Military radio messing up local garage door openers

The in basket:  Ellen Schroeder , who lives on Bremerton’s east side, wondered what I knew about the problem she and her neighbors have when some operation inside Naval Base Bremerton immobilizes their garage doors. 

Actually, it’s the remote controls that stop working. The doors still can be operated manually or with the inside button. But at intervals, the remotes won’t open or close the doors. That’s quite a hassle for the mobility impaired or just about anyone on a windy, rainy day. 

“Today it wasn’t a problem,” she told me on Oct. 26, “Last week it was intermittent, but happened almost every day.” 

The out basket: Ellen said she had gotten her garage door from Kitsap Garage Doors and Chelsea Browning, the office manager there, says the industry is only too aware of the problem. It also sometimes affects keyless entry devices on cars, she said.

She referred me to the Web, where Googling some combination of “garage door openers,” “military bases” and “interference” brought up a number of discussions of this issue. 

Chelsea says it’s all part of stepped up security that followed the attack on the Twin Towers in New York. As such, her company and the rest of the industry haven’t been able to learn what exactly causes it. The Web sites name something called the Land-Mobile-Radio System as the origin of the interference. 

Tom Danaher, spokesman for the Navy here, referred me to a telecast discussion of the problem on NBC, which he said covers it. 

“(Department of Defense) is the authorized user of the 380 MHz to 399.9 MHz spectrum, (and) it is under no obligation, according to the FCC, to identify or mitigate potential interference (with) devices that may also be operating in that spectrum,” it said.

It then drew from a recommendation from the garage door industry, found online at

It said, in part, “If a military radio system (which usually consists of high-power devices) causes your …  device to malfunction, then, by law, you must accept the interference.”

A homeowner with the problem should 

call the manufacturer or retailer of the garage door opener, it said. “Buying a new garage door opener is probably not necessary. But you may need to purchase a retrofit to your remote control system to allow operation on a frequency that is not used by your local military.”

Easier said than done, says Chelsea at Kitsap Garage Door. The industry advised shifting from a remote using the 390 MHz frequency to one on 315 MHz, but that doesn’t work here, she said. 

Going up to a frequency in the 400 MHz range will work, she said, but fewer than half the existing remotes are compatible with that range. 

Ellen didn’t think I’d be able to do anything but explain the problem, which is a good guess. In fact, I won’t even try to explain it beyond what I’ve already written. Discussions by people who know electronics far better than I can be found on the Web, and I commend anyone interested to use those sites. 



8 thoughts on “Military radio messing up local garage door openers

  1. I am curious if the interference will also open garage doors? I had to put one of our automatic doors on a switch because it would randomly open on its own…

  2. I had this problem with my Genie brand openers. I had to buy a retrofit kit at Home Depot to replace the receivers that came with the openers. I think that the new frequency is the 315MHz one mentioned as not working here, and mine now work. The wireless keypad acts up now and then, but the remotes in the cars work almost all of the time. The old ones were really hit or miss before I bought the new kits.

  3. Seth,

    The interfering signals will not, and in fact cannot cause your garage door to open or close on its own.

    To all: I haven’t seen a lot of finger-pointing here yet, but in case it starts, don’t point at the military. The manufacturers of these devices have know FCC law and known that 380 to 400 in military owned for over 5 decades. The used it because it was easy and long ago the military wasn’t using the band very much. When frequency use got tight in the last 20 years or so, the military was FORCED out of other bands back to 380-400 MHz band. The garage door manufacturers got caught by this move and guess who pays for their lack of foresight – you the consumers.

  4. Two or three years ago I took a piece of 16 or 18 guage stranded wire and spliced it to the antenna wire on the opener. Then I ran it out to the top door casing and fastened it with the hanging outside and the end stripped of about 1/2 inch of the insulation. This didn’t completely cure the problem, but is sure helped.

  5. Hi,
    I know this can happen it happened to us one day.
    Also they can come through your spekers.
    That happened at our church one day durning the service. It was kinda funny though.

  6. I have actually seen this on a number of occasions. I install garage doors in Austin, Texas. We also have a military base on I-35 close to my business. I did not know about the law that you posted. Thanks for the article!

  7. It’s a problem impacting the whole garage door industry, when homeowners live in areas where they encounter interference with military radio waves. Military isn’t about to change.

  8. It is NOT just garage doors. It also effects some wireless alarm systems. We changed our wireless alarm sensors to all wired a while back due to the false alarm issues. For some reason it happened most times when a ship movement was happening. We always knew when something was coming in or leaving by the false alarms.

    Not a problem since wireless was done away with.

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