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The garage door is the heaviest and largest moving object in your home. Usually opened and closed several times a day. So your opener needs to be up to the task.
Different types of garage door openers are: chain drive, belt drive, screw drive, direct drive, and jackshaft/wall Mounted Drive.
Let’s explore the mechanics, types and pros and cons of garage door openers available in the market today.
Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
Most common type. Uses a Chain to move the trolley on the track.
Chain drives are affordable and very reliable. Drawbacks include these are loud and clunky. Needs to be adjusted about twice in product lifespan—best for detached garages.
Chain-driven operators cost $120 to $270 due to their basic design.
Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
Uses a steel-reinforced rubber, fiberglass, or polyurethane belt with nubby teeth instead of a chain. Otherwise works like a chain drive.
A belt drive is very quiet and low maintenance. Ideal for attached garages. A little bit more expensive than a chain drive. A belt drive is more durable than a chain or screw drive. Some models have smart features and battery backup.
Belt-driven operators cost anywhere from $160 to $450
Screw Drive Garage Door Openers
Spins a threaded steel rod that moves the trolley in the track. Fast and smooth to open and close the door. A little bit noisier than a belt drive. Fewer components than belt and chain drives. Easy to maintain. But can be sensitive to extreme temperature changes.
Cost slightly more than a belt or chain drive. If you have a large garage door measuring 14 ft. high or one-piece doors that are up to 8ft high, then these or jackshaft are the openers you’ll want to use. The downside is screw drive needs to be lubricated a couple of times a year.
Screw-driven operators are $200 to $500 due to their decline in popularity.
Direct Drive Garage Door Openers
Operates as a single unit. The motor itself functions as the trolley and travels along the track. Very quiet and strong. Similar cost to belt drives. nearly maintenance free.
Direct drive operators cost $200 to $450
Wall Mount / Jackshaft Garage Door Openers
Installed to the side of the door directly to the torsion bar. Keeps ceiling free for overhead storage as there is no need to chain, belt, screw, or direct drive steel track. Well suited to garages with high or low ceilings. More expensive than other options.
Jackshaft operators cost $250 to $600
What Kind of Garage Door Opener is Best?
It really depends on your needs. And you should pick one that is most suitable for your garage and situation. Let’s explore what you need to know before making a decision.
Common Garage Door Opener Manufacturers
Read more about garage door opener manufacturers in the Brands article.
AC/DC Garage Door Openers
Garage door openers have motors that run on either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).
Both plug into a standard home power outlet, but DC-powered openers convert AC to DC power. The advantages of a DC motor include smaller size, quieter operation, and smoother starts and stops. Some DC-motor openers include battery backup, allowing operation when the power is out.
Garage door openers with DC motors may use ratings such as horsepower similar (HPS) or horsepower comparable (HPC) to help you compare power options. The score tells you the DC motor’s pulling power when compared to an equal AC motor. It’s a sign of the actual HP rating of the DC motor.
DC-powered garage door openers have become the standard in the garage door industry.
Garage Door Opener Features
- Remotes, wall-mount buttons, or keypads open the garage door.
- A manual release allows you to disengage the opener from inside the garage and raise or lower the door manually.
- A security light activates when you operate the system and automatically turns it off after a set period.
- Rolling code technology prevents accidental openings by nearby remotes and makes it difficult for intruders to access by generating unique access codes for every use.
- Rail segments are typically sized for garage doors up to 7 feet tall
- Rail extensions make the opener compatible with 8 foot-high doors or more.
- Safety sensors prevent the garage door from closing when blocked.
Garage Door Opener Special Features
- Led Lights/Motion-sensing Light
More light to the garage. Motion-sensing security lights operate automatically.
- Wifi/Smartphone Control
Can tell you when the door opens or closes and can be operated when away in the house.
- Compatible With Smart Home Systems
Control your garage door with Google Home, MyQ, Nest, Wink, IFTTT, or Xfinity Home, or OHDAnywhere.
- Battery Backup
In case of power outages. So can operate the door normally.
- Automatic Locking
Locks the system or uses a deadbolt to prevent break inns.
- Wireless Keypads/Multifunction console
For operating doors.
- Vehicle compatibility
Allows operation of the opener from controls built into some vehicles.
- Auto-close functionality
Closes a garage door automatically after a pre-programmed period of time.
Read about smart garage door openers in this article.
How to Choose the Right Garage Door Opener
- Check the production date. There is a label on the opener. If your current unit is over 15 years old or manufactured before Jan. 1, 1993, it’s time to replace it with a new one. Take advantage of new safety features.
- Consider the total cost of the unit and installation fees.
- Think about how often you use the garage door. Frequently opening and closing might wear cheap and low HP units faster.
- Think about the special features you need and how quiet you want the opener to be.
- Many remotes, wall-mount buttons, and keypads can control more than one garage door opener. This is useful when you have many garage bays with separate doors.
- Check the product information and/or contact an expert to make sure a garage door opener and features are compatible with your garage door and suit your garage ceiling height.
How Much Horsepower Garage Door Opener Needs?
|Door||Door Weight||Recommended Lifting Force|
|Single Doors||Up to 150 lbs||1/4 HP or 1/3 HP|
|Single and Double||Up to 350 lbs||1/2 HP|
|Double||Up to 600 lbs||3/4 HP|
|Special||Up to 750 lbs||1 HP|
|Commercial||Over 750 lbs||1 1/4 HP|
Average Garage Door Weight
|25-gauge metal||75-90 lbs||8||7 to 8 feet|
|25-gauge metal||150-180 lbs||16||7 to 8 feet|
|Heavy Wood||130-300+ lbs||8||7 to 8 feet|
|double door with windows and an all-glass double door||over 400 lbs||16||7 to 8 feet|
In regular household over 3/4 HP is very rarely needed.
Having the right amount of horsepower is a crucial part of a properly working door.
- Garage Door Weight and Size.
Depending on the material the door is made of and is it a double or single. It can be light or heavy. Openers with little horsepower may struggle with heavy doors. Wood and glass doors are the heaviest.
- Opener Operating Hours.
You can just replace cheaper openers when they wear out or buy an opener that will function like new for many years.
- Garage Door Parts.
You should check or use an expert to check other parts like springs, cables, and tracks to look out for any wearing and tearing to make sure everything works.
- The door needs to be well balanced and springs adjusted correctly. So the door weight remains in line with what the opener can handle.
- Larger rail sizes are available with more powerful openers since a more powerful opener should be paired with a larger door.
- If your door has a max height above 8 ft., it requires an opener with more power.
How Much Power Does a Garage Door Opener Use?
About 340-450 Watts.
Can a Garage Door Opener Be Too Powerful?
Torsion or Extension springs keep the door mass that is moving up and down relatively light.
While openers do come with different amounts of horsepower, And very heavy doors benefit with more HP. An opener with more horsepower may open and close the door faster, but the difference is hardly noticeable. More HP means a long-lasting and durable opener.
Garage Door Opener Down Force
Make sure the force is not set too high. It might cause damage to the door and opener.
Most openers have a similar way to set the force. Watch the video demonstration.
How to Weight Your Garage Door?
Check the Video.
How Long Garage Door Openers Last?
Most people use the same garage door opener for years or even decades. As long as there are no problems with opening and closing the garage door, you probably won’t think about replacing it.
In most cases, the garage door openers provide the door’s dependable operation for 10 to 15 years, depending on its quality and how often you use the garage door. After that period, the first signs appear that it is time to replace the opener.
You should consider buying the new one since advanced openers provide superior safety features and make less noise.
Most garage door openers have a warranty of one to five years.
Signs Of Malfunctioning Garage Door Opener
Usually, the garage door opener will show some warning signs before it stops working completely.
So, you should disconnect it and switch to manual control as soon as you notice something unusual with the door.
Some of the indicators that the garage door opener doesn’t work well are:
- Unusual Noise
Motors lose power the older they are. If you hear clanging, creaking, or squeaking while operating the door. You should call an expert to check it out.
- Door Slow Movement
If it takes a longer time than usual to open the door. Something is wrong.
When the motor wears and tears, it starts to vibrate. At first, this is almost imperceptible. But the motor may loosen gradually and begin to free itself from mounting on the roof and end up in the roof of your car. Before that happens, you should avoid any damage by replacing the opener with a new one.
- The door won’t open
Can be many other reasons. But if you hear a humming noise and the motor tries unsuccessfully to open the door, the problem is in the opener. In most cases, it doesn’t have enough power left to open the garage door.
When it takes 2-10 minutes for your garage door to start opening or closing, even though you use it as always, the opener likely overheats. Once the door begins working properly only from time to time, it signifies the opener is failing.
Read more about common garage door and opener problems in here.
If you notice that the door is unbalanced or difficult to open, then the problem is in the torsion or extension springs. Or door tracks rather than in the opener. In that case, the door usually opens halfway since the damaged springs can’t lift it.
Can I Reuse the Garage Door Rail When Replacing the Opener?
Generally, no. you can’t reuse the rail. New openers often come with a new rail and other parts.
How Can I Make my Garage Door Opener Quieter?
- Replace chain drive opener with a belt, direct, or jackshaft opener.
- Replace your steel rollers with nylon ones.
- Replace your extension springs with torsion springs.
- Lubricate metal components. Only use lubricant intend to use on metal.
- Have an expert check the whole system.
Garage Door Opener Installation
If you like to DIY. You may find your own garage door opener easy to install. But consider the following.
- Having a buddy to help you can make the install go a lot quicker.
- Budget about 3 to 6 hours to do the project, especially if you’re also removing an old opener.
- Confirm that the garage door is balanced and opens and closes properly. Clean the tracks and lubricate with proper grease.
- If you’re installing a garage door opener for the first time, make sure that the opener will be located near an electrical outlet. If not, install an outlet or have one installed by an electrician.
How Long Does It Take to Install a Garage Door Opener?
About 3-6 hours. The half-day time estimate assumes that you have a suitable electrical outlet installed in the ceiling of your garage. Most openers need a grounded outlet within a couple of feet of the motor unit. You cannot connect the opener using an extension cord.
The Basic Steps
Here are the basic steps for installing a standard chain/belt-drive opener to give you a sense of what’s required:
- Take inventory. Don’t ignore the assembly instructions and sort all the parts before assembly. It’s a good idea to do so.
2. Assemble the rail. Rails come in pieces that slot together; assembly usually includes the trolley that connects to the door and moves along the rail.
3. Fasten the rail to the motor unit.
4. Install the chain/belt, including the idler pulley, on the track’s door end. Sometimes depending on the model, the chain/belt is only a little longer than the rail; it’s not continuous, like a bicycle chain. A cable completes the chain loop and passes over the idler pulley on its way back to the motor unit.
5. Install the header bracket support. This is a 2×4 or larger piece of lumber that anchors to the framing above the door and supports the track’s door end.
6. Hang the opener. The motor unit mounts to the garage ceiling with two or more pieces of angle iron. The rail mounts to the header bracket support via the header bracket.
7. Install the door bracket and arm. The arm is the L-shaped metal bar that attaches the door to the trolley on the rail.
8. Add the electronics, including the door button and safety sensors. The wiring is low-voltage and can be mounted to the walls and ceiling of the garage. Or get an electrician if you are unsure what to do.
9. Program the opener for proper door travel and check and test all safety systems work.
Tips for Installing a New Garage Door Opener
Tips can make the job more manageable and may reduce the time it takes to install your new garage door opener:
- Make sure the door is balanced before installing the opener. A balanced door will hold itself and won’t close if you open it about halfway and let go. A door that’s out of balance is tough on the opener and can be dangerous. Have your door balanced by an expert if needed.
- If you’re replacing an existing unit, leave it in place until you’re ready to mount the new opener. It will come in helpful as a visual reference for how everything fits together.
- Set the motor unit on a tall ladder or get a buddy to help. When it’s time to mount the unit to the ceiling, check the motor is in the desired position, then measure the angle for iron supports.
How Much Do Garage Door Openers Cost, and What About Installation or Repair Costs?
If you want the job done by professionals or DIY, Here is up-to-date info at Homeadvisor.com and Homeguide.com
Garage Door Opener Warranty
Warranties vary from the different brands of openers. Following is a list of what some of the brands offer.
|Chamberlain||3 years||Lifetime||1 year|
|Genie||1 to 5 years||5 to 7 years||Belt 15 years to lifetime|
Chain 5 years
|Skylink||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
|Decko||1 year||Lifetime||1 year||1 year|
|Liftmaster||5 to 10 years||5 to 10 years||5 to 10 years||5 to 10 years|
Garage Door Opener Safety and Security
If you have an older garage door opener (manufactured before Jan. 1, 1993), consider upgrading the device to benefit from safety features.
Modern openers generate electronic beams that extend across the garage door opening to provide entrapment prevention and protection. When a person, animal, or object breaks the beam, it triggers the safety mechanism, causing a closing door to reverse direction.
Garage door openers also feature a mechanism that reverses a closing door when the door contacts an obstacle. Follow the opener manufacturer’s instructions for testing the unit’s safety features.
Newer garage door openers can also improve security. Remotes send a unique code to activate the opener. Look for a rolling code feature to prevent code theft. Each time you open the door remotely, a new, random code is automatically generated. The garage door opener will accept the new code the next time you operate the remote.
Garage door openers with battery backup let you open and close the garage even if your home’s power goes out.
For safety, all garage door openers close doors at a slower 7-in. per second.
Garage Door Opener Manual Release
A manual release allows you to disengage the opener from inside the garage and raise or lower the door manually.
Since 1993, all garage door openers have been required to have a special reversing mechanism to prevent closure if a child, pet, or car is in the way.
Whatever option you go with, make sure your garage door is properly balanced at all times. No matter how powerful your opener is, an unbalanced door will be a problem and will wear your opener soon out.