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The garage door opener is now ubiquitous

Once considered a luxury, garage door openers are now commonplace. Although you'll see a variety of brand names on the shelves, three companies dominate the market: Chamberlain, which also makes garage door openers for Craftsman and LiftMaster; the Overhead Door Co., which manufactures Genie openers in addition to its own brand; and the German company Sommer.

User reviews crucial for choosing best garage door openers

Garage door opener reviews are hard to come by. ConsumerReports.com -- usually one of the most comprehensive and authoritative sources for product reviews -- hasn't reviewed garage door openers for at least a decade. Their report from 2002 is no longer available online. Other generally reliable sources are equally lacking in current garage door opener reviews. Owners take up the slack; many garage door openers earn hundreds of owner comments on retail websites like Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com and Sears.com.

No garage door opener is perfect. We found at least a few reports of defective units for every model evaluated except the German-built Sommer Synoris (*Est. $230). Complaints about missing screws, nuts and bolts for installation are also quite common, and owners frequently have to supply their own mounting brackets. Complaints about syncing with the HomeLink system -- garage door remotes that are built into your car -- are another common issue.

Garage Door Openers Runners Up:

Chamberlain Power Drive PD210D *Est. $140

1 pick including: Amazon.com, Lowes.com…

Genie QuietLift 800 *Est. $190

1 pick including: Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com…

Genie SilentMax 1000 *Est. $220

1 pick including: HomeDepot.com, TheNotSoBlog.com…

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