The Ultimate Garage Door Opener Buying Guide

The Ultimate Garage Door

Opener Buying Guide

Garage doors are the ultimate convenience for homeowners. They allow you to protect your car during inclement weather. They make your vehicle more secure. And they improve the value of your home. A new garage door can provide homeowners with an 85% return on investment when it comes time to sell a home. Whether you are looking to increase security or curb appeal, a new garage door is a no-brainer. There are a number of garage door opener features you should consider. With such a wide range in types of garage door openers, it’s important to understand the benefits of a belt-driven garage door opener vs chain-driven openers or important garage door opener safety features.

This garage door opener guide will help you navigate the many options available to you. Whether you settle on jackshaft garage door openers or direct drive garage door openers, we want you to be confident that your selection makes that most sense for your needs and your budget.

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Garage Door Opener

Safety Features

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Regardless of the type of garage door opener, you should first and foremost focus on safety. Consider the following statistics from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). In 2007 alone, 13,325 people suffered injuries caused by garage doors. Some of the causes — such as falling doors and do-it-yourself injuries — were caused by improper installation, which only further emphasizes the importance of using a trusted professional for your garage door maintenance and installation.

Important Features

to include in any garage door opener

While there are specifics that separate belt driven and jackshaft garage door openers, there are also important qualities that you should seek out in all garage door openers. Before we explain the features that distinguish one type of garage door opener from another, we want to spend a little time exploring the essentials.

1. Automatic Reversing Feature

Many injuries are caused by garage door openers that do not operate properly or do not offer robust safety features that are standard today, such as the automatic reversing feature, which switches the direction of a closing door any time it encounters an unexpected obstacle. This feature was declared voluntarily in 1982 and then signed into federal law in 1993.

The two most common auto-reversing mechanisms are electronic sensors installed at the base of the door, which reverse the opener the moment an obstacle is encountered. Photoelectric eyes are mounted at the threshold of your garage door and sense when something obstructs them. If you have an older garage door opener, especially one manufactured before 1982, check the safety features to ensure your family is not in danger. As garage door opener manufacturers focus on the safety of their devices, they have made great strides in improving the reaction time of safety features. A newer opener is a great way to ensure that your garage is a safe as possible.

2. Rolling Code Technology

Recent reports indicate a kid’s toy being used to hack garage door openers, which is all the more reason to make sure that you have most secure garage door possible. The key to a secure garage door opener is rolling code technology. Every time you use your garage door opener remote, your remote and your opener randomly choose a new code, with over a million possible codes available.

For those who count on LiftMaster, know that rolling code technology has been standard on any garage door opener manufactured in 1993 or later. Those with older garage door openers should strongly consider replacing their opener with a newer one with rolling code technology.

3. Garage Door Manual Release

A manual release is an important feature of garage door openers. The manual release allows you to disconnect the garage door opener from the door, giving you the ability to open the garage door by hand. While garage doors are heavy, the spring system offers enough counter-balance that an adult can easily lift the door by hand.

The manual release feature is crucial because if you ever suffer a power loss, you may still need access to your garage. It is a helpful diagnostic tool when trying to ensure that your garage door is properly balanced.

Keep in mind that sophisticated burglars are capable of taking advantage of the manual release. A thief can use a thin hook or wire threaded underneath a closed garage door to pull the dangling manual release. Once pulled, the thief can easily lift the garage door by.

4. Battery Backups

Manual releases are helpful in the event of an extended power outage, and battery back-ups are another way to ensure that your garage door continues to function during a temporary power outage. There are limits to the number of times you can operate your garage door opener in battery backup mode. If you ration your use, a battery backup can also keep your garage door functional during an extended loss of power. Once power is restored, the battery backup will once again begin to charge.

5. Horsepower

Horsepower is another consideration for a garage door opener as well. The key is to get your horsepower levels exactly right. If your horsepower is too high for your lift needs, your garage door opener won’t be energy efficient. It would be like using a forklift to carry around a single suitcase. If you do not have enough horsepower, you will overwork your garage door opener, causing unnecessary wear and tear. An underpowered garage door opener could also cause certain safety risks, such as unsteady opening and closing.

If you have a relatively new, standard-sized door, an opener with 1/2 horsepower is more than enough. Older doors — especially those made of solid wood — tend to be heavier, which will require a stronger opener. A quick consultation with a garage opener professional will make the choice easy.

6. Security Lights

Your garage door opener should have a security light, which is usually part of the main unit and turns on automatically when the garage door opener is activated. Security lights provide you with a number of assurances. Garages tend to be cluttered and filled with potentially hazardous obstacles. If you were to come home at night and exit your car door without light, you could possibly injure yourself looking for the light switch on the wall. A security light also helps deter intruders. Many garage door openers come with security lights as the standard, but newer models actually attach their security lights to a motion detector, so they are activated when you walk into your garage through an interior door.

Garage Door Opener

Types and Recommendations

Garage door openers come in five primary types, each with their own features and benefits for homeowners. It’s important to pick a garage door opener based on your specific needs and requirements.

These are the five main types of Garage Door openers:

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Chain-driven garage door openers include many positive attributes. They are often the most cost-effective. As units, they are more affordable, saving you money on installation costs. They are also very durable, which saves you more over the life of the unit. They work much like a bicycle. An industrial chain is attached to a motor that lifts the door by pulling a trolley attached to a J-bar on your garage door.

Another advantage of chain-driven garage door openers is their strength. When it comes to heavy and especially older doors, a chain-driven opener is the best way to ensure you will have the power to consistently open your garage.

There are a few drawbacks to chain driven openers. The biggest complaint is the noise. Chains are made of metal, and they are pulled by metal parts. The metal-on-metal friction can be noisy. People with bedrooms over their garage should be especially careful, as a chain driven opener will increase the chance that opening the door at night could disturb sleep. If your garage is detached from your home, the added noise of a chain driven door will likely prove inconsequential.

Garage door opener designers have worked hard to reduce the noise issues associated with chain-driven garage door openers, so newer models are markedly quieter than their other counterparts. Technologies such as chain separators — which prevent the chain from hitting the housing of the opener — and newer DC motors and soft start and stop mechanisms have done wonders for reducing the noise associated with chain driven openers.


This 1/2 Horsepower, chain-driven garage door opener, is one of the leading openers offered by LiftMaster. It features many of the industry-leading technologies that have made chain-driven openers quieter while retaining their rugged durability. It’s LiftMaster’s best-selling drive system ever!

It also comes with industry-leading connectivity in the form of the MyQ® technology system, which allows you to have complete control over your garage door opener, whether you are sitting at home or sitting at the beach on vacation. Using the MyQ® app on your phone, you can open your door and control your garage lighting from anywhere in the world when your opener is connected via Internet Gateway. You will even receive emails and texts informing you of the status of your garage door, letting you travel with peace of mind.

The opener also features a stand-by mode that consumes 75% less electricity, helping you make your home greener. To increase the security of your home, the model also incorporates Security+ 2.0™, which changes the code used by your garage door remote with every click. Thieves cannot steal your code and open your door when you aren’t at home. Plus, safety beams and audio and visual warnings help make sure that your garage remains accident-free.

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While LiftMaster is the gold standard in our minds, we also recognize that there are other alternatives available to the consumer. One well-reviewed option is the Chamberlain PD612EV: a reliable workhorse. It isn’t the most powerful, and it can be a bit noisy. But if you have a standard garage door and don’t worry about noise, it’s a great option with a reputation for longevity. The average garage door is under 500 pounds, well within the lift capacity of this model. And like the recommended LiftMaster model, the opener can be connected to the internet, giving homeowners more versatile control over its functionality.

One drawback is its inability to handle taller doors (those over 7 feet) without an extension kit. However, in our experience, if you plan ahead and know you’ll need the extension, the added step is fairly painless.

The Chamberlain is designed with the do-it-yourselfer in mind, but be aware that a malfunctioning garage door opener is a bigger deal than a poorly installed ceiling fan. We strongly recommend hiring a professional contractor when replacing or installing a new garage door opener.

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Belt-driven garage door openers are similar to chain driven openers, except that instead of a metal chain, a reinforced belt does the lifting. The belts can be made of a wide range of materials, including fiberglass, polyurethane or steel-reinforced rubber.

The main reason homeowners turn to belt-driven garage door openers is the decreased noise. In addition, there is a sharp decrease in vibration. Belt-driven garage door openers are ideal if your living space is either directly adjacent or above your garage. Even a quiet chain-driven garage door opener can produce significant vibration, which can disturb the sleep of people above the garage.

With the decrease in noise, there is a slight increase in price. Belt-driven garage door openers are regularly between $30 and $100 more per unit.

Additionally, don’t expect a belt driven garage door opener to automatically decrease noise. If you have an older door that vibrates as it moves across the lifting tracks, even a silent motor won’t make much of a difference, since the noise is being produced by your door, not the opener.

If you are concerned about noise, we strongly recommend talking to a professional and having your existing garage door set up inspected. That way, you can avoid a higher-priced belt-driven motor when you actually need an adjustment of an unbalanced garage door.


When it comes to quiet operation, the Elite Series 8550 DC from LiftMaster is setting the standard. The key to this opener’s superior performance lies in its DC Motor Belt System, which is both powerful and ultra-quiet. The opener also includes the P3™ Motor, which is a proven leader in reliable and durable functionality.

LiftMaster takes energy efficiency seriously, so the 8550 DC also has a frugal stand-by mode that consumes 75% less energy. Plus both the motor and belt come with lifetime warranties, giving you peace of mind no matter how often you use your opener.

Its safety and security features are excellent as well. Taking rolling code technology a step further, the opener uses LiftMaster’s trademarked Security+2.0, the industry leader in opener security. It comes with helpful audio and visual warnings to alert everyone in your family that the door is about to be in use. A Timer-to-close feature ensures that your door isn’t left open accidentally. If the door is left in the open position for a set amount of time, the door closes automatically. A safety beam installed on the threshold of your door makes sure that children or pets are not injured by a closing door. Finally, PosiLock® allows you to both lock down and monitor your door while you are away.

This model comes complete with MyQ® technology, which grants you access via a smartphone or other connected device. Fully connected, you can operate your door remotely while also checking on the status of your home or opting to receive emails and text alerts.

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This is a great full-featured garage door opener. It is well regarded both in terms of durability and quiet operation but also as a connected device. As for its standard operation, the brand is well known for creating desirable belt-driven openers. For those who require a quiet, smooth running opener, the Chamberlain is a great option.

It provides enough power to move larger doors. Clocking in at 1 and 1/4 horsepower, it has enough oomph to lift heavier antique doors that can give 1/2 horsepower openers problems. If quiet operation is essential, an underpowered belt-driven opener will strain, leading to increased noise. If you are turning to a belt-driven opener for the noise reduction, choose one that offers the strength you need.

One of the biggest draws of the WD1000WF is the standard connectivity package. Many garage door openers require an additional gateway to unlock the full connectivity features, but not this model. Out of the box, it is fully equipped for appealing mobile applications.

There are some drawbacks with such robust features. Because this model is marketed to the self-installation crowd, many people find the installation process frustrating. There are a number of different things that can go wrong. It isn’t a simple plug-and-play model.

One option is to hire an installer, but because of the added expense, the value of a store bought opener is quickly diminished. This model is an excellent belt-driven garage door opener when properly installed, but it is certainly not for the amateur or first time do-it-yourselfer.

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Both chain driven and belt driven garage door openers are variations on a similar theme, but screw drive garage door openers use an entirely different approach to lifting your garage door. Instead of pulling the door up, these openers use a threaded metal rod that rotates like a screw to lift your door.

The biggest draw of such an approach is reliability. Because screw drive garage door openers don’t have the same number of moving parts as traditional chain- and belt-driven lifts, they have a far lower chance of breaking down. The one issue that screw drive openers experience is wear on the screw threads, which is combatted through proper lubrication. Do not confuse reliability with an install-it-and-forget-it mentality. While maintenance requirements are manageable, don’t neglect basics like lubrication or you may find yourself facing a costly repair.

Another drawback is additional wear with heavy doors. While screw drive openers can be just as powerful as belt-driven openers, heavy, one-piece doors — which are more common in older homes — can put added strain on the screw threads, causing them to wear down more quickly. If you are keeping your antique door for aesthetic reasons, a screw drive opener may not be your best option.

There are a number of issues to keep in mind, but there are also some perks. Screw drive openers are regularly considered to be the fasted openers available. A screw drive opener can lift a garage door at twice the speed of a standard chain-driven opener.

They’re also decent as far as noise. They aren’t as quiet as belt-driven openers, but they are certainly smoother operating than the standard chain-driven opener.

A screw driven opener is a great option for someone looking for reliability and durability, and while not having to worry about some of the special caveats such as heavy doors or the need for ultra-quiet operation.


This opener from LiftMaster is the standard bearer for screw drive operation. Built specifically with low-maintenance durability in mind, it has left countless homeowners elated. One of its biggest selling points is the way it has solved one of the nagging maintenance issues associated with screw driven openers. While most screw driven openers require lubrication to ensure smooth operation, this model is actually designed to be lubrication free. Even under extremely low temperatures, the one-piece steel rail design frees you from the hassle of routine maintenance.

It also comes with LiftMaster’s Motor Vibration Isolation System (MVIS®), allowing the opener to run very quietly. In fact, it rivals even belt-driven openers in regards to noise.

LiftMaster’s takes safety and security seriously. The Premium Series 3240 comes with Security+® rolling code technology, ensuring that only your remote can activate your opener. Simultaneously, PosiLock® allows you to remotely monitor your garage door when you are away.

This garage door opener is the perfect representative of everything that makes screw drive openers appealing. It is powerful, reliable and highly functional. If you are looking for a model that checks many boxes, it’s a great choice!

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It’s hard to compare any other garage door opener with the LiftMaster, but this Genie PowerLift is a good alternative if you are looking to install your opener yourself. One of its selling points is its intellicode rolling code technology. While not quite as robust as Security+®, it is a capable alternative. It ensures that a unique code is used every time you activate your garage door remote. It also includes Safe-T-Beam sensors to ensure that any obstacle found in the way of a descending door will automatically cause the door to reverse course.

The push-button programming is noted for its ease of use, and it’s known for the same type of durability that makes screw drive openers desirable.

Unfortunately, it does not operate with the same kind of speed that many homeowners expect from a screw driven opener. While it doesn’t lift any more slowly than its chain-driven counterparts, it also isn’t much faster, which many people accustomed to screw driven openers may find disappointing. Finally, while the LiftMaster is designed to be lubricant free, some homeowners have found that the Genie can be a bit noisy, even after lubricating it.

As with any independently purchased garage door opener, a poor installation can cost you much more in the long run. Unless you are confident in your installation abilities, you are likely to save money over the life of the opener if you opt for a professionally installed opener from a licensed dealer.

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Jackshaft garage door openers are recently gaining in popularity, and there are a number of reasons they are becoming a more attractive option. Instead of mounting on the ceiling of your garage, they are mounted on the wall right next to the door.

One of the biggest advantages of this style is increased security. The opener is mounted right next to the garage door, so many models include a deadbolt that automatically activates whenever the door is closed. This makes it incredibly hard for burglars to gain access to your home through your garage. Similarly, the manual release isn’t hanging from the ceiling, so pulling the manual release with a long hook isn’t an option.

Jackshaft garage doors carry some of the most robust on-board computerization, so they are very attractive to homeowners who prize automation and connectivity. They are also a great option if you have a smaller garage where having more available headroom is a perk.

Before considering a jackshaft, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First and foremost, they are pricey. Like any new and exciting technology, they are significantly more expensive than more standard options. Plus, they incorporate a lot of on-board computerization, which adds to the cost.

They also aren’t suitable for single panel doors. Because of the way the cable mechanism works, they can only be used on sectional doors.


This opener is the perfect combination of space-saving design and reliable functionality. It is wall-mounted, so many homeowners quickly become enamored with the additional storage space. For garages with high ceilings, the newly available space can be equipped with lofted storage, giving you a great place to store your outdoor furniture in winter.

Additionally, many homeowners with bedrooms above their garages find that the wall-mounted lift helps to reduce noise and vibration above the garage. While the motor isn’t as quiet as a belt-driven model, it’s location often makes the noise less noticeable.

One of the most attractive features is the Power Lock Deadbolt. This added security feature makes it nearly impossible for home invaders to enter through your garage door. The Security+ 2.0™ rolling code system makes your garage door remote equally as secure as the door itself. The system keeps a close eye on the entrance to your door, so you can make sure your family is safe. If any person or object crosses the light beam that travels along the threshold of your door, the opener will automatically reverse the door.

The MyQ® Technology gives you access to your garage door opener through your smartphone or another connected device. It also comes with a lifetime motor and five-year parts warranty, so you can be confident after installation.

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This category requires a little clarification. In older parlance, any garage door opener that didn’t use a chain or belt was considered direct drive. In that sense, a screw drive garage door opener would qualify as direct drive. Recently, however, a new style of garage door opener has claimed the name and is distinctly different than any other garage door opener available on the market.

Direct-drive garage door openers utilize a chain or belt, but while traditional chain-driven openers use a stationary motor to move the chain, the direct-drive openers use a stationary chain while the motor moves along it. The biggest advantage is extremely quiet operation. Many owners claim that the direct drive is even quieter than a belt-driven opener. Direct-drive models are extremely reliable because the only moving part is the motor.

Like jackshaft openers, these newer models are also somewhat pricey. They also have somewhat limited availability. They are more popular in Europe, so there aren’t too many options available in the American market.


This German-made garage door opener is starting to make quite the impression stateside. Instead of moving along a chain, the motor moves along a steel rail and boasts zero-lubrication operation. It comes complete with many of the latest safety and security features, including a sensor designed to prevent injury and reverse lift whenever an obstacle is detected. It also comes equipped with rolling code technology that will keep your remote secure.

It is also a great option for homeowners with especially tall doors, as it can easily accommodate an 8-foot tall door without an additional extension.

Direct-drive openers are starting to reach the market, so they are primarily available for direct purchase, meaning homeowners will either need to be well-versed in installation or pay extra to have it professionally installed. They are new, so there isn’t much data available on their long-term durability, although the nature of their operation bodes well for a long operational life.

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The functionality of a garage door depends on the quality of the installation, which is why it’s imperative to trust an industry leader to install your new opener. If you live in the Greater Toledo area, there is no better option than Quality Overhead Door. With over 40 years of experience, we have been helping Ohio homeowners transform their homes through the expert installation of the highest quality doors and openers.

We have expanded across northwest Ohio, and southeast Michigan and we are committed to maintaining the face-to-face relationships that are the hallmark of a community focused institution like Quality Overhead Doors.

As a retailer specializing in LiftMaster openers, we are committed to bringing you industry-leading openers and coupling them with the most expert installation. Through LiftMaster’s superior craftsmanship and years of experience, you can expect years of peerless operation and reliability.

Regardless of which kind of garage door opener is best suited for your needs, you can count on our seasoned professionals to give you the kind of care and service you deserve. Your family requires safety and security paired with convenience and durability. As a family-oriented institution, we understand that your house is more than property: It is your home.