Key Considerations in Buying an Overhead Garage Door Opener
Garage door openers are among those out-of-sight, out-of-mind pieces of equipment to which we never give a second thought – until they suddenly stop working. If your garage door opener has suddenly caught your attention – in a bad way – then you’re probably in the process of shopping for a new opener.
The good news is that there are many choices available to you. But that also makes your choice a little more difficult. How do you know which openers will adequately do the job of replacing your old opener?
Many of the differences between the many openers on the market are not critical to their functionality. They’re matters of design, or style, or branding.
But there are two key areas of functionality that you must carefully evaluate to determine whether an opener is suitable for your garage door: the design of the drive, and the power of the opener.
Garage Door Opener Drive Styles
Garage door openers are available in three different types of drive mechanisms. Each is distinctly different, offering unique capabilities and shortcomings.
Consider the following different drive styles as you shop for your new opener:
- Belt Drives: Belt drives are considered to be the premium drive system for garage door openers. That means, of course, that you’ll pay a premium price for a belt drive opener. But belt drives are also the quietest of the opener drive styles. So if your opener will not be used a detached garage, the price premium of a quiet belt drive might be well worth the extra expense.
- Chain Drives: Chain drives are the most widely used type of drive system. That’s partly because, on average, they are less expensive than belt drive systems. And it’s also because chain drives will handle any type or size of door. Very large and heavy doors are typically installed with chain drive openers.
- Screw Drives: Sort of an intermediary between belt drives and chain drives. Typically quieter than a chain drive, but not as quiet as a belt drive. Screw drives are considered to be extremely durable and reliable. And screw drives are also considered to be particularly suitable for one-piece doors that tilt to open and close.
Garage door openers are also available in several options of horsepower availability. How much horsepower do you need for your garage door? Here are the three most common motor sizes:
- 1/2 Horsepower: The smallest horsepower rating is also the most common, and of course, the least expensive on average. This horsepower is sufficient for most garage doors.
- 3/4 Horsepower: If your door is on the heavy side, as garage doors go, this might be your best option. This mid-range horsepower option is also generally considered to be a particularly durable and reliable motor.
- 1 Horsepower: Unless you have a very large and heavy door, you won’t need this much horsepower.
Before selecting the horsepower of your new opener, check the horsepower rating of your old opener. (You should be able to find that labeled on the motor, if it’s not in any of your paperwork for the opener.)
Unless you’ve felt that your old opener did not have sufficient power, replacing it with a new opener of the same horsepower should work out just fine.