You may not realize until it’s time to get a new garage door opener, or you need a garage door opener repair, that there are actually many different types of openers to choose from. So how do you decide which kind of opener is best for your garage door? A garage door technician can help you determine the weight and size of your door. Large, heavy garage doors require a more powerful garage door opener. Another benefit to a more powerful opener is faster speed. You should also consider rail sizes; a larger door will require larger rail sizes, which are only available with more powerful openers. If your door is above 8 ft. high, it would work best with a more powerful opener. There are two main parts to a garage door opener: the drive and the motor. We’ll explore the major differences between the types of drives and motors below.
The drive is the way your garage door moves along the “guide” when it opens and closes. The guide is the long rail above your door, which connects to the opener. The guide contains a chain, belt, or screw that moves the trolley to open and close the door.
As you would expect from its name, this type of drive uses a chain to open and close the garage door. Chain drives work well for most garage doors. Chain drives are the basic, “tried and true” drive type that have been around for many years, and will last a long time with regular maintenance. However, if routine maintenance is neglected, chain drive openers can end up requiring more repair than other types of openers. Chain drives are also louder and cause more vibration than the other two types.
The main benefit of a belt drive garage door opener is that it’s the smoothest, quietest garage door opener available. You may want to consider a belt drive garage door opener if your garage is attached to your house to keep the sound of the opener from intruding inside your home. The reason belt drives are quieter is because they’re driven by a reinforced steel rubber belt. This allows smoother operation, which reduces noise. Not only is it less noisy than a chain, the steel reinforced rubber belt is also very durable.
Screw drive openers are top-of-the-line. They provide the highest level of power with the quickest operating speed. A large garage door that’s 14 ft. high, or a one-piece door up to 8 ft. high, will need a screw drive garage door opener because screw drive openers have an optimal direct drive system that uses more power from the motor without needing a gear reduction system.
Now you need to choose a type of motor for your garage door opener. The two general types of motors are DC and AC power. DC powered garage door openers are now considered the standard for garage door openers. AC motors are noisier, bulkier, and heavier because they need more parts. For many years, garage door openers used AC power, but thanks to technological advances in the garage door industry, DC openers were developed. These are quieter, more compact, and more powerful than AC motors. DC motors also provide other benefits, such as soft start and stop to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the garage door system. Most DC motors also have a battery backup option so you can power your garage door if you lose electricity. Garage door openers that use a DC motor offer the most power and are the smoothest running, longest-lasting, and safest motors in the industry.
Garage door opener motors are available in three different horsepower sizes: 1/3, 1/2, and 3/4. How much horsepower your garage door opener needs depends on the size of the door and whether you prefer a more durable opener verses replacing it every few years.
This will work for any garage door for a while, as long as the door is properly balanced with evenly distributed weight. However, 1/3 HP isn’t always recommended because it has a shorter shelf life, especially for large, heavy doors. This horsepower is most often used for standard, single garage doors (ex: steel doors). Although it’s mainly used for lighter doors, you can use 1/3 HP on a heavier door, but it will need to be replaced or repaired more often. 1/3 HP is the least powerful and least expensive of the three.
This is the most popular garage door horsepower size and is recommended for single or double doors of average weight (ex: carriage style door). This opener will be most efficient when the garage door is correctly balanced. An opener with more horsepower would last longer, but this one would last longer than the 1/3 HP. 1/2 has medium power and is the second cheapest of the three HP options.
Oversized, heavier doors require an opener with 3/4 horsepower (ex: wood doors) because it will last longer and provide the best long-term functionality. 3/4 is the most expensive of the three, but it has maximum power and is extremely durable and long lasting, so you’re receiving the most “bang for your buck” and can go a long time before needing garage door opener repair or replacement.
There are a few other optional features that some garage door openers have while others don’t; we’ll follow up with those in a future post. Regency Garage Doors would be happy to help you decide which type of garage door opener would best fit your wants and needs. Call us at (713) 208-5255 to schedule your consultation!