Types of Garage Door Openers
Belt-Drive Garage Door Openers
Belt-drive openers use a metal-reinforced rubber belt to raise and lower the garage door. They are the most popular type of opener, but are also more pricey than chain-drive openers, and can be a challenge to install for DIYers.Chain-Drive Garage Door Openers
If a belt-drive opener is a little too expensive for your budget, a chain-drive model can be a good alternative. These openers use a chain looped around a rail to raise or lower the door. The downside is that they tend to be noisy -- a particular concern for garages that are attached to the house.Direct-Drive Garage Door Openers
Instead of a stationary motor moving a chain or belt to lift the door, a direct-drive opener's motor glides along a stationary, spring-tensioned chain. The most popular direct-drive openers are made by a German company and are sold under the Sommer and Direct Drive brand names. Reviewers praise their quiet operation, and they are very reliable, thanks to high-quality construction and the use of only one moving part. However, these openers are more costly than some belt-drive and chain-drive openers, even those that get equally good feedback.
What about screw-drive
Screw-drive garage door openers are another type of direct-drive
garage door opener. Once popular, and still available, screw-drive openers
typically have less feedback and poorer ratings than other types. The
screw-drive's relatively simple mechanism, which moves up and down a threaded
steel rod, makes for a powerful, low-maintenance garage door opener; but
screw-drive models are both noisy and slow. We did not spot a screw drive model
with sufficiently strong feedback to include in this edition of our report.
Do you need a garage
Garage door openers are a luxury under some circumstances, but
become most appreciated when the weather turns nasty. They are also a near
necessity if the task of opening and closing a garage door is too challenging, due
to physical limitations. Most are relatively inexpensive and highly reliable,
though unless you are very handy, you should probably budget for professional
Modern garage door openers include basic to advanced features that
improve safety and deter break-ins. Examples include an automatic stop if a
descending door encounters a solid object such as the hood of a car and light
beam sensors that detect the presence of an object -- or a person or pet -- and
stop a garage door's downward movement before accident or injury can occur.
Available security options include remote lockouts for when you will be away
from home for an extended amount of time, remote codes that change after each
use, and lights that turn on automatically when your garage door opens or if
movement is detected inside.
Most garage door openers include a remote that lets you open and
close the door from the comfort and safety of your car. Some garage door
openers support Internet connectivity, either as an add-on or built in. This
allows you to use an app that lets you open or close the garage door from your
smartphone or tablet, and monitor your garage door's status (open or closed)
from anywhere that you can connect to the net.
Some garage door openers are compatible with HomeLink, a remote
control technology that's built into some automobiles. However, due to a
technology change, many older HomeLink-equipped cars are not compatible with
new HomeLink-enabled garage door openers without the purchase of an optional
interface; you can also simply ignore your car's built in controls in favor of
the remote control that comes with the opener, but that's a solution that seems
to annoy owners.
At first glance, there appears to be a wide variety of garage door
opener brands, but a closer look reveals that most openers are made by just a
handful of companies. For example, Chamberlain garage door openers are well
regarded in their own right, but the company also makes garage door openers for
Craftsman and LiftMaster. Likewise, the Overhead Door Co. manufactures Genie garage
door openers in addition to its own brand.
Finding The Best Garage Door Openers
Finding the best rated garage door openers is a bit of a
challenge. Quality professional reviews are hard to come by. The most current
ones are from technology publications, but these typically focus on one model
and deal with the new connected features, such as the ability to control and
monitor the garage doors from your smartphone or tablet anywhere you can access
Fortunately, owners aren't bashful about weighing in on their
garage door openers. Though some models get only a handful of reviews others
receive hundreds of unique ratings on sites such as Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com
and Lowes.com. If you are interested in a Craftsman garage door opener,
Sears.com is the place to visit. While our research reveals that no garage door
opener is perfect, several models jump to the fore as offering good performance
and good value in the eyes of owners. These are the openers that we've named
Best Reviewed for this edition of our report.