Open sesame! From jackshafts and belt drivers to openers with home automation capabilities, we reviewed six garage door openers, both traditional and smart, to ensure you can make the best buying decision for your home. Regardless of what kind is best suited for your garage, know that you can trust SafeWise to provide you with transparent, honest reviews of these home safety devices.
Before we delve into the things to consider before choosing a smart garage door opener, let’s examine how these devices work. The mechanisms that enable an opener to lift your garage door are usually one of the following:
This is a generic term for a mechanism that transfers and transmits rotational force or power. Jackshafts can take a variety of shapes, but often times they’ll consist of two pulleys, a belt, and cranks.
A rail system guides a motorized or non-motorized garage door opener. The mechanism will usually be reinforced by a chain, screw, belt, or motorized driver.
This mechanism for garage door openers has been around the longest. It basically uses a chain, similar to a bike chain, to open and close the door. The only downside to these types of garage door openers is that they’re louder, so if you have an attached garage, you might want to consider other options.
This kind of driver is shaped like the body of a screw. Most garage door openers with this mechanism are quieter and cheaper than chain drivers, but they require more upkeep.
This is by far the quietest but most expensive garage door opener mechanism. The belt driver works just like the chain driver, but because it’s made of steel reinforced rubber, it doesn’t have the loud metal-to-metal contact when the door is opened or closed.
Things to Consider in a Garage Door Opener
Now that you have a good understanding of how garage door openers work, let’s start talking about the specifics of what you should look for in a smart garage door opener.
The garage door opener’s motor power is measured in horsepower (hp). How much horsepower you need depends on the type of door you have. In general, most standard doors require 1/2 hp, wooden doors 3/4 hp, and large or industrial doors 1 hp.
Almost all electronic mechanisms require some maintenance. And because garage door openers are something you use daily, it’s important to inspect them frequently as a preventive measure.
Make sure the roller brackets are tightly in place, and inspect them at least once a year. If the rollers have cracks or look worn, replace them right away.
Frequently grease the different parts of your garage door to ensure the components run smoothly.
Clear the door-tracks by removing debris that might obstruct the door from working properly.
Big-ticket items should come with a warranty. Garage door openers usually cost a few hundred dollars, so look carefully at the warranty details. Warranties generally vary from three to five years, but most reputable brands provide a motor-specific warranty which can range from 10 years to the entire lifetime of the product. You should also consider the service fee; some companies offer warranties that cover the mechanics, but they may charge you for a service call.
If you love having a connected home, the Chamberlain WD832KEV is a great option. It has everything you want in a high-end garage door opener, from the best safety features to connectivity capabilities.
Smartphone Compatible This garage door opener is equipped with Chamberlain’s smartphone-compatible technology called MyQ, which allows you to remotely control and monitor your garage door. In order to connect the garage door to your phone, you must purchase the MyQ Internet Gateway—sold separately.
Extremely Quiet If your garage is attached to your home, you’ll appreciate that the belt driver mechanism reduces noise and is extremely quiet.
Door Timers If you’re really busy—running around with kids or multitasking—you can set a door timer that will automatically shut your garage door, so you never have to worry about leaving your house exposed.
Confusing Instructions The installation instructions are not clear or very detailed, making it hard to install. Customers have complained that it took 10+ hours to complete the installation process in some cases, so consider getting professional installation.
If you’re concerned about keeping your garage looking clean and clutter-free, the LiftMaster 8500 is your best choice.
Jackshaft Mechanism The jackshaft mechanism offers you the best of both worlds: a sleek look and powerful motor.
Smartphone Compatible This garage door opener can be controlled from your smartphone, so you’ll never have to wonder if you forgot to close the garage door again. However, in order to utilize the garage door remotely, you must purchase the MyQ Gateway device separately.
Side Mount Unlike most garage door openers that mount to the ceiling, this one mounts on the side wall, providing a clean look and saving headspace.
No DIY Option It’s more complicated to install than other garage door openers on this list, so it requires professional installation.
The Genie QuietLift 800 is as quiet as it is safe. It features pressure-sensitive sensors, so if the garage door encounters an obstacle on the way down, it will stop, preventing injury to your loved ones and pets.
Easy Installation and Instructions If you’re busy, you’ll enjoy that this is very simple to install, so you won’t spend your entire weekend trying to figure out how things work.
Safe-T-Beam System This feature sends an invisible infrared beam across the door frame. If anything crosses the beam when the door is closing, the door will reverse itself and open back up, which is especially useful if you have young kids that like to run around.
Belt Driver System The belt driver design ensures minimal noise, which is a feature you’ll really appreciate if your garage is located next to or underneath a bedroom.
Small Buttons One thing that’s lacking with the Genie QuietLift 800 is the design. It has very small control buttons that can make it hard to press the right one if you have your hands full or are in a hurry.
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