Which garage door opener is best?
You can be forgiven for thinking a garage door opener is a simple machine. Go to install one, and you’ll quickly recognize it’s anything but. From the various drive types built to lift certain garage doors to the two motor and power options, picking the wrong garage door opener is frighteningly easy to do.
The best for most residential needs is the Chamberlain B4613T Smart Garage Door Opener. It’s smart-home capable with a quiet DC motor and enough horsepower comparable to lift the heaviest doors.
What to know before you buy a garage door opener
There are four garage door opener drive types: chain, direct, belt and jackshaft.
- Chain drives are the most affordable and most common. The chain requires maintenance, and operation noise is the highest. However, they can usually be opened manually in case of power loss.
- Direct drives are a little more expensive but require less maintenance and make less noise. They may require power to open.
- Belt drives are the most expensive residential drives. They require power to function but need almost no maintenance and operate nigh-silently.
- Jackshaft drives are intended for commercial use. They can lift the heaviest, largest doors and are the most durable. They’re the loudest drive.
AC vs. DC motor
Garage door openers use either AC or DC motors.
- AC motors were used exclusively for years. Today, they’re the most affordable and long-lasting but are large and loud. Their power is rated in horsepower, or HP
- DC motors are more common today. While slightly more expensive and less durable, they also operate almost silently and take up considerably less space. Some DC motors include backup batteries. Their power is rated in horsepower comparable, or HPc.
What to look for in a quality garage door opener
A garage door opener’s power is rated in either HP or HPc, depending on the motor. Technically they’re different measurements. In practice — at least for garage door openers — they’re functionally identical.
Power starts at one-fourth and goes up to one in one-quarter increments.
- One-fourth power motors struggle to open even the lightest doors. They also take the longest. Chain drives commonly have one-fourth power motors. These aren’t recommended.
- One-half power motors are good budget choices. They can open most residential doors but still struggle with heavy materials such as wood. Most drives can be found in one-half power.
- Three-fourths power motors are the best residential option. They can open effectively any door and do so quickly and smoothly. Direct and belt drives are commonly three-fourths power.
- One power motors are mostly reserved for commercial uses, though they may be necessary for specific residential situations.
Most openers include a set of wireless clickers that trigger the motor, even if they also connect over Wi-Fi. Those that connect over Wi-Fi are usually controlled by an accompanying app. Some can also be controlled with a digital assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
How much you can expect to spend on a garage door opener
Most garage door openers cost around $200. Chain drive openers can cost as little as $100 while belt drive openers can cost up to $250. Commercial openers can cost $1,000 or more.
Garage door opener FAQ
How do I install a garage door opener?
A. All garage door openers include specific installation instructions; carefully read these before beginning. You should also make sure you have the proper tools, a spare set of hands and several hours squared away. Installation is usually straightforward, but it’s still difficult. If you’re missing any of these, you might want to hire a professional instead.
Can I still open my garage door if I lose power?
A. That depends. Many garage door openers include batteries so they can function if they lose power. Others may allow the door to be opened manually, whether they have power or not. Some Wi-Fi models may not function if they lose connection to your router, even if they still have access to power.
What are the best garage door openers to buy?
Top garage door opener
What you need to know: This opener is powerful and packed with features.
What you’ll love: It has a three-fourths HPc DC motor that’s ultra-quiet in operation. It has a battery backup. It has a 1,000 lumen, motion-activated light. It can connect over Wi-Fi to be controlled via your smartphone. It includes two clicker openers and a keypad.
What you should consider: The best smart-home features, including digital assistant compatibility, are locked behind a subscription. Connecting to your Wi-Fi is difficult as it’s done from the screenless motor housing.
Top garage door opener for the money
What you need to know: This is an excellent budget pick.
What you’ll love: It uses a DC motor with three-fourths HPc. The chain is made of reinforced steel. It can open single- and double-door garages. It has a 1,500 lumen LED security light. It includes remote and door controls and a photo eye safety system.
What you should consider: Some users were unable to sync this opener with their smart home, others had trouble with the chain. The installation instructions aren’t compatible with all garage doors.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This is a good pick for light garage doors.
What you’ll love: It uses a chain drive powered by a one-half HP AC motor. The included device triggers are two clickers (with a 1,500-foot range), a keypad and an internal button. It is Wi-Fi capable, so you can control it from your phone.
What you should consider: This opener isn’t compatible with devices that don’t use its myQ system. Some consumers had issues with the included wiring.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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