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Power & Drive
The amount of power generated by your opener impacts its opening/closing speed, the size of door it will lift, and overall durability. There are three kinds of drives: chain, belt, and direct. The type you choose is closely related to price and performance.
Modern garage door openers come with all sorts of controls, from a button you press inside your car to a smartphone-enabled system. We analyze the control options you get with each package.
We examine the security of various hardware/software elements and explore safety features.
We never review sub-standard equipment, but that doesn't mean our top five garage door openers are all expensive. In fact, there's excellent value to be had across the range.
The Chamberlain PD210D Power Drive Garage Door Opener comes from arguably the best-known manufacturer in the market. The Chamberlain PD210D could be considered their entry-level model, but that doesn't mean it under-performs. This is a chain drive - cheaper to produce, but noisier than belt or direct drive - but it's a common and very popular type of mechanism. The motor is a 1/2 horsepower unit, which can adequately handle standard, seven-foot double doors. If you have heavier doors - hardwood, for example - a 3/4-HP motor might be advisable.
The Genie 1022-2TX Garage Door Opener is another 1/2-HP, chain drive model. At first glance, it is very similar to the Chamberlain PD210D. Genie claims that their patented, in-line chain is quieter and requires no maintenance, which is a plus, but it's still likely to generate more noise than belt or direct versions. Whether that's important to you may very well depend on whether the room nearest the garage is a bedroom, where the sound could disturb someone.
Decko 24300 3/4
With a 3/4-HP motor, the chain drive Decko 24300 Heavy Duty Garage Door Opener has been designed to lift larger and heavier doors. An extension is available for garage doors up to 8 feet tall. The manufacturer claims that installation of the unit is easy, but Decko is keen to point out that they offer live telephone help if needed . The Decko owners we surveyed gave this product high ratings for the manufacturer's superb customer service.
As you might guess from the name, the Chamberlain WD962KEV Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener sports a belt drive, which is quieter than both chain and direct drive. Belt drive garage door openers are maintenance-free and reputed to be as durable as chain drive openers. While some might argue that belt drive openers don't last as long as direct drive openers, Chamberlain shows confidence in this product by offering a lifetime warranty. The Chamberlain Whisper Drive, with its 3/4 HP-motor, is capable of lifting oversized and heavy doors, although an additional extension kit may be required.
Sommer Direct Drive
The Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener has a 1-HP motor and direct drive which, according to the manufacturer, operates in near silence. Whether it's as quiet as the belt-driven Chamberlain is open for debate and will vary depending on location and door construction. The Sommer includes an extension kit for garage doors up to 8 feet and, thanks to the motor being fitted close to the door rather than at the end of the rail, can lift an impressive 550 pounds.
Although the Chamberlain PD210D Power Drive Garage Door Opener is sold at a budget price, some owners expressed frustration that only one remote control is included in the package. Additional remotes may be purchased separately. The Chamberlain PD210D is Homelink compatible for those with vehicles fitted to the system. A useful 100-watt internal light with a delay timer is included in the package, as well as a wall-mounted panel that can control the light and open or lock the garage door from inside.
Like the Chamberlain, the Genie 1022-2TX Garage Door Opener is equipped with lights and a wall-mounted control unit. Unlike the Chamberlain, the Genie provides two three-button remotes that can clip onto your car's visor. In addition to opening and closing the door, these units also control the lights and door locks.
Decko 24300 3/4
With the Decko 24300 Heavy Duty Garage Door Opener you get the usual internal panel for operating/locking the door and controlling the lighting (in this case, 200 watts). You also get two three-button remotes that are Homelink compatible and provide the all the usual functions. Decko also offers a wireless external keypad, allowing you to conveniently open and close the door from outside without needing the remote. This function is protected by a security code.
The Chamberlain WD962KEV Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener comes with two Homelink-compatible, three-button remotes and an external wireless keypad. However, the Chamberlain Whisper Drive takes control to a higher level than other models with its door and light automation features. The internal control panel has a sensor for motion-activated lighting. In addition, door closing can be instant or set automatically for 1, 5 or 10 minutes. We give this feature a top-notch rating because, should you forget to close your door, your garage will secure itself. Elements of this system integrate with MyQ Home Activation Technology and can be operated with a smartphone app. This is a particularly powerful feature with many potential variations, but some consumers told us they were confused by the technology. We suggest you investigate this feature before purchasing the Chamberlain to ensure your compatibility with it.
Sommer Direct Drive
When compared to the high-end drive and power units, the controls for the Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener are fairly basic. Customers get two remotes and a standard wall panel for opening/closing the door and operating the lights. These controls are perfectly functional and quite similar to the control functions of the Genie. While the Sommer Direct Drive is Homelink-compatible, potential buyers should note that this package includes no exterior entry system. Given the Sommer's price, some owners told us they were disappointed by the absence of this feature.
Dale brings over 40 years of automotive industry experience to the BestReviews table. An avid DIY guy, he has worked with, rebuilt, and led maintenance on a variety of vehicles. He’s also well-versed in fleet management and vehicle operations. Dale’s past experiences include distinguished service as an officer in the US Army.
Since 1993, the law has required all garage door openers to have a built-in safety system that prevents the door from closing on an object beneath it. This protects children, animals, and vehicles, among other things. The Chamberlain PD210D Power Drive complies with the law by providing two infrared beam units fixed on either side of the door. If anything breaks the beam, the mechanism stops. Most manufacturers provide this type of system and, although some Chamberlain PD210D owners reported having difficulty with the initial alignment, the system works well when set up. The Chamberlain PD210D also provides security by way of a 'rolling code': every time you press the remote, the code changes. With 100 billion combinations available, it will never be the same twice, making it next to impossible for thieves to break in. Chamberlain garage door openers also feature a strong PosiLock system, making it impossible for the door to be forced open without the use of heavy-duty equipment.
The Genie 1022-2TX Garage Door Opener comes with the standard infrared safety system required by law and uses a rolling code system similar to that of the Chamberlain PD210D. The Genie's rolling code system is called "Intellicode," and it helps prevent thieves from hacking into your home by constantly refreshing the code used by your opening mechanism. According to our research, none of the owners we surveyed experienced problems with people breaking in via physical force. However, we were unable to find any information about whether the Genie features a physical locking device.
Decko 24300 3/4
The Decko 24300 Heavy Duty Garage Door Opener's infrared safety system is dubbed by the company as "Photo Safety Eyes." This is basically the same efficient system we see in the Genie, Sommer, and Chamberlain PD210D. Decko remotes, like the other remotes in this review, use a rolling code system to prevent unauthorized access. While there's little to differentiate the Decko from any other model on our list in terms of security, this product does what it's meant to do, and the customers we surveyed gave it satisfactory ratings.
The Chamberlain WD962KEV Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener shares the same rolling code and infrared safety and security technology as the other Chamberlain product in our review, the PD210D. However, the Whisper Drive model not only reverses when the infrared beam is broken, it actually stops if any sort of physical contact is made with the door. We especially like the Whisper Drive's battery back-up feature. This valuable component ensures that your garage door opener will continue to work in the event of a power outage.
Sommer Direct Drive
Like the Decko, the Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener comes with the legally required "Photo Eyes" system. Surprisingly, this model does not employ a rolling code for its remotes. One dissatisfied owner we surveyed remarked that the Sommer's lack of a rolling code system is "about as secure as leaving the garage door open!"
Currently on offer for just $159, the Chamberlain PD210D Power Drive Garage Door Opener is at the budget end of the models we reviewed, but it doesn't lack for functionality or security features. The lower-priced PD210D is very popular with consumers looking for an effective, affordable garage door opener. One owner summarized his opinion of the PD210D by calling it the "best deal out there." Most criticisms of this product were related to noise level - common with chain drive - and the fact that some units were supplied with chain that was too short. The manufacturer has been made aware of this occasional flaw.
At a cost of $499, the Genie 1022-2TX Garage Door Opener is a popular unit that is generally praised by its owners. The consumers we surveyed happily told us that installation was quick and trouble-free. Given the fact that this model is a chain drive, many expressed surprise at how quietly the Genie operates. Although a few owners complained that their Genie is slow to open with a limited remote range, the majority of customers said they were satisfied with the Genie's performance and price.
Decko 24300 3/4
The Decko 24300 Heavy Duty Garage Door Opener will cost you $219. Quality-wise, it sits in the middle of our review, which is a reflection of where it sits in the marketplace. The Decko is more powerful than the Chamberlain PD210D and the Genie, but not much more expensive than the latter. It's a smooth running, quality unit and remarkably quiet, considering the chain drive. The only Decko complaint we uncovered in our research was a concern about "flimsy" light bulb covers. Those who dealt with Decko customer support considered it to be a very pleasant experience. One owner summed up his experience by saying, "Exceptional product, exceptional company!"
Not to be confused with the Chamberlain PD210D, the Chamberlain WD962KEV Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener is available for $237. For your investment, you get a powerful, quiet unit made by a company with an excellent reputation. The Whisper Drive is a premium product with the kind of features you find on heavy-duty units costing four or five times as much. Everywhere you look, you'll find five-star reviews and excellent satisfaction ratings regarding this product. One rare criticism we encountered was a concern about the Whisper Drive's Homelink compatibility. Compatibility depends on the vehicle owned, so we recommend further investigation if you're wanting to incorporate this technology with a Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener at your home.
Sommer Direct Drive
At a cost of $249, the Sommer Direct Drive Opener is the most expensive product on our list. It's a powerful product for the money and also a very quiet one, but our major concern is that it does not come with the rolling code security system that the four other models on our list do. For many owners, this is a security concern that trumps the Sommer's advantages.
I can check if I've left the garage door open and close it from my office!