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Garage Door Opener Reviews

By: Carl Laron on March 09, 2018

Editor's Note:
In the battle for best garage door opener bragging rights, it's Genie vs. Chamberlain. Chamberlain wins out overall, but Genie gets our nod for those on a budget. If the quietest operation and easy installation are most important, a Direct Drive/Sommer opener might be just right. And user feedback indicates that some Genie screw-drive openers are worth considering, too.

Chamberlain B970 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Lifting power -- 1 1/4 HPS Battery back-up -- Yes Internet connectable -- Yes

Best belt-drive garage door opener

The belt-driven Chamberlain B970 garage door opener is powerful and well-featured. With a 1.25 HPS motor, it's got all of the strength needed for just about any residential garage door, and the motor and belt are covered by a lifetime warranty. The feature line-up includes built-in Internet connectivity for those who want to be able to monitor and operate their opener from afar, and a battery back up in the case of a power outage.

Buy for $268.00
Genie SilentMax 750 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Lifting power -- .75 HPc Battery back-up -- No Internet connectable -- Optional

Best-value belt-drive garage door opener

The Genie SilentMax 750 belt drive garage door opener isn't as feature-packed as the Chamberlain B970, but its value is hard to overlook. The 75-HPc motor isn't as strong as the B970s, but is still plenty strong for any residential use, and the opener is widely judged to be pleasingly quiet. Smart features are built in, too, but using those requires the addition of the optional Genie Aladdin Connect module (Est. $95). The biggest downside is that there's no battery back-up.

Chamberlain C410 Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Lifting power -- .5 HPc Battery back-up -- No Internet connectable -- Optional

Chain-drive garage door opener

The chain-driven Chamberlain C410's .5-horsepower motor has enough power to handle most residential garage doors. Owners say it lifts even heavy doors easily. While chain-driven openers generally are louder than belt-driven models, most say that, like its predecessor model, it's actually pretty good in that regard, and we saw fewer complaints about installation challenges, too. The opener is also well-equipped in the feature department, though you'll need to spend a bit extra if you want to use its smart functions.

Buy for $159.00
Direct Drive 1042V004 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Lifting power -- .75 HP (equivalent) Battery back-up -- No Internet connectable -- No

Best direct-drive garage door opener

The German-made, .75-horsepower (equivalent) Direct Drive 1042V004 garage door opener doesn't use a belt drive or a chain drive. Instead, the mobile motor crawls along a stationary chain, making it exceptionally quiet. This garage door opener is also feature-packed, though the wireless entry keypad is an extra-cost accessory. Reliability is excellent, and installation is at least a little easier than some other garage door openers. This opener is also sold under the Sommer brand and with different model numbers, but all are similar.

Genie-Excelerator Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Lifting power -- 1 HPc Battery back-up -- No Internet connectable -- Optional

Screw-drive garage door opener

Screw-drive garage door openers aren't as popular as some other types, but feedback indicates that those that give the Genie Excelerator a try are largely very happy that they did. It's a fast performer, owners say, and the company claims that it can move a door at a rate of up to a foot per second. It's relatively quiet, too -- perhaps not the absolute quietest that you can buy, but certainly quieter than a chain-drive opener, and quieter than older screw-drive openers, users report.

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. Their quiet operation and strong reliability help make them the most popular type of opener, but they are also more expensive than chain-drive openers and can be a challenge to install for DIY-ers.

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. Owners praise their quiet operation and terrific reliability. However, these openers are more costly than some belt-drive and chain-drive openers, including those that get equally good feedback.

Screw-Drive Garage Door Openers

Screw-drive garage door openers are another type of direct-drive garage door opener. 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. They are quieter than chain-drive openers, and are fast workers, but, like direct-drive openers, they tend to be pricey.

Do you need a garage door opener?

Garage door openers are always a nice convenience, 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, although unless you are very handy, you should probably budget for professional installation.

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
Our Sources
1. Amazon
"Garage Door Opener Systems"
"Garage Door Openers"
3. Sears
"Garage Door Openers"

Finding the best rated garage door openers is a bit of a challenge. Quality professional reviews are currently hard to come by, and we did not spot any that addressed current models. About the only credible, current, testing-based feedback we spotted was from Wirecutter, and it addressed smart garage door controllers rather than openers. That said, if you would like to add smart features to an existing garage door opener that you are otherwise perfectly happy with, the review is worth a read.

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, Home Depot and Lowe's. If you are interested in a Craftsman garage door opener, Sears 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.

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