Shopping for a Garage Door Opener?
You’ve come the the right place!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to select the right garage door opener for your home, to set a reasonable budget for your project, and to hire the right local installer.
Finding the Right Door for your Garage
Garage doors have become an integral part of modern homes, serving both practical and aesthetic functions.
Over the past few decades, a huge variety of garage doors have been developed to meet almost every situation and need.
Unfortunately, with so many styles, drive types and options available to choose from, selecting a new garage door to replace your old or broken one can be overwhelming.
Some of the decisions you’ll need to make include:
- the right garage door material for your home depends mostly on your climate, the lift capacity of your opener and the style you want. The most common materials used to make garage doors are aluminum, steel, fiberglass and wood. Each materials has its own pros and cons.
- architectural style choices include traditional, country/barn, modern/contemporary and others.
- finish options for metal and fiberglass doors include woodgrain, traditional, contemporary, heritage, among many.
The see a list of options available for sale right now that meet your needs, enter the following query in Google Image search :
“your style” + “car-width” + “garage doors” + “for sale”
For example, to see a list of modern style 2-car garage doors for sale right now, use this query.
To learn more about the different types of garage doors available, click here.
Selecting the Right Garage Door Opener
After you’ve decided on a particular garage door, you’ll need to choose the right garage door hardware to secure, lift and close it.
Hardware includes hinges, handles, window inserts, support structures and, most importantly, the garage door opener that makes it all work.
It is this last crucial component, the garage door opener, that we focus on in this comprehensive buyers guide.
What’s In This Guide
In this guide, we start by quickly reviewing the most popular and highest-rated garage doors selling on Amazon right now in 4 categories:
- Best Quiet Garage Door Opener
- Best Belt Drive Garage Door Opener
- Best Direct Drive Garage Door Opener
- Best Cheap Garage Door Opener
Read through these to get a feel for the choices you have, today. Click on the Amazon links to see prices and to read verified owner reviews and comments.
After the product reviews, we offer practical advice on how to pick the right door opener for your home and how to hire the right professional installer – if that’s the way you decide to go.
The topics covered here include:
- How To Select the Right Garage Door Opener For Your Home
- How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Garage Door?
- How to Hire a Professional Garage Door Installer
So let’s dive in!
Best Quiet Garage Door Opener: Chamberlain MyQ-enabled Whisper Drive
If you want a garage door opener that doesn’t wake you or your neighbors, the Chamberlain MyQ Whisper Drive is a great choice.
It comes with a whisper-quiet DC belt drive system and a super smooth operation. You can even set the garage door to automatically close at 1, 5 or 10 minutes after you arrive home.
Another convenient feature is the motion sensor-enabled control panel that automatically turns on the lights when it detects movement.
If power goes out, a battery backup is there to keep the door functioning (although it will not power the lights).
One of the biggest features of this Chamberlain garage door opener is the MyQ smart home technology. When bundled with the CIGBU MyQ Internet Gateway, you can monitor and control your garage door from anywhere using your smartphone.
The internet gateway connects to your home router, allowing you to remotely open or close the garage door and monitor its current state.
The entire kit comes with everything you need to install it, including the rail system.
The Whisper Drive series is designed for easy and quick installation.
- MyQ Smart Technology is compatible with most iPhones and Android smartphones.
- Battery backup available.
- Includes two 3-button remote controls, a control panel and a wireless keyless entry.
- Timed auto-close feature
- Super quiet operation.
- Battery backup in the event of a power outage.
- Easy to install.
- Remote control and monitoring capability.
Watch Out For
- Lights do not operate when there is a blackout.
- Compatibility issues with older keyless entry problems
Best Belt Drive Garage Door Opener: Chamberlain WD962KEV
This Chamberlain garage door opener is almost the same as the Whisper Drive above, with the main difference being that it does not come bundled with the CIGBU Internet Gateway for smart door control.
Fortunately, it is still MyQ enabled, meaning you can you can purchase the gateway and smartphone capability, separately.
Without the Internet Gateway, you’ll open your garage door using the 3-button remote control (there are 2 provided) or using the control panel.
You can also setup an in-vehicle remote control, though you may need an external adapter for compatibility.
Chamberlain belt drive garage door openers are loved for their quiet operation.
Unlike a chain drive system, you can open and close the door without waking anyone, which comes in handy in homes where there are rooms built adjacent to or above the garage.
On the downside, belt drive garage door openers tend to be pricier than chain drive units. But the extra cost is usually worth the quieter and smoother operation.
The Best Direct Drive Garage Door Opener: SOMMER Direct Drive
Belt and chain drive garage door openers rely on a moving belt or chain to open or close the garage door.
In contrast, direct drive garage door openers open and close the door using a motor that moves up and down a stationary belt.
The result is an ultra-simple system with fewer moving parts. Because there is only one moving part, maintenance is minimal.
In fact, research shows that a typical direct garage door opener can last more than 80,000 open/close cycles without requiring maintenance.
This explains why the SOMMER Direct Drive garage door opener mechanism carries a lifetime warranty. That’s how confident the manufacturer is in their product. That said, the remote control is only covered by a modest 2-year warranty.
Another feature of this SOMMER unit is the extra-smooth stop and start technology. This ensures the garage door will not bang loudly when it reaches the bottom or top. Combined with a safety beam, it automatically reverses the door if an obstruction is detected below the bottom of the door panel.
Unfortunately, this SOMMER Direct Drive lacks smart home integration or technology, meaning you cannot remotely control or monitor the garage door using your smart phone nor remotely, over the internet.
That said, the system comes with two remote controls and is compatible with HomeLink. There is also a wired keypad you can use to open and close the door.
- Two 2-button remote controls and one interior wall station
- Low Voltage: 115volts
- HomeLink compatible
- Lifetime warranty on main unit
- Compatible with door heights of 7 to 8 feet
- Safety beam sensors
- Smooth and quiet operation
- Easy and quick installation
- Low maintenance / highly durable
- Lifetime Warranty on mechanicals
Watch Out For
- No smart door / smart home integration included
- The clips connecting the motor and the rail sometimes get charred and may disconnect if not connected properly, which can cause the system to stop working
Best Cheap Garage Door Opener: Genie Chainlift 800
If your budget is tight, there are plenty of low cost but still quite good garage door openers to choose from.
In this crowded field, the Genie Chainlift 800 is our choice.
With a 1/2 HP rating, this unit is not as powerful as more expensive systems – and it has fewer features – but it is perfect if you need something simply that just works. Very reliable.
The Chainlift 800 is equipped with a DC motor that allows for a fairly quiet operation with smooth starts and stops. Just don’t expect it to be as silent as a Chamberlain or a Sommer, given that it is a chain drive system.
For illumination and safety, the kit comes with an exceptionally bright lighting system that accepts up to two 60 W bulbs (bulbs not included).
Another safety feature is the Safe-T-Beam Non-Contact Reversing System. An invisible light beam will detect any obstruction below the closing door. If the light beam is broken, the door stops and reverses direction.
The system also continually monitors the door for proper functionality and stops if something is not right.
To prevent your door opener code from being stolen over the air, the system does not use the same code all the time. Instead, a new code is picked every time from millions of possible combinations. This is known as ‘rolling codes’ and has become the modern standard in garage door openers.
All in all, the Genie 800 is a reliable, simple and exceptionally affordable garage door opener that will meet most people’s needs.
- HomeLink and Car2U compatible
- Lighting system included
- Includes a single 3-button transmitter plus a wired wall console
- DC motor
- Chain drive system
- Cheaper than many other garage door openers in the market
- Fairly easy to install
- Most important safety features are included
Watch Out For
- No smartphone / smart home integration
- Noisier than a belt drive or direct drive unit
How To Select the Right Garage Door Opener For Your Home
There are several practical decisions you’ll need to make before shopping for a new garage door opener.
- your garage door height and weight
- how quiet you want your door to operate
- how ‘smart’ you want your system to be (programmable, sensors detect movement, automatic closing after X minutes, etc.)
- do you care about smart home or smart car integration? and, of course,
- your budget.
Here is a cheat sheet with the most important tips on how to select the right garage door opener for your home.
1. What Type of Drive?
The drive is the main component of a garage door opener and the most important factor to consider during the buying process.
The type of drive you choose determines how easy the system will be to operate, how quiet it will be, how long it will last and how much it will cost you.
There are several types of drives to choose from, each with its own pros and cons:
Chain drive – this is one of the oldest types of drives, commonly used in earlier garage door openers. It is still very common today though it is falling out of favor as homeowners opt for more modern alternatives. As the name suggests, these openers use a chain to pull the door up or down. They are quite reliable and can last for many years with minimal maintenance. They are also less expensive compared to other types of garage door openers. The main downside is that they tend to be noisy, which is why they are recommended only for detached garages.
Belt drive – If you do not enjoy the creaky operation of a chain drive garage door opener, buy a belt drive system. Instead of a chain, this opener uses a belt made from rubber or a rubber-like material. This makes it really quiet when it is moving the garage door up or down. When shopping for a belt drive garage door opener, look for those marked DC (direct current) rather than AC (alternating current). DC openers provide soft starts and stops, which prevents the door from noisily jerking when it starts or stops moving. Belt drive garage door openers are more expensive than chain drive systems.
Screw drive – Screw drive garage door openers have been around for some time. They use a threaded steel rod to move the door. This means there are fewer moving parts, resulting in less maintenance. Screw drive openers are less noisy compared to chain drives but not as silent as belt drive systems.
Direct drive – This is a fairly recent addition to the varieties of garage door opener drives you will find in the market. Rather than a moving belt or chain, direct drive systems have a motor that moves along a stationary belt. This reduces the number of moving parts, resulting in minimal maintenance requirements and making the garage door opener as silent as a belt drive system. While direct drive openers are pricier than belt drives, they often come with lifetime warranties.
Jackshaft – Jackshaft openers are compactly designed with no overhead rails involved. The main unit attaches to the garage wall with cables attached directly to the garage door. Jackshaft garage door openers are ideal for garages where the ceiling cannot accommodate a chain, belt or direct drive system. They tend to be very quiet though they are more expensive than other types of garage door openers.
2. What Horsepower?
Horsepower, often indicated as HP, is an indicator of how much weight a garage door opener can handle safely and reliably, without burning out prematurely.
Remember that garage doors are quite heavy, and a strong opener system is required to operate then efficiently and safely.
For most hollow aluminum and fiberglass garage doors, a 1/2 HP garage door opener is sufficient.
For heavier metal and solid wood doors, a 1/2HP opener may experience premature wear and tear. In this case, a 3/4 HP is better. Buy this power rating for wide and heavy wooden doors, specialty doors and fully insulated garage doors.
Beyond this level, you are probably overdoing it. Most 1+ HP garage door openers are reserved for industrial use.
3. Backup battery?
Normally, a garage door opener draws power from your home electrical system. That means that if there is a blackout, you may be unable to operate the door.
Many manufacturers today equip garage door openers with backup batteries that come in handy when there is a power outage.
Don’t underestimate how important it will be for you to be able to operate your garage door in an emergency blackout situation. Think: tornado, hurricane, flood and earthquake.
4. Safety Features
Don’t forget to check for safety features including a sensor beam that stops and reverses the door if it detects an obstruction below. This prevents someone or something from being crushed by accident.
Also look for garage door openers that come with light systems, including room lights and motion-sensitive lights that come on when they detect movement.
5. Smart Home Features
In this era of smart homes, garage door openers are not being left behind.
Most garage door opener manufacturers have begun incorporating smart-home technology into their systems, and it’s a major source of differentiation for them today.
Using smart home integration technology, you can monitor and control your garage door remotely from your smartphone at the office, or on vacation. You can also detect whether the garage door is open or closed.
You can even receive a notification whenever the door is opened without your knowledge.
Additionally, some Smart door systems let you control garage door lights using your smartphone.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Garage Door?
If you have an old and worn out garage door, it may be time to make a much-needed replacement.
Installing a new garage door with an upgraded opener can improve functionality, aesthetics and home security. It can even add value to your home.
But like any home improvement project, cost is a big issue. How much should you budget, for your replacement job?
In this section, we’ll answer the following three questions about cost:
- How much will it cost to buy a new garage door?
- What about the cost of a replacement garage door opener?
- What will a professional installer charge me?
Before you shop, obviously, you need a budget.
Are you on a tight budget or can you afford to spend a bit more for better features? Once you have a comfortable range in mind, you can then find options that fit within it.
The Garage Door
When you start shopping around, one thing you will notice is that garage doors are cheaper than you might expect. For a standard single-car garage door, prices can be as low as $200, but typically run about $500 for a basic door with style.
From there, the price goes up based on the materials used, horsepower, size, weight and other additional features.
In the United States, the average cost to equip a standard 2-car garage door is between $800 and $2,000.
It’s really easy to spend in the thousands, though, if you want a solid wood or a reinforced security door.
The Garage Door Opener
As for garage door openers, the cheapest ones cost about $100. This will most likely be a chain drive opener.
For a quieter and more efficient belt or direct drive system, expect to spend between $200 and $300.
For a Jackshaft opener, prices often go over $300.
Combined, most homeowners will spend around $1,000 to $2,500 for a garage door and a matching garage door opener.
So here’s where you need to tread carefully: garage door installation can cost a lot if you don’t find the right professional and select the right hardware for your home.
Ideally, you want an installer who will install the garage door and garage door opener together, in one job.
Installation cost will depend on whether there is wiring involved; the size and weight of door; if any framing work is needed; and, the overall installation complexity.
Also, check whether your installer offers disposal services for your old garage door.
Overall, the final installation bill should come in at around $500-$1000, but it could go as high as $3,000 if you need weight-bearing beams or framing installed.
Summing It Up
To replace a single 2-car garage door with a standard fiberglass or aluminum door set and a mid-priced garage door opener, you should budget between $1,500 to $3,000, all-in.
If your budget is larger than this, you can spend more and enjoy bonus features.
Now, you may feel like this is too pricey and decide to attempt a DIY installation.
Be warned: this could lead to big maintenance and repair costs down the road, if you install the door incorrectly. And, if major electrical or construction work is required, you’ll need to pull the right permits.
Not to mention the safety risk of getting it wrong.
Honestly, the only time you should consider the DIY route is if you are replacing a garage door opener only. Most come with comprehensive instructions and a full installation kit.
But even then, hiring a professional installer may still the better choice if you lack the time and skills to do a perfect job.
How to Hire a Professional Garage Door Installer
Hiring the right garage door professional is important to ensure that the garage door functions properly and safely, long-term.
The Traditional Way
The first step in choosing the right contractor is to create a short-list of professionals in your area. You can use Google and search “garage door repair” on your phone to see a list of contractors in your area.
Once you have a list of 3 to 5 local professional installers to choose from, interview them on the phone or in person and score each one on the following factors:
Experience – how long has the company been in business? The longer they have been around, the more it means they have a reliable reputation and can handle just about any kind of project involving garage doors.
Reputation – even for contractors who have been around for long, it is important to check their reputation. Ask them for 2 phone references. And, ask around your local area regarding what people think about a certain company. Online reviews can also provide important insights into the workmanship of a specific installer.
Insurance – ask to see insurance documents to ascertain that the company has property and employee coverage. Never hire a company or professional without the requisite insurance coverage. It could cause a lot of problems if anything goes wrong.
Permits and Compliance – make sure the contractor understands local codes that apply to the project and make sure they comply with them.
Communication – this is an issue many homeowners neglect but which is absolutely important. You need to establish a productive client-professional relationship with the contractor and good communication is a big part of it. As you interact with various installers, asking questions and seeking clarification on issues, monitor how well they respond and explain things.
Cost – After weighting your bidders on the factors above, ask for a FIXED PRICE QUOTE from the ones that still seem reasonable to you. This will help you find the one who balances well between affordability and workmanship.
The New Way: Shop For Contractors Online
An emerging alternative to the labor-intensive research process above is to use an online home services marketplace to find a local garage door specialist who can help you with your project
If you want a guaranteed fixed-price job done by a reputable local supplier, requiring almost zero research on your part, then I suggest checking out Amazon Home Services.
Amazon’s model is unique in that they work extra-hard to pre-screen local suppliers. And, their online shopping model makes it extremely simple to obtain a fair fixed price bid and pay, all in a single session. It works just like you’d shop for a book.
With customer reviews and a money-back guarantee.
The only drawback is that Amazon Home Services is not yet available in all zip codes; but, if they are in your area, you should definitely check them out.The Best Garage Door Openers Selling Today by Reggie Williams