Picture the scene: you’ve had a long day at work. All you want to do is get home, put your feet up and relax. You pull into the driveway and push the remote control that opens the garage door.
Now what are you going to do?
Most new home garages have door openers pre-installed, but these door openers don’t last forever. They can wear out with time, or the mechanism can get jammed and stop working properly.
If your garage door isn’t opening properly, or you live in an older home that doesn’t have one installed, you might want to consider making an investment. Garage door openers generally range in price between $100 and $500, with a median price between $200 and $300.
While garage door openers generally aren’t an expensive investment, you could end up wasting hundreds of dollars if you don’t do your homework first.
Things to Consider
While there are a number of features and functions you might want your garage door to have, the three most important features you need to consider are horsepower and the drive system. Remote controls and smart home compatibility are all well and good, but if your opener doesn’t have enough horsepower to lift your door, they won’t be of much help.
1. Drive Systems
There are four main types of garage door drive systems. Knowing the differences between them will help you to find the best type for your own home.
Chain-Drive Garage Door Opener
Chain-drive openers are generally the least expensive type of door opener, making them a popular choice for frugal shoppers and homeowners with a limited budget. These devices use a metal chain to drive the trolley mechanism that raises and lowers your garage door. Chain-driven door openers tend to require more maintenance than other models because of the increased friction and high number of moving parts.
Probably the biggest drawback of a chain drive is that they are quite loud. The chains make a lot of noise when they are in operation, which means these garage door openers tend to announce your arrival. These are perhaps best used for detached garages. When attached to your home, a chain-driven garage door is likely to wake the whole family if you get home late at night.
Belt-Drive Garage Door Opener
Functionally speaking, belt-drive garage door openers are nearly identical to chain-driven models. The primary difference is that they utilize a belt instead of a chain. While the belt functions in much the same way as a chain, it provides quieter, smoother operation and offers somewhat less wear and tear, as belts don’t degrade nearly as quickly as chains.
The downside is that belt-driven door openers are more expensive than chain-driven models. The quieter operation is great for busy households with people coming and going regularly, but if you have a detached garage, a chain-driven opener may be a better option.
Screw-Drive Garage Door Opener
Screw-driven garage door openers are built around a single threaded rod. When the rod rotates, it drives the trolley and causes the door to open. Because the system is powered by a single rod rather than a chain, it requires quite a bit less maintenance than chain-driven openers. They are generally pretty quiet.
The biggest drawback to screw-drive garage door openers is that they tend to be more expensive than other types of door opener. While these openers have fewer parts and less maintenance, the design and manufacture of these parts is somewhat more involved than a chain- or belt-driven door opener. Nevertheless, the reduced volume may be well worth the extra cost.
2. Direct-Drive Garage Door Opener
Both the quietest and the most expensive garage door openers, direct drive systems feature a single moving part. The motor itself moves along the trolley to open and close the garage door, which results in virtually silent operation and almost no maintenance.
While direct drive systems offer excellent performance, they are considerably more expensive than other options. While this may eventually pay for itself in reduced maintenance, it really comes down to how much you favor the quieter, simpler operation of the motor.
It doesn’t take a huge amount of power to lift a garage door. After all, most of them are designed to be lifted by hand in the event of an emergency or a power outage. Garage door openers generally range from ½ to 1 ½ HP. ½ and ¾ HP are probably the two most common motors.
Before you purchase a garage door opener, you should have a good idea of what kind of garage door you have. Garage doors are generally made with steel, although if you live in an older home, you may have a wooden garage door instead.
Modern garage doors can generally be grouped into three categories: single-layer, double-layer and triple-layer. Single-layer doors are the most common, and most can be lifted with just ½ HP. Larger and heavier doors will require more horsepower to open.
Even if you only need ½ HP to open your garage door, many people opt for a more powerful motor anyway. More horsepower can help your door open faster, and since the motor is being met with less resistance, the wear and tear on the motor is lessened.
4. Additional Features
Certain components or features are a must for any garage door opener. You’ll need a remote control to open the garage door from your car. Most door openers feature a manual release that allows you to disengage the trolley and open the door manually. Most garage door openers feature a security light, but this isn’t strictly necessary.
If you’re looking for a door opener with more advanced features, popular functions include:
- Built-in WiFi or Bluetooth lets you connect your door opener to your home network without additional components
- Smart device compatibility enables control of your garage through an app or via your smart hub
- Automatic closing functionality shuts your garage door after a predetermined amount of time
- Backup batteries keep your door opener functioning even during a power outage
- Motion detectors automatically turn on a security light when someone approaches
- Advanced security features let you control who can and cannot open your garage door
- Garage door openers may run on either AC or DC
- DC-powered garage door openers often use terms such as HPF and HPS to describe performance comparable to horsepower
Before You Buy a Garage Door Opener
Whether you live in an older home without an automatic opener or you’re updating a worn-out drive system with an opener that fits your modern lifestyle, there is never a wrong time to buy a garage door opener. If your garage door opener is more than 20 years old, it is recommended you replace it for a newer model with better security features.
However, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional before you make your purchase. Many large cities have experienced garage door experts who install garage doors for a living. Whether you decide to employ their services or not, they can be an excellent resource. If you’re not sure how big your garage door is or how much horsepower you need, they can give you the information you need.
You also need to consider the installation process itself. Installing a drive system is a fairly involved process. While it’s not impossible to do it yourself, you might want to seek professional assistance. Warranties are usually voided if the door openers are not installed correctly, so keep that in mind while you shop.
The Best Garage Door Openers
- Quiet performance and requires little maintenance
- Includes rail extension for 8-foot garages
- PRICE RANGE: Under $300
- Quiet performance and requires little maintenance
- Includes rail extension for 8-foot garages
- PRICE RANGE: Under $300
If you’re looking to get the most mileage out of your money, the Chamberlain B730 Belt-Drive Garage Door Opener is your best bet. It combines great performance with an unbeatable warranty, and all for a reasonable price.
Best Garage Door Openers Under $200
Skylink AN-1622K Atoms Garage Door Opener
Chain-driven motors will always be the least expensive garage door openers. But just because a garage door opener is inexpensive, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. The Skylink AN-1622K Atoms utilizes a number of features to make it a very attractive option for the price.
Featuring a ½ HPF DC motor, the Skylink Atoms offers quieter performance than a comparable AC motor would. In addition, it offers a number of other performance features designed to reduce both the noise and wear-and-tear of your door opener. This includes soft start and stop adjust mechanics that vary the speed of your garage door as it opens, maximizing the life of your mechanical components.
The door opener features a LED light that provides illumination in the garage, and you can purchase an optional battery backup kit with its own LED light, allowing your garage door to function even in the event of a power outage.
At ½ HPF, this garage door opener doesn’t have enough power to open the largest or heaviest garage doors. But it works well with most residential doors. Programming it is easy, with step-by-step instructions provided.
The main downside to this unit is that it tends to be very slow to open and close. This is likely the result of the soft-start feature, but if you don’t want to have to wait forever for your garage door to open, you should probably find another model. Otherwise, this is a good option for an affordable door opener.
Chamberlain C410 Durable Chain Drive Garage Door Opener
The Chamberlain C410 Chain Drive Garage Door Opener is one of the most reliable AC-powered garage door openers in its class. Powered by a ½ HP-equivalent motor and propelled by rugged stainless-steel chains, this garage door opener is guaranteed to provide years of reliable performance.
A number of features help the C410 to stand out from similar garage door openers. One is the ability to enable control of your door via smart phone, although the purchase of the MyQ-G0301Smart Garage Hub is required. Other features include an extended range of 1500 feet, letting you signal the garage door to open while you’re still driving down the street.
The Chambelain C410 comes with two three-button remote controls, and it is secured by advanced security measures that resist hacking and ensure the door does not unlock unless signaled by the remote control or via smart phone activation. Instruction videos are included with your purchase, and the door opener is backed by a 10-year warranty on the motor and a 1-year warranty for the chain drive.
The biggest issue with the C410 is that it is designed to work exclusively with 7-foot garage doors. In order for it to be compatible with 8- and 10-foot doors, you will have to purchase extension kits. Otherwise, the C410 offers solid, reliable performance at a reasonable price.
Chamberlain B510 Belt-Driven Garage Door Opener
Chain-driven garage door openers are not for everybody. If you’re looking for something with a little bit quieter operation, the Chamberlain B510 features a ½ HP motor and a steel-reinforced belt drive that offers quieter opening and closing and less maintenance to boot.
Quiet operation is not the only reason to consider this particular garage door opener. This Chamberlain model has a lot of excellent features to recommend it, such as MyQ compatibility that enables you to operate your garage door through your smart phone, provided you purchase the gateway.
Another awesome feature is the automatic timer, which lets you set the garage to close automatically in the event that you forget to close it. You can set the timer for one minute, five minutes or ten minutes, or you can disable it entirely if you’re running a garage sell or packing for a camping trip.
The door opener also features infrared safety technology that automatically reverses course if a person, pet or object is detected in the path of the closing door. This is especially helpful when used in conjunction with the timer, because it ensures you won’t accidentally injure a pet or a child if they try to slip in before the garage door closes.
Although most belt-driven garage door openers are more expensive than chain-driven models, this particular unit is competitively priced, making it one of the best options for an inexpensive belt drive on the market.
Backed with a 10-year warranty on the motor, a 15-year warranty on the belt, and a 1-year warranty for parts, you can depend on Chamberlain to last for years to come.
Genie PowerLift Screw Drive Garage Door Opener
While chain- and belt-driven garage door openers dominate the market, there are other options. One such is the screw-drive, such as is used by the Genie PowerLift. While the PowerLift incorporates most of the same safety features and accessories employed by other door openers, it uses screws to open and close the garage door, which generally provides quieter performance than belts and chains.
The Genie PowerLift uses a ½ HP AC motor rated for garage doors up to 500 pounds. It comes with two pre-programmed remotes and also includes a wall console that offers features such as vacation lock and light control, letting you keep your garage light on during the night for added security.
In addition, the PowerLift has a self-diagnostic safety feature that automatically reverses course if the infrared light detects something in the path of the closing door. Since there are no belts or chains to wear out, maintenance is minimal, and the system is compatible with both HomeLink and Car2U app functions.
If you’re looking for a garage door opener with as little maintenance as possible, the Genie PowerLift may be just what you’re looking for. With a 15-year warranty on the motor and a 3-year warranty for parts, you could do a lot worse.
Best Garage Door Openers Under $250
Chamberlain B730 Garage Door Opener
Like the B510, the Chamberlain B730 is a belt-driven garage door opener with the equivalent of ¾ HP, providing enough power to open almost any garage door. The belt drive ensures quieter performance than comparable chain drives, and Chamberlain provides a number of other exciting features that help make this one of the best values on the market.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of the B730 is the battery backup included with the opener. While this is an optional accessory for most comparably priced door openers, it is uncluded with the Chamberlain B730, making this an excellent value.
Other features include a wall panel, two three-button remotes for remote access, compatibility and ready upgrade support to the MyQ Smartphone Control, advanced security measures that combat hacking and anti-theft measures that keep your door locked and an impressive warranty, which includes lifetime for the motor and belt, as well as five-years for parts and one-year for the accessories.
All of this combines to make the Chamberlain B730 the best value for its price on the market.
Genie ChainMax 1000 Garage Door Opener
If you’re need a garage door opener with a little bit more power, the Genie ChainMax 1000 may be able to help. Powered by a quiet, DC-driven ¾ HPc motor, the ChainMax 1000 brings more performance to the table.
With speeds of up to 7.5 inches/second, the ChainMax opens your 7-foot garage door in between 11 and 12 seconds. Like the Skylink AN-1622K, the ChainMax comes with both soft start and stop control features to ensure smoother performance, Reinforced c-channel railing helps prevent the buildup of debris, keeping your chains running smoother longer.
The ChainMax also comes with advanced safety features, such as an infrared beam that automatically reverses the door if it detects something in the opening. This can prevent accidental damage to your car or even injuries.
In addition to these basic features, optional accessories include a 60W LED bulb for illumination in the garage, a backup battery unit, rail extensions to accommodate an 8-foot garage door and the option to upgrade to a belt-drive or even a direct-drive. All of these choices help make Genie one of the most innovative options available.
Chamberlain PD512 Garage Door Opener
The Chamberlain PD512 Chain-Driven Garage Door Opener improves on the features of the C410, offering the same reliable performance with a few additional safety and performance features. With a ½ HP motor and durable industry-grade chains.
The PD512 is primed and ready to offer reliable performance year after year. All the great features of the C410 are found here, including the advanced Patented Security + 2.0 and PosiLock anti-theft protection that keeps your home safe from invasion.
Also included is a smart home panel, two pre-programmed single-button remotes and an easy installation guide that helps you get your garage door opener installed smoothly. New to the PD512 is an infrared safety camera that prevents the garage from accidentally closing on your pets or your loved ones.
Like most other chain-driven garage door openers, the PD512 is designed to work specifically with 7-foot doors and requires an extension kit for larger garages. With a six-year warranty on the motor and a one-year warrant on moving parts, you can depend on the Chamberlain PD512 to work for years to come.
Decko 24300 Chain Drive Garage Door Opener
A powerful ¾ HP DC motor serves as the backbone behind the Decko 24300 Heavy-Duty Chain Drive Garage Door Opener. The garage door opener comes with a number of useful performance and safety features, including some which help set the Decko 243000 apart from its competition.
Foremost in this category is the included extension kit. Where other competitively-priced chain drive motors require you to purchase an extension kit to accommodate 8-foot doors, this is included automatically in your purchase, saving you money if you have a larger garage door.
Also included is a three-function wall panel, two three-button remotes and a wireless keypad for remote operation anywhere in the house. In addition, the Decko 24300 features an auto-reversal sensor that automatically stops the garage door if it detects an object or person it its path.
The door opener is also specially designed for easy installation, with simple wires that make it difficult to get it wrong. If your garage needs a little bit more power, the Decko 24300 just might be the solution you’re looking for.
Chamberlain C870 Smartphone-Controlled Garage Door Opener
Although the Chamberlain C870 is one of the more expensive garage door openers on the market, it has a number of exciting features standard that come as extra to other garage door openers, helping this model stand apart from the rest. In addition, it is powered by a 1 ¼ HP motor that is ready to do some serious heavy lifting.
While all Chamberlain garage door openers are compatible with MyQ Smartphone technology, only the C870 comes with that feature standard. With built-in WiFi, your Chamberlain is ready to connect to your smart app as soon as it is installed, giving you more control over your security and safety features than ever before. It also comes with a battery backup ready to go, so if your power ever goes out, your garage door won’t.
Everything else that you’ve come to expect from Chamberlain, from two three-button remotes and a wall panel to advances security and encryption measures, are all included. So too are instructional videos designed to guide you through the installation process.
The C870 might cost a little more than its counterparts, but it more than makes up for it with added features and raw horsepower. With a lifetime warranty on the motor, a five-year warranty for the chain and parts and a one-year warranty on accessories, you’ll be good to go for years to come.
Best Garage Door Openers Under $300
Sommer Direct Drive Opener 3/4hp Garage Door Opener
Nothing offers quieter performance than a Direct Drive garage door opener, and that’s what you get with Sommer. First developed in Europe, the direct drive has begun to make its way to the United States. With just one single moving part, no other garage door opener is quieter or requires less maintenance.
Powered by a full 1 HP motor, the Sommer Direct Drive Opener is one of the most powerful garage door openers on the market. The model includes extension rails so it can be fitted to both a 7-foot and 8-foot garage door opener. It is rated to lift up to 550 pounds.
It comes with two remote controls as well as a wall switch, and it is compatible with HomeLink for vehicles that have HomeLink enabled. The only real issue with the opener is the lack of support.
Although direct drive openers require very little maintenance, problems can arise. And since these are so uncommon in the United States, you might struggle to find someone able to help with repairs or provide parts. But for those living in Europe, or for anyone who’s able to find assistance locally, this offers some of the most reliable performance available.
With the variety of options available, picking a garage door opener can be confusing. But now that you know what you’re looking for, including the critical differences between belt and chain drives, you have the information you need to make a smart, well-informed purchase.
And if you’re looking for great product recommendations to choose from, you’ve come to the right place.
18 x 10 x 6.5 inches
White and Blue
3/4 HP DC motor