How to choose garage door opener

When it comes time to buy a new garage door opener, you may be surprised at the number of options you face. Here are some guidelines on how to make the best choice for your garage.

Unit type.

Garage door openers are equipped with three different types of transmission: chain, belt, and screw.

Chain door openers are the oldest style and continue to be very popular and of good value. They can be noisy, however, and may not be a good choice if the garage is under a bedroom or adjacent to a room where tranquility is appreciated. On the other hand, some people appreciate the warning (through opening the garage door) that someone is about to enter the house.

The openers are identical to the can openers, except that they work with a rubber belt. They are the quietest type of garage door opener and tend to cost a little more than the others.

Halfway between cost and noise are screwdrivers. There are very few moving parts on these units and they require little maintenance. With a thin margin, they are probably the easiest to install for a DIY.


A standard two-car garage door is best served with a 1/2 inch garage door opener. I would only use a smaller engine in a car garage with a light door. For heavy doors, such as freight doors, a 3/4 power model is the best choice. In case of doubt, increase the power, since the price difference is not significant.

Door size

The standard garage door is 7 feet high, and the standard garage door opener can accommodate doors up to 6 inches taller than that. Taller doors require an extension kit.

Security features.

All garage door openers sold since 1993 have been forced to have a security mechanism that stops and reverses a closing door when some objects pass under it (thus blocking a ray of light through the opening). This reversal mechanism can save damage to machines, people, and pets, and should be maintained and tested regularly.

Security features.

Make sure you buy a garage door opener with a rolling code function. This has become a fairly common feature and for good reason. It makes it much more difficult for a potential thief to access the code that will open the door.


Not something you could think of, but remember that the garage door opener often works as the main, if not only, the light source in the garage. Standard units are capable of handling two 60-watt bulbs, but it is recommended to consider one that can handle two 100-watt bulbs.

Battery backup.

Battery backup is not a standard feature, but it is available on some models. When your electricity is eliminated, the backup starts and allows you to use the garage door opener. Without it, you can find yourself locked out of your home.

Keyless entry pad.

A keyless access panel is mounted just outside the garage door. Enter the correct code and the door will open. A useful feature if you get stuck or if you appreciate the ability to let yourself in without having to carry a key. Newer units can be activated by reading fingerprints.

TV remote.

Two remote control units are standard on the new garage door openers. Some remote controls have a single button and do nothing but open a door. Others have multiple buttons and can operate more than one door.

Wall controls.

A wall-mounted control pad is a standard feature. Use it to open and close the door and turn the light on and off.

Pro vs. DIY models.

Garage door manufacturers make separate products for professional and do-it-yourself installers. The only big difference I have noticed between them is that DIY models, which are the ones you find in home improvement stores, are easier to assemble in a car. Pro models tend to have a one-piece track, which is best transported in a truck. This may make the pro unit a bit stronger and easier to install, but you will have to go to a dealer to purchase one.

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