It can be intimidating with so many kinds of garage door openers for sale these days. You may not have any idea of where to start. What separates most garage door openers is drive type. This refers to the belt, chain or other type of mechanism that lifts the garage door. In some cases the horsepower of the motor should also be a consideration, but that is mostly for commercial situations. Whether you need an opener for your home, or something more heavy duty, this guide will help you determine what kind of opener is best for you.
Chain Drive OpenersThe most popular type of garage door openers today are mostly chain drive. These types of openers use a chain and sprocket to move the garage door. Aside from being durable, chain drive openers can be very affordable. The trade off is that chain drives can be quite noisy.
- Heavy garage doors, wooden garage doors, and insulated garage doors are better off with chain drives due to the weight.
- Detached garages or garages located at the end of a house opposite the bedrooms are good candidates for chain drives for noise isolation purposes.
- Some higher end chain-drive openers have separators that keep the chain and track from contacting while in operation, cutting down on noise.
Screw Drive OpenersScrew drive openers use threaded screw-like rod to open and close the garage doors. This simplicity gives these openers much reliability.
- If you are worried about noise, keep in mind that screw-drive openers are average in the noise department.
- Despite being simple, with fewer parts, these types of openers require more maintenance than other openers. A drive section with plastic teeth contacts the “screw”, and this assembly needs lubrication every few months or so. Without proper maintenance, the screw can wear out and strip the plastic teeth rendering the garage door powerless.
- Screw drive garage door openers are better suited to lightweight doors due to the structural limitations of the plastic teeth in the assembly.
- If you are looking for speed, screw drive openers are some of the fastest openers available. Recent models can open between ten to twelve inches per second versus the normal six to eight inches per second of the other drive types.
Belt Drive OpenersThe name says it all, belt drive openers use a belt and cog to open and close garage doors. This is the quietest of all garage door openers.
- Keep in mind, if your garage door makes a lot of noise all on its own, then installing a quieter opener may be of no use
- AC current belt drive openers instantly are at full power when engaging or disengaging. This can cause the garage door to make jerking movements when starting or stopping, which leads to noise.
- DC current belt drive openers have the ability to start softly and stop softly. This results in noise reduction plus a reduction in wear.
Direct Drive Openers and Jackshaft OpenersTwo not so common types of openers that offer quite noise levels and great reliability.
- Jackshaft garage door openers are attached right on the front garage wall. These have no overhead mechanisms. This type of opener uses cables, pulleys, and a torsion bar to lower and lift the garage door. Some types of jackshaft garage door openers even have deadbolts that automatically lock with the door is closed for safety. Being one of the most compact and sophisticated systems today, these types of openers are also in the higher price range. Jackshaft openers also only with sectioned doors because of the cabling system used.
- Direct-Drive garage door openers are similar to the chain drive in that they also use an overhead rail and a chain. The difference is that the motor moves with the door along the track. The motor is connected to the door with a J arm. Eliminating the motion of the chain, this setup significantly reduces noise. Direct Drive openers are often extremely reliable because the only moving part is the motor itself. Often times they come with very long, even lifetime warranties. These types of openers are more expensive that belt drives.
Horse Power Ratings
Standard DoorsFor the standard garage door, ½ horsepower can sufficiently lift most types of garage doors. If your garage door is heavy, insulated, or wooden, you may consider upgrading in strength as the weight can take its toll on the motor.
Heavier Garage Doors¾ horsepower is the most popular option for the heavier garage doors out there. If you have a wooden or insulated overhead door, then this might be the choice for you. The increased rating on these motors not only increases the lifespan of the motor, but also lifts the door with less wear.
Commercial and Industrial Garage Doors1 horsepower garage door openers are the perfect match for even the heftiest of garage doors. This horsepower rating is overkill for the standard garage door. Not to mentioned the unnecessary strain on your wallet.
AC vs DC MotorsThe type of current should also be a consideration as well as the horsepower rating when choosing a garage door opener. DC (Direct Current) motors are the most popular option on belt drive openers. DC motors are usually cost more, but come with the soft start/stop perks.
- DC motors are compatible with battery backup options, keeping you operational incase of a blackout.