Garage door openers are electronic devices that automatically open and close your garage door. Switches on your garage wall control the door opener and most also come with a remote that can close and open the garage door from a short distance away.
What to Consider When Choosing a Garage Door Opener
Picking a garage door opener isn’t as easy as just grabbing the cheapest off the shelf. There are a number of things that you need to consider before making a purchase.
- Your garage door size and weight. This is important to consider when deciding on what type of garage opener to purchase. For example, if your garage door is large and heavy, a screw drive would not be the best choice, but a chain drive could work. If your garage door is taller than average, you might need to get an extension kit in order for it to function properly.
- Type of material used for your garage door. Garage doors can be made from various materials such as PVC overlay, aluminum, fiberglass, steel, and wood.
- Horsepower. You should purchase an opener with a garage door motor with a horsepower rating between ½ to 1 ½. For a sectional two-car garage door, a ½ horsepower motor will be enough. Heavier doors or one-piece doors will need more horsepower.
- Type of power used. Electronic garage door openers run on either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) power.
- Noise. If you're sensitive to noise, purchase a belt or screw drive which is quieter than the other types of garage openers.
- Safety. When purchasing a garage opener, buy one that has safety features such as automatic reversing action sensors, infrared beams, and rolling codes.
- Budget. This is the most crucial factor when making your decision. If you can afford to splurge, go for the belt drive. If you're looking for a less costly garage opener, the chain drive would be your best bet.
Now that you understand the qualities you may need in a garage door opener, let’s take a look at the 7 different types of garage door openers.
Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
This is the most common garage door opener because it fits almost all widths and heights of garage doors. It is the most affordable type and uses a chain to move the garage door on the track.
Best used for/when: Insulated, wooden, or any heavier door suits this type of opener.
Price range: $130 to $200
- Durable and strong
- Not suited for garages located below living areas
- Needs more upkeep than other types of garage openers
Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
Belt drive openers are like chain drive openers, except instead of a chain, it uses a rubber belt to move the door.
Best used for/when: This is for both light and heavy doors. It can also be for both multi-panel and one-piece doors.
Price range: $170 to $350
- The quietest type of garage opener and has less vibration compared to other door openers
- More expensive than a chain drive opener
- Requires more maintenance than other types
- The belt has a propensity to slip during humid and warmer temperatures
- Has a shorter life span compared to other types
Screw Drive Garage Door Openers
Screw-driven garage door openers have a threaded metal rod that works like a screw when it opens and closes the door.
Best used for/when: You need a quiet door that isn’t going to break the bank.
Price range: $150 to $200
- Moderately priced compared to other types of garage openers
- Have fewer moving parts compared to other types so it minimizes the risk of it breaking down
- Quieter than chain drive openers
- You must ensure all parts are lubricated properly
- You may experience issues with the device when temperatures fluctuate
- Not suited for heavier, one-piece doors
- Noisier than belt drive openers
Jackshaft Garage Door Openers
The jackshaft type of garage door opener is mounted on the wall at either end of the torsion bar. This type is the least common type of garage door opener used. It usually uses automatic deadbolts and has a computerized system.
Best used for/when: Jackshaft garage door openers are best for garages with angled, high, or low ceilings or when you want some storage space above your garage door. They are for both residential and commercial use and best for standard sectional doors.
Price range: $550 to $640
- Maximizes storage space
- Relatively quiet
- Increased safety features and also has customizable features
- More expensive compared to other garage door opener types
- Can only be used on sectional doors
Direct Drive Openers
The direct-drive opener uses a gear wheel to move the trolley on a fixed chain. The motor is inside the trolley.
Best used for/when: Taller garage doors
Price range: $300 to $500
- Comes with lifetime warranties
- Relatively more expensive than most garage openers
- Not as popular as other types of garage openers, so it may be a little more challenging to find
Also known as trolley openers, this is one of the most popular door openers in the market. These usually have chain drive or belt drive rails. The sub-types of drawbar openers are belt drive and chain drive openers covered above.
Best used for/when: These are compatible with almost all residential garage doors that use torsion or extension springs.
Price range: $130 to $350
- Requires more maintenance compared to other garage door openers
Hoist openers operate the same way as jackshaft openers. These have a chain hoist that you can use when there is a power outage.
Best used for/when: These are best for huge overhead doors or rolling steel curtain-style doors.
Price range: $1,400 to $1,500
- Heavy duty
- Still functional even during power outages
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Garage Openers
Before purchasing a garage door opener, let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of having one installed in your home. By weighing the pros and cons, you can figure out if this will be the right purchase for you.
Here are the main advantages of having a garage door opener:
- It is safer than a manual garage door. Because the garage door opener is controlled by a switch on your wall or by a remote, you won't need to pull or drag the door to open or close it. There is also a way to lock and unlock the door manually. The manual lock comes in handy when the power's out, the door needs to be serviced, or for security reasons.
- It is more convenient than a manual garage door. Because the door is controlled by a remote, you don't need to get out of your car when you come up your driveway to park your vehicle. The door can be opened automatically with the wall switch or the remote that you will likely keep in your car.
- A variety of designs are available. Automatic garage doors can be in many styles or made from several different materials. They can be made of long steel or raised panels. Plus, they can be made from wood, aluminum, steel, fiberglass, or wood composite. You can pick whatever suits the exterior of your home the best.
- Various speed options. You can choose many speed options from which you can close or open your garage door.
- Provides more security than a manual garage door. Because you need a remote to open the automatic door from the outside, it makes it harder to gain access into your garage without it. Having an automatic garage door opener can be a deterrent for thieves.
And here are the things to keep in mind before installing a garage door opener:
- Openers are more complicated to maintain than manual doors. An automatic garage door has a motor and other parts that require maintenance to make it last.
- Openers are more complex to install than manual doors. You will need the help of a professional to install a garage door opener because there are many parts that need to be put together.
- Garage openers run on power. The garage door opener runs on electricity and battery power, so when there is a blackout or your remote runs out of batteries, you will have to open the door manually.
Other Garage Door Opener Features
Other features for garage door openers for your convenience are also available and should be considered before purchasing one:
- Door reversal
- Internet connectivity
- Entrapment sensors
- Battery backup
- Smart home connections
- Rolling code security technology
- Touchpads or keypads for remote entry
- Overhead lights
Before We Close the Door on This…
The garage door is one of the entry points to your home. Serious consideration must be given to how it can safeguard your property and at the same time conveniently provide you and your family access.
Discuss with a professional about your available options, and make sure you hire one to install your garage opener. These professionals have the tools and know-how to help you choose the suitable garage opener for you and install it.