Programming a garage door remote is easier than most people think. Remotes allow users to open and close the garage door just by clicking a button. This comes in handy when weather conditions are poor or you have lost the keys to your front door. Several different types of remote controls exist today in the garage door business. It is important to identify what type of remote you have before attempting to reprogram garage door openers.
How Do Garage Door Remotes Work?
Older garage door remotes have 8-12 switches in different positions, known as dip-switch remotes. An identical set of codes are also present in the garage door opener controlling the remotes. Newer remotes use rolling code technology which allows the set of codes to change every time the remote is pressed. Frequencies of 300 MHz, 310 MHz, 315 MHz, 318 MHz or 390 MHz allow the remote to send a signal to the garage door opener to function properly.
Rolling Code Technology
Rolling code technology allows the coding for opening your garage door to change each time. This prevents replay attacks, where an eavesdropper copies the transmission of your remote and replays it at a later time. This technology allows for billions of unique combinations – negating any chance of brute force attacks or transmission copying.
Types of Garage Door Remote Frequencies
Radio frequencies are measured in megahertz (MHz). The most common garage door remote frequencies are 300 MHz, 310 MHz, 315 MHz, 318 MHz or 390 MHz. The frequency of the garage door remote or operator will be printed somewhere on the device. For remotes, frequency labels are usually found on or near the battery cover. Garage door motors usually have a white label indicating frequency under the plastic light case.
Finding Your Learn Button
Locating your garage door learn button is the first step in programming your garage door remote. Learn button styles vary by brand name. They can be purple, black, red or green in color and are usually square in shape. Some manufacturers have small round black learn buttons. Near the learn button will be a small round shaped glow light.The color of the learn button indicates which frequency and type of garage door remote you need.
Brands of Garage Door Openers
Match your garage door remote to your garage door opener by using the same manufacturer. The following are some of the companies that sell garage door remotes.
Programming Your Garage Door Remote
- Locate your garage door operator – you will need a step ladder since it is hanging from your garage door ceiling. Find the “learn” button on the back of your operator. It should be a small square green, purple,black or red button about the size of a quarter. You may have to remove the plastic light cover to find the button.
- Press and HOLD the learn button for 30 seconds. This will clear out ALL remotes networked to the opener.
- Wait 30 seconds. Then press and RELEASE the learn button. The indicator glow bulb should be blinking.
- Press the remote you want linked.
- You should hear a clicking or blinking noise for confirmation.
- Repeat steps 2-4 for any additional remotes.
Be sure to test out all of the remotes you program. Newer models of openers can support up to five remotes and one keyless entry system. If you simply want to add a remote to an existing opener you may skip step #2 and start at step #3. Below is a chart showing what types of remotes are associated with the various colors of learn buttons. This will be important information if you ever need to buy a new remote or opener.
Learn Button Color Remote Chart
Purple (315 MHz) learn button (Security Plus ERT series):
1 Button – Liftmaster 371LM
2 Button – Liftmaster 372LM
3 Button – Liftmaster 373LM
Wireless Keypad – Liftmaster 377LM
Red, Orange (390 MHz) learn button (security plus series):
1 Button – Liftmaster 971LM
2 Button – Liftmaster 972LM
3 Button – Liftmaster 973LM
Wireless Keypad – Liftmaster 976LM
Green (390 MHz) learn button (Rolling Code series):
1 Button – Liftmaster 81LM
2 Button – Liftmaster 82LM
3 Button – Liftmaster 83LM
Wireless Keypad – Liftmaster 66LM
Programming Remotes That Have Switches
Many older garage door openers use DIP switch technology. A series of 8 or 9 switches on your remote must align to match the code on the operator. These switches can be put in the up, down and neutral position. If your remote has 9-buttons and your opener has only 8-buttons there is no need to worry. Simply put the 9th switch in the middle or “neutral” position.
The problem with dip switch technology is the lack of security. A dip-switch remote with 8-switches provides only 256 possible combinations (2^8 or 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2). Although many possible results exist, it would still be possible for someone to break into your garage by guessing all of the possible outcomes. Dip switch based remotes are enough to keep several neighbors from opening each others doors, but not a determined burglar.
I write tutorials about garage door repair, installation and maintenance. With over a decade of experience in the overhead door industry I’ve learned a lot and I’d like to share my knowledge with you.