Chamberlain chain-drive garage door openers lead the field
Chain-drive garage door openers offer the most bang for your buck -- but they're noisier than belt-driven garage door openers. For those looking for a full-featured chain-drive opener for a typical residential garage door, the Chamberlain PD612EV (Est. $160) looks like a great choice. This is a 1/2-horsepower opener that's both reliable and feature packed. Feedback for the PD612EV (and similar openers sold under different model numbers at different retailers, such as HomeDepot.com) is highly positive. For example, Amazon.com users grant it a solid 4.5 star rating following more than 375 reviews. At HomeDepot.com, a similar garage door opener is sold as the Chamberlain HD420EV (Est. $160), and it earns a 4.2 star score following nearly 425 reviews.
The complaints that are voiced vary, though indications are that you should make sure your garage doors are not too tall. The unit is designed for 7-foot doors, and though extension kits for taller doors are available (8 feet and 10 feet), some owners are peeved at the extra expense and delay. Some units are reported as failing out of the box or shortly after installation, and reports of missing parts are not unheard of, but those complaints are a distinct minority.
While chain-drive openers are usually panned for noise -- and the PD612EV doesn't entirely escape such criticism -- many owners are surprised by its relatively quiet operation. The above comments notwithstanding, most owners give installation ease a thumbs-up, and especially praise value.
The Chamberlain PD612EV comes with a full line-up of features. This garage door opener has Chamberlain MyQ compatibility built-in, meaning you only need add the Chamberlain CIGBU MYQ Internet Gateway (Est. $50) to have control -- opening, closing, checking door status -- via a smartphone or tablet app (both Apple and Android devices are supported, and the app is free). Other features include two multifunction car remote controls; a motion-sensing multifunction wall-mounted control; a keyless-entry exterior keypad; and safety sensors that project an invisible beam that, if broken while the door is closing, will stop and reverse motion. The PD612EV also uses a rolling security code that changes every time you use the remote for added protection against break-ins. There's no battery back-up, but a manual release allows the garage door to be opened or closed in the event of a power failure. Though the Home Depot exclusive Chamberlain HD420EV appears to be identical to the Chamberlain PD612EV, its warranty is a little less comprehensive, covering the motor for only 10 years while the PD612EV comes with a lifetime motor warranty. Otherwise parts for both are covered for two years, while accessories are covered for one.
If you would prefer a more robust garage door opener, the 3/4 horsepower Chamberlain PD762EV (Est. $180) might be worth considering. Other than power, it's very similar to the Chamberlain PD612EV. One key difference is that the keyless entry control pad is not included. If you need or want the exterior keypad, it is available separately as the Chamberlain 940EV Garage Keyless Entry (Est. $40).
User reviews are generally good. At Amazon.com the Chamberlain PD762EV earns a 4.4-star rating after more than 160 reviews. Value, easy installation, and relatively quiet operation are oft-cited pluses, as is dependable operation, though even happy owners throw in a gripe or two involving installations challenges, missing parts, or the necessity of buying accessories such as the Internet gateway.
One caveat with the above garage door openers is that models sold directly by Chamberlain are intended for do-it-yourselfers. If you are reasonably handy, owner feedback indicates that the job is doable, though perhaps not without a fair share of frustration along the way. If you have doubts about your ability to handle the task on your own, some retailers might be able to recommend an installer.
Another alternative is to purchase LiftMaster versions of similar products (Chamberlain manufactures Liftmaster garage door openers). Though details and features may vary slightly, performance and overall satisfaction -- minus the gripes about installations woes -- should be similar. Liftmaster openers are sold primarily through dealer-installers, one reason Good Housekeeping recommends them to those who'd rather have a professional installation. Because these are garage door openers are intended for the installer market, reliable pricing is not available on line, but a list of dealers can be found on the LiftMaster site.