Belt-drive models are known for their whisper-quiet operation. Like chain-drive models, they typically come in 1/2- and 3/4-horsepower versions. Three belt-driven models stand out in reviews: the Chamberlain Whisper Drive WD822KD (*Est. $200), the Genie SilentMax 1000 (*Est. $220) and the Genie QuietLift 800 (*Est. $190).
Both the Genie QuietLift 800 and the Genie SilentMax 1000 are a snap to install, with clearly labeled boxes that make locating parts easy. Owners say the assembly instructions are very well-written, with total installation times averaging four hours or less, minus an occasional trip to the hardware store for mounting brackets or a missing screw. Owners say one person can easily install either of these garage door openers, as long as he or she has an extra stepladder to hold the far end up during installation. Users say the rare problem while installing either of the Genie models can almost always be resolved with a quick call to Genie's toll-free customer service line, and they generally feel good about the experience.
Installing the Chamberlain Whisper Drive WD822KD can be more tedious, owners say. Installation times average three to five hours, and user comments run the gamut from praise for clear instructions to complaints that they "can be misleading at times and require interpretation." We also read a number of complaints about having to repeatedly fine-turn the mechanism during installation, something we didn't see with Genie models. All three belt-drive models require an extension kit if a garage door is taller than 7 feet; it costs about $42 for the Genie models or $50 to $80 for the Chamberlain.
The Genie SilentMax 1000's 3/4-horsepower rating trumps both the Genie QuietLift 800's and Chamberlain WD822KD's 1/2 horsepower, but any of these three models is adequate for lifting a standard single or double door. The QuietLift 800 has a maximum weight limit of 500 pounds, enough to lift most insulated or multiple-layer doors. Curiously, Genie does not disclose the weight limit of its other garage door openers, including the SilentMax 1000, and a company rep would not provide any additional information. Chamberlain does not list the weight limit of its Whisper Drive WD822KD, either.
Both Genie models receive praise for details like their dual-frequency remote controls that reduce interference and the option of controlling two garage doors from a single wireless keypad. Both Genie garage door openers use rolling codes for security and the remote controls and keypad can be disabled. The Genies are also compatible with HomeLink and Car2U, and an optional "Closed Confirm" remote (*Est. $50) beeps and blinks green to signal that a garage door is closed, or it illuminates a red light if there's a problem.
The Chamberlain Whisper Drive WD822KD has some nice features too, including the ability to add new devices from the wall-mounted controls instead of having to climb a stepladder to push the Learn button on the main unit. It, too, uses rolling codes for extra security. The biggest downside: Owners report a few cases of the garage door opening unpredictably at all hours of the day or night, along with remotes that worked unreliably or not at all. Most of these complaints were traced back to problematic circuit boards, and customers report mixed results with Chamberlain customer service.
Although the Chamberlain Whisper Drive WD822KD receives a few more complaints than the Genie models, it's also accumulated several times as many user reviews over the years, giving us a far better read on both its foibles and upsides. For now, this widely reviewed model is the top pick because the most reviewers are pleased with it. The Genie QuietLift 800 and SilentMax 1000 are excellent alternatives that gain major points for their ease of installation, but only time will tell if they retain the same high ratings after a few hundred more users chime in.