Choosing Garage Door Openers

garage door

When shopping for garage door openers, you need to keep more than just the coolness of the remote in mind. The location and orientation of the garage is the first thing to consider, although the size and number of your garage doors and the weather in your region are also important factors.

Perhaps the most important consideration is the size of your wallet. Basic garage door openers start at around $100, but can range up to $400 for those with advanced features such as backup power for use during extended power outages.

There are three major garage door opening systems: chain drive, screw drive and belt drive—although there are other advanced niche systems on the market.

Chain drive opener
Chain drives are the most common garage door openers. They’re also heavier-duty, able to handle large custom doors and those made of heavy wood. The downside is noise: these systems use heavy chains (like those on a bicycle) to push or pull a trolley affixed to the garage door with a metal bar. It can make quite a racket. Chain drive systems aren’t ideal for garages located below a bedroom—but they are perfect for detached garages or single-story homes. Chain drive openers run about $120–$220.

Screw drive
Screw drive openers are fast, but not always the best solution for areas with extremely cold climates, as they tend to bind up in the cold. A screw drive system doesn’t have as many moving parts as the belt drive system, but tends to be a bit noisier. Modern, high-end screw drive systems are correcting the noise and cold weather issues, however. You can expect to pay $100–$220 for a screw drive opener.

Belt drive opener
Belt drives work just like chain drives, except the chain is replaced with a belt made of fiberglass, rubber or polyurethane. Belt drives run smoothly and are quieter than traditional chain drives and cost $170–$270.

Jack shaft opener
A jack shaft opener, more commonly known as a wall mount opener, is a specialty system designed for tight spaces. This type of opener mounts on the wall beside the garage door, instead of the ceiling. This configuration keeps the ceiling clear for storage, and is good for garages with unusually high or low ceilings. With a jack shaft opener, a torsion bar is turned by pulleys driven by a small motor. These systems are very quiet and reliable, but will cost you $270–$340.

Direct drive
Direct drive garage openers are unique, in that the motor is the only moving part of the system. The motor travels along a stationary chain embedded in an overhead rail. Direct drives do not produce much noise, work quite well, and run from $130 to $300.

DC-powered drive
DC motors are smaller, quieter, and more efficient than AC motors. Many of these are equipped with backup battery systems that continue to open and close the garage door even when the power is out. They cost $140–$300.