You can repurpose all sorts of things from your home improvement projects, including garage doors. You can use the doors, springs, and openers for things like–
- Gym equipment
- Display cases
- Garden beds, and
- Privacy screens
Old garage door openers can be used for gym equipment, decor, moving targets, home made dumbwaiters, gate openers, halloween decor, and many more items. It can be lots of fun to repurpose your garage door opener to something useful.
The list continues, but these are our favorite uses for old garage doors. In the rest of this article, we’ll talk about some awesome things people have done with their garage door openers specifically, which are mostly mechanical items like generators, mini elevators, and more.
Let’s look at 8 of these items and briefly overview how you can make three of them at home.
Old Garage Door Openers Can Be…
Generators are a fun, helpful way to repurpose old openers. You’ll need to convert the motor to a DC connection to power the generator, and here’s how.
Open up the garage door opener and take the three cords – red, blue, white – and run them down the turbine to connect it to the rectifier to change from AC to DC, which is what the generator batteries run off of.
Take a piece of wood, steel, or aluminum (or a hockey puck!), and use a hole saw to cut a circle that fits into the housing of the motor, called a stater. Drill four or six evenly spaced holes around ½” wide in the circle and stack magnets into the holes until they’re filled. Alternate between north and south facing.
Epoxy seal the stater and its embedded magnets so they’re waterproof and held in place. Once it’s dry, place the stater on the motor bar and put a locking collar on the front and back of the starter, pinch it, and run a bolt through it to keep it stable. When you put the motor back together, it’ll be ready to power a generator.
- Gate openers
Repurposing your garage door opener into a gate opener is easier and more inexpensive than buying one made for gates.
As a note, gate openers from garage door openers shouldn’t be used in areas with high winds or with heavy gates, or else you risk breaking the screw drive.
To repurpose, take your garage door opener and create a weatherproof box – 10’ x 1’ x 1’ – to fit over it once it’s installed. Cut a hole at the end of the box and weld in a short 1 ¼” square tube to use as a guide. Then, mount a ½” broad, 10’ long square tube on the box and run it through the guide and out to the gate.
Fix the enclosure you just made on a pipe anchored in concrete, ensuring the enclosure can move back and forth. Some people use a trailer axle hub bearing assembly to the anchored pipe and enclosure base. From there, connect the batteries or power source, fit the gate to the motor, and test it out.
- Mini elevators
A mini elevator, also known as a dumbwaiter, is a great way to make bringing in groceries or taking out the trash much easier. Factory-made dumbwaiters are expensive, around $3000, but dumbwaiters are cheaper to make with garage door openers, around $300.
Here are some tips for safely using your dumbwaiter–
- Never let children operate the elevator
- Always lock the elevator doors when not in use, and
- Never overload the dumbwaiter
To do this, locate where you’ll put the mini elevator. The best place is if you have two closets on the first and second floors right on top of each other. Clear a shaft around 3” wider than the elevator box will be.
Fix the door opener to the side of the shaft so the metal arm faces upwards with an angle iron and screws. Make sure the track is level and installed along the side of the shaft, so it doesn’t get in the way of the doors. From there, install the automatic stops at your chosen places.
Make a dumbwaiter box that fits 3” between it and the shaft edges. Fix the box to the track using the door arm and carriage assembly. Add angle irons for extra support.
Finally, install opener switches near locked doors over the areas where you’ll place and remove items. Test the dumbwaiter without items and then with a regular weight load.
- Can crushers
Can crushers are fun contraptions constructed from garage door openers. Some people use bicycle sprockets, pulleys, or other components to make the crushing easier.
You can make it more complex and high tech, but most people attach the opener to a track and have the track push a crusher back and forth with a small opening at the bottom to drop the crushed can below. Others install side tracks or conveyor belts to feed the cans into the crusher automatically. The possibilities for the gadget are endless.
There are hundreds of ways to make them, so it’s best to search Youtube for DIY instructions. They vary too much on available materials to make a one-size-fits-all.
Recycling is the best thing to do if you can’t find a good use for your old garage door opener. You can recycle the metal track and box system easily by checking your local recycling regulations for instructions. Generally, they go something like this–
- Remove and dispose of every non-metal piece from the system
- Remove and recycle any batteries
- Dispose of the remote control, and
- Drop it off at your local recycling center
The list goes on and on for garage door opener uses. If you have an old one, consider making one of these things or recycling it. Being responsible and reusing non-biodegradable items is a crucial step for helping our environment.
Other uses for garage door openers are–
- Moving targets and decorations
- Retractable awnings and projector screens
- Remote-controlled lighting
- Meat grinders, and
- Meat spits
You now have several options for reusing your old garage door opener. If it’s not useful, choose the environmentally-friendly choice and recycle it.
These openers are just one of the many reusable objects in your home, so take stock of everything potentially useful you have stored away to see if there’s anything you can make (or recycle!).
Have fun making your DIY contraptions!