Garage Door Openers 101: What You Need to Know Before Getting a Garage Door Opener

One aspect of a garage door that many homeowners forget about is the opener. While it might seem like they’re all the same, it’s not true. There’s more to your garage door opener than meets the eye.

Did you know some openers are quieter than others? Or that some garage doors require more power to lift? These are all things you should know before getting a garage door opener. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

garage door opener

Our comprehensive guide to garage door openers will help you pick the right one for your home. Next time you need a new opener, you’ll have the knowledge to choose the best one for your home.

Things to Consider When Buying a Garage Door Opener

Before you make any decisions about getting a new garage door opener, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.

  • Location: if your garage is near a bedroom or family room, you may want to consider a quieter opener
  • Size of the garage door: you need more power to lift a larger and heavier door
  • Connectivity: do you want the ability to open and close your garage door from anywhere?
  • Power outage: you need a way to open your garage door when the power is out

As you keep reading, you’ll learn all about different types of garage door openers. Keeping everything mentioned in mind and you’ll be able to find the perfect garage door opener for your home.

Types of Garage Door Openers

There are several different types of garage door openers that are categorized by the way they open. We’ll go over each one of them so you know the benefits of each one.

Chain Drive

A chain drive is the most budget-friendly and reliable option available. It uses a thick chain, similar to a bicycle chain, to lift your garage door. It’s the perfect option for a standard aluminum garage door.

That being said, if you have a large door or one made from a stronger, thicker material, a chain drive opener might not be the best option. It will require more power to lift your door and will be much louder than other options.

Speaking of louder, this isn’t a good garage door opener if bedrooms or living areas share a wall with your garage. You’ll be able to hear every time the garage door openers or closes throughout the house.

Belt Drive

If you’re looking for a more quiet and quick option, you’ll want a belt drive opener. Rather than using a chain, they use a steel reinforced rubber belt to lift your garage door. It’s the best choice for homes with steel garage doors.

Since they’re so quiet, you won’t hear the garage opening from inside your home. Even if you have a bedroom right over your garage, you’ll be able to sleep soundly as your garage door is opening.

The only downside to belt drive openers is that they require regular maintenance. Belts can become damaged rather easily and will need to be repaired or replaced.

Screw Drive

For the most powerful garage door opener, you want a screw drive. They use a threaded rod lift mechanism to open your garage door. No matter the size, material and heaviness, a screw drive opener will be able to lift your garage door.

While they don’t require much maintenance, there’s still some work that’ll need to be done. You’ll want to make sure all the screws and bolts are tight every few months to ensure that your screw drive opener is working properly.

Plus, they’re the most moderately priced openers. They cost more than the budget friendly chain drive and are less expensive than the ultra quiet belt drive.

Direct Drive

For the highest quality of residential garage door openers, you’ll want the direct drive opener. It uses a stationary chain in a steel rail to lift your garage door. This opener offers the best in all categories.

It’s much more quiet than even the belt drive opener while it can lift any sized garage door similar to the screw drive unit. It’s made to be the highest end product available.

That being said, high end products usually cost more money and the direct drive opener is no different. It costs more than all three of the other units. However, you know what they say: you get what you pay for.

What is Horsepower?

When you’re buying a new garage door opener, another term you should familiarize yourself with is horsepower. Horsepower is the measure of power for an engine that’s equal to 745.7 watts. In layman’s terms, it’s how much power an opener has to lift your door.

the inside of a garage

There are several different horsepower options offered by garage door openers. You can learn more about each one below.

1/2 Horsepower

If you have an aluminum garage door, your best option is a 1/2 horsepower opener. You don’t have to spend extra money on a garage door opener that’s made to lift a bigger, heavier garage door. This is a standard unit made for a standard door.

3/4 Horsepower

Most homeowners don’t have aluminum garage doors because they’re lighter and not energy efficient. Most people prefer the far more durable steel garage door. Steel is much heavier than aluminum so you’ll need something different.

When 1/2 horsepower isn’t enough to lift your garage door, you should consider a 3/4 horsepower opener. These garage door openers are made to lift heavier doors such as steel or wood.

1 Horsepower

If your garage door is made of steel or wood and very large, even 3/4 horsepower will struggle to lift it. You’ll need to go to the next step up – a 1 horsepower garage door opener. When you need to lift very heavy doors, this is your best option.

That being said, make sure a 3/4 horsepower garage door opener can’t lift your door. 1 horsepower openers cost more money than the other options so it’s best to be sure you can’t work with a more affordable option.

Parts of Garage Door Openers

A garage door opener is broken up into several parts. You’ll want to know what all of these parts are in case something goes wrong, you’ll know what needs to be fixed.

We’ll start with the main power of the entire opener: the drive unit. The drive unit is like the brain of your system. It houses the motor which powers the entire system to lift your garage door.

When the drive unit is activated, it uses the chain to pull your garage door up when it’s opened. The carriage is travels along the horizontal track and is what the chain is attached to in order to get your garage door to move.

garage door opener parts

If the power is ever out, don’t worry. You’ll be able to open your garage door from the inside using the emergency release rope. It’s the red rope found dangling from the ceiling of your garage. When it’s pulled, it allows you to open and close the garage door manually.

Garage Door Opener Extenders

It’s very important that you take proper measurements when buying a garage door opener. If your garage door is taller than the length of your horizontal track, you’re going to have problems opening it.

You can always make the length of your track longer with extenders. They make the horizontal track longer so your garage door has more path to travel down when it’s opened.

Don’t Forget These Awesome Add-Ons For Garage Door Openers

You can add several cool features to your garage door opener that make it operate better. We’ve listed a few of our favorites below.

Battery Backup

We mentioned before that you can have an emergency release rope to open your garage door from the inside when there’s a power outage but what if you’re outside of your garage door? You’ll want a battery backup.

A battery backup reserves power to operate when there’s a power outage – you’ll be able to use your remote to open your garage door.  This guarantees safe entry into your garage when the weather is dangerous outside.

Entry Pad

Sometimes you’re left without your garage door opener remote. How are you going to get inside now? If you had an entry pad, it would be as simple as pushing a few buttons.

Entry pads are found on the outside of your garage door in the form of a number pad. You can save a 4-digit code that, when entered, will open your garage door. It’s perfect for getting into your home when you don’t have a garage door opener or key.

Sensors

Sensors are a must with any garage door opener – they make using your garage infinitely safer. Their whole goal is to make sure a garage door doesn’t close on anyone or anything.

There are two types of garage door sensors. The first is an infrared beam that runs along the length of your garage door on the floor. If the beam is ever broken while the garage door is closing, it will stop and begin to rise.

The other option is a sensor built into the bottom of your garage door. If the bottom of your garage door touches anything while it’s closing, it will stop and begin to rise.

Which ever option you like better, having at least one of them is crucial for garage safety. Also, know that if you see your garage door closing, never try to run under it. It’s extremely unsafe and you can end up seriously injured.

There Are Smart Garage Door Openers Available

We all know the feeling of leaving our home and fearing we left the garage door open. Now your home might be open to be invaded by burglars or critters. Well you can put your fears to bed with a smart garage door opener.

Smart garage door openers run on WiFi and allow you to open and close your garage door from anywhere in the world. Once you download the free app associated with your specific opener, you can open and close your garage with the touch of a button.

The app also logs when and who opens your garage, even if it’s not done with the app. You can constantly monitor your home and act quickly when there’s an emergency. By being both convenient and safe, a smart garage door opener is a must.

Hire a Professional to Install Your Garage Door Opener

The last thing you want is for your garage door opener to be installed incorrectly. Not only will it not function properly, but it can be completely unsafe and put your family at risk.

garage door opener installation

You want to hire a trusted professional to install your garage door opener. They install openers for a living and know exactly what they’re doing. You don’t have to worry about the job being done poorly.

You Know Everything There is to Know About Garage Door Openers

Getting the right garage door opener for your home is extremely important. You have so many options available that you need to know what you’re looking for. We’ve given you the information you need to make an informed decision.

It doesn’t matter what kind of garage door opener you get if your garage is worn out and falling apart. That’s where Danley’s comes in – we’re the Chicagoland area’s garage builders of choice.

We’ll demolish your old detached garage and rebuild it from scratch. Since our garages are custom built, you can get a one, two or three car garage for your home. We also offer gable, reverse gable, flat roof and hip roof style garages.

Get a free quote now and see why 100,000 Chicago homeowners have trusted us with their garage project.



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Since 1959, Danley’s has been Chicagoland’s top choice for garage construction. Since then, we’ve built over 100,000 garages, making us Chicago’s largest and most trusted garage builder.

We offer an unbeatable combination of products, service and value for homeowners across Chicagoland.

Get a free quote now or call us at 773-GARAGES today!

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