• Choosing a Garage Door Opener: Drive and Power

    May 19, 2016 | Blog
  • Your garage door is one of the most prominent features of your home, but the automatic garage door opener is what makes it magical! Whether you’re buying for a new installation, replacement, or an upgrade, you have a number of choices in selecting the ideal garage door opener for your needs and budget.

    Type of Drive

    Chain-Drive: the original style of automatic garage door openers, chain drive openers are economical and a popular choice. While a good choice on a budget, they are the noisiest, which can be an issue if the garage is near (particularly downstairs from) a bedroom.

    Belt-Drive: this style is virtually identical to chain-drive openers, but use a rubber belt instead of metal chain, resulting in one of the quietest types of garage door opener, but at added cost.

    Screw-Drive: an option in between chain-drive and belt-drive is screw-drive. Not as quite as belt-driven but less noisy than chain-driven, screw-drive openers can be easier to maintain because they have few moving parts. However, there have been reports of maintenance problems in regions where season temperatures vary widely. As that is not the case in our region, this may be less of an issue.

    Jackshaft: this very different type of opener installs on the wall next to the garage door. It too has the advantage of being very quiet, but is particularly useful when overhead space is limited either by a low ceiling or elevated storage. It is also more expensive than some other types.

    Direct-Drive: unlike traditional units with chains, belts, and other moving parts, direct-drive garage door openers have a single moving part—the motor itself travels along a rail-mounted chain. These are similar in cost to belt-drive openers, operate quietly, and have long (even lifetime) warranties because of their durability.


    1/2, 3/4, and 1 HP: the power your opener requires is directly related to how heavy the door is. Aluminum doors are among the lightest, while solid wood or carriage doors are quite heavy. 1/2 horsepower motors are sufficient for single car garage doors and even many lighter 2-car doors. But solid wood requires moving up to at least 3/4. 1 HP will be needed for oversize or industrial doors. Since pricing differences aren’t great, more power is usually a better choice (when in doubt).

    AC vs DC: the standard power current for basic garage door openers is AC, but DC current is common on belt-drive models and now available on other types. DC motors cost more, but offer softer starts and stops, less noise, and battery backup for opening the door in a power outage.

    Coming Up

    In our next post, we’ll cover remote control options and safety features. If you’re looking to repair, replace, or upgrade your automatic garage door opener and have questions, give us a call or contact us today!