What’s a world without convenience? Well, we’re not promoting laziness, but modern garage door openers can prove to be quite beneficial. Pulling into your driveway and having to get out of your car to open the garage manually every now and then, may not be a pleasant experience for most.
To add to that, the weather Gods aren’t always with us. Strong winds, rainfall, and blinding sunshine might make it a tall order to leave your car and open the garage door. Moreover, if have a lot of groceries to unload or are travelling with a toddler, the last thing you’ll want is inconvenience. Even a small inconvenience such as this, might bother you. Thankfully, we now have advanced garage door openers out there which can help resolve these issues.
The sheer availability of a wide range of garage door openers, make it incredibly hard to select one that is up to snuff with your requirements. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you with exactly that.
Before we move onto our products list, we’d like you to read through our buying guide for garage door openers.
Our Top Picks for This Year
Coming to the crux of this blog, here’s a list of the 8 best garage door openers as per our research and understanding –
1. Chamberlain B970 (DC Motor):
The Chamberlain B970 is ideal for heavier garage doors since it boasts of enormous lifting force of 1 ¼ HP, the highest horsepower in its category for excellent performance in severe conditions. Other than being mighty powerful, it comes with built-in MYQ technology which aids in easier operation and monitoring of your garage door. This opener comes with a battery backup, two 3-button remote controls (to operate up to 3 openers), and a built-in MYQ technology which will help you to lift, lower, and monitor your garage door right from your smartphone from anywhere, at any time. Aside from this, you also get 7-ft rail extensions, safety sensors, dual-function wall control, and keyless entry keypad.
The most important feature is that the B970 uses the belt-drive system, made with the most superior materials, thus ensuring higher reliability and super smooth performance. It is said to be one of the quieter garage door openers which is great if your garage is attached to your house. As far as warranty goes, you get a motor & belt warranty for lifetime, parts warranty for 5 years, and accessories for 1 year. Our only gripe with this opener is that its Wi-Fi and other Smart control features are quite difficult to set up.
2. Chamberlain B550 (AC Motor):
Another popular garage door opener from the house of Chamberlain, the B550’s motor has a horsepower rating of ½ HP, sufficient enough for two-sectional garage doors at a residence. Similar to the B970, this model also comes with built-in MYQ technology, two 3-button remotes with an operation range of up to 1,500 to help you get in and out more quickly, keyless entry keypad, safety sensors, and a 7-ft rail kit. As far as security is concerned, you get a 100 Billion code encryption as well as Posi-lock anti-theft feature that prevents hacking and unauthorized entry into your garage. Much like the B970, the B550 opener also claims to be ultra-quiet. The Chamberlain B550 offers a motor warranty of 10 years, belt warranty of 15 years, and parts/accessories warranty of 1 year. Unfortunately, the B550 does not have a battery back up and lacks HomeLink connectivity. The upside is that it is not as expensive as the B970.
3. Chamberlain C410 (AC Motor):
Looks like the Chamberlain garage door openers have a soft spot in our hearts, and for good reason. The C410 delivers a medium lifting force that is equivalent to ½ HP rating, perfect for a residence with 1-2 cars. The major difference between the previous models and the C410 is that this model sports a chain drive system that is made with solid steel for years of reliability and minimal wear & tear. Sadly, it does not come with built-in MYQ technology but you can upgrade it by purchasing the Smart Garage Hub. Other features such as the remote controls and safety sensors are exactly the same as the aforementioned openers. The C410 offers a motor warranty of 10 years, chain/parts/accessories are covered for 1 year. The only con is that this model tends to make a lot more noise but it assures high durability and is also quite affordable.
4. LiftMaster Elite Series 8500 (DC Motor):
The Elite Series 8500W by LiftMaster uses a Jackshaft lift-system, making it one of the smallest garage door openers which can be mounted adjacent to your garage door. This makes it look neat while freeing up ceiling space. Some of its other features include soft start/stop, Security+ 2.0 rolling code tech, infrared beams, MYQ technology, powerful P3 motors, security sensors, and a battery backup. The best part? This opener is unbelievably smooth and quiet, thanks to its jackshaft system which muzzles the vibrations to a great extent. A couple of drawbacks associated with the 8500 Jackshaft is that is mighty expensive and does not work with roll-up garage doors. Aside from that, you need to have minimum 8 inches of side clearance. That said, if you have money to spare, have sectional garage doors (up to 14ft high and 18ft wide), and place importance on sound level, clean look, safety, and security, then this is a great option to consider. Note that you get a lifetime warranty on the motor, and a 5-year warranty on other parts.
5. Genie SilentMax 1200 (DC Motor):
The Genie SilentMax 1200 boasts of a ¾ HP rated motor accompanied by soft start/stop control, ensuring an extremely smooth lifting/lowering process. It uses a steel-reinforced belt drive system, assuring you an opener that’s quieter and more reliable compared to chain driven AC motors. This model comes with Aladdin Connect smartphone technology, belt channel exit kit, battery backup, led bulb, Intellicode Security (rolling code tech), and Safe-T-Beam system for added security. It also comes with an easy-to-use 3-button remote control which lowers 9 inches of the garage door in just one second. This opener raises and closes 7-ft garage doors efficiently. Compared to a Chamberlain or LiftMaster product, Genie’s products are far cheaper. However, they are also slightly less long-lasting. If you’re on a stringent budget, the SilentMax 1200 is worth considering. If you want an even cheaper version and don’t mind the noise, do check out the Genie 1035-v model.
6. Sommer 1052V000 Direct Drive (AC Motor):
The Sommer Direct Drive garage door opener is ideal for extremely large or heavy doors as it features a lifting force of 1 HP, capable of lifting doors weighing up to 550 pounds. As discussed above, direct drive systems use only one moving part, making them one of the quietest and smoothest openers out there. A few of its features include rolling code technology, electronic beams, two 2-button remote controls, 7-8ft garage door compatibility & extension kit, soft start/stop, a lifetime warranty on the motor. The opener is also compatible with HomeLink; but for that, you’ll need to look up the manual specific to Sommer instead of your car manual.
Unfortunately, this model does not come with a battery backup so in case of power outage, the opener will be unable to function. Many users have also complained about its lifting/lowering speed. The ¾ HP version is apparently much faster and is sufficient for home owners with lighter garage doors. Another point to keep in mind is that Sommer products are known to have faulty circuit boards which can mess up the closing/lifting process. But if noise is a concern, you must definitely give this model a thought.
7. Chamberlain WD832KEV (DC Motor):
A highly rated product from Chamberlain, the WD832KEV works on a steel-reinforced belt-drive system, qualifying it as an ultra-quiet garage door opener. It is so silent that its operation is said to sound like a “whisper”. It is ideal for 7-ft garage doors which aren’t too heavy as it delivers a horsepower of ½ HP. This opener comes with two 3-button remotes, keyless entry keypad, wall control panel, MYW smartphone control tech, HomeLink compatibility, auto-close timer, safety sensors, and an easy installation system. Additionally, you get a lifetime motor and belt warranty, 5-year parts warranty, and a 1-year warranty on accessories. If you’re looking for a quiet garage door opener with all the frills sans a super steep price, then we’d highly recommend that you give this one a shot. However, if you own a heavier garage door made of steel/wood, this opener may not be powerful enough for you.
8. Chamberlain B730/WD962 (DC Motor):
Yet another top-class garage door opener from Chamberlain, the B730/WD962 is packed with the latest technology and offers many additional features like auto-close (with timer settings), two 3-button remotes, 1 wireless keyless entry keypad, 1 wall control panel, built-in battery backup up to 20 hours, MYQ smartphone technology, and safe sensors. This model is ideal for those who have heavy garage doors and have a room near to the garage since it is powered by belt-driven ¾ HP motor accompanied with a motor vibration isolation system, keeping the noise to a bare minimum with super smooth operation. The only downside of the B730 is that it works out to be a bit expensive.
Buying Guide: Pointers to Keep in Mind for Purchasing a Garage Door Opener –
1. Drive/Lift System –
A lift or a drive system is referred to the motor mechanism that is responsible for moving the trolley/motor in order to lift or lower a garage door. A good lift system is one which does this job smoothly, without much noise. Following are the 5 different types of lift systems:
- Chain Drive – A chain driven system uses a metal chain to drive the trolley. Though they are the most common, reliable, and inexpensive lift systems, they tend to be extremely noisy since metal chains produce a lot of vibrations. Moreover, the maintenance level is higher because chain drive involves more moving parts. If you have rooms right above your garage door or share a common wall between your house and your neighbors, we’d suggest that you avoid a chain driven system.
- Belt Drive – A belt drive is far smoother and quieter compared to a chain drive since it uses a rubber belt to move the trolley, thereby producing lesser vibrations. Also, this system does not need much maintenance. One major drawback of belt driven openers is that they tend to be less reliable compared to chain drive systems since rubber belts are way softer than metals such as steel.
- Screw Drive – Screw drive systems neither use chains nor belts, they rely on a threaded steel rod to lift and lower the door while the rod swivels. This system is ideal for those who have a heavy or wide garage door. Screw driven openers are also relatively quieter, require less maintenance, and are much faster in their performance. The only downside is that they’re more expensive compared to both, chain and belt driven systems. Companies like Genie are known for making high quality screw driven openers.
- Direct Drive – In this advanced system, the motor itself drives the trolley, instead of remaining stationary like in the case of the aforementioned lift systems. This means that the motor gear is the only part that’s moving which equates to far lesser noise, much smoother functioning, and high reliability. The only disadvantage is that it is expensive. Only a few companies like Sommer make such openers.
- Jackshaft – The Jackshaft system (type of direct drive) is emplaced adjacent to a torsion spring rigged garage door. In this system, the entire torsion spring is rotated instead of driving a trolley. This makes it quite compact, while hardly using any ceiling space.
The problem with this opener is that it cannot be used with extension-spring garage doors. It is also the most expensive range of openers. Companies like LiftMaster and Chamberlain are known to make good jackshaft-type systems.
2. Motor Type –
Motors can be of two types – AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). You can go for either of these two based on the door opener model. Personally, we prefer DC motors as they are much quieter and more compact compared to AC motors. Also, they are much safer because they sport soft start/stop systems, thereby using less electricity and reducing the chances of an accident.
3. Horsepower –
Often abbreviated as HP, the horsepower of an opener refers to the power that a motor has in order to lift and lower a garage door. More the horsepower, faster the motor and higher the capability of lifting heavier doors. Horsepower ratings usually vary from 1/3 HP to 1 ½ HP. The amount of horsepower you will need would depend upon the weight and size of your garage door.
A good way to check this is by finding out the HP rating of your existing garage door opener. You can replace it with one that has an equal or higher HP rating. Most single-car garage doors (about 10 X 8 feet) will only need 1/3 HP openers. However, if you have a two-sectional garage door (made of aluminum), you may have to opt for one with at least ½ HP. If you have a single-piece heavier garage door (16 feet wide or more, weighing about 550 pounds), you may want to go for a motor with ¾ HP. These are also much smoother to operate and great for those who are going to use the opener frequently as they cause minimal wear and tear. Motors with 1-1 ½ HP are mostly used for commercial properties and extremely heavy doors.
4. Safety –
In case your current garage door opener was manufactured before 1993, you’d best get rid of it. Modern garage door openers use infrared beams across the door opening which can detect the motion of a person, animal, or thing. If the moving object breaks the beams, the opener will reverse the direction of the motor in order to prevent an accident. The door will not be lowered until the object has moved out of the door’s way.
5. Security –
Although uncommon, it is possible for people to access your vehicle from your garage without your notice. Therefore, its important to buy an opener that comes with security features like rolling code, lock mode, and security lights. Rolling codes are unique codes transmitted via remote controls to activate door openers. Each time you open your garage door, a different code is generated. This prevents hackers from intercepting an old code and gaining unauthorized access to your garage. This is especially useful if you have a back-door entry to your house.
Modern garage door openers also feature at least two security lights. These bright LED bulbs light up and turn off by means of motion sensors and timer. Note that these lights aren’t useful for seeing what’s in your garage.
The Lock Mode feature prevents your opener from responding to keypads and remotes once activated. This is especially useful during the night or while you’re away.
6. Features –
Aside from the factors mentioned above, you need to look for some basic features which add a lot of value to a garage door opener.
- Battery Backup – An opener with a battery backup comes extremely handy as it allows you to operate it in the event of a power outage.
- Auto-Close Feature – Sometimes it may so happen that you forget to close the garage door. That is when an auto-close functionality comes into play. It lowers the door after a certain (pre-programmed) period of time on its own.
- Remote and Keypad Control – Check for openers which comes with one or two remote controls. These remotes can affix themselves onto the sun visors of your cars. If you own more than one vehicle that is going to be parked inside your garage, make sure that you get those many remote controls.
Nowadays you also get built-in garage door control systems such as HomeLink and Car2U. In case you have one of these or plan to get one, make sure that you either buy a compatible opener or get an adapter for your opener.
Some openers also come with keypad controls which can be affixed right outside your garage door. You can get in and out just by tapping on some codes on the keypad. This is good for when you’re doing house chores around your backyard or garage.
- Manual Release Option – Although this feature isn’t absolutely necessary, it is nice to have. An opener that comes with a manual release option, let’s you lift or lower the door manually. This can be useful for when you’re working in the garage and want the door to be shut partially.
- Home Automation Compatibility – Again, this isn’t a feature that you can’t do without but is surely an added bonus. If you have a smart home system you can integrate a compatible garage door opener with the same.
This will allow you to set smart bulbs, smart locks, and thermostat to respond to your garage door whenever you get in and out of your house, and several other functions.
- Smartphone Controls – An opener with smartphone app compatibility allows you to control and monitor your garage door right from your smartphone. You can also use the app to ensure whether you have closed the garage door while you’re away. This done by the help of a Wi-Fi connection.
- Rail Extensions – Look for an opener that comes with rail extensions so you wouldn’t have to spend extra. These make your opener compatible with 8-foot high garage doors.
7. Customer Support & Warranty Period –
Garage door openers can seem quite complex to install and operate, especially if you’re not a tech-savvy person. It is possible that you might even run into problems with the product a couple of years down the lines. Therefore, its important to be sure that the opener brand you’re about to purchase has a good reputation in the market in terms of customer support.
Most garage door openers come with 3 types of warranty – Motor, Lift System, and Parts. A Motor warranty should have longer coverage periods with lifetime warranties being the most ideal. One with 10 years’ motor warranty is also good enough since the opener units will last you for around 15 years. Lift System warranties must cover between 1-3 years and other parts warranty (remotes/wall switch/keypads) should be valid for 1-5 years’ time period.
We have listed our personal favorite garage door openers from top quality makers like Chamberlain, LiftMaster, and Genie. However, you may also check out other openers from companies like Craftsman in case your budget is even tighter. An honorable mention would be the Chamberlain B503 which features ½ HP belt-drive motor system, with sufficient number of features, available at an affordable price.
Even though companies like Chamberlain offer MYQ tech built-into their openers, they rarely live up to a user’s expectations. That is because the MYQ requires you to subscribe to a paid model in order to have smartphone controls and is incredibly difficult to set up. Moreover, it does not work with smart-home systems like Alexa and Google Home. In case you want an easy-to-setup smart-home compatible opener, we’d suggest that you get the Nexx Garage Door Opener Control. It is compatible with most of the garage door openers mentioned above and features an efficient Wi-Fi connectivity that works with both, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Keep in mind that plenty of negative reviews result out of not reading the user-manuals correctly. Therefore, we’d suggest that you even pore over the fine print thoroughly. Many of the manufacturers also have the installation instructions on their websites so be sure to check that as well. Alternatively, you may simply hire a pro to have it installed hassle-free.