Just as with buying garage doors, getting a new garage door opener isn’t an everyday occurrence. The last time you probably bought when was when you purchased your current door. If you’re in the process of getting a new door, or if your current garage door opener isn’t working as it should, you’re in for a surprise. Manufacturers have made many changes in openers, making them smarter, quieter and easier to operate. Another advantage of buying a new garage door opener is the extra security it will provide. Old openers use a single frequency code to open and close the door, which can be easily copied to another remote and used as a way to enter your residence. New openers have unique rolling codes that change every time the door opens to prevent copying. Before you make your decision, browse through our guide on types of garage door opener to discover what the different types are and which one is the best for your home.
Different Types of Garage Door Opener
The following images show you the different types of garage door opener available to buy today:
List of Garage Door Opener Types
What to Consider when Selecting Your Type of Garage Door Opener
Before buying a new garage door opener, you want to weigh several important factors. Lifting power is important, especially if you have a heavy, oversized garage door. While 1/2-horsepower openers work well with aluminum and other lighter door types, you’ll need one with 3/4-horsepower to 1-1/4-horsepower to easily open heavier doors. A larger motor will have a higher upfront cost, but your h=opener will last longer. If your garage is located near bedrooms and other frequently used living spaces, consider openers that operate more quietly.
Tech features go beyond remote control, and most likely, you’ll want to include them. Those connected to Wi-Fi will let you open the door from virtually anywhere via a smartphone or tablet. Some openers also offer battery backup to give you access to your garage during a power outage.
The mechanism that powers the door is perhaps the most important consideration for most people. Most of the following openers will work with any type of overhead garage door. If you have a traditional carriage or barndoor opening or a side-to-the-slide garage door, you’ll need an opener specifically manufacturer for those doors, as detailed below.
Read on to see what types of garage door opener are available and how they will fit your lifestyle.
Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
This opener type is probably the most familiar to homeowners, as well as the least expensive. For this type, a metal chain drive powers a trolley that raises and lowers the door. However, chain drive openers are also noisy, making them better suited for properties where the garage is detached from the house.
Chain drive garage door openers cost between $150 to $250, but more powerful units with a lot of features can cost up to $650.
Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
On a belt-driven garage door opener, a rubber belt is used to slide the trolley to open or close when the door is activated. Since the trolley moves over rubber instead of metal, the motions are smoother and quieter.
Belt drive garage openers use a rubber belt to open the garage door. Like a chain drive, the belt drive operates by moving the rubber belt. These belts are made of reinforced steel covered by rubber, polyurethane or fiberglass. The belt slides the trolley when the door is triggered to open or close the door, making operation smoother and quieter. These openers also produce less vibration than chain openers. Fewer moving parts also mean less maintenance than chain drive openers, don’t require any lubrication and open and close doors faster. They are good for all situations but are especially welcome in homes where bedrooms are directly above the garage or adjacent to it.
Disadvantages include the tendency of the belt to stretch out over time, requiring adjustment to ensure that proper tension is constantly applied. Extreme heat and humidity can also make the belt slip out of place. They are also more expensive than chain drive openers.
- Direct Drive
Belt drive garage door openers cost $160 to $450, ranging up to $700.
Direct Drive Garage Door Openers
Direct drive garage door openers have the simplest operation as the motor moves the trolley without using other moving parts. This mechanism not only simplifies the opening and closing process but results in a quiet and smooth operation with little required maintenance, making these devices a good option for garages of any size or layout.
The cost of a direct drive garage door opener is usually between $400 to $550.
Screw Drive Garage Door Openers
Screw drive openers have fewer components than other types of garage door openers, which means almost no maintenance as they will never have to be adjusted due to normal operation. However, the screw requires lubrication twice a year, a task that homeowners can easily do. Screw drive openers have a motor that moves the trolley via a threaded-steel rod. They’re quicker than chain and belt drive openers and are ideal for doors that are heavier and wider than traditional steel doors.
Despite these advantages, screw drive garage door openers are not as common as they once were, with homeowners preferring chain and belt drive openers. Their noise level sits between chain drive and belt drive openers. They are also sensitive to wide swings in temperature, so homeowners in areas with extremely cold winters and hot summers should avoid them. You’ll find fewer models with this option than for other garage door openers.
How much does a screw drive garage door opener cost? The answer is somewhere between $200 to $500 from one of the well known brands such as LiftMaster, Genie or Chamberlain.
Jackshaft Garage Door Openers
Jackshaft openers are mounted on a wall, either to the garage door’s left or right side. They connect to your garage door’s torsion bar to raise and lower it. A big advantage of jackshaft openers is their superior design, which allows them to open large garage doors up to 14 feet high. Even though they are more expensive than chain or belt openers, you may want to consider them if you need available ceiling space to store large items like bicycles, canoes and the like, or if you have less than 48 inches of clearance above the door. They are also ideal for high-lift doors as they eliminate the need for installing a panel. Jackshaft openers are ideal for garages with little overhead clearance. They are also ideal for garages with sloped ceilings where an installer may have difficulty putting in a conventional opener. Other than having prices that are slightly more expensive, these openers don’t have any significant drawbacks.
Jackshaft garage door openers cost between $350 to $800.
Swing-Out Carriage and Slide Garage Door Openers
These types of garage doors need specialized openers because of the way the doors open to the sides. Motors mount above the door opening along the ceiling but without a track. These specialized openers allow homeowners the convenience of automatic opening for decorative doors and come with your choice of customized accessories that are typical with overhead door openers. However, as you would expect with specialized products, they are more expensive than traditional garage door openers.
- Estate Swing
What is the cost for a swing-out carriage and slide garage door opener? The answer is, somewhere between $675 at the low end to $1,500 at the high end.
Smart Garage Door Openers
Smart openers aren’t in a class of their own as they they are essentially a feature that homeowners can include when buying a new model. Most openers with smart features have Wi-Fi connectivity and smartphone control. Some brands also provide a free app for Apple or Android devices that allow homeowners to control their garage door from anywhere, synchronize it with other home security devices and receive real-time alerts. Syncing our garage door opener with your home automation system is especially convenient for families with kids as you can easily let them in through the garage door through a voice command. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a smart garage door opener either, as many inexpensive ones have some smart capabilities.
Some newer vehicles also have built-in smart technology compatible with smart garage doors, operating in the same way as smart homes with doors and lights activated by touch prompts or voice commands. This technology eliminates the need for a keychain remote as door activation occurs from your vehicle’s smart system.
Additional Features to Consider
Some of these features are essential, while others are nice add-ons. However, all make your garage door opener more convenient in several ways.
Remotes – Activating your garage door when you are outside is the main reason you have an opener. Most modern ones have wall-mount buttons or keypads with private codes to open or close the door, but having remotes in your vehicles is a must if your car doesn’t have smart compatibility features. Miniature keychain remotes are also common.
Manual Release – This is another fairly common feature that disengages the door from the electric mechanism to allow you to raise and lower the door manually.
Security Light – An overhead light will allow you to easily see inside your garage whether you are coming or going. Security lights automatically power off after several minutes of inactivity.
Auto-Close – This function allows pre-programming of the garage door to lower after you have parked your vehicle. Consider this feature if you live in a hot climate and often leave the door open to air out the garage.
Soft-Activation Motors – Soft motors make operation easier and can help your garage door last longer due to less vibration.
Battery Backup – When the power is out, you may not be able to get into or out of your garage if you don’t have a manual release. With a battery backup, you don’t have to worry about the door becoming inoperable.
LED Lights – Some remote control units will activate LED when problems occur with your garage door opener. This feature will allow you to stay on top of maintenance before significant damage or high costs occur.
Rail Extension – Add a rail extension that allows the rail segment to extend as much as eight inches off the ground. Rail extensions are great for larger garage doors and for garages that have high walls.
What’s the best type of garage door opener? Quite simply, it’s the one that that best fits your needs and your budget, and in some cases, your location. All of the types detailed provide reliable operation. As with any other type of purchase, determine your needs and go from there. Note that the price ranges listed above are for the cost of the opener only. If you plan on having someone install the unit, add another $150 to $500 onto the cost, depending on the size and complexity of the unit you choose.