close the door. With this unit, is it possible to wire in an additional light switch to manually control this?

  • 2
    I just added a second light fixture and switch to the garage. Fixture, boxes and switch are dirt cheap. The cable can get pricy though. – Chris Cudmore Jan 20 at 16:26
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    I cheated, by adding a motion sensor to the internal lighting circuit in my garage. I can come in the side door and the IR sees me within seconds, unless its super cold outside and I'm wearing wet clothes (Arnie/mud/Predator style) The rinky-dink automatic 12V festoon lamp in my opener would loose to a candle in terms of brightness. – Criggie Jan 21 at 3:27
  • You probably don't want to replace your opener, but the Liftmaster 8500 (and possibly others) has a slick feature in that with the door open and the light having already turned off - if you break the safety sensor beam at the bottom of the door, the light turns back on. A simple feature that I've found super useful in the past; I don't know why other openers don't offer it. – HikeOnPast Jan 29 at 3:59
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Lights on garage door openers are normally controlled by a proprietary wall console like this:

Wall Console

Genie Wall Console (I have no idea if this is the one you really need, just an example)

They use the same two wires as the pushbutton does, but send special signals for other features such as the light and lock functions. The wall console wires might even need to go to different terminals on the opener depending on brand.

So, if the question is "can I wire up a regular light switch to control the opener light", the answer is no, but you can probably make it work with the right accessories.

  • Gotcha, that was about the same conclusion I came to after reading over the manual and only noticing those two wires appearing to go to both types of controllers. Was hoping there was something I might have been unaware of to manually control that light without having to buy a proprietary accessory, but if that is the only solution I'll have to look in to it. – John Jan 20 at 16:54
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Not a good idea. You're talking about backfeeding 120V into a circuit board that has just turn off 120V. You could definitely screw up your opener. I'm surprised you don't have a regular light and switch in your garage independent of your opener. Do you have any switches by the garage door that don't do anything? They might be for a light that's just waiting to be installed. Check the wiring in the outlet box that the opener is wired to. There could be an extra wire for a light. If not, a light and switch are pretty easy to install and we can help you with that if you provide a few pictures.

  • I do have a regular switched light and am familiar with running additional lights and receptacles and have done so in the garage. To me it would just be cleaner to have a single central light from the opener and a separate work bench light. Was wondering if it would be possible without having to buy a proprietary accessory. – John Jan 20 at 16:51
  • @John For that to happen, the garage door opener would have to cooperate. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 20 at 18:35
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica agreed, unfortunately proprietary isn't really one of my favorite words :) – John 18 hours ago
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The better way to do this is buy a higher quality garage door opener that has the features you want. But

OK, well, if you really, really want this...

we'll need to hack the appliance. That's not disallowed by NEC, but it voids the appliance's UL listing, which means it's no longer approved equipment. So it shouldn't be hardwired, it should be cord-and-plug connected.

Now if you look at the unit's wiring diagram on page 33, you see there are 2 lights. Their neutrals are attached to screw 3 and 6 (which are internally wired together), and their hots are attached to screw 11 and 12 (which are also internally wired together).

So, we get a 12 AWG appliance extension cord of appropriate length, whose wires have an appropriate rating (e.g. SJOOW), and we cut it in half in the middle.

  • For the plug half of the cord, strip the ends and unhook the lights from the sequencer 120VAC board. Wire-nut the cord's black to the light's blue (blue!? This thing won't export to the EU!) and the cord's white to the light's white. Ground to chassis.

  • For the socket half of the cord, black goes to sequencer board terminal 3, and white goes to sequencer board terminal 12.

If you plug something other than a couple of lights into this socket, you will fry the sequencer board. I wish we were doing this with NEMA L5-20 sockets and plugs so that would be less likely.


So now, the house's wiring. Install, right next to the garage door opener, a common 120V outlet and an inlet in a 2-gang box. Run 2 sets of #12 cable (or better, wires in EMT conduit), with one marked a color at both ends.

  • The colored one goes from the inlet to the light switch BOX. You will need to install a box extension providing at least one round "knockout", both for wire space and to accommodate a UL listed (not RU listed) general purpose relay such as a RiB. The two 120V coil wires go to the marked cable we just brought down. The two contact wires go between the switch terminals (paralleling the switch). At this point the garage door remote should turn on all the garage lights. You MUST use the relay. Don't even think about playing wire roulette and trying to find a way to omit the relay: even if it "works for the moment" that would be all kinds of bad.
  • The unmarked cable goes to anywhere it's convenient to get switched-hot and neutral from another garage light. This could be a nearby garage light, or it could be the switch.
    • You might be tempted to fit only the inlet, and plug the cord into an existing ceiling light recep. My way makes it clear what the inlet is for, so someone doesn't think you just chose a super moronic place for a generator inlet.

Any power applied to the inlet causes the garage lights to turn on. The garage door opener's internal lights are now on an external cord.

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