Garage Door Openers

Garage Door Opener Drive Types

When buying new garage door openers you might be surprised at the amount of options you have. Several types of residential garage door openers exist today ranging in price, power and functionality. Finding an opener that will suit your needs is extremely important. Four types of residential garage door openers exist today and all are best suited to a particular type of garage.

Belt Drive

Belt drive garage door openers are very similar to chain driven operators, except they utilize a durable rubber belt for operation. Recent improvements in design and construction has drastically increased belt longevity – so much that some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the belt (since it will outlast parts in the motor). Belt drive openers are very quiet during operation and are great solutions for garages with rooms above them. Some models include a battery backup feature, which allows users to operate their garage door forty times or more during power outages. Most belt drive openers are 3/4 horse power and are ideal for heavier garage door models. Belt driven openers often cost more because of all these amazing features.

Chain Drive

Chain driven garage door openers are the standard in the garage door industry. The are very reliable and are the least expensive option. Chain drive openers are very noisy and can often be heard through a house during operation. Some people find the noise annoying, while others appreciate being warned that their garage door is opening. If you are concerned about noise and vibration this type of opener won’t be for you. If you have a detached garage or aren’t concerned about noise chain driven openers represent a great value.

Screw Drive

Screw drive openers are somewhere in the middle on price, noise and performance. Vibration in this model of opener causes it to be almost as noisy as chain driven openers. Screw drive openers tend to also be slow during operation and won’t win any races. They also need to be lubricated regularly and aren’t suited well for cold climates. Screw drive openers are durable and precise in force and limits. They fit somewhere in the middle of all the available options.


The top opener in the residential garage door space is the jack-shaft opener. Operation is extremely quiet since a shaft turns to operate the garage door. These types of openers mount to the wall beside the garage door instead of the ceiling so they take up less space than other types of openers. The only downside to this type of opener is the price as they are the most expensive option. These openers have been known to be “touchy” and work best on lightweight doors. Recent design improvements have muted some of the concerns on this model.

HorsePower (HP)

For most two car garage doors a 1/2 hp motor will work just fine. However, some heavier styles of doors like wood and carriage house might require more horsepower. For these situations a 3/4 hp motor may be needed for the best results. If you are ever unsure you are best served going with a higher horse power motor. If money is a huge issue don’t be concerned since torsion springs do the majority of the work in garage door operation.



  1. Jack Shaft ($350.00 est 2012)
  2. Belt Drive ($225.00 est 2012)
  3. Screw Drive ($200.00 est 2012)
  4. Chain Drive ($175.00 est 2012)

 *Actual prices will vary


Features & Accessories

  • Battery Backup – These devices supply power to your opener during power outages. Instead of having to manually open and close the door you get between 40-50 cycles of battery operation. For people with limited mobility needing peace of mind, this feature is an absolute must.
  • Keyless Entry – This type of remote easily mounts to the outside of the garage door jamb. It allows users to program in a numbered password to operate the garage door. Keyless entry pads are ideal for people with frequent house guests or children. Utilizing rotating code and anti-burglary technology keyless entry pads are both discreet and secure.
  • Controls – Remote controls and wall controls come standard with most garage door opener systems. Each opener typically comes with one wall control and two remotes. Additional remotes can be purchased separately and range in features and functionality. Single button and multiple button remotes are available depending on the amount of openers you wish to control. Wall stations have a wide range of functions like digital display and temperature readings.

Safety Features

Garage door openers manufactured after 1993 require a safety mechanism capable of stopping and reversing when an object passes beneath it. Photo eyes and pneumatic edges are two devices that can fulfill this duty. Residential garage door openers use photo eyes to serve this purpose. Photo eyes clip 6-inches off the ground and are a great safety feature for homeowners with small children and pets. This safety feature is required by law and will provide peace-of-mind.

Garage door openers have a wide variety of features and are best suited to each particular users needs. Homes with finished room space above the garage may need quiet openers like belt drive or jackshaft openers. Detached garages or houses with nothing directly above the garage may be better suited for chain or screw drive openers. Make sure you consider the unique aspects of each type of opener before making a purchase. Since all of the openers (excluding jackshaft) are close in price range, it is important to choose an opener specific to your garage door setup above all else.

Garage Door Guide Cal
Hello, I’m Cal – owner of Garage Door Guide LLC    

I write tutorials about garage door repair, installation and maintenance. With over a decade of experience in the overhead door industry I’ve learned a lot and I’d like to share my knowledge with you.

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