Ultimate Guide to Buying the Best Garage Door Opener
The garage door opener is one of those things that we don’t really think about unless it exhibits problems such as being too loud, or not opening or closing. After all, no one complements us by saying: “wow, you have a good garage door opener!” But to say that we can’t live without it would be too much.
We may not give a garage door opener a second look unless it is broken or causing numerous troubles but this doesn’t mean that it is useless. In fact, one can argue that the garage door opener is one of the most vital parts of the garage given the various benefits of having one such.
It secures your home
With motorized garage door openers, it would be very difficult for robbers to enter your home through the garage. It is unlike a manual garage door which is too easy for burglars to break in and gain unlawful entry into your home.
In 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that 60.5 percent of burglaries in the United States were forcible entries. If your garage door is the manual type, then it would be very easy for burglars to enter your home, steal your things and worst, harm you and your family members.
It is a lot more convenient to open and close the garage door
Having a garage door opener provides us with a lot of convenience. There’s no need to get out of your car, lift up the door, then go back to your vehicle and drive out of your garage. Worse, you also have to go back to your garage to close the door.This convenience is also very critical if you’re running late. Imagine how many minutes you can save if you have a garage door opener.
It won’t break the bank
One of the reasons why some people don’t install a garage door opener is that they believe it is very expensive. The truth is that you won’t have to break the bank, so to speak, in acquiring a garage door opener.
Prices of garage door openers differ depending on types. The cheapest are the screw drive type garage door openers. The chain drive type costs slightly more, while the belt type can cost you quite a bit more money.
And you don’t really need to be an expert DIYer to be able to install the garage door opener. You will need some basic carpentry skills and standard household tools like level, screwdriver, hammer, wrench, hack saw, pliers, tape measure, and wire stripper to be able to install the garage door opener. Depending on your skills, you could spend six to eight hours to complete the DIY installation.
But what if you have no carpentry skill or knowledge whatsoever, or you are nervous about the electrical process? You can have a professional install the garage door opener. Once it is installed, the garage door opener will fade into the background of your life, giving you security and convenience for many years.
There are three types of garage door openers—chain drive, screw drive, and belt drive. Each has its own pros and cons.
- Chain drive – This is the most common garage door opener. It is also the least expensive. While cheap, it can be very noisy. You will also have to conduct maintenance once in a while, like oiling the chain or tightening it once a year as the chain has the tendency to stretch over time. But if you aren’t bothered by the noise, this is the most practical option.
- Screw drive – This type lifts the garage door with a threaded steel rod. Compared to the chain drive-type of garage door, it is fairly quiet. That’s because it has plastic lined tracks that reduce the noise. It requires very minimal maintenance because it has very few moving parts. It is best employed for heavy double doors.
- Belt drive – When it comes to noise level, the belt drive units are the quietest. Like the screw drive, it also has very few moving parts so maintenance won’t also be a concern. But the major downside is that it is very expensive.
Things to Consider in Buying a Garage Door Opener
While it can be tempting to buy the cheapest you can find at a home improvement store, there are a lot of factors that you may want to consider in choosing a garage door opener.
Simply put, not all garage door openers can lift a heavy garage door. Heavy doors like carriage doors may be too much for certain garage door openers. Thus you need to think whether or not the garage door opener is powerful enough to lift your garage doors.
Garage door openers usually come with three main sizes of power capacity. There’s 1/3 horsepower, a ½ horsepower and then ¾ horsepower. A single door would be easy pickings for a 1/3 horsepower garage door opener.
But the latter may not be able to lift a standard, two-car garage door. For carriage doors and other heavy garage doors, the ¾ horsepower model is the best choice.
The advantage of using a powerful garage door opener is that it can lift garage doors with minimal strain. This can also have an impact on the long-term durability of the garage door opener. The rule of thumb is that when in doubt of the weight of your garage door, pick the most powerful garage door opener. The price difference between ¾ and ½ horsepower isn’t really that significant.
The standard door garage has a height of 7 feet. The standard garage door opener can accommodate doors that are up to 7 feet, six inches tall. But if you have taller doors, you may have to buy an extension kit.
Safety and security features
All garage door openers have a safety mechanism the stops and reverses a closing door whenever there is an object or person passing beneath it. This prevents doors from crushing objects in its paths, like pets, children and cars.
You should also look for a garage door opener with a rolling code feature. This has become quite a standard feature among garage door openers, making it doubly harder for burglars to access the code and open the garage doors.
The average speed of the garage door opener in lifting a garage door is about 7 inches per second. There are units, however, that can lift faster than that. Of course, the faster that the garage door opener can lift the door, the more expensive it becomes.
Most of the time, the garage door opener also functions as the primary source of light in the garage. Most garage door openers can handle two 60-watt bulbs but you can also opt for one that can have a couple of 100-watt bulbs.
Battery back up
Unfortunately, this is not a standard feature in garage door openers. It is available only on certain models. This feature is useful when electrical power is knocked up as there is a backup power that kicks in and lets you use the garage door opener.
This is a handy feature that you would appreciate as you can go inside the garage without having a key or when you lock yourself out of the garage. The keyless entry pad is mounted outside the garage door, and you will have to key in the proper door to open the door. More modern units can be activated through fingerprint scanning.
Garage door openers can be installed professionally or by DIYers. Those which are designed for DIY installation can fit easily in a car. On the other hand, models for professional installation are often in a one-piece rail that is usually transported in a truck.
Warranties will differ from model to model. There are some garage door openers that come with a lifetime warranty. Others have 10-year warranty. But components like belts and chains are usually covered by shorter warranties.
Other advanced features
Uncertain if you had left home without closing your garage door? There are garage door openers that you can control with your smartphone app, letting you check whether you have closed the door or not. Others also have a timer-to-close feature, which automatically closes the garage door according to the timer you set.
Top Five Garage Door Openers
Chamberlain is perhaps the most popular and reputable garage door opener maker in the world.
While the PD220 is an entry level garage door opener, make no mistake about it—this is one of the best in terms of features, performance, and value for money.
Yes, it is a chain drive which makes it noisier than other garage door opener types. But most of those who use it say that the noise is actually bearable. If you can ignore the noise, you will find out that this is one smart and functional garage door opener.
In terms of security, this unit features a rolling code meaning the code changes every time you press the remote. This makes it very impossible for burglars to break in. Moreover, it has a PosiLock system. The only way for the door to be opened is with the use of heavy duty equipment.
The only real disappointment with this unit is the poor instructions that come with the package. You will have to check out some YouTube videos to understand how to install the door opener. Other than that, the Chamberlain PD220 is a very good garage door opener.
This is another chain drive model that will surprise you for not being overly noisy.
Although there’s no denying that it generates more noise than belt or direct versions, you would not really be bothered by the noise it makes.
It’s similar to the Chamberlain unit in a way, as it is also a ½ horsepower model and also of a chain drive type. But Genie says its in-line chain requires no maintenance, too.
Like the Chamberlain PD210D, this garage door opener from Genie has lights and control unit mounted on the wall. But unlike its competitor, there are two three-button remotes that you can clip on the visor of your car.
Genie’s unit also has a similar rolling code system just like that of the Chamberlain PD210D. Genie, however, calls the said system “Intelicode.”
The difference in name doesn’t mean a lot though, as the feature does the same to what the rolling code system does to the Chamberlain garage door opener. And that is to prevent burglars from hacking into the system by refreshing the code of the opening mechanism.
This unit comes with a limited, five-year warranty on the motor and 1-year warranty on parts. It’s almost about the same price as that of the Chamberlain unit.
Many consumers say that installing the unit is quick and hassle free. Trouble is, the Genie has a limited remote range. Other than that con, there’s really nothing to hate about the Genie 1022-TH.
Decko isn’t as popular as Chamberlain but it doesn’t mean it is not capable of producing high quality garage door openers.
The 24300, ¾ horsepower garage door opener is a perfect example.
In case you have a heavy garage door and you’re worried that a ½ horsepower garage door opener won’t be able to lift it, this unit from Decko is one model you should consider getting.
Heavier doors also usually mean taller than the 7 feet standard, so this one comes with an extension for garage doors that are up to 8 feet tall. Heavy doors mean here up to 500 pounds.
The design of the Decko 24300 is impressive. In fact, many owners liken the design to Storm Trooper of Star Wars fame thanks to its white and black color scheme.
Aside from the main unit and rail assembly, included in the package are a couple of three-button remotes, wall panel, and wireless keypad.
It can accommodate 200 watts of lighting, and has a lifetime warranty on its motor. That’s a great deal considering the ½ horsepower model only comes with a three year warranty, so you might as well opt for this one.
While it has its advantages, the Decko 24300 isn’t that perfect. One glaring weakness of this unit is that it doesn’t have a smartphone app, unlike the Chamberlain PD210D.
It’s quite disappointing that since the Decko 24300 and Chamberlain PD210 are almost of the same price range, the former doesn’t have smart Internet features.
Another disappointment is that there is no manual in the package, so you need to download the manual from Decko’s website. Moreover, the fragile cover for the lights is also another downer.
But if you’re looking for a good quality door opener for your heavy garage doors, this Decko unit may just be what you need.
Chamberlain makes it again to this list, this time with a belt drive garage door opener.
Because of the nature of this garage door opener, you can expect to be a lot quieter than the PD220 mentioned earlier in this list.
Aside from being less noisy than the PD220, this Chamberlain unit is definitely zero-maintenance. The company also offers a lifetime warranty on this garage door opener. Because of its ¾ horsepower capacity, this garage door opener is very much capable of lifting heavy doors.
This model has two three-button remotes plus an external wireless keypad. But what sets this unit apart from the competition is its door and light automation features. There’s a sensor that activates lighting whenever it detects motion. It’s a very smart feature that you will appreciate.
Another smart feature is the close timer, which lets you set a time (one, five or 10 minutes) for the garage door to close. It’s something that you will thank for in case you forget to close the door because you need to speed off in order to catch an urgent meeting. The door automatically closes thanks to this smart feature.
And unlike the other Chamberlain model, this one is equipped with the brand’s MyQ Home Activation technology. Said feature lets you operate the garage door opener using a smartphone app. You can check whether you have closed the garage door, or close it altogether.
Similar to its cousin, this Chamberlain garage door opener has the rolling code feature that prevents burglars from breaking. Yet it also has a safety feature that reverses and stops the door from closing when it detects any type of physical contact.
If your garage is near your room and you’re bothered by the noise that garage door openers make, then this is the garage door opener you need. It boasts of a ¾ horsepower which makes it capable of lifting industrial-type of garage doors.
But what is more impressive is that it is very quiet, that you won’t have to be bothered anymore by the noise of the garage door.
The garage door opener also has an extension kit for garage doors that are up to 8 feet tall. In terms of weight, this unit can lift a mind-boggling 550 pounds.
The direct drive design also features just one moving part. This means that maintenance won’t be a problem, unlike in other garage door opener types.
This unit also has two remote controls and a wall panel for closing and opening the doors, as well as operating the lights. The controls are very similar to those of the Genie garage door opener.
The major complaint that users have with this garage door opener is that it isn’t the fastest when it comes to opening the doors. The rate by which it lifts the garage door will test your patience, to say the least. It is also quite expensive, although that is expected because of the capacity of this garage opener.
A garage door opener may seem like an impractical addition to your garage at first, but you must consider the convenience and peace of mind it affords you. Those are two good reasons enough to buy a garage door opener and ditch your old, manual garage door.
With a garage door opener, you no longer have to worry about burglars potentially breaking into your house through the garage.
You don’t have to go down your car, open the garage door, go back to your vehicle and then go down again to close the doors. It’s very convenient, to say the least.
With the numerous garage door openers in the market today, you have lots of options to choose from. You can settle for a chain drive garage door opener if you have a limited budget, but if you’re concerned about the noise, you can buy a belt drive or screw drive system.
Lastly, before buying a garage door opener you, make sure you know the specs of your garage door so that the unit will be able to lift it!