How Does It Work?
The main components of a garage door opener include a power unit, motor, track, trolley, drive system, and a manual release. The track attaches the motor to the garage door, while the trolley slides back and forth on the track, raising and lowering the door using a belt, chain, or screw drive system powered by the motor and power unit. A manual quick-release mechanism allows the garage door to detach from the opener in the event of a power failure. Most garage door openers sold today also come equipped with a safety trip device that stops the door from closing when an object – such as a car or a person – is in the doorway. An infrared beam sent by two sensors on either side of the door causes the door to reverse if the beam is broken. This is a very useful feature for homeowners with small children and/or pets.
Automatic Opener Drive Types
- Chain-drive: Chain-driven garage door openers have been very popular among homeowners for decades. While effective and reliable, these units can produce quite a bit of noise, and may not be the best option if a bedroom or living room is near the garage.
- Jackshaft opener: Once only used for commercial purposes, jackshaft openers are now widely used for residential garages. These units utilize a large screw, or rod, with a motor attached to the side that spins the screw in order to open and close the door. With regular lubrication, jackshaft garage door openers are less noisy than chain-driven models.
- Belt-drive:The quietest type of automatic garage door opener, belt driven systems use a rubber belt in place of a chain to reduce noise. Higher end units often have a lifetime warranty on the belt.
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Construction of the garage door opener track is important. Manufacturers often use 2 or 3 separate pieces that are bolted together during installation for the track. These connections, however, are a weak point of the system and often fail over time. For increased durability, choose a garage door opener with a single, solid track.
Battery backup is an option worth considering. Without it, if the power goes out, you may find your car stuck in the garage.
Most garage door openers are available in 1/3, 1/2, and 3/4 horsepower models. A lightweight aluminum 9 foot x 7 foot door can be equipped with a 1/2 or 1/3 horsepower motor, while heavier doors may require 1/2 or 3/4 horsepower. A good rule of thumb is to have too much rather than too little power. Check with garage door manufacturers for their recommendations.
Garage Door Height
Standard automatic opener installations work for garage door heights between 7 feet and 7′ 6″. Door heights above 7′ 6″ require an extension kit, usually available as an aftermarket product. Before purchasing an opener, make sure that it’s compatible with your garage door.
Garage Door Opener Costs
The cost of a garage door opener depends on the size of door it’s meant to operate and the motor size. The prices below are for a typical 9′ x 7′ door with a 1/2 horsepower automatic opener.
- Typical garage door openers cost between $400 and $800 installed.
- Additional transmitters cost $20 to $40 each.
- Exterior keypads cost $50 to $75 apiece.
- Installing a 1/3 horsepower motor reduces costs by $30-$60; a 3/4 horsepower motor raises costs by $30 to $60.
- Expect to pay an additional $100 to $200 (including labor) for a height extension kit.