When it comes to picking out a garage door opener for your home, you may be overwhelmed with the selections available. All garage door openers allow you to open your garage with the press of a button, and add safety and security features that beat out manual garage doors any day. The subtle differences in garage door type and features are what can make this decision somewhat difficult, but this buyer’s guide should help simplify the decision-making process considerably. We’ll talk about the types of garage door openers available, opening speeds, noise levels, and safety and remote access features, so you can make a confident, informed decision.
Chain, Belt and Screw Drive
The main difference to consider between these three types of garage door opener is the amount of noise they make during operation. If a guest room or office is above or near the garage, operational noise may influence your decision.
Chain drive garage door openers feature a chain attached to a metal trolley and are the most common type available. Chain drives tend to be the least expensive, offering durable performance for not as much money as other types. But they also tend to be the noisiest. For noise reduction, look for brands and units that hide the chain.
Belt drives make the least amount of noise because metal to metal contact is eliminated, opting instead for rubber belts to open the garage door. Belt drives also offer a feature of safety in that there are fewer moving parts involved. Because of this, belt drives are the most expensive type of garage door opener.
Screw drive garage door openers have fewer moving parts than a chain drive, and use plastic-lined tracks and a threaded steel rod to move the garage door. Noise is reduced greatly by the tracks lined with plastic, and the unit will work for years to come with proper maintenance.
When you’re shopping for the right garage door opener, in addition to convenience and noise levels, you’ll want to be aware of certain useful safety features. Since 1993, all garage door openers should have a standard safety feature in the form of a sensor that stops the garage door from closing all the way if an item, animal or person is in the way. If you’re looking at an opener that omits this safety feature, skip it.
Some openers activate lights when the garage is opening, or have a light that automatically turns on when the garage door is being raised. You may want a garage door opener that includes self-diagnostic features that alert you of necessary maintenance or repair, or other wireless sensors for easier installation. You should be able to find these features and more in each type of garage door opener.
Other Useful Features
Now that the basic necessities have been considered, here are some of the other features you may discover while you’re shopping for the right garage door opener. All of these features are worth the money, and help you get the best out of your garage door opener for many years.
If you’re upgrading your slow garage door opener, no doubt speed is on your list. Luckily, there are many garage door openers that can lift the door up seven inches or more a second. The fastest lifts at a rate of 14 inches a second.
DC and AC currents can make a big difference in the amount of noise a garage door opener makes. DC-run motors tend to be quieter than AC-run motors, so if noise is a big factor for you, opt for a DC current motor.
If you ever lose power for any reason, you’ll want a manual emergency release to be able to open the garage door. A manual emergency release is a cord that disconnects the opener from the door so the door can be manually lifted. In case of emergency or malfunction, the emergency release can quickly come in handy.
A vacation timing setting is a cool feature that enhances home security while you’re away. Units with this feature can be disabled so that no transmitter, keypad or remote will respond to it, perfect if you live alone or the whole family will be away on vacation.
A garage door opener unit with a battery backup feature provides even more security in the case of power outages. Make sure that your unit has a battery backup if it lacks a manual emergency release cord.
Force guard control is a feature that allows you to set the minimum amount of force needed to fully close and open the garage door.