Choosing a Garage Door Opener...

Deciding to get an automatic garage door opener is a no-brainer, but deciding what type to get deserves at least a few minutes of research. So, there are basically 4 types of residential openers:

Chain-drive, screw-drive (also known as direct-drive), belt-drive, and the torsion system.

Let’s begin with the chain-drive opener. Chain-drives use a motor driven chain to open and close the door. These are the most popular types of residential garage door openers. They are typically the least expensive, and they are generally reliable. The downside of the chain-drive openers is that they’re noisy, and the chain needs periodic lubrication and possible adjustment as it can become loose over time.

Now let’s have a look at the screw-drive garage door opener. Screw-drives rely on a long threaded bar that spins either direction to open and close the door. These may typically be a little bit slower than the other types of openers. Some models are just as noisy as chain drives, where other models have noise-reducing parts included into the design. Screw-drive openers are known for their outstanding dependability and durability. They don’t have any gears or chains that can wear out over time. They are generally priced higher than chain-driven openers.

Next is the belt-drive opener. Belt-drives use a rubber belt to open and close the door. The main advantage of belt-drive openers is that they’re extremely quiet compared to chain and screw drives. They’re perfect if a bedroom or living room is above or adjacent to your garage. The downside of belt-drive openers is that they’re typically priced higher than screw and chain drives and the belt may break and need to be replaced over time.

Finally, we’ve come to the torsion system opener. This type of opener is totally different than the chain, screw, or belt types. Instead of mounting on the ceiling, this system mounts on the wall above the garage door. It doesn’t require a track from the motor to the door like all other types of openers, so it frees up valuable ceiling space. It can be used if you have torsion springs that are coiled around the shaft above your door. This garage door opener is arguably the smoothest and quietest of all openers, but it is typically the most expensive as well. So, now that we’ve seen the different types of garage door openers, let’s have a look at some of the things worth considering before making that final decision:

How much horse power do you need?

Most openers are either 1/3 or 1/2 horse power. 1/3 is generally for one car doors that are lightweight. 1/2 is typically for two-car doors that are much heavier than a single door. Also available on newer models is a 3/4 horse power motor. These are good for two-car doors that are made from heavy wood or steel construction.

Do you have any living spaces above or adjacent to your garage?

As we discussed earlier, the torsion and belt-drive openers are the quietest, whereas the chain and screw openers are the noisiest. If noise and vibration isn’t a concern, then a chain or screw drive may be the better choice for you because it’ll save you some money.

Do you care how fast your garage door will open and close?

Most people don’t, but if you do, some of the newer models open and close at 14 inches per second, which is twice as fast as the industry standard 7 inches per second.

Safety is always an important consideration.

Any residential garage door opener you purchase should include automatic reversing and an invisible trip beam. The automatic reversing is usually an adjustable torque setting that protects people and objects from being crushed by the closing door. The trip beam runs across the bottom of the door opening and when someone or something blocks the beam, the door automatically opens.

What kind of accessories do you want?

There are all kinds of available accessories you can get for your opener. Rolling remote codes are highly recommended. This is a technology that changes your opener code each time you use your remote. It keeps thieves from being able to intercept your code. Most manufacturers offer it. Keyless entry is another option to consider. This is where you can have a keypad on the outside of your garage door. Just enter your programmed code to open or close the door. This comes in handy when you go for a jog or a bike ride and you don’t want to carry a remote with you. You can get a keyless entry unit in both hard-wired and wireless formats.

Something else to think about is battery backup for your automatic garage door opener. If your home loses power (usually during a heavy rain or snow storm), your garage door won’t open, and you’ll have to open it manually from the inside unless you have a battery back up. Some manufacturers offer battery backups that last for 20 hours, and you can get others from after-market distributors as well.

Another after market item you should consider is an automatic garage door closer. This is the only solution to the problem of forgetting to close your garage door. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just left for work in the morning, or you just got home late at night, or whenever. An automatic garage door closer will close your garage door when you forget. I have one and I highly recommend it.

If you don’t really want a closer (which you should get), then maybe a garage door monitor is for you. Monitors use led lights to let you know if your garage door is open or closed. The nice thing is that you can place the monitor in any room of your house, or move it from room to room as you wish.

No matter which type of garage door opener you decide on, or which options you choose, you can always get help and free advice from your local home improvement center as well as the manufacturer. Always make sure to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s installation and instruction manuals before installing and operating any type of garage door opener.

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