Everything you Need to Know About Garage Door Openers

A new garage door opener is not just convenient, it can also offer enhanced safety and security for your home. Some of the more modern safety features include electronic “eyes” that signal a closing door to stop and reverse direction if something crosses the beam and reversal mechanisms that activate if the closing door contacts an object.

That’s a far cry from the early days, when drivers had to get out of the car, brave whatever tricks the weather was playing, and heave open the doors with their bare hands.

After 1926, however, drivers could, at least in theory, take advantage of a new-fangled invention by C.G. Johnson: the electric overhead garage door opener.

Garage doors openers can last for many years, but with their working and moving parts, things can go wrong: the buttons may stop working; the door may start to open or close too slowly, or the garage door opener might cease to function altogether. If you’re noticing some of these failures, it may be time to consider a replacement door.

Here are a few reasons why you might consider replacing your garage door opener:

Urban view of a the back of an old garage doorNOISE
Does your garage door opener disrupt people inside or outside of your home? If it’s making too much noise, a replacement will definitely be quieter. Consider replacing it with a new belt drive or screw drive opener. Even newer model chain drive units can be quieter than older, outdated models.

SECURITY
Older garage door openers generally use fixed codes, so someone with a special device could technically sit outside, find the code, and open the garage door without you even knowing it. New garage door openers have rolling codes, which means the codes are changed every time the unit is opened or closed. This means thieves cannot duplicate the codes and get into your garage.

NO KEYS NEEDED
Modern garage door openers will often come with keypads that can be mounted outside the garage, allowing homeowners to punch in a code to open the garage door. Some garage door openers even come with fingerprint detection. No keys are needed!

BATTERIES
If the power goes out and you have an outdated garage door opener, it’s more than likely that your garage door won’t open. There’s nothing more inconvenient than losing power and not being able to open or close the garage. New garage door openers come with battery backups, so if the electricity isn’t working in your home, you should still be able to open and close your garage door with ease.

As a general rule, if your garage door is more than 15 years old, it’s likely out of date and should be replaced. Replacing your garage door opener is a big deal and is just as important as complete garage door replacement.

Garage Door Opener Buying Guide

Today, garage door openers come in a few variations, from basic to smart — with horsepower to match your door. If you’re in the market for a new opener, use our guide to explore the options available. Or, just give us a call. We’ll recommend a garage door opener that’s right for your needs.

Though several types of openers are available, they share a similar design. A motor powers a carriage or trolley down a rail. The trolley pulls or pushes the door to control it. The difference between openers is the mechanism that drives the trolley: chain, belt, screw, and direct drive. All types of openers are durable and require only periodic maintenance.

Garage door openers are attached to the ceiling and plug into an electrical outlet. Openers are available with either AC or DC current. DC motors are smaller, quieter and may have a battery backup.

Before you settle on an opener, make sure to check that it is compatible with your door and garage. You’ll need to know if your door is a standard height (7 feet). Other important considerations are the size and weight of your door. Wood doors and double-wide doors are heavier than standard, single doors. Either will require a more powerful motor.

  • Chain Drive Garage Door Opener: A metal chain drives the trolley. These systems are dependable and affordable. They produce more vibration and noise than some of the other types of openers. The chain needs to be oiled about once a year.
  • Belt Drive Garage Door Opener: If you’re looking for a quiet door, consider a belt drive model. They work similarly to the chain system but use a rubberized belt. In time, the belt may stretch and need to be adjusted. They cost more than a chain drive.
  • Screw Drive Garage Door Opener: A threaded steel rod rotates to drive the trolley on the track. These models are suited for use with heavy doors. They’re louder than a belt system but quieter than a chain drive.
  • Direct Drive Garage Door Opener: Within these quiet openers, the motor and trolley are combined. The motor travels on the track to raise and lower the door. With only a single moving part, direct drive openers create minimal vibration and noise.

It’s important to choose the right amount of horsepower for your garage door needs. More horsepower equals better lifting power. Residential models range from about one-half horsepower to 1 horsepower. A one-half-horsepower motor works for a typical single garage door. However, a stronger motor may last longer. The heavier your door, the stronger your motor should be.

You can also choose to control your garage door with a smartphone and an app. Standard garage door features include remotes, a keypad for the wall, safety sensors and manual release cord. For many people, a basic door opener fits the bill. But if you like hi-tech gadgets and the idea of a “smart home,” check out the latest openers. They’re outfitted with features that add to your security and convenience.

Optional features you may want to include:

  • Control your garage door with a smartphone and an app.Wi-Fi capability that allows you to control the door remotely with a smartphone or other internet-connected device.
  • Mini remotes that attach to a keychain.
  • Automation system separate from wi-fi that allows for remote access.
  • Compatibility with some vehicles to allow for controls built into your car.
  • Auto-close lowers the door automatically after a period of time of your choosing.
  • Locks to prevent opening from a remote.
  • Battery backup that keeps the opener working when the power goes out.
  • Rail extensions for use with higher doors.
  • Rolling code for the remote.
  • External keypad that opens the door when you enter the code.

Choose a Safe Door Opener

Garage door openers can last for decades. If yours is old, manufactured before 1993, it may not include the safety features required in today’s openers.

Father and son playing in the garden

The eyes signal a closing door to stop and reverse direction if something crosses the beam.

These features include electronic eyes that create a beam across the door opening. The eyes signal a closing door to stop and reverse direction if something crosses the beam.

Another required safety device is the reversal mechanism that activates if the closing door contacts an object. Together, these two features prevent the door from coming down on people, animals or property.

Be sure to check out the security features that protect against burglars. Some remotes use an ever-changing code that can prevent or slow down bad guys from cracking your remote signal. These systems change the code on the remote between each opening of the door. Standard remotes have a fixed code which makes it easier for a thieve to open your door and enter your home. You can and should reprogram your remote from time to time.

An external keypad allows you to open the door by entering a security code or by fingerprint recognition. These are both a convenience and security feature since they allow you to quickly get inside without carrying a remote in your pocket.

Ponderosa Garage Doors & Repair

Is it time to update to a new garage door opener? Call Ponderosa for repairs, installation, and maintenance. We specialize in quality work at affordable prices. Contact us today for an estimate.