Best Garage Door Openers of 2019
A garage door opener offers the convenience of safely pulling your car into the garage at the touch of a button. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best garage door opener for your specific needs.
Open Your Home to the Perfect Garage Door Opener
A garage door opener makes life much easier as you're coming and going. You don't have to exit your vehicle just to park your car. When the weather's cold or rainy, that's an especially nice perk! And it's far more convenient to have a garage door opener than it is to give each family member a set of garage keys.
On top of that, a garage door opener adds value to your home. Just about everyone, potential home buyers included, appreciates this small yet highly convenient luxury.
The reasons for having a garage door opener are quite straightforward, but the process of choosing a new garage door opener for your home is not. What kind of drive is best? What types of access features do you need? If you're shopping for a garage door opener, you may already be grappling with some of these questions.
At BestReviews, we compare different products side by side, consulting experts and owners to find out all we can about items on today's market. And we don't accept samples or other incentives from manufacturers because we're committed to the creation of truly honest and unbiased reviews.
The garage door openers featured in the above matrix are three of our favorite choices. Each delivers excellent performance and value. Please continue reading this shopping guide to find out more about garage door openers and what we learned from our research.
How Big Is Your Garage Door?
The size of your garage door will impact your garage door opener purchase. Granted, some people can choose their garage door size when they have their garage built. But most consumers will be retrofitting a new garage door opener to a garage door that has already been built.
Standard Garage Doors and What They Require
Standard garage doors are 7 feet tall. They can be 8, 9, or 10 feet wide. Most are made from sectional aluminum, steel, wood, or plastic. Even a budget-priced garage door opener with standard rails and a 1/2-horsepower motor should be able to handle a standard garage door with no problem.
That said, our preference for a standard garage door would be an opener with a 3/4-horsepower motor. For only a little extra investment, these motors are better equipped to cope with the door weight, and as a result, they are usually faster and smoother.
Nonstandard Garage Doors and What They Require
What happens if your garage door is oversized or of unusual construction? Solid hardwood, copper, and even glass garage doors exist, and they're beautiful—but they can be very heavy, and a standard garage door opener might not be the right choice.
Fortunately, solutions aren't difficult to find. Several garage door opener manufacturers include eight-foot rails as standard, and additional lengths are an option. One-horsepower motors are also widely available. For an unusual garage door, it's unlikely you would need more than that, but if in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
What Type of Drive Is Right for You?
You'll need to decide which type of drive you want your garage door opener to have. There are four types of garage door drives available, but one kind (jackshafts) is difficult to fit, expensive, and is used almost exclusively for commercial installations. That leaves you a choice of three drives for your garage door opener:
- Chain drive
- Belt drive
- Direct drive
There are no bad choices here. All types of drives, when combined with an appropriate motor, are perfectly capable of doing the job required. However, there are some pros and cons to each type of drive.
Chain Drive Pros and Cons
A garage door opener with a chain drive is usually the cheapest option. The technology is well-established, reliable, and durable. And if the power goes out, this type of mechanism can be operated manually.
Chains do stretch eventually, but regular maintenance will keep that to a minimum. They can also be a little noisy. While good manufacturers take steps to reduce the sound, they're probably not the best choice if there's a bedroom alongside or above the garage.
Belt Drive Pros and Cons
A belt drive is similar in construction to a chain drive. The difference is that the metal chain is replaced by a toothed belt. The belt is made of rubber and reinforced with steel bands. It has excellent durability and requires almost no maintenance. It's also much quieter, so it's an ideal choice for homes in which a bedroom adjoins a garage.
The downside to a garage door opener with a belt drive is the additional cost. Furthermore, a belt drive garage door opener may not work in the event of a power outage—though a manual release is often fitted for this reason.
Direct Drive Pros and Cons
In a direct-drive garage door opener, the motor itself moves along a fixed track. This system is virtually maintenance-free and very quiet. It offers unrivaled durability and, when combined with the right motor, is arguably the smoothest and fastest lifting.
There is a price to pay for this type of drive, however. In fact, this type of garage door opener tends to be the most expensive. And, as with belt drives, a garage door opener with a direct drive may not work if the power is out.
Which Access Features Matter to You?
Having decided on the mechanical aspects of your garage door lifter, you now must consider access features: the methods you have for getting in and out.
- Keyless Access: Keyless access via handheld remote is now universal on garage door openers. An inexpensive garage door opener might come with only one remote, but many include two. Most people leave their remote in their car, but you could certainly remove it from the car and take it with you on a walk or bike ride.
- Exterior Entry Panel: A separate entry panel stationed on the outside of your garage is a good idea, particularly if you don't have enough remotes for all family members. Some entry panels can detect movement and activate lights. This is convenient for homeowners and a deterrent for burglars as well.
- Indoor Control Panel: A control panel for inside the garage will be supplied. The features on this panel vary from product to product. The panel might detect motion and activate the internal light. You might be able to use this panel to set the door to open and close at specific times—or to lock the door completely.
- Rolling Code Programming: A garage door opener with rolling code programming gives added security. Each time your garage door is operated, new codes are set. This prevents your remotes from being cloned.
- Timed Closure: A timed-closure feature is available on some garage door opener models. After a certain number of minutes unattended, the garage door will close itself.
- Smartphone App: Some garage door openers come with their own smartphone app. Specifics vary, but you might receive notifications if someone opens your garage while you're not there. You might be able to operate your garage door or turn on the lights remotely. To access these functions, however, you may need to buy additional software or services.
- Battery Backup: A battery backup is supplied on some garage door openers with DC motors, so you can operate them when the power is out. Having said that, most garage door openers have a manual release you can use in emergencies.
Garage Door Opener FAQ
Q. How much does a good garage door opener cost?
A. A garage door opener is a surprisingly affordable luxury. You can buy a cheap garage door opener for under $100, though at this price, they tend to be noisy and offer few features. For just a little more—somewhere in the region of $130—you can get an entry-level garage door opener from a reputable manufacturer.
If you have $200 to invest, you can pick and choose from an array of quality garage door openers. For $250 to $300, you can buy the kind of high-powered garage door opener that will effortlessly lift an oversize custom garage door.
Q. Should I opt for a garage door opener with an AC motor or a DC motor?
A. Garage door openers with AC motors are inexpensive, reliable, and easy to maintain. They can be a bit noisy, though.
Garage door openers with DC motors are more expensive, but they are quiet and virtually maintenance-free. They also use power more efficiently, so running costs are reduced.
Q. Which is the best type of drive for a garage door opener: chain drive, belt drive, or direct drive?
A. There isn't really a "best" drive for your garage door opener because each provides a practical solution at a given price point. A well-maintained chain drive will give you years of service. A belt drive is more popular with premium-quality garage door openers because it's quiet and fuss-free. And direct drives are most often paired with mechanisms for lifting oversize or exceptionally heavy doors.