Garage door openers are often overlooked since there’s a good chance your home likely came with one pre-installed. But if you’re shopping for a new garage door opener, the process isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Modern systems have a plethora of features and add-ons, and there are now numerous types of garage door openers available in a wide range of prices. Overall, garage door openers aren’t too expensive, but you’ll want to make sure you choose one that will last many years.
Although there are a few different types of openers, their core functionality is the same. Every unit features a motor that moves a trolley that is connected to the door. When the trolley is engaged, it moves the garage door up or down and the main difference between the types is the driving utility.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the different types of garage door openers, features to look for, and how to choose the right one.
For more information on the best garage door openers, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Chamberlain Smartphone-Controlled Garage Door Opener (B970)
- 2. Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener (1042V001)
- 3. Liftmaster 8500 Wall Mount Garage Door Opener
- 4. Genie SilentMax 1200 Garage Door Opener
- 5. Decko Garage Door Opener (24300/24503)
- Different Types of Garage Door Openers
- What to Look for When Shopping for a Garage Door Opener
- Do I need to Hire a Professional to Install my Garage Door Opener?
1. Editor's Pick: Chamberlain Smartphone-Controlled Garage Door Opener (B970)
This isn’t the same garage door opener you grew up with in your parents’ home. Today’s world is all about connected devices and now you can get yourself a garage door opener that can be controlled from your smartphone. This smart garage door opener features built-in myQ technology, allowing you to open, close, and check the status of your garage door opener from the myQ app on your device. No more wondering whether or not you closed your garage door, because now there’s an app for that.
It’s an ultra-quiet opener too, using a steel-reinforced belt drive and constructed with quality materials to last years. This system is powered by Chamberlain’s Max Lift Power System that delivers lifting force equivalent to 1-1/4 hp. You’ll also get a pair of 3-button remotes that use exclusive TriBand technology to boast a range up to 1,500 feet.
As you expect from a high-tech garage door opener, this recommendation comes with a pair of safety sensors and a motion detecting control panel. The panel allows easy programming of remote controls, keypads, and myQ lighting accessories. As its name suggests, it’ll automatically turn on your garage lights when motion is detected. A wireless keypad is also included with Posilock anti-theft protection. And since it’s wireless, you won’t need to worry about running any electrical connections to the side of the garage opening.
Along with all these features, you can also link the garage door opener to popular apps such as Google Assistant, Key by Amazon, IFTTT, and Wink. All of these are designed to connect your smart home together, such as using Wink to program your house lights to turn on once the garage door is opened. Key by Amazon allows select customers to opt-in for secure in-garage delivery for their packages.
So if you’re looking to bring your garage door opener to the modern era, look no further. Just keep in mind there’s a lot more to setup here, but it’s worth the effort.
2. Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener (1042V001)
The Direct Drive garage door opener from Sommer is an extremely quiet unit that is said to have virtually no vibrations. It’s a 3/4-hp opener with strong traveling motor technology and only one moving part, unlike conventional door openers that use a noisy chain, belt, or screw. Instead, the motor glides silently along the chain that is embedded in a sturdy steel rail, resulting in smooth operation with soft start and stop technology.
This opener is made in Germany and is said to be the only one of its kind to offer Europe’s leading innovative technology. The kit includes rail for a door height of seven to eight feet and it comes with a lifetime warranty. Sommer says it has been cycle tested up to 100,000 times by an independent test institute.
Each kit includes a pair of two-button transmitters and one interior wall station. The transmitters use secure rolling code technology at 310 MHz. It is HomeLink compatible, so you can take advantage of the built-in garage remote in your vehicle.
Like most modern garage door openers, the Direct Drive also comes with a safety beam sensor that sends an invisible beam across the garage door opening, automatically reversing the door if anything interrupts the beam while the door is closing.
3. Liftmaster 8500 Wall Mount Garage Door Opener
Powered by a 24-volt DC motor, the Liftmaster 8500 is a wall mount unit designed to save space so you have room overhead in your garage. That means this opener doesn’t require rails to hang and is an ideal option if you have a car lift in your garage, or maybe you need the additional space for a motor home or lifted truck. It provides quiet, reliable operation and variable speed smooth start and smooth stop.
This system also comes equipped with an auto-force feature that constantly monitors the garage door system, adjusting forces for temperature fluctuations, floor height, and door track movement. There is also an enclosed gear case to provide continuous lubrication and protection for long-lasting life and smooth operation. The Protector System uses an invisible light beam across the garage door opening, and automatically reverses the door if anything interrupts the beam while the door is going down. In addition, the opener light will automatically turn on when the Protector System’s infrared beam is broken.
This Smart Garage Door Opener will allow you to electronically program security codes from the included MyQ Control Panel or the powerhead. It has an attached six-foot power cord and comes with a power deadbolt lock for additional security. For lighting, the included remote light kit can be mounted anywhere in the garage and delivers up to 200 watts of light with adjustable light time delay.
The Liftmaster 8500 wall mount garage door opener isn’t compatible with roll up doors, low headroom track. In order to use this system, you must have a sectional garage door with a front mount torsion spring with one-inch shaft. It will handle a door up to 180 square feet in size, 14-feet tall, and up to 650-pound maximum weight.
Each package includes one 893MAX three-button remote control, one MyQ Control Panel, one Remote Light, a power door lock, safety sensors, and a cable tension monitor. The Liftmaster 8500 comes with a lifetime motor warranty and five-year parts warranty.
4. Genie SilentMax 1200 Garage Door Opener
Genie is another brand with a wide assortment of garage door openers, with the SilentMax 1200 being one of its most popular. It’s an ideal option if your garage is attached to your home, powered by a 140-volt DC motor that is lighter in weight while providing ultra quiet and smooth operation thanks to a soft start and stop feature. The opener is powerful enough for almost any residential garage door, up to seven feet in height, or eight feet with an extension kit that is sold separately.
This opener uses the Safe-T-Beam system to help prevent accidents, with an invisible infrared beam across the door opening. If an object crosses the beam of light while the door is closing, it will reverse automatically. Genie says the beams are enhanced with diagnostic technology so it can alert you if a malfunction occurs. The system also incorporates a two-bulb lighting system, with space for a pair of 100-watt bulbs, which are sold separately. Taking advantage of the lighting, there is also a built-in motion detector that will automatically turn on the overhead lights for added convenience and security.
The SilentMax 1200 uses Intellicode Security technology to help prevent unauthorized access to your garage. Intellicode is a rolling code technology that automatically changes the access code on each door activation.
This opener comes with a limited lifetime motor and gearbox warranty and each kit includes a pair of pre-programmed three-button remotes, a wireless keypass keypad, and a multi-function wall console with vacation lock and light control button.
5. Decko Garage Door Opener (24300/24503)
Two affordable options come from Decko, which offers a 3/4-hp heavy duty opener that can be either chain or belt driven. The motor is designed for quiet and reliable operation and allows you to adjust travel limits and force with a push of a button. The opener includes an auto-reverse safety system with optical sensors, while non-polarized wired connections makes installing this kit more straightforward. Just like most modern garage openers, the auto-reverse system will stop the door from closing if an object interferes with an invisible beam.
Designed to handle extreme cold and heat, the Decko garage door opener is manufactured with a 20-point inspection quality control procedure, comes with a lifetime limited motor warranty and a one-year warranty on the parts. The package also includes a lighting system that accommodates two bulbs up to 100 watts per piece.
This opener will handle sectional garage doors up to seven-feet tall and 18-feet wide and includes an eight-foot extension to accommodate larger doors. Each kit comes with a pair of three-button remote controls, a three-function wall panel, and optical safety sensors. The Decko garage door opener is HomeLink compatible.
Different Types of Garage Door Openers
When shopping for a garage door opener, you will likely run into four common types: chain drive, belt drive, screw drive, and direct drive. You’ll want to know the differences between the four, as their prices and features differ.
Chain drive openers feature a metal chain that engages the trolley to open and close the garage door. These openers are generally the most affordable, but they are noisy due to the moving chain. They’re most ideal for detached garages or if you’re not sensitive to noise. Avoid this type of opener if you live directly above your garage door.
Belt-driven garage openers uses a rubber belt instead of a chain to drive the trolley. Since the trolley is moving over rubber instead of a metal chain, these door openers are smoother and quieter, resulting in less vibrations. There are also less moving parts, so these systems generally require less maintenance than chain openers.
Screw drive openers are similar to belt drive openers in that there are less moving parts and they’re quieter than chain openers. Screw-driven openers use a threaded steel rod to move the trolley, which lifts and lowers as the rod rotates. These openers also require less maintenance compared to chain openers and are ideal for attached garages since there’s less vibration and noise.
The fourth type of common garage door opener is a direct drive opener, which doesn’t use a belt, chain, or a threaded piece to operate. These are the least complex openers since the motor itself moves the trolley.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Garage Door Opener
One of the main features you’ll see when shopping for a door opener is how much horsepower it offers. These ratings are generally from 1/3 hp to 1 1/2 hp and the size and weight of the door will help determine how much power you need. For most single-car garage doors, a 1/3-hp unit will suffice, but for a two-car garage door, you will want at least a 1/2-hp unit.
More powerful garage door openers are generally high-end units that are more expensive. If you live in a larger home and the door is used frequently, look towards a 3/4 hp or higher opener.
Garage door opener motors also operate on either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). For the most part, DC motors are smaller, smoother, and quieter so they’re the preferred of the two. In addition, DC openers can turn AC into DC power.
There are a lot of features in modern garage door openers, including some that can connect to Wi-Fi so they can be controlled from a portable smart device. But before we get into those, there are more basic features you should keep an eye on before making a decision.
The most used component with your garage door opener is likely the remote. Check to see how many remotes the kit comes with, and how well they work. If your car is equipped with HomeLink, make sure it’s compatible with your make and model before purchasing the system. Not all door openers will work with older HomeLink-equipped vehicles.
For most owners, a manual release isn’t a necessity, but it’s something to consider. For example, if you’re working in your garage and you want to just slightly open the door, you’ll need a manual release to do so.
Most kits these days will come with a safety feature that uses an infrared or similar beam to make sure it’s safe for the garage door to fully close. Make sure the opener you’re purchasing is equipped with a sensor that will interrupt the door if something is in the way of the door.
Another basic feature to look for is a security light, which automatically powers on when your garage door is opened or closed. Some will also trigger based on the previously mentioned safety sensor.
More advanced features include integration with home automation systems such as Amazon’s Alexa. There are also some openers that come with an auto-close feature that will automatically close the garage door after a preset amount of time, in case you forgot to close it yourself. Lastly, some systems have battery backup capability, which means your garage door opener will still work if you don’t have electricity.
Do I need to Hire a Professional to Install my Garage Door Opener?
Unless you have experience installing garage door openers, it’s highly recommended to hire a professional. That being said, installing a new or replacement garage door opener will require handyman skills and generally you’ll want at least two people on the job. The process can take several hours, which is why we recommend hiring a professional. Not only will they have the proper equipment to do the job, they have the experience to safely and correctly install the opener while looking out for potential issues with the unit you purchased.
If you’re replacing an existing opener, it’s also a good time to make sure the garage door is in good operating condition. This is where hiring a professional will also come in handy, as they’ll be able to check the door balance and moving parts to see if any need to be replaced due to wear and tear.
April 9, 2021: Updated the description for the Chamberlain Smartphone-Controlled Garage Door Opener (B970) with more information on the product, along with edits for clarification.
September 17, 2021: Replaced our Editor’s Pick recommendation with a newer garage door opener from Chamberlain.
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