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Best Garage Door Opener: 3 Top Systems for Your Daily Driver

Best Garage Door Opener:
3 Top Systems for Your Daily Driver

Look, cars cost a lot of money. It’s a no-brainer to protect them with a good garage. Part of that means not skimping on a great garage door opener. But before you sit back and relax while your new garage door opens onto a world of possibilities, it’s important to find the right model. The amount of models and special features for a garage door opener is insane these days. We created this guide to silence the noise and cut through the nonsense so you can find the best garage door opener for every application.

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Two Line Summary

The most important factors to consider when looking for the best garage door opener for you are drive system, power, safety, and noise.

Our top choice is the Chamberlain B970 because it scores well in every category.

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What We Look for in a Garage Door Opener

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This feels pretty self-explanatory, right? It goes beyond simply opening and closing, unfortunately. When we want to find the best garage door opener we look for five things. You might have different criteria, but we’re willing to bet that the garage door you pick (and are happy with) is going to take these five factors into account.

  1. Drive system or opener type: There are three basic types (we’ll get to that later) but suffice to say each has benefits when it comes to power, speed, and durability.
  2. Power: Like any engine-based tool, there are a variety of levels of horsepower that come into play. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.
  3. Safety and Security: This is probably a big reason why you’re getting a garage door opener in the first place. You want to make sure that you’re getting a garage door that can protect your space — and your valuables!
  4. Noise: No one wants a loud opener, but varying levels of noise can be tolerable depending on where your garage is located. For those that are connected to a house, this can be one of the most important factors
  5. Accessories: Many products now have internet connectivity and garage door openers are no exception. That, plus having a variety of ways to access your garage is important for overall value.

An ideal garage door opener is going to have + marks in most or all of these categories. Let’s get to the openers!

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Chamberlain B970

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From start to finish, a superior garage door opener. Great range, security, and accessories make this the top of the line model in all respects. Amazing warranty.

CHECK PRICE

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Chamberlain B550

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You may not be getting all the bells and whistles of the Chamberlain B970, but you’re getting most of them — and for a fraction of the price.

CHECK PRICE

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Genie ChainDrive 550

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It may not have the power of the above models, but this is a modestly powerful opener that still has great security — even if its warranty leaves you wanting more.

CHECK PRICE

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Genie SilentMax 1200

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The use of a belt drive gives this opener power without the noise. It won’t get any style points, but it gets the job done — quietly.

CHECK PRICE

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Best of the Best: The Chamberlain B970

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Let’s cut through the noise: if you’re looking to get the best garage door opener on the market the Chamberlain B970 is where your search stops. From specs to reviews, this model has a ton going for it. How so? We’re glad you asked. Let’s just say this, if you’re looking for the cream of the crop, you found it. The Chamberlain B970 means serious business.

Specs & Performance

You’re looking for heavy-duty? You’ve got it here. There’s a 1.25 horsepower equivalent DC motor, a premium belt drive, and a battery backup. Want to integrate new tech into your garage? The Chamberlain B970 also comes wifi and smartphone control-enabled. It’s got two 100 watt lightbulb sockets to make sure that you’re able to give your garage the photo-friendly lighting it deserves. On top of that control is super simple: it’s got a wireless keypad, a wall control, and two different three-button remotes.

Breakdown

How can we say this simply? This is the best combination of excellent power, range, and a low noise level that you’ll find in current garage door openers. Don’t believe us? Check out the 1,300 Amazon reviews that back us up. It’s got a whopping 4.5 stars out of 5, plus some breathless reviews that really showcase the user experience. “It is mind-blowing the sound difference this unit makes” or “Very powerful motor. Makes opening the garage door look and sound effortless” were a couple of our faves. Plus you’re getting a lifetime belt and motor warranty. That means this opener is going to last as long (or longer) than your garage does. No small feat, there.


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Pros

  • Crazy range/power. The 1500 foot remote range is literally tops on the market. It’s got insane amounts of power, but with low decibel output so that you won’t be overburdened with noise.
  • Super secure. The rolling code security system has over 100 billion possible codes. That means no unwanted visitors in your garage in the middle of the night.
  • Extremely easy to control. Not only does it have the aforementioned two remotes, wireless keypad, and a wall control, it can also be controlled through a phone app. That makes it the most customizable garage door ever. You can get emails about activity, set a schedule, and even program automatic functions.

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Cons

  • Expensive. You get what you pay for, and you’re paying for the best garage door opener on the market.
  • Not backward compatible. You won’t be able to use the previous model’s remotes if you buy the B970.
  • A slightly intense install and set-up process. You might have to clear out your schedule for an entire Saturday to get this opener installed and set up correctly.

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Summary

While it may be expensive, the B970 is a unique combination of power, connectivity, and customizability. We loved the idea of battery back-up in case the motor fails. We loved that you can program it with your smartphone for different circumstances (vacations), and the fact that it allowed you to create a schedule. Sure, it’s not backward compatible, but it gives you a variety of options with two remotes, wireless keypad, and the aforementioned app. All that, and it’s not even the most expensive opener on the market. Don’t be fooled by products with higher price tags. This one is the best of the best.

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

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Best Value: The Chamberlain B550

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This is the little brother of the aforementioned Chamberlain B970. It’s got a smaller, less expensive motor — but don’t let that turn you off. It’s a great mid-range garage door opener with exceptional value.

Specs & Performance

The Chamberlain B550 has a .5 horsepower equivalent AC motor with a belt drive. Like the deluxe model, this one is also smartphone control enabled, and it similarly has two 100 watt light bulb sockets. This model also comes with two remotes, a wireless keypad, and wall control so that you don’t have an excuse not to get inside your own garage. So many options!

Breakdown

As we said, this is very similar to the B970, just streamlined and simplified. It’s a mid-range garage door opener that gives you excellent value but without all the frills. If you’re looking for a traditional, quiet, and extremely long-lasting opener then this is probably the one for you. Plus, you’re getting it at an extremely discounted rate compared to other models of similar quality. While it might not have the lifetime warranty of the B970, it does have a 15-year belt warranty, a 10-year motor warranty, and a one-year parts warranty. This one is a great find for bargain hunters. Not having a battery backup might give you some concern, but it’s not really a notable downgrade in our eyes. It’s more a testament to the B970 that it has a backup option — we’re not going to knock the B550 for that.


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Pros

  • Extremely quiet. You’d be surprised, but this is one of the biggest areas of feedback that we get from people. This is a garage door opener that’s definitely seen but not heard.
  • Very secure. You’ve got the same rolling code security system that’s found in the more expensive models. That means over 100 billion code possibilities.
  • Lots of possibilities for openers. Two remotes, a wireless keypad, and a wall control, as well as a phone app.

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Cons

  • No battery backup. Unlike the model that’s a step up, this one won’t allow you to open it if something goes wrong with the motor.
  • It’s a shorter warranty than the lifetime you’ll get in the other Chamberlain models. That being said, it’s still got a pretty darn good warranty overall.
  • .5 horsepower is plenty for us, but if you need more than average power for your garage door then this one isn’t for you.

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Summary

The Chamberlain B550 is a great deal that offers real value at this price point. While it doesn’t have a lifetime guarantee, its 15-year belt warranty and 10-year motor warranty are a good indication of the quality you’re getting. We loved how quiet it ran and the fact that it still leaves you plenty of options for security. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the higher model like internet connectivity, but it doesn’t really need them either. You have plenty of options for openers and wireless keypads. Sure, you’re not getting a battery backup to get it open, but you’re probably not going to need it anyway — so unless that’s a make or break factor for you, you probably won’t mind not having it.

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

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Best on a Budget: Genie ChainDrive 550

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If you’re really looking to not spend a lot on your garage door opener, then the Genie ChainDrive is for you. It doesn’t have nearly the power of our other models and doesn’t offer all of the other bells and whistles, but you’re still getting a quality product at a fair price. While this might not be ideal for those looking for an industrial opener, for the majority of the population the Genie ChainDrive 550 will get the job done.

Specs & Performance

Like the above model, the Genie ChainDrive 550 has half a horsepower DC motor. It’s got two sockets for 60 watt light bulb sockets and a standard chain drive system. While it doesn’t offer the options of the other reviewed models, it does have two remote controls, one wall-mounted control unit, and a wireless keypad.

Breakdown

This is a very well-reviewed opener whose amazon reviews usually focus on the deal side of things. “Awesome bang for the buck” and “You could spend double the money and still not get as good an opener…” are two pretty typical responses we’ve seen. It’s got 4.1 stars on Amazon. You’ll also get a limited 10-year warranty, while that isn’t as good as some of the higher-end models, it’s way better than many of the bargain basement openers we’ve found. We also dug how easy it was to install this product, the snap-together installation is a definite bonus if you’re afraid of your own installation. There’s also no real security concern thanks to the Genie’s rolling security code.


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Pros

  • Snap together installation makes for an extremely easy assembly and installation process — even for novice homeowners.
  • Rolling security code prevents piracy of radio signal and limits the susceptibility of the opener to burglary.
  • Reasonable range
  • Good opening speed (up to 9” a second).

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Cons

  • Louder than most of the other openers – especially belt drive units.
  • Quality concerns: Small number, but a persistent group of customers reported some quality concerns and difficulty with Genie customer service.
  • It doesn’t have the range of the elite group of garage door openers.

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Summary

If you’re looking for a cheap, no-frills opener that doesn’t sacrifice quality, this is the one for you. It’s quieter than a number of very cheap garage door openers (though not as quiet as a belt drive unit, so don’t expect that). The limited warranty and track record of customer service for Genie might give some potential customers qualms, but this is not an opener to sniff at. We loved that it came with all the necessary remotes and keypads already pre-programmed. It’s not internet-connected or anything like that, but neither are the majority of other openers on the market. That, plus a super easy installation process means that you’re getting a great entry-level garage door opener. This is not one to sniff at.

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

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Quietest Opener: Genie SilentMax 1200

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Sometimes you want to get out of the garage at 6 am without waking up the entire neighborhood. We get it. You don’t need an industrial-strength opener making industrial-strength noise. If that’s the case, the Genie SilentMax 1200 is a great garage door opener for you. It combines a surprising amount of strength and security without getting overly loud. While you might be a little freaked out by its warranty, it still offers a dependable belt drive that minimizes mechanical failure. This should be in your garage for the foreseeable future, and with a motor this quiet you won’t even notice it’s there.

Specs & Performance

The Genie SilentMax is operating with a good in-between motor — a three-quarters horsepower DC motor. It includes two remote controls, a wall-mounted control button, and a wireless keypad. It also has the trademark rolling code security system to prevent piracy of your radio signal. It’s got two 100 watt light bulb sockets, an industry standard. The thing that really puts it in its own class is its belt drive system. That reduces noise without compromising on raw power.

Breakdown

The Genie SilentMax 1200 is generally well-reviewed, with 4.1 out of 5 stars for 207 Amazon reviews. It has a lifetime warranty on its motor, but only five years for all the other elements. That might seem overly complicated for a warranty, but as the motor has the most moving parts, we appreciate the thoroughness. While it might not have the power of some of the other models, it definitely has enough for all but the heaviest garage doors. If you’re looking for a garage door opener that you can install in a home-adjacent garage, then you’ve found a good match here.


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Pros

  • Good opening speed (up to 9 inches per second). It’s about as fast as you’ll find in an opener in this price range.
  • Quiet operation. This is a great opener if you have a bedroom above your garage or if you need to place it close to a living area. Honestly, that is this unit’s biggest strength by far.
  • It’s right in the middle of the power spectrum, which makes it ideal and relatively speedy for almost any application. Unless you have a giant door, this one is going to get the job done.

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Cons

  • This unit definitely isn’t winning any style awards. It’s a total throwback to the ancient garage door openers of the 1990s. The nineties have come back in style in a big way. Maybe that’s a good thing?
  • There is no smartphone connectivity, unlike many other high-end models. While that might not be a total deal-breaker for most folks, it doesn’t offer the options for programming that you’ll find in higher priced models.
  • The limited warranty situation might give some customers pause. It still does offer a lifetime warranty for the motor, but not having security for other parts is a bit of a red flag.

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Summary

If you’re looking for an opener that won’t intrude into your personal life, this is the one. It’s quiet, has easy installation, and a good amount of power. It might not have the range of some of our other models, but it’s definitely going to give you options for where you can place and utilize it. This is the best, quietest opener on the market. It doesn’t have internet connectivity, and some might balk at the limited options for control, but we think it’s still plenty flexible on that front.  Sure, the limited warranty might put you off a little, but it does offer a lifetime warranty for its motor — that’s the most likely place for something to go wrong. You can always buy replacement belts if you need to.

CLICK TO CHECK PRICE

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Buying Guide for the Best Garage Door Opener

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A great garage door opener isn’t one thing, many times what you want really depends on what you’re specifically looking for. Range, dependability, even security all can come into play. That being said, knowing what that thing is, will be more than half the battle. There are a number of functions that come up time and time again when looking at garage door openers. That’s why we’ve put together this handy buying guide — so you can know what you’re looking for before you go out to buy.

Don’t be fooled by a bunch of sales-driven lingo, here are the things that really matter for your next garage door opener. For your convenience, we’ve broken it down into five distinct sections. While you might have other considerations that you’re looking for, these are the five things that you’ll absolutely need to take into account for the best garage door opener.

  1. Drive Systems/Opener Type
  2. Power
  3. Safety and Security
  4. Noise
  5. Connectivity and Accessories

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Drive System/Opener Type: Does it actually matter?

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This is the single biggest factor that will go into your decision for a garage door opener. Determining your opener type and drive system will often show the limitations you’re working within, and may even impose some budget constraints. There are three common types of residential openers: chain drives, belt drives, and screw drives. While each one has a good amount of “power” figuring out which one suits your situation best will really help dictate the rest of your buying process. All have advantages and disadvantages, so if you’re not looking for all the specs for each type of drive system skip ahead and read those sections instead. Suffice to say, if you’re looking at an opener, you’ll find its drive system listed below.


Chain Drive

This is by far the most common type of garage door opener. It’s the type that you remember from your childhood, where an opener motor rotates a long chain to open the door. They’re usually pretty loud — more a clank than a hum. If you can’t visualize this, think about a bike chain and how that connects to its gears. That’s a pretty accurate simplification.

Anyway, those chains are attached to a trolley, and that trolley is connected to the garage door via a j-arm. J-arms are these gnarly looking pivoting metal tethers. If you’re having a problem visualizing all of this, don’t worry too much. Basically, you just need to understand that this chain movement pushes or pulls the garage door opened and closed. The chain is the key  These have been around forever — the prototypical garage door opener.

Advantages: Chain drives are cheap and powerful! They allow for extremely powerful, durable design thanks to the chain. It ensures that there’s minimal loss of torque, meaning that you’re getting an extremely efficient design. They’re simple to install and to use.

Disadvantages: These puppies are loud, like, really loud. The thing about chains is that they rattle and scrape a lot. Duh, right? While it might be ideal for a lot of power, it’s not ideal if you need to install it below a bedroom or some other living space. It’s probably not a dealbreaker for you, but it is worth noting.


Belt Drive

The belt drive is extremely similar in design to the chain drive except that it uses a fiberglass or synthetic belt instead of a chain. That synthetic connects the motor to the trolley. They’re just as simple in design as chain drives, but they really minimize noise thanks to the synthetic belt. Other than that, they basically are exactly the same as a chain drive. There’s not a ton to talk about here, so let’s just show you how that difference plays out in performance.

Advantages: If you’re in a confined space, the belt drive is significantly quieter than chain-driven models. There are also fewer moving parts, so you won’t have to be as maintenance-focused to improve the product’s life.

Disadvantages: These are typically $30-60 more expensive than their chain drive counterparts. These belts are less hardy than chains (obviously) so there’s more of a chance for the synthetics to break. That being said, many of these are covered by limited warranties depending on the garage door opener.


Screw Drive

The new kid on the market, a Screw drive uses a long rotating screw to force the trolley (and connected door) up and down. They eschew belts or chains for a simple mechanical fix. This is a truly simple machine and a change that many other garage door manufacturers have already made.

Advantages: The least amount of moving parts when compared to the other two drive trains. This means less maintenance and an improved product lifetime. They work well, especially in stable climates. They’re also very efficient in small places or with lighter garage doors. Nice!

Disadvantages: Their noise level isn’t as good as a belt drive (though it is less noisy than a train drive). It can malfunction in climates where temperature swings wildly, which is often why you’d need a garage door in the first place.

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Power: How much do I actually need?

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Look, we know that more power usually means better — with garage door openers this may not be the case. Like cars or lawn care equipment, most garage door openers come in a variety of different horsepower ratings. While these ratings vary somewhat, they typically break down to .5, 1, or 1 ¼ horsepower ratings.

Why you’d need less power: Let’s say that you have a typical segmented garage door of average weight, you’ll only need a ½ horsepower model. Using more than that isn’t just unnecessary, it also might prove to be louder than what you want — especially in residential settings.

Why you’d need more power: Let’s say you have an extremely heavy door (made of wood or similar material), it’s made of one piece, or you’re in an industrial situation (like a garage), you’re going to want more power.

Something else to consider: Using a high-powered opener can also help to reduce strain and its resulting wear and tear on your chain, thus increasing its lifespan. That’s great if you don’t have a parts warranty on your opener.

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Safety and Security: What features do I need to look for?

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Safety

We all remember those horror stories of folks who got trapped and crushed under their garage door openers, well thankfully those stories are a thing of the past. As of January 1, 1993, US Federal law mandates that all residential garage door opener manufacturers implement a variety of important safety features. That means requiring the installation of sensors to prevent doors closing on obstructions — or people. While all models do come equipped with a safety sensor, you will need to ensure that you properly install and test this feature. That’s the only way to make sure that this feature is in accordance with the law per the manufacturer’s instructions. Come on y’all, safety first!

Security

While you might not need an impregnable fortress, some form of security is absolutely a requirement for most prospective garage door opener buyers. Most openers come equipped with a standard remote control. While that’s handy, it also makes for a flaw that’s easily exploited by hackers. Lucky for us, most manufacturers have mitigated this risk through a couple of different features.

Look for a “rolling code” remote control which automatically sends a new code to your opener after each operating cycle. It makes it harder for hackers to “solve” your system. Think of it like changing your lock and key every time you use the door. That rolling code is found in most standard garage door openers these days.

Another feature you might look for is a manual “lock” button that allows you to disable all operations for your opener. That’s especially important if you plan to be out of town for an extended time — say on a business trip or vacation. While nothing is going to be 100% effective in all cases, taking these security concerns into consideration is a great way to mitigate risk and ensure your valuables are protected.

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Noise: How do I get an opener that is seen and not heard?

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For this factor, it’s important to think about the space where your garage door opener operates. The garage, right? Sure, but that can be located in a couple of different places. If you have a garage that’s connected to your house, noise could be a big concern for you. If you have a garage built separate from your home, then this won’t be as big of a deal. The degree of noise (or lack of it) created by operating the opener might be a make or break situation for many buyers. For applications that require a quiet level of operation, we recommend avoiding chain drive openers and looking more into belt drive openers.

What makes a garage door loud? The type of motor definitely can be a cause of a loud garage door, but there are even more factors to consider. Loud garage doors can result from worn-down and unlubricated rollers. They can also be caused by loose nuts on the door itself, or even unlubricated tracks and hinges.

If you have a garage door that you feel is unreasonably loud, there are a few fixes that you can try without replacing the entire unit.

Warning: Do not attempt to service, modify, or remove the torsion springs located above most garage doors. Doing so can lead to serious injuries or death. In most cases, these springs are under extreme pressure and should only be served by trained professionals. Here are some of our (safer) solutions to a loud garage door opener. Proceed at your own risk though.

  1. Replace worn metal rollers with newer nylon versions to reduce the stress (and subsequent noise) on the rollers.
  2. Tighten loose fasteners to make sure that they are flush against the unit and ceiling.
  3. Lubricate rollers and hinges with a garage door lubricant. These lubricants are garage door-specific and can be found at most home improvement stores.

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Connectivity and Accessories: Is my garage door opener smart enough?

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It may sound goofy, but accessories are a big factor in figuring out what separates a good garage door opener from a great one. Like it or not, we live in an era defined by our smartphones and by our desire for easy access and use. Garage door openers are no exception to that trend. So what do we look for when we look for accessories? We can boil it down to two categories: access and connectivity.

Access: Most opener sets will include at least one remote controls, with the standard being two. As you shop, it’s important to keep in mind how many remotes you may need. How many people will have access to this garage? While it’s possible to buy additional remotes, this can get expensive quickly. Some remotes go for as much as $50 apiece. That’s a lot of bread to pony up when you’re just looking at remotes!

Connectivity: Many opener sets now include internet-enabled openers that can connect to your phone via an exclusive app. It may seem silly, but as we move toward the 5G era, when all of our products are geared toward connectivity, these accessories will become increasingly more important. Even now these apps offer a ton of flexibility, you can set schedules for your garage door opener from your phone, check its status, and even have it close automatically if you forget to do it yourself. It’s just one example of how tech is continuing to develop in this space. If you’re a tech-head, it may be the right move for you to make the jump.

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Conclusion: Safety, Synopsis, and Sizes

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Installation Warning

We hate that we have to say this, but we do: DO NOT INSTALL A GARAGE DOOR OPENER BY YOURSELF. Get a professional to do it. Installing a garage door opener is a physically demanding job that requires at least two people to do properly. Doing it by yourself drastically increases your risk of injury or worse — don’t be a hero. There are no heroes when installing a garage door.

What are you going to need to install your own garage door opener? A ladder, a socket set, screwdrivers, measuring tape, and an electric drill. Finding a high-powered electric drill is important, especially if you’ll be drilling into anything more hearty than particleboard. Remember the old adage: measure twice, cut once. Don’t start drilling before you know the dimensions of your opener and the exact amount of space you’ll need to make it effective.

Don’t ever modify the counter-weight system’s springs. They’re under extreme pressure and should only be handled by a professional. We know we’ve said this already in this article, but it bears repeating. Just don’t do it. Cool? Cool. If at any point you don’t feel comfortable doing the installation by yourself, then it’s important to contact a licensed garage door installation company. There are tons of options online. Don’t skimp on it. Think about how much you paid for your car, isn’t it worth doing it the right way? Make sure you’re taking good care of your investment.

Size Warning

Most garage door openers can accommodate a door that’s up to seven feet tall. If you have a larger door than that, you may require an adaptor. It’s always worth looking at the instruction manual of whatever model you buy to check and see if you’ll need an adaptor. This will also usually tell you the type of adaptor you’ll need and where you can buy them. Don’t jerry-rig your own adaptor, that’s a license for disaster.

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