With many homes using the standard chain drive garage door opener, homeowners may replace their worn out opener with the same design. There are other options, though, and one of these alternative openers may serve your home better. Here is the rundown on the various garage door opener designs you'll find on the market.
It Starts With a Balanced Garage Door
All garage door openers require that a complicated series of cables, pulleys and high-tension steel springs be installed to balance out the weight of the heavy garage door. Garage door repair and installation companies adjust this mechanism so that the homeowner can easily open and close the door manually. This also allows the following garage door openers to use smaller electric motors to raise and lower the heavy door.
Standard Mid-Ceiling Openers
This is the typical design you'll see in newly built homes. The garage door opener motor is mounted under the ceiling, with a track that extends from the motor to the wall above the garage door. Within this track runs an arm that is attached to the top of the door. Rollers mounted on each side of the door sit in a metal track that extends from the floor to the ceiling, then curving to run parallel to the ceiling.
When the opener is turned on, the arm is pulled along the track, which pulls the top of the garage door with it. The rollers on the edge of the door guide the door up and under the ceiling. Reversing the motor allows the door to gently be lower into the closed position.
Three different variations of this design are available:
- Chain drive - This has been the standard opener for years. A metal chain is used in the track to the motor to pull the garage door open and ease it shut. The chain, which looks like a bicycle chain, is metal and is adjusted to have a little slack. This often makes the chain drive system noisy as it starts and stops.
- Belt drive - In this design, the metal chain is replaced with a fiberglass or rubber belt. This belt makes this opener quieter than the chain drive units.
- Screw drive - This design gets rid of the chain and belt in favor of a long screw. When the motor turns the screw, the arm is pulled along the track, lifting the door. This design is slightly noisier than the chain and belt varieties, but it can open and close a garage door faster than the other designs.
Alternatives to the Standard Design
To deal with the noise of a garage door opener and the space it takes up, manufacturers have come out with two alternatives:
- Direct drive - Getting rid of all belts, chains and screws, this unit has the motor itself moving along the track. The motor is attached to the top of the garage door. When turned on, the motor pulls itself and the garage door along the track to the middle of the ceiling. This is the most quiet of the garage door opener designs.
- Jackshaft - This design gets rid of the central track that mounts to the ceiling and door. The motor mounts on the wall next to the top of the garage door. When turned on, the motor turns a shaft to which is connected a cable and pulley that raise and lower the door. This design is quiet and takes up no space on the ceiling. It's a useful design for garages with a low ceiling.