Guides

Garage Door Opener Buyer’s Guide

Introduction

An automatic garage door opener represents a motorized device that opens and closes garage doors. They are either controlled by a wall switch or a remote control. The popularity of the automatic garage door openers grew due to its positive influence on the safety of one’s home.

The power to lift the garage door does not come from the very opener, but rather counterbalance springs that are connected to the door. The electric opener actually provides a small amount of force needed to control how far the door opens and closes. In case of a power outage, a quick-release mechanism allows the garage door to be disconnected from the opener and thus be used manually.

Typically, electric garage door consists of a power unit with an electric motor that is attached to a track. A trolley that is connected to an arm that attaches to the top of the garage door slides back and forth (opens and closes the door). This trolley is pulled by either chain, belt or screw.

Nevertheless, since an improperly adjusted garage door can pose danger to objects found on its path or even family members, it is important to address the safety issues regarding the automatic garage door openers. For this reason, in 1993 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a set of rules regarding the manufacture of the automatic garage door openers. Additionally, some of the most recent features included in the garage door opener designs have an integrated carbon monoxide sensor which triggers the door to open in case of the garage being filled with exhaust fumes.

Taking into consideration many garage door opener reviews, the following guide defines different types of garage door openers, types of electric motors as well as remote controls, gives a detailed list of the specifications regarding a particular model of the garage door opener and finally, provides you with explanations of some of the most important points from the safety commission rules regarding the automatic door openers.

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Types of Garage Door Openers

Belt-drive system

According to the many garage door opener reviews, belt-drive system is currently considered to be one of the most attractive types of automatic garage door openers, owing to the fact that they are known for their extremely smooth and quiet operation. What sets automatic garage door openers such as Chamberlain MYQ WD832KEV apart from all others is their strength that allows them to lift even the heaviest of garage doors. They are prized for their reduced amount of vibration and low market prices.

Screw-drive system

A screw-drive system is designed to use a lifting mechanism that moves along a threaded steel rod. Most prefer this type of opener because of its plastic-lined tracks that have a significant effect on noise reduction. What makes them widely popular is the fact that they have a small number of moving parts, thus requiring the least amount of maintenance. The screw-drive system proved to be the most effective with single-car garage doors and steel doors, rather than doors made of heavier materials, such as wood. These drivers also come with faster speeds, being able to open the door more quickly than some other models.

Chain-drive system

Chain-drive systems are the most common type of automatic door openers and are typically the most affordable ones on the market. The system utilizes metal chain to move the door up and down along its tracks. However, it is important to note that in comparison to screw-drive and belt-drive systems, chain-drive is identified as the noisier one. If you check out the garage door opener review for Chamberlain PD762EV ¾ HHP Heavy-Duty Premium Chain Drive Garage Door Opener are a perfect choice for the heaviest types of garage doors, such as one-piece wood doors, as well as wind-rated or heavily insulated doors. If you have a garage that is on the opposite end of the house or is completely detached, the noise might not pose a problem. Moreover, many upgraded chain-drive models are designed with chain separators that prevent the chain from hitting against the track, which results in in less overall noise.

Computer-controlled drive mechanism

One of the rarest automatic garage door systems, computer-controlled system, is slowly earning its popularity on the market. Unlike all the others, it does not use chain or screw, nor does the body of the unit sit directly above the door. It is positioned more to the middle of the ceiling and is extremely useful for garages with limited headroom, since it leaves more space available for storage.

Direct-drive and jackshaft openers

Like computer-controlled drive openers, direct-drive and jackshaft are still in the shadow of other drive systems. Nevertheless, they have showed as extremely reliable models that come with good warranties. Jackshaft openers use cables that are attached directly to the garage door with pulleys and a rolling torsion bar to lift and lower the door. They are also characterized by quiet operation, since it is the motor that is in motion, not the chain. The greatest advantage of the jackshaft openers is that they free up ceiling space. However it has to be noted that the door must have a torsion rod to attach the motor to. Sommer 1052V000 Direct Drive 1.0 HP is a great representative of quiet, strong and durable garage door opener featuring direct-drive mechanism.

Motors

½-HP, according to a multitude of garage door opener reviews, is considered to be the best option for the standard garage doors and are known to lift almost any type of doors. However, it is important to mention that in case of the wooden doors, ½-HP motors might cause wearing and tearing and are not the best choice in such cases.

¾-HP are more powerful than the ½-HP motors which instantly makes them more durable, but also more expensive. The extra power enables them to lift heavier types of doors more easily, thus being more appropriate for the one-piece wooden doors on two-car garages.

1-HP models are an ideal choice for large and industrial doors. By offering the maximum efficiency and power, these motors are able to lift even the heaviest of garage doors.

Direct Current motors are most common with belt-drive systems which offer added benefit of soft starts and stops, meaning that they produce much less noise. What’s more, they are more likely to provide backup battery options, which makes them extremely valuable during a power outage.

Remote controls and Keypads

In order to determine the right remote control for the electric garage door opener, you have to take into consideration the features you need as well as the size of the remote. On the one hand, you can choose between the mini-remote that clips into your keychain or a full-size remote that fits onto the car visor.

Universal garage door openers are compatible with most of the newer brands of electric garage door opener. It can be programmed to open one or two garage doors and if it features a light control switch, a universal remote can turn on the lights in your garage or your home. Universal remote controls come with full set of programming instruction.

On the other hand, programming a remote control for a particular brand is quite simple. All you have to do is press, hold and release the button in a pattern that is specified in the instructions and the remote automatically determines the radio frequencies for the garage door opener.       

The number of buttons on the remote control depends on the number of things you wish to control. Each button controls one garage door and one remote-controlled light. Garage door openers available on the market are most commonly designed with up to four buttons.

Remote controllers that come with one-touch button that triggers opening or closing the garage door can be programmed to control only one garage door or one garage door light. Multiple-button remotes are convenient for garages with more than one door and for those who want to control garage door light with one touch of a finger. Also widely popular are remotes featuring LED lights are designed to alert you to malfunction for easier maintenance.

In case remote battery runs out or you are not in your car and need to access the garage, it is advisable to have a wireless keypad. With these you can open up to three different garage doors and they are typically set up outside the garage in order for the family members to open the garage door without the remote. In all garage door opener reviews it is clearly stated that wireless keypads require you to enter the security code in order to open the garage door, so you can rest assured that no one will be able to break into your home should they get the hold of the remote.

Specifications

Manual emergency releases are a crucial component which is essential in times of power outages. If it happens that the power goes out, you are provided with the option to pull the cord that detaches from the opener and opens the door manually.

Lights are commonly programmed to turn on each time the opener is activated, providing you with more visibility during the night.

Motors that feature DC current are known to operate more quietly than those of AC current.

Force guard control is another safety-enhancing feature that allows you to select the minimum amount of force required to open and close the door.

Vacation settings are quite a handy feature that provides you with an option to disable the opener when you are away for a longer period of time in order to prevent it from responding to any transmitter.

Battery backups are an additional battery power that activates in case the primary battery fails.

Safety Concerns

Since it happens that even the best garage door openers are at risk of being hacked, it is of prime importance to implement proper safety measures.

First off, it is advisable to purchase a garage door opener that features rolling-code technology. It ensures that the codes expire in a matter of seconds so that the intruders who are looking to hack your key fob cannot use them.

Second, to prevent thieves from compromising the garage door release handle with a coat hanger, tie a zip-tie around it. No matter how bizarre it might seem, it is strong enough to prevent the door release from being pulled down.

Thirdly, opt for a garage door openers that can detect an object that is in the path of the door. This way you will prevent the door from closing and damaging the object or hurting the person that is in the way.

It is of prime importance for a garage door opener to be properly adjusted in order to ensure the utmost safety. Nevertheless, proper installation is not all it takes to ensure complete safety of all the household members.

For this reason, back in 1993 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued rules for automatic residential garage door openers. The rules include certification and recordkeeping requirements for garage door opener manufacturers. All the residential garage door openers manufactured after January 1st 1993 comply with these additional entrapment protection requirements.

According to the revised standard, the garage door openers have to contain the following list of features:

  1.      All the garage door openers have to come with the external entrapment protection device that detects an object obstructing the door without/before having an actual contact with it.
  2.      A wall-mounted constant contact control button that requires a person to hold the control button continuously in order to close the door completely. If the person releases the button, the doors reverse and open to the highest positions.
  3.      All garage door openers have to include a sticker near the wall mounted control button warning customers of the possible entrapment hazard.

In order to protect the public from unreasonable risk of injury and fatality caused by the garage door entrapment, CPSC encourages users to test the openers according to the manufacturer’s recommendations in order to ensure the doors have reversing feature on a monthly basis. If the doors fail to reverse, it is highly recommended to adjust them according to the owner’s manual or have it checked by a professional repairman.  Furthermore, it is essential for the owners of the automatic garage door openers to teach the children about the garage door safety, as well as to keep the transmitters and remote controls out of children’s reach.

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