Although some people believe that garage openers are a luxury, in actuality, they are an extremely smart investment for homeowners wanting to protect their vehicles and add some visual appeal to their home.
Realtors indicate that homes with high-end openers sell more quickly than homes with a less trendy opening system. These same realtors suggest that their clients see an 85% return on the money invested in a quality opener when it comes time to sell their home.
Why do prospective home buyers want a home with a reliable garage opener, you ask? We’ve all been to older homes with antiquated systems. When you try to open the garage, the door glitches or shakes as it moves. Sometimes, older systems will not lift a door all the way, or will not allow it to completely close. A garage door that cannot close completely poses a very obvious security risk to a home, and is definitely a cosmetic eyesore as well.
Our Favorite Garage Door Openers – Ryobi, Chamberlain, Liftmaster, and More!
Buying Guide – How To Choose Your Opener
Another reason to have a new, high-tech opener is that they are safer for you and your family. According to a 2007 study conducted by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, over 13,300 people suffered incidents related to garage doors. Installing a state-of-the-art opener is a great way to avoid injury and remain safe while you use your garage.
Besides acting as a solid investment and excellent safety feature for your home, the most important function an opening system serves is one of convenience. An automatic opener allows you to quickly enter and exit your garage with ease.
This buying guide outlines a few of the more popular systems on the market. From there, we’ll also identify a number of key features and accessories you’ll want to make sure your system comes equipped with before installation.
While there are several different designs currently available on the market, belt-driven and chain-driven mechanisms are the most popular.
Chain-driven mechanisms are a great choice for people wanting to outfit their new home with a sturdy, dependable garage opener. What makes chain-driven systems so popular is that they are generally the most cost-effective designs available in home improvement stores. Besides the affordable pricing, chain-driven openers are extremely strong and durable, and are an excellent option if you live in a part of the country with long winters, or you have a very heavy garage door.
Belt-driven designs resemble chain-driven systems, except a reinforced belt is what opens your garage door if you’ve got a chain-driven opener as opposed to a reinforced steel chain.
The belts in belt-driven unit are usually constructed from steel-reinforced rubber, polyurethane, or fiberglass. What makes belt-driven units a popular pick among homeowners is that they are usually much quieter than chain-driven outfits.
Other types to consider are screw drive, direct drive, and jackshaft mechanisms. Screw-based models are intriguing because they utilize a rotating steel bar that rotates like a screw to lift and close your garage door.
Jackshaft garage doors are becoming a trendy alternative in newer homes because they provide an increased level of security to the home. Jackshaft garage systems are mounted to the wall that is right next to the actual garage door itself, as opposed to being mounted to the ceiling.
Because the mount is attached to a side wall in a garage, jackshaft garage door systems are outfitted with a deadbolt that substantially increases the security level of the garage door system.
Another popular type to consider is a direct-drive system. What’s so unique about direct-drive systems is that the chain or belt remains completely stationary while the motor moves up and down the belt to raise or lower the door.
This is completely opposite of how a chain or belt-based system works. In a chain or belt system, the chain or belt moves to adjust the door while the device itself remains stationary.
Not all opening systems are equipped with the same features or benefits, so it’s important to figure out what you need in a unit before installing one in your garage.
Look for Low-Noise Openers
People living in urban environments or suburban neighborhoods should definitely consider purchasing a model that is belt driven or runs on a direct drive system. Belt-driven units are the quietest garage opening systems on the market, making them ideal for people who need to be mindful of the noise they make as a courtesy to nearby neighbors.
If low noise is a high priority for you, make sure to check out our recommendations for the quietest options that you can find today.
Stay Safe With Automatic Reversing
The automatic reversing feature is perhaps the most important safety element found in newly-designed products. Automatic reversing changes the direction of a closing garage door when it senses something is in its way.
This is especially important if you have pets or children who like to play outside — you don’t want them getting trapped underneath an old garage door system that is not outfitted with an automatic reversing feature.
Although all new garage door systems are required by federal law to have automatic reversing, you’ll want to make sure you find one with high-powered sensors. The more robust the sensors, the quicker the unit detects that an obstacle is in the path of the door.
Get a Keypad for Remote Entry
If have a growing family, buying a unit that comes with a keypad is a great way to ensure that your kids or spouse can safely get into your house even if they don’t have a car.
After putting a new garage door in your home, you’ll have the option of attaching a keyword-protected touchpad to the outer frame of your garage door. When a family member wants to open your garage door, all they need to do is enter the keypad’s password and voila — the door will open for them.
A remote keypad is a necessary garage door accessory if you’ve got a busy family who comes and goes on different schedules throughout the day.
Our Top Rated Products In Detail
Chamberlain 3/4 HP Ultra Quiet Belt Drive
It’s easy to say that all openers are basically the same. The truth is, they do all do the same job – they open and shut your garage door. Where they differentiate themselves, though, is in ease of use. You always want something that is easy to install, easy to repair, and easy to operate. In short, you want something like this unit.
One of the best things about this particular model is that it’s really easy to put together. Even if you’re the type of person who tends to avoid anything that’s hooked up to electricity, you’ll be able to get this product up and running in just a few minutes. It’s got all of the usual bells and whistles, including a great battery back-up system. If you don’t have a reliable electrical connection, you’ll be very grateful to have this feature – all it takes is a quick button press to get your door open even when the power is out. It’s a small touch, but one that’s great to have when it becomes necessary (If you’re interested, check out all of our Chamberlain reviews).
Unfortunately, this door opener is not compatible with a number of garage door remotes. While this is fine for those who are good at keeping track of their manufacturer remotes, it’s not great for those who need a replacement. More importantly, though, it’s a bit of a pain for those who are used to syncing their garage doors with their cars. It’s not a huge problem, but it is the kind of inconvenience that you would hope could be avoided in this kind of product.
Traditionally, garage opening systems have been loud and ungainly beasts, made more for efficiency than any kind of peace and quiet. Ryobi is among the many that have made quieter devices, and for the most part, they’ve succeeded in their efforts.
The good news about this products is that it’s really quiet. It probably won’t wake someone up a few rooms away when it is opened, although ultra-quiet might be overselling things by just a bit. It’s also very easy to install, which is great because it has a number of cool features associated with the wi-fi functionality that you’ll want to use sooner rather than later. Taken as a whole, it’s a nice machine that delivers on most of its promises. It is not, however, quite perfect and that’s worth talking about as well.
This is a touchy unit. Expect to have some issues with the remotes from time to time, though they do tend to reset themselves. Likewise, the sensors are a bit on the touchy side and you’ll have to mess with them a little bit at first to make the whole thing work. Once you get past those little issues, though, you’ll find that you have a good, quiet opening system that gets the job done. It might not be the fanciest machine on the market, but it does work very well.
Chamberlain B970 Smartphone-Controlled Ultra-Quiet and Strong Belt Drive
Chamberlain does a remarkably good job integrating newer technology with older systems. Its line of smartphone-controlled devices are all great, with each handling a different part of the market. If you’re worried about noise, though, you’ll definitely want to make sure you look here. The Ultra-Quiet model is a giant step forward compared to some of the rest of the products on the market.
Quiet and smart are the two adjectives that you’ll see in the marketing for this product, and to be fair they are both apt. This really is a very quiet design, albeit one that does still have a good deal of strength to it. It’s not quite a whisper, but it’s much quieter than the average product in this price range. It’s also smart, with a great app that is fairly easy to set up. It’s not quite perfect, but it is close.
If there is a complaint, it’s that this device is a little tough to set up. Most people will need several hours to get it up and working correctly, and that’s if you do everything right the first time. If you aren’t particularly mechanically adept, it’s probably a good idea to get the professional installation with this one. The installation is enough to turn people off, but those who make it through the process really will get a good product.
SOMMER Direct Drive 3/4 HP
The SOMMER Direct Drive is a great example of how one feature can make a garage door stand out. Taken as a whole, it’s hard to say that it does a lot more than any other similar product. It opens most doors without a problem and it shuts them just as easily. Where it shines, though, is with one major feature.
The real selling point of this device is that it’s incredibly quiet. While the advertising might make you doubt the claims, the truth is that this is as close to silent as you are likely to find on the market. There’s a lot to love about all the other features, of course, but you’ll be amazed by the fact that you can reliably open up the garage door without alerting everyone else in your house.
If you’re looking for something to nitpick, you’ll probably want to take a look at the speed. This is not a fast moving mechanism by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t really seem to struggle with doors, though – it’s just a little on the slow side. This might be a bit annoying if you are in a huge hurry, but otherwise, the few extra seconds won’t bother you. All in all, this is more of a minor annoyance than a real problem.
Genie SilentMax 1200
Silence is a fairly relative term when it comes to these types of products. While the best models really are whisper quiet, most that are advertised as such really just dull the noise. Fortunately, Genie’s SilentMax does live up to its reputation by giving users not only a quiet experience but one that works every time.
As you might expect from the name, this really is a very quiet unit. It won’t disturb someone a room over, though there is still a little bit of sound. In addition to being quiet, it’s also fairly strong – it will handle most doors without a problem. It is also easy to install so you won’t necessarily have to spring for the professional installation.
The big issue with this opener, and with most quiet openers, is that it’s slow. This can be a pain if you are in a rush, but it’s usually not much of a problem. Customer service also isn’t always great, but that’s rarely a problem for this unit. All in all, it still works quietly and reliably.
Chamberlain C450 Smartphone-Controlled Durable Chain Drive
What do you really want out of a garage opener? Do you want all the latest tech, or do you just want to be able to open your garage door. It’s odd, but it often seems like you have to choose one or the other. Thanks to this model from Chamberlain, though, you can get both at once.
There are a few really nice factors that help separate this device from most other products. The big one, of course, is that you can control it with your smartphone. This isn’t just a great thing for those who like tech toys, but it’s also a great benefit for those who don’t want to haul around a remote for their garage doors. Despite the high level of tech involved, this is also still an opener that is very easy to install. If you’ve ever installed one of these systems before, you’re more than qualified to install this one. A special note should also be made about the ‘learning’ button, which is separate from the opener but makes it very easy to program in new remotes or phones.
One thing you will notice when you install the device is that it uses more plastic than one might hope. Most of the plastic pieces don’t seem to be involved with the heavy lifting, but they are nonetheless quite easy to break. This is something you’d want to keep an eye on, though most users don’t report problems with breakage. Taken as a whole, though, is a great option that leverages newer technology to give you an overall better experience.
Genie ChainMax 1000
Genie is one of the most reliable companies out there when it comes to garage openers. While their openers might not have the highest-tech features, they’re always reliable and stand up to repeated use. There’s a lot to love about the ChainMax 1000, but most of it comes down to the fact that it simply works.
The good stuff here is all that you’d expect from a reasonable product. It’s quiet, it’s strong, and it keeps working longer than you’d expect. The installation is also very easy, even if you’ve never installed one of these systems before. This is as good an experience as you could hope for with this kind of device.
There are no pressing issues with this device. There are quite a few plastic parts used in the construction, but there’s no real evidence that these cause a problem over the short-term. They may not hold up for twenty years, but you’ll still get a long run out of this machine. In the end, can you really ask for anything more?
Craftsman ½ HP Chain Drive
While Craftsman probably doesn’t live up to its reputation in most cases these days, it still makes a fantastic product. It provides the exact kind of service that it’s always provided, so you know you’re getting something good. If you take a look at the features on this unit, you’ll discover something that’s definitely worth a purchase.
The watchword for this unit is dependability. You get the feeling when using it that everything is going to keep working as intended. You can, for example, reliably install this unit even without the professional help offered at the store. It takes a few minutes to set up, but it’s nearly certain that even the most inept DIY enthusiast can’t hurt this unit. Once you have it set up, it will keep working. It doesn’t seem to struggle with most doors and it operates quietly. It’s exactly what you’d hope it would be.
While the unit itself is good, there are some massive complaints about customer service. In truth, you’re probably better off getting a repair company to come out rather than having the manufacturer do any of the works. Fortunately, these units don’t fail very often and most problems are fairly minor. As long as things are working as intended, you’ll have a great experience with this product. There’s really not much more you can ask from this type of product.
Genie is definitely one of the most well known names in this field. That notoriety is mostly positive, largely thanks to products like the PowerLift. It’s a nice unit that will get the job done every time.
This is a very simple design in the best way possible. It’s very easy to install and doesn’t feature anything you don’t need. The wall console has a few cool features, but most of what you’re getting is a good opener that works every time.
The biggest problem with the unit is a lack of strength. That’s not a huge deal for most, but if you have an exceptionally heavy door – or one that freezes to the ground – you might find yourself in trouble. Unless you need a hardcore opener, though, this Genie model is a good choice.
Skylink AN-1622K Atoms
The Skylink AN-1622K doesn’t stand out for any of the usual reasons. It doesn’t have a ton of big marketing buzz surrounding its features and it certainly doesn’t have any big technological breakthrough attached. What it does have, though, is a good repuation. It is simply a design that works.
This is a very solid unit for a few reasons. The big one is that it is incredibly quiet. While that might not be the big selling point for some, it’s very nice to see in any product. Beyond that, you’re looking at a very well put-together machine. It doesn’t have many problems and it works as it should every time. Finally, the included keypad is a nice touch that helps out those who need to make sure that guests or house-sitters have access to the garage even without having extra remotes.
The downside to the lack of sound on this one is definitely the opening speed. While you would think that its motor would mean that it could handle heavy doors with ease, the truth is that it’s fairly slow when raising even a relatively light garage door. It’s almost certain that this is done to cut down on sound, but it does take some getting used to. If you don’t mind waiting a bit for your garage door to open so you don’t have to deal with the noise, though, this might be a fantastic option for you.
Skylink EQ-1511 Chain Drive
Skylink makes a really good product. Its products might not always have the fanciest features or the splashiest designs, but they always work as designed. The EQ-1511 is another great example of what you can get from an opener that’s short on flash. Rather than being filled with new toys, it just gets the job done.
This is a good example of a product that does a lot of basic things really well. It’s very quiet, though it’s not necessarily marketed as an ultra-quiet opener. It’s strong enough to lift even heavier doors and won’t give you problems during operation, but it’s still simple enough to install that you won’t need professional help. It’s a nice, simple system that won’t make you tear your hair out a few weeks after installation, so that definitely counts as a win in today’s market of over-complicated door openers.
The big downside to this one is that it isn’t HomeLink compatible. The HomeLink system is very popular in cars these days, and it’s rare to pick up a new vehicle that won’t let you program your remote to the car’s console. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to do that with any Skylink product – you can order an extra receiver, but it’s far simpler to just go with a remote. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it’s really all that’s wrong with this system.
Liftmaster Garage Door Opener
Having a battery backup can be a lifesaver when you’ve got a heavy garage door. While might be able to deal with a manual release in some cases, it’s not going to help if you’re having a major problem with the door. This battery backup is a great piece of technology that will keep your garage door working even when the power is out.
This battery back-up is very easy to use and to install. You really don’t need to have any familiarity with these types of devices to get it set up, which is great. Even better, it will let you know when the system is operating on battery power so you can trouble-shoot any potential problems with your primary openers’s power system. It may not be a huge deal to some, but it’s one of those little convenience features that really does make life easier (check out all of our Liftmaster reviews).
There are, however, some issues with charging the battery. Customer service is usually pretty good about helping out customers who deal with these problems, but they’re not going to be able to handle every issue in a timely manner. That means, unfortunately, that some customers are going to get stuck when they thought they had a battery back-up. It’s definitely a problem to consider, but you’ll be able to avoid it if you are conscientious about checking your charge.