How Does a Garage Door Keypad Work?

how does a garage door keypad work

One of the most convenient ways of getting access to our homes is the Garage Door Keypad. With a keypad installed, there is no need to take home keys or hide them under the flower pot or floor mats. As long as everyone in the house knows the keypad’s correct 4-digit pin, they are good to go.

How the garage door keypad works is something, not a lot of homeowners care to know. After all, as long as it works just fine, what’s the point? However, as a curious geek who likes to figure stuff out, I decided to do some research on the topic, and here is what I found.

So, how does the garage door keypad work? When you enter the correct pin on your garage door keypad, it sends out a signal with a unique code out of multiple possibilities, on a radio frequency. The garage door opener, which is on the same frequency, receives and accepts the code, and then operates to open the garage door.

That summarizes how the garage door keypad operates in two sentences. However, if you want to learn more, I’ll explain in detail how it really works in the next section. We’ll also look at some common problems with the garage door keypad, and discuss whether garage door keypad is safe from hackers and thieves. Let’s get into it.

How a Garage Door Keypad Works – Detailed Explanation

The explanation here might be a little too “techy” for some people. But I’ll try it to make it as simple as possible.

The first time you install a garage door keypad, you’ll be required to choose either a 4-digit or a 5-digit pin, depending on the manufacturer. This is not the code sent out by the garage door keypad to the opener. It is simply a password that grants the keypad permission to generate and send a signal to the garage door opener.

After you enter the right code, the keypad’s built-in system generates a security code. A new code is generated after every use, and you’ll get to know why later in this article. This security code varies in length based on the manufacturer’s preference.

Earlier versions of keypads, remotes, and garage door openers worked in an 8-bit binary code, which meant they could only randomly generate up to 256 different combinations. As technology improved, now manufacturers are able to make devices that can generate possibly billions of different security codes.

After the code is generated, it is sent out by the built-in radio transmitter. This signal is usually transmitted in the frequency band 300 MHz and 400 MHz; however, the particular frequency will be the manufacturers’ choice.

The garage door opener will also be in the same frequency as the keypad, so it will grab that signal with the code. Once the security code goes through all the checks and gets accepted by the garage door opener, it will operate.

Are Garage Door Keypads Safe?

Short answer, yes, they are safe. Here is why.

The first models of garage door openers, remotes, and keypads used only one security code, and it worked just fine. However, this was a major security flaw.

Since it used only one security code, hackers could easily sniff the code with a device popularly known as the Code grabber. As long as these devices are close enough to your garage door opener and are set to receive signals on the keypad’s radio frequency, they can simply grab the code. The same code could be transmitted while you are away, and your garage door opener will accept it and open the door.   

Manufactures were made aware of this flaw, so they made some improvements. That was when the rolling code technology was implemented in garage door openers, keypads, and remotes.

Basically, rolling code technology changes the security code of both the garage door keypad and the garage door keypad to a new one after every use. This is an excellent security technology because even when a hacker is able to get the security code with a code grabber, he can’t use it to get access to your home. This has made it nearly impossible for hackers to gain access to your home with the garage door keypad.

Something you should note, however, is, there are smart ways burglars can use to find your 4-digit pin code, so you should change it frequently. Why do I say this? Well, if you use the same pin for a long time, those buttons will eventually wear out, leaving traces for burglars to find your pin. For a 4-digit pin, there can only be 24 possible combinations.

Another thing to keep in mind is, these keypads are not safety or security devices. It’s simply a way to get access to your home, so treat it as such. To really improve your garage’s security, I recommend you purchase and install an automatic garage door lock. These devices will beef up the security of your garage, making it virtually impenetrable.

If you own a Chamberlain or a Liftmaster garage door opener, then I recommend you read my blog post on Automatic Garage Door Locks. It is the best security device you can get for your garage, in my opinion. Check out the post here. See here.

Also: Are Garage Door Keypads Universal?

Common Issues with Garage Door Keypads

Obviously, just with any electronic device, you will encounter problems with your garage door keypad, one way or the other, and that’s completely normal. This can cause an inconvenience, especially at a time when you need it working. So I’ll outline some of the more common problems homeowners face with their garage door keypads and present to you how to fix them.

Dead Battery

This is, by far, the most common issue. I wouldn’t really classify this as an issue, but a lot of homeowners call garage door technicians when they encounter this.

Garage door keypads are powered by batteries, and batteries certainly don’t last forever. After some months of using your keypad, the batteries will eventually die, leaving your keypad not working.  

The simple fix to this problem is to replace the batteries with a new one. If you are looking for recommendations, the Duracell’s 9V Alkaline Battery is an excellent choice for garage door keypads. They last longer than most options in the market, and you’ll get four pieces on Amazon for $13

Worn-Out Keypad

Repeatedly using the same buttons over an extended period will get them to wear out. It is a common issue with buttons. For instance, if your pin is 1111, or 2323, hitting these keys continuously over a while will damage them. So you may think the entire device is faulty; however, chances are only those buttons are faulty.

To fix this, change the pin code of your keypad. The process of changing your 4-digit pin varies from one manufacturer to the other. Be sure to check your keypad’s manual to learn how to do this.

The keypad works but does not operate the opener.

This is not very common, but it sometimes happens. Some keypads have backlit keyboards that indicate that the keypad works. However, it doesn’t operate the garage door opener. This usually happens when you replace a dead battery.

If you notice this issue, the solution is to reprogram your keypad to work with the garage door opener. Follow the steps in your manual to reprogram the keypad to your garage door opener.

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