I just solved a shop problem that has plagued me for years, one that has affected my security, comfort and peace of mind. It cost me less than $15.
About a year ago I told you of my mysterious garage doors habit of opening by itself in cold, dry weather. (Gremlins, 12-16-08) The problem recurs every winter, only to disappear when the weather warms up. I finally narrowed the logical cause to random static electricity in the shop, particularly when vacuuming, sanding or routing, three operations involving chips and dust particles traveling through plastic hose. The sporadically opening door was a pain in a number of ways: It would let out every bit of heat my kerosene heater had built up. It always startled me, not a good thing when using power tools. And there was always the concern that some spurious static charge would trigger that opener in the middle of the night, or when we werent home.
Figuring out the cause didnt help, so the only solution I could come up with was to unplug the opener during the winter. It worked, but wasnt convenient I need a ladder to climb up to my shops 10 ceiling to plug it back in if I want to open the door to bring in lumber or whatever.
The first cool, dry day we had this fall I was using my router table, and the door started sliding up. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Fortunately, I was between passes on the table, so I wasnt dangerously in the middle of a cut. I shut the door, got the ladder and climbing up to the ceiling had an idea. If I could only find some way to cut the power to that single outlet easily, I could just turn it off when I didnt need the door. The breaker box was no help because more than the garage opener outlet was on that circuit.
My good friend Mr. Google saved the day. I have a power switch some of my tools are plugged into that, for my convenience, kicks on my dust collection automatically. Surely there was something similar for outlets. Googling remote power switch led me to a device available on Amazon.com for $14.83 that was just what I needed. A device plugs into my openers ceiling outlet, and then I plug the opener into the device. The device, in turn, has a remote control I leave hanging on my clamp rack mounted right under the garage-door openers wall switch press the remote once and the outlet turns on to power the opener; press it again and the outlet turns off. No more ladders, no more door-opening surprises, and no more worrying about the door opening in the middle of the night.
Security, comfort and peace of mind in my woodshop for $14.83. Doesnt get much better than that.
Till next time,