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How to choose the right electric garage door opener?

Which door opener is the right one for your home? The answer to that question will vary for each home and the best way to find out is by answering a few basic questions:

Should I buy ½ hp or ¾ hp motor?

The size and weight of the door will determine how powerful the opener needs to be. While a single door really only requires a 1/3 h.p. motor, few companies even stock them anymore. A ½ h.p. opener will handle almost any double door, but if you have a high end heavier double garage door a ¾ h.p. opener might be better for you. You will also need to know how tall your door is. 7’ and 8’ heights are both common, while some custom doors can be much taller.

Chain, Belt or screw drive?

Chain drive openers

Chain drive openers are the least expensive and most commonly purchased models. The main benefits to a belt drive model is that it will be quieter and will likely have a longer warranty. Screw drive models often do not perform well in cold temperatures, so most door companies don’t stock them in Canada. If you want to free up ceiling space, side mount openers are also available that mount on the wall beside the door. They are more expensive but are very quiet and can often be installed in situations where normal opener installation is impossible.


AC or DC motor?

While AC (alternating current) motors have been the standard for many years, in the past 10 years most manufacturers have gone to DC (direct current) motors in their higher-end models. The main reason for this is that DC motors are much, much quieter than AC motors. Since most of the noise produced by door openers comes from the motor, going to a DC motor will make the biggest difference in how quiet your opener will be. Going to a belt drive instead of a chain drive will make a little difference, but the big payoff in quietness comes in going to a DC motor. So if the small price difference isn’t a concern, DC motors are the way to go.

Should I buy from a Professional Door Dealer or a Home Improvement Store?

The answer to this question usually lies in who will be installing it. If you have the skills and are willing to put in the time (about 3 hours for most people), you can usually save yourself around $100 to $150.00. If you will be paying the store or someone else to install it anyway, you’re usually way better off to purchase it through a professional door company with installation included. You will end up at a similar price but the professional grade models they carry are better quality and tend to be less problem prone. One of the major differences is that the 10’ to 12’ long rail is broken down into short pieces that need to be assembled together in the retail store models so it can fit into a small box you can bring home in your car. Professional grade models have a much more solid 1 piece rail system with no joints for the slide mechanism to catch on if the rail joints go out of alignment.

What features are available that I might like?

Here’s a short list the features available on different openers. If a feature is important to you look for a model that has it.

AC motor (cheaper) – DC motor (much quieter)
Chain drive (cheaper) – Belt Drive (a little quieter)
Battery back-up – keeps door operational during power outages so you don’t have to manually lift the door
Wifi – allows you to download an app to your smartphone or tablet to control your door from anywhere in the world you have wifi
Motion sensing wall control – turns the lights on when it senses motion, so you never have to enter a dark garage
Timer to Close – automatically closes the door if you forget after the time delay you select.
Warranty – can vary from 4 years to lifetime on the motor and from 1 to 5 years on other parts

We hope this article has helped you better understand what you would like. If not, don’t worry! Your local professional door company would be happy to help you figure out which model is best for you.

If you are in Calgary, Canada, you can see all the garage opener models we carry (and installed pricing) here.