If you've ever arrived home after dark in the middle of a thunderstorm, you can understand the appeal of a remote garage door opener. Push a button in your car, the door opens and you drive in without getting a drop of rain on you. However, garage door openers aren't "one size fits all" and there are significant differences between various models. Here's some background information on common types of automatic door openers and some things to look for when choosing an opener for your garage.
Garage door openers don't all work the same way
Most garage door openers use one of three different mechanisms - chain drive, screw drive or belt drive.
Chain drives are the most common and the least expensive, in the range of $150. These openers use a metal chain about the same size as a bicycle chain to open and close your garage doors. Their popularity is primarily due to their cost since the chain drive mechanism is louder than the other technologies and since the chain can stretch, usually require the most maintenance.
Screw drives run along a threaded steel rod to operate the door. The screw function results in quieter operation than the more popular chain drive but also increases the cost. Screw driven openers generally range in price between $175 to $250.
Belt drive openers use a flexible rubber belt mechanism to raise or lower the door. The belt is made from a compound similar to steel belted radial tires so it's very strong, quiet in operation, and requires virtually no maintenance. You'll usually pay more for a belt driven system with prices starting around $200 and going up from there.
Other considerations when choosing your garage door opener
Besides price, when choosing your garage door opener you should consider the power of the motor, noise, and security.
Power—Garage door openers use electric motors that from 1/4 HP up to 1/2HP. A single, light weight garage door can be easily opened with a 1/4HP motor while heavier wood or metal dual doors will need a 1/2HP model.
Noise—While you may feel the benefit of having a quieter opener isn't worth paying for, if any bedrooms in your home are close to the garage, folks sleeping in those rooms will certainly appreciate the quieter operation.
Security—Look for safety and security features such as a safety closing mechanism that stops or reverses a closing door when it bumps into something (such as a child's bike, or worse, a person trying to dash under the closing door).
Many openers have built in overhead lights that come on when the opener is activated so you never have to get out of your car in a dark garage.
Ensure the remote control technology uses modulating or rolling codes that change frequently, so your remote control is the only one that can open your garage door.
Some openers have the ability to integrate with a push button in your car so you don't need to worry about a remote control getting lost or the batteries running down.