If your garage door opener is not working like it should, it might be time for a new one. This is not a simple do-it-yourself home repair project, and most people hire a professional garage door company to do the work. Still, knowing about the basic types of garage door openers and the pros and cons of each is important for homeowners. You want an opener that works for your situation and budget, and the more you understand the options, the better you can communicate with the person doing the installation.
Types of Garage Door Openers
While there are dozens of makes and models of garage door openers, there are only a handful of basic types. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and the best one is largely a matter of personal preference, as long as the opener is correctly sized for the door it is lifting and it is installed correctly.
The five most common types of mechanisms used in garage door openers are chain drive, belt drive, screw drive, jackshaft, and direct drive motor types.
Chain Drive Openers
Chain driven openers are the most common of all, perhaps because they are the least expensive. These types of openers use a metal chain similar to a bicycle chain to lift the door. They can be durable and reliable if they are installed and maintained correctly.
Their downside is that they are noisy and can cause vibrations in the walls and ceilings when in use. Also, like belt and screw type openers, chain driven openers take up more room in the garage ceiling. DC motors are quieter and work more smoothly than AC powered motors and are one option for making a chain drive opener a bit less noisy. Soft start and stop motors are also available for reducing the clatter when the door starts and stops opening.
Belt Drive Openers
Belt driven openers use a flexible synthetic rubber belt, similar to a fan belt in a car. The belt has positive drive teeth which engage with teeth in the drive gear at the motor. Belt driven openers are quieter than chain driven types, and they are a little more expensive.
Screw Drive Openers
Torsion screw driven openers have a long threaded rod which rotates inside a housing above the door. These openers are the simplest in construction, are very reliable, and require the least maintenance. But, they are not as quiet as the belt drive types. Screw drive garage door openers can also transmit vibration into the walls and ceiling causing problems in attached garages with rooms above or next door to the garage.
Screw driven garage door openers can also be problematic in areas with cold weather. Because the mechanism is housed inside a metal tube, fluctuations in temperature can cause contraction of parts leading to the opener operating less efficiently. Some models have designs for overcoming this.
If you are looking for the fastest opening device, screw drive designs are the best, opening the door at a rate of about 12 inches per second compared to about 8 inches per second on belt and chain drive models. All types close at a rate of 7 seconds per second.
Jackshaft Garage Door Openers
Jackshaft type garage door openers are installed next to the door on the inside of the garage. They are powered by a 24 volt DC motor and use cables and pullies for lifting and lowering the door. Besides being especially quiet, jackshaft openers do not require any overhead installation other than the tracks, making them a good choice if storage space or room for a hoist is needed above the door.
Direct Drive Openers
Direct drive openers made in Germany use a small motor that travels along a chain inside an overhead track. They have only one moving part ñ the motor itself ñ and they are among the quietest garage door opener types.
Talk to your garage door specialist at Commonwealth Garage Door for more information on which type of garage door opener is best for you.