A Guide to Buying a Garage Door Opener

Your garage door opener is an important piece to your whole garage and how you use it. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right garage door opener for your home.

garage door opener

Types of Openers

Most standard garage door openers have similar designs.  A motor drives the carriage or trolley along a rail and as the trolley moves, it pulls the door open or pushes it shut.  The main difference between the various models of opener is the way in which the motor moves the trolley.

Chain-Drive openers use a metal chain to lower and raise the door. These systems are economical but also create more noise and vibration than other types of openers.  If the garage is not attached to the house, this may not be an issue for you.  If your garage is attached, or if it is near a bedroom, you may want to use a different, quieter type of openers.

Belt-Drive openers function like a chain-driven system but a belt moves the trolley instead of a chain.  The belt is quieter and smoother and is often a better choice for attached garages.  They also have fewer moving parts which makes them less likely to need maintenance.

 Screw-Drive openers use a threaded steel rod to move the lifting mechanism. As the rod is rotated, the trolley is moved along the track to raise or lower the door.  This type of opener is often less noisy than a chain-driven system and is also quieter.

Direct-Drive openers are also quiet.  The motor itself is the trolley and it moves along the track to lower and raise the door. This system has the advantage of being a single-part system which reduces noise, vibration and maintenance requirements.

Openers run on alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).  Both of these types are powered using a home power outlet, but DC-powered units convert Ac to DC.  The advantages of a DC motor include quieter operation, smaller size and softer stops and starts.  Additionally, some DC units also have battery backup which allows them to work when the power is out.


You can compare openers by looking at horsepower of HP.  Ratings for residential models range from ½ HP to 1 ½ HP.  If you have a sectional door in your garage, a ½ HP model should be fine but a more powerful model will likely protect the motor from wear and tear.

Larger or heavier doors will require higher a higher HP opener. Additionally, DC motors may use ratings like HPS ( horsepower similar) or HPc ( horsepower comparable) to compare power options.

Opener Features

Most standard openers share common features:

A manual release that allows you to disengage the opened from the inside manually.

Remotes, wall-mounts buttons and keypad to allow you to open and close the door. Rail segments that are sized for the average 7-foot garage door. A security light that is activated when the system is operated and that turns off after a set time period.

Additional perks:

Keychain remote that fits in a pocket. Built in Wi-Fi that allows you to control the door from anywhere using a mobile app. Home-automation system that allows you to open the door remotely. Smart-device compatibility which allows you to operate the door from a phone or mobile device.

Vehicle compatibility to allow you to operate the door from certain vehicles. Auto-close functionality which closes the door after a set period of time.

Locks that prevent remotes from opening the door. Soft start and stop motors that are quieter and reduce wear and tear on the opener. Battery backup for use during a power outage. Rail extensions to allow for an 8-foot door. Motion-sensing security light.

Often remotes, keypads and wall-mounted buttons can control more than one garage door.

Safety and Security

Garage doors older than manufacture date of Jan 1st, 1993 should be replaced.  Modern openers come with electronic beams that prevent entrapment and stop the door if it is going to hit something in its path.

If a person, animal or items breaks the beam, the door’s safety mechanism is triggered and the door reverses direction.  Newer openers also have built in security features.  Remotes have unique codes that are transmitted to activate the door.

Rolling code features prevents code theft and also make sure that your neighbor’s remote won’t open your door.  Every time that the door is opened remotely, a new random code is created.  The opener only accepts the code it has generated and will not work with any other device’s code.

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