In urban areas like Chicago, garage door openers are a must to keep your garage secure. These home improvements are so commonplace that they seem invisible … until a homeowner starts looking for one of their own and find themselves overwhelmed with the wide variety of options available. This guide can help clear the confusion and narrow down the right model to fit any needs or budget.
What do you want from your garage door? A install-and-forget model that may never break down? One with multiple security features that would-be thieves will have trouble getting past? A backup battery in case of power outages paired with Wifi capability so you can operate the door via your smartphone? A whisper-quiet door that won’t wake the household that’s sleeping one thin wall away? All these concerns need to be balanced against your budget.
Now that you’ve decided what you need, it’s time to look at your options. Garage door openers fall into several groups, depending on how they work.
Chain drive openers are durable and among the most inexpensive models. They work well with a variety of doors, from lightweight to large and heavy-duty. However, they are notoriously noisy. This may not be an issue if the garage is separate from the home.
Screw drive openers have a reputation for reliability and tend to be quieter than chain drives. They require basic maintenance a few times a year, in the form of lubricating the screw, or they can break down. These openers are ideal for one-car or lightweight doors but may not be able to handle larger loads.
Belt drive openers such as the Liftmaster garage door opener line are famously quiet thanks to the rubber belt that lifts the door. These reliable openers also carry a relatively high price tag. It pays to read the small print on these motors: Direct current drives offer softer, quieter starts and stops along the track, while alternate current drives may be easier to find.
Jackshaft and direct drive openers are growing more popular as higher-end openers thanks to their quiet and reliable operation. Jackshaft models may include additional security features such as automatic deadbolts, making them attractive for safety-conscious homeowners. However, due to the way these operate, they only work on sectioned doors. Direct-drive openers may resemble noisy chain-drives, but in these models the chain is stationary and the motor moves softly along it. These openers can be pricey, but are also extremely durable and often come with lifetime warranties.
One last thing to consider is the garage door opener’s horsepower. How much you need depends on what garage door you have. 1/2 horsepower openers are the most common variety for a good reason: this power is enough for the the majority of lightweight, one-car doors. For oversized, industrial, or wooden doors, it’s time to move on to 3/4 to 1 horsepower openers. These motors carry a higher price tag, but they offer more than enough power for the job at hand.