Buy the Best Garage Door Opener With These 7 Tips

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Updated March 3, 2022
An open garage
Photo: ziss / Adobe Stock

The right garage door opener can make your life easier and improve home security

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If your garage door opener is struggling to lift the door or making too much noise, it may be time for an upgrade. Modern openers come in several designs with a wide variety of optional features to improve security and convenience. As you begin to look for your next garage door opener, keep these seven tips in mind.

1. Consider Buying From a Professional Garage Door Store

Businesses that specialize in garage doors often offer the best warranty coverage for both the product and its installation. You should also take time to find out which garage door opener brands and models are considered the most reliable from your reputable local garage door company. They may offer a better deal on their preferred models than you’ll find at other retailers.

2. Know How Much Power You Need for Your Garage Door

The design and weight of your garage door determine how much horsepower (HP) you need. Most garage door openers are rated one-half HP, and this is typically enough power to lift the average sectional two-car door. Heavier doors like single-section or wooden doors will require an opener with at least a three-fourths HP motor. Anything more powerful than that is likely an unnecessary expense.

3. Consider Noise Level and Cost When Choosing a Model

An automatic garage door opener
Photo: Kirill Gorlov / Adobe Stock

Most garage door openers have a trolly that connects to the garage door. The trolly is moved along by a motor to pull or push the door along a rail. The main difference between different models is the drive mechanism, or how the motor moves the trolly. Each type of drive system offers different benefits. These are the four types you’ll likely see as you shop around.

4 garage door opener options, including chain drive and screw drive

Chain Drive

This type of garage door opener uses a metal chain to raise or lower the door. It’s the most economical and dependable option, but also tends to rattle and generate the most noise and vibration. This may not concern those with detached garages, but if your garage sits under or next to a bedroom or living space, you may prefer a quieter option.

Belt Drive

These are similar to chain-drive openers, but with a belt instead of a chain. The result is quieter, smoother operation for those with living spaces near their garages. They also have fewer moving parts, making maintenance less of a hassle when you need to hire a local garage door opener repair service. The only drawback is a higher cost compared to chain-drive models.

Direct Drive

Another quiet, low-maintenance option, direct-drive openers function very differently from other drive systems. In these models, the motor is the trolley, attaching to the door and carrying the door along the track with it. These save space but are less readily available than other types.

Screw Drive

Instead of a chain or belt, the motor in these systems turns a large rod that screws into a coupling on the garage door. As the screw turns, it winds the door along the track. They are exceptionally quiet and mechanically dependable, but also the most expensive compared to the cost of other garage door openers.

4. Choose a One-Piece Rail

An open garage door
Photo: Allison / Adobe Stock

The rail, or track, of an automatic garage door opener allows the trolly to travel back and forth and open the door. It’s installed across the ceiling from the door to the operator. Some tracks come in several attachable pieces, but these tend to be flimsy. A good garage door opener features a sturdy track made from a single solid piece that can support your door.

5. Look for Modern Security Features

While all garage door openers are required to have sensors to prevent doors from closing on obstacles or moving people and animals, there are a variety of optional features to make your life easier and your home more secure. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Wi-Fi and smart device compatibility allows you to open, close, and monitor the status of your door from anywhere using a mobile app.

  • Vehicle compatibility lets you operate your opener using controls built into your car.

  • Auto-close functionality will automatically lower your door after a pre-programmed amount of time, just in case you leave it open accidentally.

  • Battery backup for operation in the event of a power outage.

Motion-sensing lights so you won’t have to fumble in the dark to find the light switch or accidentally leave the lights on when you leave.

6. Have a Place to Plug Your New Garage Door Opener In

A garage door opener will require an electrical outlet in the ceiling. If your garage doesn’t have this setup, you may need to hire a licensed local electrician to install one. You should not use an extension cord to plug in your opener, as this can create a fire hazard and violates most local building codes.

7. Find a Licensed Pro for Garage Door Opener Installation

Even with the proper tools, it can take the average homeowner an entire day to install a garage door opener as a DIY project. Alternatively, you can hire a garage door opener installer near you to get the job done for you in about an hour. When hiring a garage door contractor, read reviews and make sure whoever you hire is licensed and insured to cover possible damages.

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