A Guide to Garage Door Openers

Types of Garage Door Openers and What to Look For When Buying One

By Mark J. Donovan

Almost no one today who has a garage manually rolls up the garage door by hand. And any prospective homeowner will look askance if the garage doesn’t include garage door openers. So regardless of how old your home is, or how big and heavy your garage doors are, if the garage doors do not include garage door openers it’s time to install them.

It only takes 4 or so hours to install a garage door opener and even a neophyte DIY homeowner can install one. There are three major garage door opener types to choose from.

Summarized below are the key features of each garage door opener type.

Chain Driven Garage Door Opener

The chain driven garage door opener is one of the most popular garage door openers sold today. It is extremely rugged and can support light to heavy weight doors, depending upon its construction and the size motor associated with it. Speaking of motors, garage door openers come in various motor sizes based on a horsepower rating. The larger the horsepower rating the stronger the garage door opener is.

I recommend going with a ¾ horsepower motor. There are lower horsepower motors, but they tend to wear out faster and often don’t have the power to lift heavier doors, at least not for the long run.

A chain driven garage door opener operates by a chain rotating on a sprocket at the motor end, and a pulley on the far end. An arm attaches to the chain and the garage door to open or close it when the garage door opener is activated. Chain driven garage door openers tend to be a bit noisy so they are not the best for garages located under finished rooms, particularly bedrooms.

Belt Driven Garage Door Opener

For a quieter garage door opener the belt driven garage door opener is just the ticket. Instead of a chain it uses a belt to open and close the garage door.

The only issue with belt driven garage door openers is that they tend to wear out more quickly and do not have the same power as a chain driven garage door opener.

Screw Driven Garage Door Opener

Your other option when it comes to choosing a garage door opener is the screw driven type. A screw driven garage door opener, as the name suggests has a screw type assembly with a lifting arm attached to it. The screw assembly threads along a long steel arm that is attached above the garage door and to the motor assembly unit.

As the screw slides backwards and forwards the garage door opens and closes. The screw driven garage door opener, like the chain style one, can lift heavier garage doors. It’s also a bit quieter than the chain driven garage door opener.

Garage Door Opener Maintenance

Periodically the garage door opener should be inspected for loose brackets or bolts. In addition, if the chain or belt is sagging it should be adjusted properly. In addition, their safety features should be checked for proper operation.

 Garage Door Opener

This includes their contact and non-contact reverse back safety features, as well as their manual safety cord release mechanism. Finally make sure chain and sprocket assemblies are lubricated. This will help on noise reduction.

Finally, when shopping for a garage door opener select one that has features which include built in timer safety / security lights, 2 or 3 remote hand control units, a wall operator button, and an external garage door wall mounted security operator button.

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