Garages are usually enclosed structures that are primarily designed as a shelter to automobiles but we also store our tools, garden/yard equipment and other hardware or accessories. Irrespective of the garage design and its door type, you can make them automatic i.e., you can easily open/close them with the push of a single button in your car or from inside the garage. In this guide, we will focus on some popular Types of Garage Door Openers that are available today.
- Garages and Garage Doors
- Garage Door Openers
- Types of Garage Door Openers
- Things to Consider Before Buying a Garage Door Opener
Garages and Garage Doors
We use garages to park our cars, bikes, store our garden equipment and if we have enough space, we can also use it to place storage boxes. Depending on the position of the garage with respect to the house, we can have any of the following garage types:
- Integral Garage
- Attached Garage
- Detached Garage
- Breezeway Garage
- Subterranean Garage
Irrespective of the garage type, it must have two things: a Garage Door, for easy access to the garage and a service entrance from the house to easily enter the garage from the house.
As Garage Doors are the most functional, operational and appealing part of any garage, we have to choose a proper garage door for its functionality, style, material and type.
The common types of garage doors are:
- Four Leaf Swinging Door
- Overhead Door
- Sectional Roll Up Door
- Two Leaf Swinging Door
Of these, the overhead garage door and the sectional roll-up garage door are the most popular options. They are available in beautiful wood designs, steel or even fiber glass materials.
Almost all garage doors that we mentioned above have options for installing automatic garage door openers.
Garage Door Openers
An automatic garage door opener is an electrical/electronic unit that helps you open/close the garage door with a remote control. You can use this remote from your car (as you are entering or leaving the garage) or from the inside of the house.
The main garage door opener unit consists of an electric motor and a microcontroller module. Some mechanical parts of a typical garage door opener unit are a track, chain or threaded rod to lift the door.
Additionally, some garage door opener units also come with built-in light fixtures to illuminate the garage. Coming to the communication between the remote control and the main control unit (which usually has a microcontroller), previously it was infrared (which require a line-of-sight to work properly) but almost all modern units use RF (Radio Frequency) signals (they are not a line-of-sight communication).
Modern garage door openers are relatively safe devices that have several safety mechanisms incorporated into the system. One common safety feature is ‘Safety Reverse’, where the unit automatically reverses its direction if it detects an object or human while closing the door.
Types of Garage Door Openers
Automatic Garage Door Openers are not a luxury anymore but more of an essential part of a modern home (that is if you have a garage). There are several types of garage door openers for you to choose from. They will have (slightly) different operation, longevity cost, ease of installation and maintenance.
Here is a list of some popular types of garage door openers:
- Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
- Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
- Screw Drive Garage Door Openers
- Jackshaft Garage Door Openers
- Sectional Garage Door Openers
- Smart Garage Door Openers
- Direct Drive Openers
- Drawbar Openers
- Hoist Openers
Let us now see briefly about these garage door openers one-by-one along with their pros and cons.
Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
The chain driven garage door openers are available from a long time and they are one of the affordable options. They use metal gears with chains to lift the door. As a result, they make the most noise out of all the garage door openers.
If you have a detached garage that is slightly distant from your house, then you can opt for this unit as the noise from the chain drive will not disturb other (especially during late hours). Also, this type of garage door opener is the only unit that can lift all types of doors be it metal, wood or fiberglass (due to its rigid lift mechanism).
Due to the mechanical nature of this garage door opener, you have to keep and eye on the chain for wear and tear and you have to regularly set some time for maintenance (like lubrication or tightening of chain etc.).
Pros and Cons
+ Most affordable option
+ Can lift even very heavy doors
+ Strong and durable
– Noisiest of all types of garage door openers
– Need regular maintenance
Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
This garage door opener is very similar to the chain drive type except that it has a rubber belt to lift the door instead of a metal chain. As a result, there is no noise (other than what the motor makes). Hence, these are one of the most popular types of garage door openers in the market.
You can install this type in a close proximity to your house as there is no clunking noise from the drive mechanism. If low noise is your priority, then this is the one for you. But keep in mind that belt drive garage door openers are slightly expensive units and also the lift capacity is not comparable to that of the chain drive units.
There is no need for regular maintenance or lubrication as there are no metal parts in the drive unit.
Pros and Cons
+ Very quiet drive operation (but you still have noise from the motor)
+ Less or no maintenance
– Slightly expensive
– Not suitable for very heavy doors
Screw Drive Garage Door Openers
We once again have a noisy metal drive system. The Screw Drive type garage door opener has a threaded steel rod to lift the door. The threaded rod wounds/unwound a cable around a pulley to lift or close the door.
Even though the scree drive garage door opener make noise during its drive, it is still less than what the chain drive system makes. But like the chain drive garage door openers, you also need to regular maintain the screw drive garage door openers.
They are one of the fastest garage door openers out there but the down side is that they are suitable only for lightweight and medium sized doors and not for large and heavy doors.
Pros and Cons
+ Affordable compared to belt drive units
+ Less moving parts than chain drive system
+ Makes less noise than chain drive garage door openers
– Needs maintenance (lubrication)
– More noise belt drive garage door openers
– not suitable for large doors
Jackshaft Garage Door Openers
Next, we have a wall mount type garage door opener. All the previous types we have seen till now are actually overhead type garage door openers as you have to mount the main drive unit to the ceiling.
The jackshaft garage door opener mounts to the wall just beside the garage door. They drive a pulley and cable mechanism to turn a torsion bar and lift the door. As you don’t any thing on the ceiling, you don’t have to worry about ceiling height or shape of the ceiling and use the overhead area as additional storage space.
Jackshaft Garage Door Openers are one of the most expensive types out there. But they have a relatively quiet operation and also need very little or no maintenance.
Pros and Cons
+ Mounts on wall and doesn’t consider height or shape of ceiling
+ Very little or no maintenance
+ Relatively quiet operation
+ Aesthetically appealing compared to other (overhead) types of garage door openers
+ You can use the ceiling space for storage
– Most expensive system out there
– Suitable for certain door types only (sectional garage doors)
Some Other Garage Door Openers
All the different types of garage door openers we saw till are the main and popular type available in the market right now. Apart from these, you can also find couple more system.
The first one a Direct Drive Garage Door Opener. It is also a type of overhead garage door opener that moves the trolley on a stationary chain. The cost is similar to that of the belt drive units but these will come with longer warranties.
Another type is not actually a drive mechanism but rather a feature. They are the Smart Garage Door Openers. In this, the drive unit will have additional “smart” features such as ability to control using a smart assistant (Google Home or Amazon Alexa) and also you can use an app on your mobile phone to control the door from anywhere in the World (as they will have Wi-Fi connectivity).
Things to Consider Before Buying a Garage Door Opener
If you have a garage where you park your car, then an automatic garage door opener will definitely help you in easily opening/closing the door from your car itself. We have seen some popular types of garage door openers in this guide. Here are some of things you need to consider before buying a new garage door opener:
- Safety: The first and important thing is the safety features you get from a garage door opener. This is very important especially if you have kids or pets running around the garage. Most modern garage door openers come with several safety mechanisms such as object detection, automatic reversal, etc.
- Noise Levels: Some garage door openers are very noisy than others. If operating noise is your priority, then you have to go for something like a belt drive system. Chain Drive Garage Door Openers have very high operating noise of all.
- Lift Capacity: This is another important factor to consider when buying a new garage door opener. Lift capacity of a garage door opener determines the style and weight of the garage door you use. For heavy metal doors, a chain drive unit is the best option. In case you have a relatively small wooden garage door, then a belt drive system will work just fine.
- Mount Style: If you have an unevenly shaped ceiling or very high ceiling, then you have to opt for a wall mounted garage door opener. But most system out there are actually overhead style units that we to fix to the ceiling.
- Additional Features: Look for any additional feature a garage door opener offers. One popular and now-a-days important feature is availability of smartphone app and support for voice assistant.
- Price: Finally, the most important thing: your budget. Chain Drive system are the most affordable options even though they are the loudest. Belt Drive garage door openers are slightly expensive but they offer a quiet operation. So, decide on a budget and shop around for the most suitable garage door opener that fits that budget and also fulfils other requirements.
Automatic Garage Door Openers are far from luxury devices now-a-days. Manual garage door openers need a lot of effort to open and close. You can easily upgrade to the latest garage door openers with some investment and if you are capable, you can even install the unit all by yourself (as majority of the units come with a DIY instructions).
For elderly and physically challenged, having an automatic garage door opener is very important. In this guide, we saw the basics of garages, garage door and also different types of garage door openers. There is also a list of things you need to consider before buying a garage door opener.