To curious little fingers, a garage door can seem like one big gadget to open and close, and once kids get hooked on to a game, they’ll usually insist on playing it (no matter how dangerous!). While we can’t promise to have eyes installed in the back of your head, we can recommend the next best thing for parents where childproofing your garage door is concerned – a smart garage door opener that prioritizes safety.
A door opener that’s more than up to the task of safeguarding your curious kids is the Chamberlain B970 Garage Door Opener thanks to handy features like motion sensors and smartphone technology – this can let you monitor your garage door functions from anywhere and more importantly, keep your kids out of harm’s way.
Later in this guide, we’re going to review the following garage door openers as well:
- Chamberlain Group Chamberlain B1381 Garage Door Opener
- Chamberlain Group C450 Garage Door Opener
- Chamberlain Group B550 Garage Door Opener
- Genie ChainMax 1000 Garage Door Opener
- Chamberlain Wd832Kev Garage Door Opener, ½ Hp, Ultra-Quiet Belt Drive Operation, Myq Smartphone Control Enabled (Internet Gateway Sold Separately), Includes 2-3 Button Remotes, Keyless Entry Keypad, Multi-Function Wall Control Panel
- Chamberlain Group C870 Smartphone-Controlled Durable Chain Drive Garage Door Opener With Battery Backup And Max Lifting Power, Pewter
- Genie SilentMax 750 3/4 HPc Ultra-Quiet Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Wireless Keypad
- Genie MachForce Plus 2 HP Premium Screw Drive Garage Door Opener Plus Wireless Keypad
- LiftMaster 8500 Elite Series 8500 Jackshaft Operator, Factory Direct
- Chamberlain Group C410 Durable Chain Drive Garage Door Opener With Med Lifting Power, Pewter
- LiftMaster 1355 ( Replaced by 8164W ) Contractor Series 1/2 HP AC Chain Drive Wi-Fi® Garage Door Opener without Rail
- Chamberlain Group B503 Ultra-Quiet & Strong Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with MED Lifting Power, Blue
- Direct Drive 1042V004 Garage Door Opener, 42 x 10 x 6.5 inches
- LiftMaster 3255 Contractor Series 1/2 HP Chain Drive W/O Rail Assembly
- Chamberlain RJO20 Direct Drive Wall Mounted Space Saving Garage Door Opener, One Size, Black
- Chamberlain Group B730 Ultra-Quiet & Strong Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Battery Backup and Plus Lifting Power, Blue
17 Family Garage Door Opener Reviews
If you’re reluctant to upgrade from an old and loyal model, the Chamberlain B970 Belt Drive Garage Door Opener combines the simplicity of traditional garage door openers with modern app technology to give your family all the advantages of new era protection and surveillance. Unique features like Battery Backup means you’re never left out in the cold either figuratively or literally when the power fails, and the sophisticated motion detecting control panel lets you decide how and when motion is detected so safeguarding your kids needn’t be a balancing act.
Though it’s built with the highest lifting force in its industry class of 1.25 HP, it’s as quiet as a mouse in operation, and even slows down upon closing – making it a dream to use with small children or pets around. Also, thanks to the no-nonsense installation, busy moms and dads can have the B970 opener up and running in one afternoon.
- Powerful yet ultra quiet belt motor
- Straightforward installation
- WiFi enabled
- Smartphone controls and app connectivity
- Battery Backup system
- MAX lift capacity at 1.25 HP
- Motion detection control panel allows for easy customization/programming of safety features
- Subscription fee for additional home device connectivity
If you find yourself spending a lot of your time in your garage workshop doing repairs or working on hobbies, then you’ll love the ultra bright LED feature of the Chamberlain B1381. When you consider how often we use our garage as a second entry into the home (and especially with large families coming in and out every day) 3,100 lumens of corner to corner LED lighting can be a great way to provide extra safety for families – particularly on dark winter nights.
In addition to its impressive illumination, the Chamberlain B1381 also boasts many of the smart capabilities of modern belt drive openers, including an accompanying ‘myQ’ app which makes sure you never leave your door vulnerable with full remote access controls and real-time notifications (so no more excuses for leaving the garage door open on a hurried school morning!)
- Ultra bright LED garage lighting
- WiFi enabled
- 24/7 control of your garage door with the myQ app
- MAX lifting power in its class for heavier/custom-made doors
- Made with anti-vibration technology for smoother lift
- Superior performance in hot/cold weather extremes
- Door still functions in the event of a power outage
- Pricier compared with other smart opener models
- Requires subscription for additional connectivity to other home devices (besides smartphones)
The Chamberlain Group C450 door opener may operate on an old-fashioned chain drive system, but don’t be fooled that this would be a downgrade replacement for your current opener. A rare feature of the C450 compared with older chain drive models on the market is the addition of smartphone connectivity, bringing up to the minute app technology to a traditional opener.
This can be the perfect choice if you want to upgrade to better security without a complete overhaul of a garage door system you’ve grown accustomed to. What the C450 model may lack in noise reduction compared to belt drives, it makes up for in a highly durable design. It also sits more or less in the middle of the price bracket for modern door opener models, making it a decent investment if you want a modern twist on a reliable door mechanism.
- Precision fabrication steel chain for added durability
- Medium lift capacity of 0.50 HP for effortless performance
- Dual function wall console
- Simple installation
- WiFi and smartphone link-up
- Motor can be noisy compared with other chain drive systems
- Known to be slower than other chain drive models
- WiFi signal can be unreliable
The Chamberlain Group B550 opener has a similar level of security features to its belt drive competitors – WiFi enabling and basic door controls via a smartphone app are all here. However, if you wish to customize your garage door’s security setup and expand your connectivity to a home hub device i.e. whereby a family member could be in control of the garage door function, then this will cost extra.
Another drawback is the fact that your choice of indoor garage lighting may be limited if you have a preference (or a current setup) for LED lights as these have unfortunately been known to interfere with the range on the Chamberlain B550’s remote controls. Having said this, the B550 lies near the budget end of the smart belt drive door openers.
- At the cheaper end of the Belt drive models
- Smart garage control with the myQ app
- Ultra quiet and durable belt drive
- Medium lift power for reliable, effortless performance
- Dual function wall controls
- Requires purchase of extra kits if you desire compatibility with home ‘hub’ devices
- Using LED light bulbs can affect the range of the remote controls
As its name suggests, the Genie ChainMax 1000 Garage Door Opener operates on a traditional chain drive motor, which makes for super easy installation if you are simply replacing your current chain drive opener model. As one of the more affordable opener styles on the list, the Genie ChainMax 1000 can be a saving grace for families on a tight budget too.
Paying less of course means you miss out on the WiFi enabling and smart tech features that newer models can provide. While the included control panel doesn’t offer much more than the basic open/close and keypad functions, the Genie ChainMax 1000’s ‘Safe-T-Beam’ system is a handy feature for preventing accidents by reversing the door if an object (or wayward child!) crosses the beam of light.
- Affordable, budget option
- Infrared safety beam feature
- Rugged steel chain construction for increased durability
- 140-volt direct current (DC) motor creates soft start and stop motion
- Quiet compared to older chain drive systems
- Simple installation if replacing a previous chain drive system
- Not equipped with smartphone or WiFi connectivity
- Requires frequent maintenance compared with belt drive models
6. Chamberlain Wd832Kev Garage Door Opener, ½ Hp, Ultra-Quiet Belt Drive Operation, Myq Smartphone Control Enabled (Internet Gateway Sold Separately), Includes 2-3 Button Remotes, Keyless Entry Keypad, Multi-Function Wall Control Panel
Equipped with 1/2 horsepower, the Chamberlain WD832KEV offers a strong and reliable unit that performs in an ultra quiet fashion. The description of a ‘whisper’ belt drive is no exaggeration – the reinforced steel belt keeps the motor vibration isolated so that your family can sleep comfortably through every open and closing of the door (perfect for those early morning starts!). As good as it may be performance wise, however, this Chamberlain opener may cause a few headaches for you before you actually get it up and running, chiefly a difficult install.The installation of the rail system specifically is not as straightforward as it could be, despite this section of the assembly being advertised as taking little more than “60 seconds” to complete. Add to this the poor customer service that has been reported with this particular unit and you may be feeling like this is more trouble than it’s worth – especially if this is your first DIY install. On the basis that you may struggle to get immediate support if a fault arises, you may benefit from a professional install just to be on the safe side.
- Isolated vibration for greater noise reduction
- Safety beam sensors
- Manual opening during power failure
- Poor customer service
- Subscription fee for Google Home connection
The Chamberlain C870 is relatively quiet while in operation – a rare quality in chain drive openers. Other than bringing the volume down considerably, the Chamberlain C870 is also bringing chain drive openers into the modern day with smart garage controls via the interlinking smartphone app. Another convenient feature that your older chain drive opener may not have is the Battery Backup system that ensures round the clock access to your garage door even in the event of a power outage – ideal if you live with turbulent weather conditions.On the flip side, you may face some hiccups with the C870’s basic features and the installation process itself. As well as some customers reporting that installing this unit is a two person job, the box doesn’t provide the additional screws needed to install the motion sensors and some of the brackets, so this seems like a bit of a slap in the face. Speaking of the motion sensors, these can be a little too sensitive, which may sound like a good thing with unruly kids around, but if this has your door reversing if so much as a fly gets in the path of the motion sensor beam, then this could prove to be annoying after a time.
- Quiet for a chain drive
- Battery backup for power failures
- Decent price for the HP
- Motion sensors are very sensitive
- Doesn’t provide additional screws for sensor and bracket parts
- Not an easy self-install
For an ultra quiet belt drive opener, the Genie SilentMax is a pretty reasonably priced compared with similar units on the scene. It’s only likely to cost you more than advertised if you’re fitting this unit to a garage door that’s wider or heavier than the standard dimensions (7 ft high and up to 500 lbs) as this will mean shelling out for an extension kit. Compared with similar belt drive openers on the market, the Genie SilentMax unit is noticeably lighter which is a huge plus for solo installation. Regrettably though, this opener can only be fitted to sectional (not 1 piece) garage doors.This opener shows it has a reliable performance in extreme weather and convenient features such as pre-programmed remotes for an easier setup. However, some customers have pointed to a glaring fault concerning the opener’s circuit board. While some have reported the circuit board failing in under 18 months, in some cases as a result of a power cut. Living with the knowledge that your opener’s circuit board could become damaged this easily is not the most comforting thing to know – especially when the cost to replace the circuit board is almost as much as the overall opener itself!
- Easy to program
- Whisper-quiet operation
- Lighter unit compared to similar models
- Still works well in near freezing temperatures
- Temperamental circuit board
- Only compatible with sectional doors
This MachForce door opener by Genie certainly lives up to its name – this unit boasts an incredible speed and strength of 2 whole HP, making it twice as fast as many of its chain and belt drive competitors out there. And despite all this extra strength thrown at it, this is pleasantly quiet while it operates. What’s more, the rail system on this unit is enclosed for greater safety – a big step up from older exposed rail structures on screw drive openers. Kids may be unable to reach openers of any type since they’re on the ceiling, but an enclosed rail makes it a lot less likely that a faulty part or loose bolt drops down and causes injury. (Keeping things a little more covered also gives the rail added protection from moisture and subsequent corrosion/rust).For all its brute strength and safe structure however, the Genie MachForce opener is let down a tad by the perhaps unjustifiably steep price tag. When you consider the lack of Wi-Fi capabilities and connectivity that is normally included with modern garage door openers, the MachForce is asking a lot for a basic and decent (but not particularly innovative) opener unit.
- Enclosed rail structure
- Easy installation
- Door opens/closes at high speed
- Difficult programming
Compared to the usual bulky aesthetic of garage door openers, it’s hard to ignore how sleek and tidy the LiftMaster 8500 is, so if you’re all about achieving a more subtle look with your garage hardware then this is an immediate bonus. Since the unit can be mounted to the wall beside your garage door instead of the ceiling as with traditional opener styles, the LiftMaster is a great option for homes with tighter garage space – plus, the ceiling is freed up if you want to add lighting.As well as having your back with the customizable ‘MyQ’ phone app to let you control your garage door remotely, this opener comes with plenty of other practical safety features. Each time you step into your garage, your movement will activate the lights of the LiftMaster unit so no pawing around for the light switch in the dark. You can also program either an audio or visual warning for when the door is about to close. A key thing to consider about the jackshaft system compared to belt/chain drives etc is that this doesn’t apply downward force to close the garage door and the cable can go slack if not set correctly, but this is easily remedied by purchasing ‘pusher springs’ to help the door close more adequately.
- Opener lights activate upon entering the garage
- Programmable audible/visual warnings when door closes
- Slim space-saving design
- Higher end of price range
- Not compatible with roll-up doors
The Chamberlain C410 is a great budget option for family households looking to save a little without skimping on quality. You can thankfully save even more if you’re simply replacing your old chain drive opener by re-mounting the new C410 motor onto your existing track. This unit won’t be an issue for DIY enthusiasts either, since Chamberlain provides a series of online tutorial videos to aid you in each step of the install (yet more saved on the cost of a pro to install!).Be warned that the circuit board inside this opener tends to emit a small amount of radio interference. If you use your garage purely as a home entry point and a place to store your car then this may not be such a problem, but if like many homeowners your garage space is also your workshop, then the notion that you may not be able to listen to the radio while doing your repair work or carpentry could rightly out you off. Overall though, this is a decent opener with many of the best security features you could ask for in a budget unit such as Posilock which ensures the door stays locked upon closing.
- Rugged steel construction for long-term use
- Online tutorials aid installation
- Budget option
- Breezy replacement of old chain drive
- Circuit board may cause radio interference
The first thing to note is that the LiftMaster 1355 series has been discontinued, so upon purchasing this you will instead receive the 8065 chain drive model. So what changes have they made to this newer LiftMaster model? While the replacement model looks similar to the 1355, the LiftMaster 8065 has a new universal keypad for easier access and a new extra secure circuit board – this contains the 2.0 security upgrade that sends a new code to your door opener with every click of the remote, so only you can access your garage door.Because of the significant changes, this could be a great or troublesome purchase depending on your needs. If you’re wanting to revamp your entire garage door setup then the 8065 unit is a perfectly good bit of kit with Wi-Fi capabilities and a welcome change to the electronics. For current LiftMaster customers needing to replace their old 1355 series unit or similar, then the upgrade may be a bit of a headache with the purchase of a new keypad and ‘Homelink’ system, as your old one will not be compatible. However, it’s worth asking the manufacturer about this as in some cases, they will simply charge a shipping cost to convert this for customers.
- Built in Wi-Fi
- Simple DIY install
- Extra secure 2.0 technology that generates new code with every use
- Costly upgrade for existing LiftMaster customers
This ultra quiet belt drive opener from Chamberlain promises a performance quiet enough for you to be able to ‘sleep through’, which straight away is a great plus for young family households that don’t want to risk waking the kids on every early commute! Coming back home needn’t cause a stir either, thanks to the superior range remotes that come with the B503 unit, giving you access to your garage door up to 1,500 ft away.This is a decent, reasonably-priced opener to be sure, although the aesthetics of the rail and plastic trolley sliders may not be to everyone’s taste. To make shipping easier, Chamberlain send out the B503’s rail system in sections, meaning that once you have put it together, it is regrettably not as rigid or sturdy as it could be if it were made up of fewer connecting pieces. For this reason, the rail may not appear as consistently rigid at the joins. Having said that, the B503’s less-than-solid rail should not affect its smooth, quiet performance, so unless this minor design point bugs you, this is a worthwhile purchase.
- Super quiet belt drive
- Remote range up to 1,500 ft
- Extra parts are provided for optional configurations
- Slightly tricky installation
As its name suggests, this Direct Drive opener operates your garage door in an efficient and simplified way. Unlike openers that work on a chain or belt drive system, the Direct Drive 1042V004 uses one moving part to do the same job, which immediately puts this at reduced risk of gear damage over time. Another plus to the single moving part is how soft and quiet the motor is as it glides along the chain embedded in sturdy steel – perfect for homes with bedrooms right above the garage.A particularly attractive feature is the inclusion of a rail extension kit for homeowners with a garage door higher than the standard 7 ft dimensions (fitting garage doors up to 8 ft high). This is normally a costly side purchase for a lot of customers, so this may justify the Direct Drive’s high price tag if this is important to you. As strong as the Direct Drive’s motor is, however, its overall performance may be slower than expected, with some customers reported the need to wait by the door even after using the remote to open it from maximum range.
- Includes rail extension kit (for doors up to 8 ft)
- Compatible with ‘Homelink’ technology
- Reverse safety system
- Lower risk of gear damage
- Slow performance
Firstly, we should note that the 3255 LiftMaster model has been discontinued, so you will instead receive the LiftMaster 8165W as a replacement. If you’re looking to invest in a brand new door opener with all the bells and whistles, then this may fall short as it doesn’t include a new rail assembly. This replacement unit also does not include an exterior wall keypad and only 1 remote (despite the promise of 2 in the description), so bear this in mind before purchasing.This is a great replacement unit if you’re simply swapping out your existing LiftMaster opener with the 8165W and the installation is relatively easy so it’s unlikely you’ll need a pro to assist you. With built in Wi-Fi and new ‘Homelink’ programming included, this is a welcome upgrade for older LiftMaster customers. You may find that your old buttons or remotes don’t work with the replacement model, but this is where the Wi-Fi garage controls via your phone can bridge the transition. Car models 2006 and older will also not be compatible with the Homelink connectivity feature, but the purchase of a repeater will soon get this up and running for you.
- Easy replacement installation
- Wi-Fi upgrade (from previous model)
- Doesn’t include an exterior keypad
- Doesn’t include a new rail assembly
- Only 1 remote
The Chamberlain RJO20 opener has some of the best modern features of its bulkier Chamberlain cousins built into a super sleek design. This comes in at a pretty pricey figure compared to its counterparts, but you are paying for bucket loads of versatility. For starters, the discreet space-saving design that is no bigger than a large smartphone can be installed in those pesky tight wall spaces that are normally only good for a light switch (which keeps your ceiling space tidy and minimal).Secondly, the wall mount design even enhances the RJO20’s performance – since it’s not installed overhead, you are thankfully spared the rattles and vibrations of a standard door opener and left instead with a quiet, smoothly-run unit. We also love the ultra secure deadbolt feature which auto locks the door upon closing with an audible heavy ‘clunk’, so you know it’s shut for certain. A slight snag is the misleading claim to have ‘built-in Wi-Fi’ The RJO20 has a Garage Gateway module included in the box, but this connects to your router and devices through a traditional Ethernet cable, not a Wi-Fi connection. Unhelpfully, Chamberlain make this pretty confusing for customers, so we’d urge consulting with a tech support member about your Wi-Fi needs before buying.
- Sleek, discreet design
- Auto-lock ‘deadbolt’ for added security
- Garage ‘Gateway’ that connects to your home devices
- Ideal for garages with unconventional or unfinished ceilings
- Not directly Wi-Fi enabled as it claims
At the mid price range for belt drive openers in the Chamberlain group, the B730 is an impressive piece of kit for the money. It delivers a lifting force equivalent to 3/4 horsepower (the highest lifting capacity in its class of 3/4 HP), which ensures a smooth and pleasantly quiet performance for those with bedrooms directly above their attached garage. As usual with most modern Chamberlain openers, online tutorials make installation a cinch from the unit itself to help with customizing your remotes and wall control panel.As impressive as the B730 might be in its mechanical design, it suffers a major marketing flaw in promising that it is built with MyQ enabling in its hardware. Beware before buying that this is false advertising (despite the ‘MyQ’ logo being clearly visible on the product photo). To activate this feature, a separate MyQ hub must be purchased (costing almost half the price of the B730 opener itself!). Customers expecting a modern opener will be pleased with the motion sensors and 3 button remotes, but if you are in the market for a smartphone enabled door opener, then we’d suggest ordering the newer Chamberlain B970 model.
- No fuss installation
- Virtually silent in operation
- Above and beyond tech support
- Misleading promise of ‘MyQ’ feature
- Annual subscription fee for smart home link feature
Benefits of a New Garage Door Opener
Automatic garage door openers can provide years of reliable service, but after a while, you owe it to the safety and security of your family to get an upgrade. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s easy to adopt an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude, but there are many advantages to replacing your current door opener with a new and improved system – especially when you consider all the modern security tech your family will benefit from.
Improved security – Older models of garage door openers have outdated security measures such as fixed codes on the entry pad – making your door vulnerable to thieves who can easily work out the code and break in. Modern door openers thankfully have updated their security codes with ‘rolling code’ which changes the code every time you use your door. Even better, newer keypad entries on modern door openers can feature fingerprint detection technology, so that you and only you can open your garage door.
Quieter operation – Original door opener styles can be pretty noisy thanks to the traditional chain drive system that operates the door, so if you no longer want to alert thieves to your home’s entry being vulnerable then you’ll love the difference a new garage door opener can make. Also a very handy device for keeping the peace and quiet if you’re traveling (or coming home to) babies and toddlers!
Wireless ‘Smart’ features – The addition of WiFi and smart connectivity tech means that modern door openers put you in control of how your garage door operates, when it operates and whether you remembered to lock it – something every busy parent will admit to worrying about on a rushed school morning! Linking your door opener to your smartphone and other devices makes your garage door more secure than ever.
More reliable – In the past, suffering a power cut in your home would often mean the garage door stopped working – an unthinkable scenario if your kids became trapped or hurt while inside. Fortunately, new models of door openers can be equipped with a ‘battery backup’ system that kicks in to act as a backup generator for your garage door when you lose power.
What Should I Look for in a Door Opener?
If the above benefits have piqued your interest, you’ll next be needing to know what makes an effective garage door opener, and for that there are really only three must-haves you should be on the lookout for. Here are the key features to keep in mind when scouting out your garage door opener upgrade…
- Type of drive: the ‘drive’ type of door opener refers to the system on which a garage door opens and closes, and though each drive system ultimately performs the same job, they do so at different speeds (and volume levels!). The different drive systems – Chain, Belt and Screw drive – vary from noisy to almost silent and require varied levels of maintenance, and these are both things to consider for the sake of your family and neighbors as well as how much regular care you are prepared to give your garage door.
- Security features: as of 1993 all garage doors have been required to have the baseline security feature of a reverse mechanism, should a child come into contact with the door upon closing, but additional security measures are a must. Thankfully, the market is now full of door opener models that let you customize your security features so you can make your garage as safe as humanly possible. If you value safety above everything else, pick and choose the most secure door opener for your family home.
- The horsepower: you’ll need to consider which horsepower (HP) is best for your specific garage door material since heavier solid wood garage doors, for instance, require greater horsepower to lift them. We’ll look into which horsepower garage door opener may be best for your needs further on. HP usually ranges from ½ or 0.50 HP (a standard for most garage doors) up to 0.75 HP and higher for heavier or unconventionally-sized custom garage doors.
Types of Openers
It’s easy to take the mechanics of your garage door for granted, but understanding a little more about how your door functions every day may encourage you to keep it in good shape. Depending on which category your current opener falls into, learning a bit more about the function of each type may also aid you in deciding which one would be best to upgrade to for a new home or perhaps changed family circumstances.
Chain drive – Chain drives are the oldest systems of garage door opener and many homes are still equipped with them. Chain drives work similarly to a bicycle chain that slackens as the garage door opens and stretches to a taut position once the door shuts. The chain itself pushes or pulls a trolley mechanism that moves the door up or down. While upgrading from a traditional chain model can be a good idea, some homeowners decide to simply replace a broken chain to get more wear out of their current chain drive.
Belt drive – Belt drives are the modern equivalent of chain drives, replacing the metal chain with a wide rubber belt to push and pull the trolley mechanism instead. The results are a much quieter door opener and one that is less prone to breaking since the belt represents a single, rather than multiple, moving parts when compared with a chain drive. These are a popular choice of drive system among modern homeowners since they have adopted newer technology.
Screw drive – Screw drive systems are composed of a threaded steel rod that rotates a motor to move the door up and down and has been a popular choice in homes for decades since they represented a quieter alternative to the traditional chain drive. However, they also have many downsides which have led to them being discontinued as of 2017 (more about these in the cons below).
If your current garage door opener is a screw drive system or you have recently had a screw drive opener installed, don’t fret as screw drive openers should still hold up for years with regular care. Many brands still produce replacement parts for screw drive openers. Bear in mind however that the costs to replace and install screw drive parts are not much different to the cost of a brand new belt or chain drive opener, so for increased safety (and saved dollars in the long-run), investing in an upgraded drive altogether may be a smarter move.
Which Drive System is Best?
The type of garage door opener drive type you go for can depend on your garage door type and your own personal preference. Chain drive systems, for example, are a cost-effective choice and can handle heavier garage door styles, but they’re also pretty loud while in operation (so perhaps not a great choice with a baby in tow!). Here’s a quick look at the good and bad points of each drive system:
- Smaller moving parts compared with chain or screw drives, so less chance of something breaking
- Much quieter (often near-silent) while in operation compared with other drives
- Less chance of breakage means fewer and lower maintenance costs
- Introduced wireless control and greater connectivity tech to garage doors
- On the high end of the price range for drive systems (though less maintenance may justify upfront costs)
- Quieter than chain drive systems
- Includes some modern features like safety sensors and battery backup systems
- Units are sensitive to temperature changes, making them a poor choice for homes in undependable climates
- Contain cheap plastic components, like chain drives
- No longer in production, making replacement parts costly to source
- More affordable option compared to its modern counterparts
- Great for bearing the weight of heavier garage doors
- Older technology
- Very noisy when in operation
- Made from cheaper material (including plastic components)
Is Belt or Chain Better for Garage Door Opener?
Belt and chain drives remain the most popular choice of garage door openers for homeowners, but owing to the noise levels and old-fashioned components of chain drive openers, more consumers are choosing to break free of the traditional chain drive systems and try something new. Chain drive systems certainly enjoyed their day in the sun, but we’d recommend the belt drive as the more superior option – it’s safer, more durable and requires a heck of a lot less maintenance compared with chain drive openers.
What HP Garage Door Opener Should I get?
When you learn that the average American garage door opens and closes around 1,500 times a year, your garage door opener must have the necessary amount of power to take the strain. So how much horsepower (HP) should your door opener have? 0.50 HP is the standard for garage doors in the majority of new homes, but you may require an opener with more HP if you have a heavy custom made door, such as solid wood or a larger 2 or 3-car garage door. If this is the case, 0.75 or 1.5 HP openers will be able to lift these types of doors with ease.
Garage Door Opener Speed
The average opening or closing speed of a residential garage door is around seven inches per second, so it should normally take about 12 to 15 seconds for most garage doors to fully open or close. Modern door openers allow users to set and adjust the speed accordingly, which can be an ideal safety feature for family homes.
How Much Does a New Garage Door Opener Cost?
Garage door openers typically cost between $120 for older systems to upwards of $439, depending on the drive system type, the brand, the horsepower (HP) and the addition of the latest ‘smart’ tech and security features.
How Long Will a Garage Door Opener Last?
With regular care and maintenance of your door opener, most models should last around 10 to 15 years. Checking for garage door issues and repairing them as soon as they appear is the best way to lengthen the lifespan of any door opener.
Will You Install the Garage Door Opener Yourself?
Modern door opener models will come with the manufacturers manual and all the optional accessories, so should you choose to try your hand at DIY garage door opener installation, then enlist the help of a second person and follow the instructions carefully.
Newer door opener models provide online tutorials and 24/7 tech support for further guidance, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to try a DIY installation if you’ve tackled many home projects in the past.
Can I Use My Smartphone to Open My Garage Door?
Most garage door opener companies are equipping their newer models with smartphone connectivity features to allow users to control garage door function. Certain models will provide an app as part of your installation package, which will allow you to open or close your garage at the tap of a button and even receive notifications if your garage door has been left open.
Older models, however, are unlikely to feature smartphone connectivity, so it’s worth shopping around if this is important to you.
Can Garage Door Openers be Reprogrammed?
In most cases, yes, and your garage door opener can and should be reprogrammed fairly regularly (i.e. perhaps every time you change the batteries in your smoke detector). Regularly changing the code on your door opener’s outside keypad or remote control is a simple way to increase security. Multi encryption code features of modern door opener models can arm your family even further against the threat of hackers.
Additional Considerations and Costs
In addition to the new door opener model itself, you may need to factor in installation costs, which can range between $127 and the low end to close to $200 for certain garage door types – bringing the total cost of door opener and installation to between $250 and $487.
As for additional security features such as smartphone link ups with your door opener, you may decide that connectivity across other smart home devices is a priority for your home. Extra accessories such as a home hub (priced between $50 – $80) that works like a sensor for your garage door, for example, allows you to turn your home lights via your garage door app as you arrive. This could be perfect for providing that little extra safety measure for young families coming home at night or in poor weather conditions.
While it shares many features with its fellow opener’s on the list like smartphone controls and WiFi enabling, we’ve singled out the Chamberlain B970 as the garage door opener of choice for family households. The B970 throws in added practical features to aid you in emergencies like the battery backup in the event of a power failure and the most powerful lift capacity of its kind, so you can truly rely on its strength after years of use.
Add to this the hands-on control this opener can give parents on the go courtesy of the myQ phone app and a uniquely detailed control panel that allows you to program everything from the lighting timers to who has access to the door and you have the ultimate in customized garage door safety – your family, your rules!
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare