Automatic garage door openers give you easy, well-lit access to your garage and home. They can also add security features to your home. But before you install a garage door opener, it’s important to know how much power will be needed to lift your garage door safely, effectively, and at a reasonable speed.
Horsepower: How Much is Enough for My Garage Door?
The main feature necessary for lifting heavy doors is a higher horsepower rating. Look for the horsepower (HP) rating to compare garage door opener lifting power as you shop. Ratings from 1/2-horsepower to 1-1/2 horsepower are representative for most residential models. If your garage door is a sectional double-car model, a 1/2-horsepower motor will be sufficient. A more powerful model will work with greater ease and incur less wear on the motor. A heavier door may need a higher-horsepower opener to open and close safely and correctly.
Garage door opener motors run on alternating or direct current. Both must plug into a standard power outlet, but a DC-powered opener converts alternating current to direct current. The advantages of direct current motors are smaller size, quiet operation and less forceful starts and stops. Some direct current openers have a backup battery, for power outages.
Garage Door Opener Types
Most standard garage door openers are of a similar design. The motor moves a trolley along an aluminum rail. The trolley connects to the door and as it moves and pushes the garage door closed or pulls it open. The difference between models is how the motor propels the trolley.
Chain-Driven Garage Door Openers
Chain-driven garage door openers use a chain to move the trolley and to raise and lower the door. Chain drives are an economical choice but tend to generate more noise than other types of garage door openers. If your garage is not connected to the house, noise may not be disruptive. If, however, the garage is near a living space, you may prefer a quieter option.
Belt-Driven Garage Door Openers
Belt-driven garage door openers function similarly to a chain-drive system, but they use a belt instead of a chain in order to move the trolley along its track. The belt system delivers smoother and quieter opening and closing, making a belt driven opener a good choice for homes with living spaces over or near the garage. Belt-drive openers do not have as many moving parts as chain driven openers and therefore need less maintenance.
Screw-Driven Garage Door Openers
Screw-driven openers employ a threaded steel rod to motivate the lift mechanism. As the rod turns, it moves the trolley along its track to raise the door or lower it. These models tend to be quieter than chain systems. Like belt-driven openers, a smaller number of moving parts means less maintenance.
Direct-Drive Garage Door Openers
Direct-drive garage door openers also offer quiet operation. The motor functions as the trolley, traveling along the track to raise or lower the door. These systems have just one moving part- the motor – which means reduced vibration, less noise, and lower maintenance needs.