There are three main types of drives. Belt, Screw or Chain drive systems. These are what actually are used to lift or close the door.
Chain Drive – This was the most common type of drive system. As you can see there is a chain, like a bike chain, that is used to open and close the door. The advantage is they are usually less expensive, but the downside is they tend to be very noisy.
Belt Drive – Belts are a lot more common now a days. They provide a much quieter operation. These systems are very strong and you really don’t have to worry about maintenance with a belt drive system.
Screw Drive – A screw drive system turns a screw to raise and lower the door. There are less moving parts in this system.
There is also something called a torsion drive system. These systems are great when you don’t have a lot of overhead room. They sit right next to the torsion bar and lift and lower the door.
When you shop for an opener you will see two different power related items. First is how the unit is powered. Some us AC while most use DC. A DC motor is the way to go, a higher value is better. The second power option you will see is horse power (HP). The more horse power, the better. Even if you have a single door, a powerful motor will last longer, You will pay more, but can be worth it in the long run. Residential openers come with 1/2, 3/4 or 1 hp. You might see less or more HP, but those are the three most common HP options.
Openers operate at different speeds. A higher end opener might open as fast as 7 seconds. While other openers might take 15 seconds. Might not sound like a lot, but it is nice to have a door open right away so your not sitting in the driveway waiting. Most of the time a higher end opener will operate at faster speeds. Most openers now have automatic speed settings. So the door will open slowly, then move fast. Right before it stops, it will slow down. This does two things. First reduces wear and tear on the door. The second item, is quiter operation.
Openers have changed over the years. In the past people could steal your opener code and sit across the street and open your door. This was always fun to do when someone bought their first garage door opener. You could really have fun with them and mess with their mind. However it did create a securty problem. Someone who wasn’t looking for fun could steal your code, wait for you to leave for work, then rob your house.
Today that is no longer an issue. Garage door openers have built in security features called rolling codes. Each time the door is opened, a new code is generated and it is a random code. This prevents people from stealing your code or even programming your opener.
All openers come with safety features such as electronic beams. While this can be very annoying, it does help prevent accidents. On the bottom rails of the garage door there are usually two modules that create an invisible beam of light. As the garage door closes, if something breaks the beam, such as a child walking under the door, the door will stop or move back up. One thing to remember that is you lay something in front of these beams, the garage door opener will not work. So before you call a repair man and spend hundreds of dollars you always want to check two things. First make sure nothing is blocking the beams. Second, make sure the beams are aligned. If they are not pointing at each other, move them back into place. Some systems only have one module on the side and the other side has a reflector.
This is a handy feature on openers, well most. Some systems just have very bad lighting. Some systems come with two bulbs, while others only come with one. Before you buy, make sure the light is pointing where you need it. Some systems have the lighting on the front and others on the back, while others have both. You also want to make sure you can put a good size bulb in the unit. What good is it if you can only put a small watt light bulb in the system.
All openers come with a remote, I guess they would have to otherwise how would you get into your garage? Some remotes use a one touch button and others have multiple buttons. The multiple buttons are nice in case you have two different doors. You don’t need two remotes in your car.
Remotes are becoming extinct for two reasons. First you can control your opener with your phone. While this is still a pain because you have to wait for the program to open on your phone, it does take time. The nice item about a remote on your phone is you can access it from anywhere. Say you drive away and your sitting at work. You have that ever lasting question that bothers you all day, “Did I close my door?’ Well now you can look on your phone and verify your not loosing your mind. The main reason remotes are becoming no longer needed is that most cars have built in remote buttons. You can program your remote into the car system. This way you don’t need one extra item in the car.
Garage door openers come with not only a remote control, but a wall mounted control. If you like a garage door, but not the wall mount system, good news. A lot of manufacturers sell upgraded wall mount openers. You can have anything from a simple push button, to one that tells you the temperature or problem codes.
We hope this guide help you learn a little more about garage door openers and makes your time at the store a little easier. If you have question, comments or recommendation of information we need to add, please drop us a line.