Understanding the Differences Between Garage Door Openers

What kind of motor drives your garage door? If you’ve got an older model, it’s probably a chain, belt, or screw driven opener. In recent years, the introduction of the residential jackshaft and direct-drive openers have changed things, though, including conventional wisdom regarding the standard options. How much do you know about these different options? Do you have a thorough enough understanding to know which one is best for you?

  • As you’d expect, chain driven models involve a chain. It’s similar to a bicycle chain, and it pushes or pulls a trolley that connects it to a metal bar. This bar is called a J-arm, and it’s attached to the garage door. Chain-drive garage door openers are the most affordable in the industry, and they’re durable and long-lasting, but they also tend to be noisy. This may not be an issue unless you’ve got a bedroom over the garage.
  • Belt-driven openers are very similar to chain-driven models. The difference is that they use a reinforced belt to push or pull the trolley, rather than a chain. The belts are made of different materials: typically fiberglass, polyurethane, or steel-reinforced rubber. These belt-driven openers are quieter than chain-driven openers, but just as reliable. In fact, with periodic maintenance, you can expect your belt-drive unit to last for many years with no problems. You do pay for the extra quiet because belt-driven openers tend to cost $30-$60 more than chain-driven units.
  • If you are really interested in a quiet model, you might consider a direct drive unit. These are supposed to be the quietest type of garage door unit because the only moving part is the motor. An example of German innovation, they feature a motor that travels along a stationary chain embedded in an overhead rail. A J-arm connects the moving motor to the door. This type of unit costs about the same as a belt-driven model, and have lifetime warranties.
  • Screw-openers feature a trolley that rides on a threaded-steel rod. A motor rotates the rod, and because this design has fewer moving parts than most, it’s supposed to require the least maintenance. Screw-driven openers encounter problems, however, in regions with large swings in temperature. They’re also noisier than belt-driven openers, though manufacturers of this kind of opener are working on these problems. Working in their favor is the fact that they’re among the speediest of openers, opening a garage door at 10 to 12 inches per second as opposed to the 6 to 8 inches of most doors. All garage door openers close doors more slowly than they open them, at about 7 inches per second, for safety.
  • A jackshaft opener is different from other systems. This kind of system mounts on the wall beside the garage door and uses a system of pulleys and cables to turn the torsion bar and raise the garage door. Driven by a 24 volt DC motor, this type of system is reliable and quiet, and keeps the ceiling free for overhead storage. It’s also a good option for a garage with a high or low ceiling. This is the most expensive of the garage openers.

How do you know which type of garage door opener is right for your home? If budget is a priority, consider a chain-driven opener. These are also good for large, heavy garage doors, like oversized or solid wood doors. On the other hand, if your primary concern is noise, a belt-drive opener may be a better bet. Of course, if your door is noisy as it goes along the track, a quieter opener may be a moot point. If your budget permits a direct-drive or jackshaft model, you might want to go with one of these, because they’re quiet and extremely dependable. If you’re looking for a nice, solid, middle of the road option, consider a screw-drive opener. They’re not as quiet as belt driven or direct drives, but they’re quieter than chain drives. Be aware, though, that screw-driven openers require regular maintenance to keep the rod from stripping the teeth of the drive. Because of this tendency to wear out, they’re not the best option for large or heavy doors.

Whether you need a new garage door opener, or you’re ready for a whole new garage door, contact A1A Overhead Doors Company today. Our knowledgeable staff can help you determine exactly what’s needed, and complete your installation efficiently and professionally. Family owned and operated, A1A Overhead Door serves the entire metro Jacksonville area. In fact, we even go up to fifty miles into the outer countries. We are licensed and insured to cover both the client’s property and ours, and we’re proud to work with our clientele and will match or beat any competitor’s written estimate. For more information, you can call 904.579.1123 or contact us through our website.