Garage Door Openers: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know and More

two garage door openers inside of a garageOne of the most overlooked aspects of any garage is the garage door opener that is used. There are so many options available now in terms of garage door openers from chain-driven models to belt-driven and even some openers that can be activated through a smartphone app.

Let’s take a look at the different types of garage door openers that are available to consumers on the market today and what you should be looking for when buying a new garage door opener.

What You Should Know Before Going Out to Buy a Garage Door Opener

Don’t make the mistake of going out to buy a new garage door opener without going over some of your basic needs. You may not even know what you need in terms of power, extension kits, safety features or installation.

How Much Horsepower? How Powerful Should Your New Garage Door Opener Be?

The amount of horsepower you need depends on how heavy and large your garage door is. If your garage door is over 20′ in width, then you will need a 1/2 horsepower opener at the very least.

Also keep in mind the speed at which your garage door will open and close based on the horsepower of your opener. Generally speaking, it’s better to go for a garage door opener that is a little bit overpowered for your door vs. an under-powered one. The average opener will lift your garage door at about 6-8 inches per second.

Here’s an overview of different horsepower ratings for garage doors:

  • 1/2 Horsepower
    • Most popular power rating for garage door openers
    • Will be able to lift the majority of garage doors
  • 3/4 Horsepower
    • Perfect power for opening heavier garage doors with insulation
    • Tends to last longer than 1/2 horsepower motors
    • More efficient and opens garage doors faster
  • 1 Horsepower
    • Great for solid wood doors or otherwise very heavy garage doors
    • Best power/efficiency ratio and speed

Extension Kits for Taller Doors

Garage door rail extension kits are used for garage doors that are higher than the standard garage door height of 7 feet. The purpose of buying an extension kit is so that your garage door opener will be able to handle the taller door. Most every garage door opener on the market today is designed to work with a standard 7′ garage door so make sure to spend the extra $50 and get an extension if your door is larger.

Safety First with Garage Door Openers

Automatic garage door openers can be a great convenience but they can also be potentially dangerous. Most standard garage door openers come with a set of lasers that are mounted on either side of your garage door opening. When an object breaks the alignment of the laser “eyes”, the garage door will stop.

garage door safety and autoreverse

Another great feature of modern garage door openers is the automatic reverse function. If your garage door is coming down and hits an object like a car, it will automatically reverse back open.

It is crucial that you periodically check these safety features by closing the door and waving a broomstick in front of the lasers. If the door does not stop coming down, then most likely the alignment of your laser sensors is off or the lasers have failed. Check your garage door opener’s user manual to see how to properly re-align the lasers. Consult a repairman for further help if that doesn’t work.

To check the automatic reverse of your garage door, place a 2×4 or piece of wood where your garage door comes down. If it doesn’t auto-reverse, call a garage door repairman or replace your garage door opener.

Install Yourself or Hire a Professional Garage Door Opener Installer?

man installing a garage door openerWill you be able to install a garage door opener yourself? Installing a new garage door opener will require some basic handyman skills such as using a screwdriver, socket wrench and using a ladder. It is also very recommended that you find someone to help you, especially when raising the opener unit to the ceiling of your garage and mounting it.

Also consider the time to do the job yourself. The garage door opener installation process usually takes about 4-6 hours.

If it doesn’t seem worth it to you or you don’t have the time/skills to install a garage door opener by yourself, you can always hire a professional to do the installation work for you. Generally speaking, the cost of garage door opener installation runs about $100-$200 depending on the size of your garage door and what is needed.

3 Types of Drive Systems for Garage Door Openers

There are essentially four different types of drive systems on the market today for garage doors. Some cater to homeowners who want a less-noisy garage and others to those who want dependability and value. Let’s take a look at the different drive systems below.

Chain Driven Garage Door Openers

Chain drive garage door openers are the most common and least expensive type of garage door opener. In these types of openers, the chain rides along a sprocket which allows the garage door to move up and down.

The downside to chain driven garage door openers is that they are typically louder when operating than other types of drives. Another detriment is that they require regular maintenance to the chain to keep them running smoothly over time. Maintaining a chain drive garage door opener can be relatively painless as long as you know what you’re doing. It should also be noted that you should regularly maintain your entire garage door system periodically as we explained in this article.

Belt Driven Garage Opener Systems

Belt driven garage door openers use rubber belts to open the door and because of that, they are much less noisy than most other types of openers. Another benefit is that the rubber belts eliminate the need for metal-on-metal contact, reducing vibration which will typically increase the longevity of your garage door opener.

There is a drawback as belt drive garage door openers cost a little bit more to own but should last just as long or longer than their chain-driven counterparts.

Screw Drive Garage Door Openers

When you want a quiet garage door, consider buying a screw drive garage door opener. These types of openers have less moving parts than other types of garage door systems and use a threaded rod to open and close the garage door.

What’s really nice about screw drive garage door opening systems is that they are low maintenance. Fewer moving parts means less to worry about.

A downside to these types of openers is that you will sacrifice sound levels with what is typically a slower opening and closing garage door. The difference in speed is not drastic, but it is noticeable especially when compared with chain drive garage doors.

Opening Your Garage Door: Technology Is Better Than Ever!

garage door openers can communicate with learning thermostatsNow for the cool part! Some modern garage door openers now have features that will allow you to use your smartphone to open and close your door remotely. There’s a great article on Postscapes that goes over quite a smart garage door systems. Most remote garage door openers systems will require the use of a smartphone app. Some of the apps can also confirm your garage door is down — so if you are already at work and wondering if you closed the garage door before you left, you can just check the app.

There are even some garage door openers whose wireless technology will integrate with other smart home products such as a Nest thermostat and Apple’s HomeKit.

Some of the more traditional features of modern garage door openers are keypads that are mounted outside of your garage. These are really great for when you need to open your garage when doing work outside of your house or for when the kids come home from school while you’re away.


Luckily for consumers, there are a lot of options out there for when you are looking to replace your garage door opener. A variety of horsepower levels, safety features and technological innovations can make choosing a new opener a tough decision! We hope that with this guide, you are better prepared to make an informed purchasing decision on your next garage door opener.

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