Garage doors are heavy, and operating them manually is one dreadful task. It is an exercise that exposes you to lots of danger and inconveniences. Struggling to lift your garage door, which could be over 300 pounds, isn’t something you would want to do every day. Also, the noise associated with these doors can be a nuisance, especially if your garage is directly under your living room. Even if the noise doesn’t affect you, your neighbors could be the victims of its loud bangs.
Another demerit of manually operating garage doors is the possibility of accidents. The absence of smart technology that senses objects along the rail means your kids and pets are in danger of being trapped. All these risks and dangers can be avoided or minimized by using electrically powered garage door openers.
Evaluating Your Garage Door Opener Size Before Buying
The composition of your garage door greatly determines the strength of the motor you would want to acquire. Heavy build doors require higher horsepower to lift and lower them without straining the motor. Understand the weight and size of your garage door is the first step to getting a suitable opener.
Use the tape measure to get the length and width of your garage door. Doors with heights of between 8 to 10 feet are considered single-car entries. Higher measurements are said to be double doors, and they need more horsepower from 1/2HP and above.
After you’ve established your garage door opener size, the next thing you should consider is the materials. Even though the door springs help balance and lift the garage doors, heavier doors require more horsepower. Notably, the wood doors are heavier compared to other uninsulated steel garage doors. Insulated doors tend to add resistance and weight. Therefore, you’ll need to increase the wattage to operate insulated doors effectively.
There are three types of horsepower from which you can pick one depending on your preference. Mainly, the horsepower you choose depends on your garage door size, weight, the durability you want, and efficiency. If you select an opener with higher horsepower, your door is likely to last longer. Small horsepower is not suitable for heavy doors as it means more strain on the motor. Below are the three horsepower options you have;
1/3 HP: This is the least and cheapest horsepower available. Motors in this category do not last as long as those I higher categories. To increase their durability, you have to use these openers with lightweight garage doors. They cannot lift heavy doors besides the light ones but subjecting them to heavy doors is akin to destroying them. Also, lifting heavy doors will force you to spend lots of cash on maintenance and repairs.
½ HP: They are the commonest motors between the three categories. This opener operates best with average weight garage doors. They can lift any door with a width of between 8 to 12 feet. Mostly, these can either be single or double garage doors. These are the most popular motors in most households.
¾ HP: motors with this power are best for heavy doors made of heavy-duty materials. Also, garage doors made of wood can be lifted with these motors effectively. Although this is the most expensive option, these motors are the most durable. Due to the high amount of power, these motors are less strained; hence, they last long.
Garage Door Terminology
When talking about garage doors and their openers, there are some essential terminologies you should familiarize yourself with. These are the commonly used terms that describe these products in the market. Understanding them helps you make the best decisions when choosing your garage door opener. These words include;
AC & DC motors
These are types of motors based on the type of electricity that powers them. The AC motors are powered with alternating current. These were the first time of engines, and they produce considerable noise. Also, the AC motors operate at a constant speed.
These are powered by direct current electricity. These are the modern motors, and if you check most of the new garage door openers, you’ll find these motors. They are quieter than the former. Also, their operation is friendly. These motors start slowly, and their speed increases gradually, reducing the speed when about to stop. This removes the jerking effect associated with the AC motors.
Types of Garage Door Openers
Before digging into details on the right size of your garage door opener, let’s know more about different types that exist in the market today.
1. Chain-Drive Garage Door Opener
As the name suggests, chain-driven garage door openers use a bicycle-like chain that stretches when the door is shut and slackens. The chain will push or pull, and the attached trolley moves the door, depending on movement direction. This technology is the oldest and is still used in thousands of home garages. Even though they are not very fancy, people are still attached to them because of their durability. The chain-driven garage door openers have incorporated modern technology to maintain their presence and relevance in the market.
One major problem associated with this type of door openers is the noise and vibration. The vibration between the metallic chain and rail produces a lot of noise. However, this problem greatly affects people whose garages are directly beneath the living room. So, if your garage is not connected to your house, you can go for this opener. Otherwise, you may have to opt for other quieter ones.
2. Belt-Driven Garage Door Opener
The belt-driven door openers use the same principle of operation as the chain-driven openers. Instead of a chain, the only difference with belt is that it uses a reinforced wide rubber belt to move the trolley. This opener is quieter than the former, and its operations are smoother. Therefore, it is the right choice if your living room is directly above the garage. Another positive thing with belt-driven garage openers is that they have fewer movable parts. So, there’s less wear and tear; hence you’ll have less maintenance to perform on your door system.
3. Screw-driven garage door opener
These garage door openers use a threaded steel rod as the main component of the door system. The rod rotates to move the trolley along the railing, raising or lowering the garage door. Screw driven openers are quieter compared to their counterparts.
Like their immediate cousins, the belt-driven systems, these openers have fewer moving parts. This means you’ll incur less maintenance cost involved if you go for these openers.
4. Jackshaft Garage Door Opener
Unlike the other garage door openers with a similarity in a trolley, the jackshaft belongs to its unique category. Instead of a trolley, the jackshaft motor is directly connected to the torsion tube and functions as its trolley. This makes it’s motor the only moving part of the whole system. The result is less noise and vibration, which translates to the low cost of maintenance.
Features of a Smart Garage Door Opener
The incorporation of IoT in the garage door system has led to increased efficiency due to advanced features. Some of the best smart features that you can check out for include;
- Wi-Fi integration: This is an essential smart feature that gives you the freedom to monitor things from anywhere in the world. You are limited to any given radius, so you don’t have to stick around your home to control the system. All you need to do is install an app on your smartphone or tablet, and you can control everything by a click of a button. You are also given access to the log information. You can therefore review everything happening to your garage remotely.
- Keypad Access: This feature allows you to grant access via the products app installed in a mobile app, Or you can have the keypad mounted somewhere adjacent to the garage where you can press a combination of keys to open or close the door.
- Integration of smart devices and assistants: Consider the ability to incorporate your garage door opener with your existing smart devices. These may include the Goggle Assistant, Siri, smart home hubs such as Wink, and others that increase efficiency and convenience.
- LED lights: Lighting is a vital aspect that you should consider when purchasing a garage door opener. Some models today come with an inbuilt lighting capability to light the entire garage environment. On top of that, you can set the lights to switch themselves ON/OFF automatically at set intervals. Others are set to power themselves on in case of any problems in the door system. These help to sort any arising issues within the shortest time possible and avert any more damages.
- Smart door locks: Besides granting you remote access to your garage, this feature allows you to share your garage. You can share with friends, visitors, or relatives who will have unrestricted access once they download the mobile app.
- Vehicle Compatibility: some modern cars have inbuilt smart technology that allows them to act more like smart homes. The owners can regulate most of the components by issuing touch and voice commands. For example, you can switch the lights on and off, lock and open the car doors, etc. if you connect your car with the garage system, you won’t need any remote keychain remote. From your smart car system, you will activate the door to sense your vehicle and open it independently.
Now, if you have made up your mind to go for a garage door opener, you have one central handle, choosing your right size. It’s in my understanding that openers are designed in different sizes. This is to make them fit for every door size. Imagine buying your opener later to fit it either smaller or bigger than your door? Or later find it too light to handle your heavy door? This definitely means wasting your money. Rather than size, it’s also crucial to state that openers with the best specifications and features that best addresses your needs are one uphill task that everybody faces. Many people get stuck on picking the best type of garage door opener, motor type, additional features, etc. To help you spend your shortest time on these parameters, we have compiled an exhaustive list that can guide you.
Choosing an Installation Method
You can choose to assemble the door opener yourself or go for professional installation. The DIY openers usually come with three rails that are easy to mount. The professional model has one rail and is not easy to assemble. There is no difference in durability between the two rails; they should be correctly assembled in as much as there is no difference in durability. This is crucial for the proper operation of the door opener. Some doors today are pre-wired for openers, and this makes it even easier to assemble yourself. In case you encounter difficulties, it is good to call for professional help.
Safety and Security
If you are using the old versions of garage door openers, you may want to upgrade your opener to the modern types. Openers manufactured before 1993 lack crucial security and safety features. Below are some of the important safety and security features that you should ensure that your opener has;
Garage doors are among the heaviest objects in a homestead. Therefore, the accidental lowering of the door can lead to severe damages or even death. That’s why you need a door opener with a motion sensor. The function of this feature is to scan the door track or railing where the door lands. If it detects motion, it activates and stops the door from moving further. This feature will protect any damages on your car body in case of accidental lowering. It will sense the presence of your car and halt its descend.
Besides your car safety, this feature is very crucial for young kids and pets. In case a dog or a child is on track, the sensor will detect its presence and stop the door movement. It will protect them against injuries.
Most of the traditional locks have relied exclusively on remotes for closing and opening. You are losing your remote means being locked out of your garage for sometimes. If you lost your remote, someone could use it to gain access to your house. Modern garage door openers give you the freedom to deactivate a lost remote code. Therefore, no one can use it to breach your security.
Rolling code technology
It is an excellent security feature that generates new codes forever access. Here the codes are not repeated, and every time you open your garage door, the access codes change before the next one. This makes it hard for hackers to acquire your access codes from the fob. So, your home will be free from any burglary activities aiming to exploit such a loophole.
Force guard control
The force guard reduces the opening and closing force of the garage door to minimal levels. The door also has less impact on the railing with reduced pressure. It is a great safety feature if you prefer safety to speed. This feature helps to minimize the rail’s wear and tear, and the door edges hence increasing its durability.
If you’re out for a vacation, this feature allows you to disable all the system sensors. It will ensure that nobody can hack into your home via stolen codes or remotes since all sensors do not work. This gives you the peace of mind you need when holidaying.
This feature allows you to monitor things in your garage even when you away. In case there is a security breach, you can receive notifications in your mobile app. Also, you can be able to lock the garage door remotely.
FAQ – Frequently Ask Questions
Your garage door’s characteristics should determine your choice of the opener: the materials used to make the door, the weight, and the size of the door. If you have a heavy wooden garage door, you’ll need higher horsepower to operate the door, preferably ¾ HP. This will ensure that you don’t strain your opener motor, which reduces their lifespan. Lighter doors can rely on lower horsepower without troubles.
The size is also another determinant. Single and double car doors cannot run on the same sized motors as well. The bigger the door, the higher the horsepower you’ll need.
1/2HP is enough to operate a 2-car garage door opener. Unless the door is made of extra heavy materials, this horsepower is enough for these sizes of doors.
1/3Horsepower can comfortably handle this size of garage door opener. However, the door should be made of lightweight materials like uninsulted steel.
Mostly this size is used in residential garages. So, single and light double doors will comfortably operate with this power.
Belt driven garage door opener is better than a chain-driven one. The belt-driven openers produce less noise and vibration. Therefore, they’re quieter, making them better for people who want silence in their houses.
If you are struggling to manually operate your garage door and feel it’s time to go digital, let nothing stop you. To determine what type and size of an opener, you need to study your garage door. Evaluate its characteristics; these will lead you to make the best choice.
Regardless of what type or size you choose, make sure that your door is always balanced. Keeping your door imbalanced will always pose a threat to your home, and you should always watch out for that.
Also, for better service and efficiency, consider going for openers with modern technology. Going by technological trends will help you always have the best out of these products.