A premium product with the kind of features you find on heavy-duty units costing 4 or 5 times as much.
Occasional complaints that assembly and directions are confusing.
A mid-level garage door opener with an efficient operating system that gives you what you need.
Chain drive isn't as quiet as direct or belt-drive models.
Features a PosiLock system, making it impossible for the door to be forced open.
Only one remote control is included in the package. Also a bit on the noisier side.
Great feature set includes soft-start and stop DC motor, 2 remotes, and Safe-T-Beams.
Questionable durability. Fault reports are more frequent than we like to see.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
When the weather outside is daunting, who wants to get out the car to open the garage door? Snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night might not stop the U.S. Postal Service, but face it – most people would rather open their garage door from the comfort of the car, and drive inside without facing the elements.
Of course, the best garage door openers offer much more than weather protection. They are quick and convenient when leaving or returning home. They can secure what might otherwise be a weak point of home security. Some can even alert you at work if your garage doors aren't closed properly. The challenge you face is finding the right one – this isn’t a product you can simply try out and return until you find the best fit for your situation.
Once our research and testing was complete, our team agreed that the excellent products here all met or exceeded our criteria. We are delighted to endorse them. To understand our testing parameters, continue reading the shopping guide.
There are two major physical characteristics of garage door openers which should impact your selection: drive type, and motor configuration.
These elements impact on what kind of doors the opener can lift, how big they can be, and how much noise they will make.
There are four types of drive available, though only three are in common use in the home.
This has long been the most common option, and is usually the cheapest.
This drive uses a threaded steel bar rather than a chain. It is more expensive, yet still a popular choice.
Every high-end garage door opener we reviewed uses a belt drive. It's a little more expensive but has considerable benefits.
They can lift heavy, oversize, or one-piece doors.
Belt drives are very durable.
They require little maintenance.
Operation of a belt drive is smooth and can be almost silent, the best choice for a garage with an adjoining bedroom.
This type of drive mounts directly onto the garage wall, not overhead. They are expensive and generally only found in commercial or industrial buildings.
Jackshafts can lift extremely heavy doors, but only sectional-type.
These garage door openers are very durable.
They’re very secure, with computerized, dead bolt locking available.
Jackshaft drives require periodic maintenance.
This type of opener can be quite noisy.
After using the information in the previous section to determine the type of drive you prefer, you need to match the drive with adequate power for your garage door.
AC motors have been used in garage door openers for decades. They're cheap and reliable, but they tend to be larger and noisier. Modern, brushless DC motors are smaller and quieter. In some models this allows for an added battery back-up, without the case being any bigger than a standard AC model.
AC-powered garage door openers are rated in horsepower (HP). Somewhat confusingly, DC motors are rated in HPS (Horsepower Similar) or HPc (Horsepower Comparable). Though technically different, these units of measurement are equivalent enough for comparison of products.
1/4 HP garage door openers do exist, but we don’t recommend them. Even when lifting a plain aluminum door, they will be slow. Putting them under strain will only shorten their working life.
1/2 HP is common. This size motor will cope with the majority of household garage door types, though they might struggle with solid wood.
3/4 HP is the power choice for premium garage door openers. There are few residential garage doors they can’t manage. Opening and closing is usually fast and smooth.
1 HP plus garage door openers are available for those with unusual requirements, though these are most often found in commercial situations.
In 1993, U.S. law dictated that all garage doors must have a reverse mechanism to prevent the door closing on persons or property. In most models, an infrared beam running across the garage opening acts like a tripwire. Break the beam and the door rises again. This is a legal requirement that ensures the garage door cannot trap people or animals. It's also useful in avoiding accidental damage to your car, bikes left in the way, or other property.
Keyless access is the norm. Some cheaper garage door openers only come with one remote handset, but good models offer two. The best systems include remotes that can be used to control two or more garage door openers.
Access to the garage may also be controlled by external or internal entry pads, and motion sensors can be included so that the area lights up as you approach.
The HomeLink in-car system is another popular solution, though compatibility needs to be checked and additional equipment may be required.
Some openers have timed closing systems so you can set them to shut after a certain period, in case you forget. Smartphone options are increasingly available, allowing you to close your garage door from just about anywhere.
The most advanced security systems now use rolling code technology. Remotes and entry pads re-program themselves every time the garage door is used. This prevents other radio frequency devices accidentally operating your garage doors, and stops thieves “cloning” your remotes.
Some garage door openers have a manual release, but many cannot be opened if the power is out. Many high-end models have battery back-ups, so they will still work.
WiFi-enabled garage door openers can be linked into smart home automation systems.
Parking assist modules are now available.
Additional rail segments may be necessary for garage doors more than the standard 7 feet tall. Sometimes these rails are included, sometimes not.
Almost all garage door openers have an overhead light – but bulbs are often not included! Check the product packaging to be sure.
Some models include fault diagnostics. These alert you to errors during installation, or that something is not working properly in daily use.
This is a very competitive product family, and the difference between the cheapest garage door opener and the most expensive is surprisingly small.
A good chain-drive model costs around $120. You shouldn't pay more than $250 for the best belt-drive version on the market. That's great news, because it means you can focus on the features that are most important to you without worrying too much about costs.
Manufacturers may say that their garage door opener can be installed by one person, but it's always quicker – and safer – if someone is there to help.
Allow yourself plenty of time to install your garage door opener. It may only take a few hours, but why not give yourself all day? That way there's no pressure, and you're far less likely to make mistakes.
Read the instructions twice. If anything is not clear, contact the manufacturer. If you're not comfortable with any part of the process, call a professional fitter.
Once installed, test the opener and all its features thoroughly.