Belt-drive garage door openers are known for their whisper-quiet operation. The trade-off is higher prices. Still, if your house has an attached garage, and the noise of a chain-drive model will disturb your peace and quiet more than you'd like, you might consider that trade well worth making.
Like chain-drive models, belt-drive openers typically come in 1/2- and 3/4-horsepower versions for residential use, though we also spotted models with up to a 1-1/4 HP motors. As was the case with chain-drive garage door openers, the Chamberlain name rises to the top on most user review sites.
For most residences with solid-wood or heavily insulated garage doors, an opener with a 3/4 horsepower motor is likely appropriate, and reviews point to the Chamberlain WD962KEV (Est. $260) as a top choice. On the features front, this is one of the most well-equipped garage door openers we spotted. It's MyQ enabled, meaning you can add a Chamberlain Internet gateway to gain smartphone or tablet control and status updates. It's also HomeLink compatible, for cars that have HomeLink remotes built into their vehicles. There's a battery back-up in case of a power outage. The in-garage multifunction control panel features a motion sensor that will automatically turn on a light built-into the opener if it detects movement in your garage. There are safety sensors that will halt a closing garage door and reverse its motion if anything -- such as a person or a vehicle -- breaks its invisible beam. Also included are two multifunction remotes for your cars and a wireless external keyless entry system. The remotes use a rolling code that changes after every use for greater security.
Owners are largely ecstatic. The Chamberlain WD962KEV earns a 4.5 star rating after nearly 350 reviews at Amazon.com. The quiet operation is a chief reason why; though not everyone completely agrees, comments such as "the quietest opener I've ever had" are not uncommon.
No garage door opener is perfect in the eyes of owners, and we saw some complaints of missing parts in the carton, or that the supplied drive belt is too short for their set up, requiring the purchase of an extension kit (Est. $40 for an 8-foot kit). However, most complaints regard incompatibility with older vehicles with HomeLink. Because of a change in technology in 2011, those with older vehicles will need to purchase a HomeLink Repeater Kit (Est. $30) from Gentex (the developer of HomeLink), something that disgruntled buyers feel is inadequately explained.
Other than Amazon.com, the next largest accumulation of user feedback is at Lowes.com, but don't go looking for the Chamberlain WD962KEV there. Instead the essentially identical garage door opener is sold at Lowes as the Chamberlain LW5000EV; the only discernable difference is the color of the housing (tan instead of the usual Chamberlain blue).
Feedback is a mirror image of what we see at Amazon.com with a 4.5-star rating after nearly 270 reviews. Compliments and complaints follow the same pattern. Impressively quiet operation on the plus side, frustrations with HomeLink compatibility and short belt drives on the minus.
If your garage doors aren't especially hefty, a 1/2 horsepower garage door opener might be a reasonable option. The Chamberlain WD832KEV (Est. $180) is a standout choice among those. Other than a lower-HP motor, the major difference between this belt-drive garage door opener and the Chamberlain WD962KEV is a lack of a battery back-up. There's also no HomeLink compatibility -- perhaps not a major shortcoming in light of the HomeLink frustrations engendered by the WD962KEV
The most feedback for the WD832KEV can be seen at Amazon.com, where it is called out as the "#1 Best Seller in Garage Door Openers." Altogether, there are more than 260 user reviews, and the garage door opener earns a rating of 4.5 stars. Most owners are very happy with the WD832KEV once it is installed, but the path to finishing the job isn't always smooth. We saw several complaints about poor instructions, difficult assembly tasks and parts missing from the box. On the other hand, plenty of others found installation manageable: "anyone with basic skills can install this sucker," is one happy user's assessment.
HomeDepot.com has a smaller assortment of user reviews -- just under 70. However, satisfaction is similar. The Chamberlain WD832KEV earns a score of 4.5 stars, with 95 percent of reviewers saying that they would recommend this belt-drive garage door opener to a friend.
If self-installation is a bit more than you care to tackle, these Chamberlain garage door openers are available in LiftMaster versions, which are sold through professional installers. The LiftMaster 8550 is identical to the Chamberlain WD962KEV, while the LiftMaster 8355 is the same as the Chamberlain WD832KEV. Contact a local installer for pricing; you can find one at the LiftMaster site.
We also saw some good reviews for another belt-drive garage door opener. Like the Chamberlain WD962KEV, the Genie 3042-TKV SilentMax 1000 (Est. $190)) offers a powerful 3/4 horsepower motor. It's also feature packed, with two multifunction vehicle remotes, a multifunction interior wall controller, a wireless entry pad, rolling security codes and safety sensors. It's also HomeLink and Car2U compatible, but there's no battery back-up or built-in MyQ support. Reviews say that getting HomeLink to pair with the opener can be a challenge, but overall we saw far fewer complaints about getting HomeLink to work than we did with the Chamberlain WD962KEV. Like the Chamberlain opener, feedback on installation is mixed. Many say it's a snap, others it's anything but and add that less-than-ideal instructions are a hindrance.
Still, most owners are happy. HomeDepot.com hosts the lion's share of user reviews and the Genie 3042-TKV SilentMax 1000 earns a 4.2 star rating, with 85 percent saying that they recommend the garage door opener.
Elsewhere in This Report:
Best Reviewed Garage Door Openers
Editors discuss the different types of garage door openers. Top performers and top values are named.
Chain-Drive Garage Door Openers
Pros and cons of chain-drive openers are discussed, and best-rated choices are listed.
Direct-Drive Garage Door Openers
A German-made direct-drive opener draws rave reviews, but is it right for you? We look into the details and make our recommendations.
Not sure what you need to consider before buying a garage door opener. This checklist will help make finding the right model easier.
Finding reviews of garage door openers is a challenge, but these sources helped identify the best-liked models.