Comparing Types of Garage Door Openers & Best In Class


For years, the options for garage door openers have been limited. Because of these limited options, homeowners gave little thought to the type of garage door opener they owned. Nowadays, homeowners have more options, and with the introduction of jackshaft, direct-drive, and now smart garage door openers. So, what type of garage door opener is best?

There are five main types of garage door openers; chain-drive, belt-drive, screw-driven, jackshaft, and direct-drive. Some models are wifi-enabled, classifying them as smart garage openers. The overall best type is the direct-drive garage door opener because it is quieter and requires less maintenance. Chain and belt-drive openers now have improved DC motors and quietness, maintaining their popularity among homeowners.

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Below are some of the best options available on the market today. Take your time to read through and find the best garage opening solution for your specific needs.

Since the emergence of automated garage door openers, people have had three types to choose from: chain-drive models, belt-drive models, and screw-driven models. However, innovation has struck this industry, bringing about new door opener types like direct-drive models and jackshaft openers. With advancements in technology, models in all five classes have wifi options “smart” garage door openers.

Chain-Drive Garage Door Opener

The first and oldest type of garage door opener is the chain-driven model. Chain-drive models use a metal chain that is driven by an alternate current (AC) motor. The chain pushes or pulls a trolley that connects to the garage door via a metal bar known as a J-arm.

The chain-driven model is perfect for industrial buildings, detached home garages, or any place where noise and vibration won’t be an issue. These models feature a simplistic wall control unit with open/close buttons and, maybe, a light switch if the unit has lighting.

However, chain-drive models have stepped up their models with quieter DC motors and soft start and stop technology for quieter performance than AC models.

If you presently have an old jerky chain-drive model, you can upgrade to a smoother operating DC-powered chain-drive model.

Our Best in Class Pick: Chain-Drive Openers

Genie 2033-LED Chain Glide Connect with LED lighting smart garage door opener – has a super quiet 1/2 HP DC motor. The precision machined motor and gearbox is maintenance-free and backed by a 10-Year Limited Warranty on the Motor and Gearbox, 5 Years on the Chain, and 1 Year on Parts & Accessories.

This garage door opener features LED lights and Aladdin Connect Wifi Smart Garage System allowing you to control your garage door with your smartphone from anywhere, all for under $190.00. You don’t need the Smart Garage System? You can purchase the ChainDrive 550 model for about $165.00.

Belt-Drive Garage Door Opener

The next type of garage door opening system is almost entirely similar to the chain-driven opener in terms of the whole trolley and J-arm functionality. The significant difference is that, instead of a chain, a belt is used to make the opener tick. The material the belts are made of varies from brand to brand. They are usually made of polyurethane, fiberglass, or a type of steel-reinforced rubber.

Belt-drive garage door openers are slightly higher in price than chain-drive models. They’re about $45 higher on average. However, the belt-drive models are slightly quieter than the chain-drive models because of the smooth belt operation.

Our Best in Class Pick: Belt-Drive Openers

Genie StealthDrive Connect Model 7155-TKV Smartphone-Controlled Ultra-Quiet Strong Belt Drive Garage Door Opener – Theis belt-drive garage door opener features a strong and super-quiet 1 1/4 HPc DC Motor with a steel-reinforced belt drive. This opener has built-in Aladdin Connect technology that allows you to operate your garage door from anywhere with your smartphone.

This garage door opener features a limited lifetime motor warranty, a 1-year warranty on accessories, a limited lifetime belt warranty, and a 5-year parts warranty for under $200.00.

Screw-Driven Garage Door Opener

The screw-driven garage door opener is the third of the “traditional” garage door openers. In this model, the trolley is sat atop a rotating steel rod. The bottom of the trolley and the top of the rod are threaded so they can interlock. A motor rotates the rod to either lift or lowers the door. These are a great pick because, on average, they open faster than the chain or belt models. Another advantage is that they have fewer moving parts than most other door openers, which, according to manufacturers, reduces the likelihood of mechanical failure.

The main problem with screw-driven openers is that they are louder, sometimes more so than chain-driven door openers. Another problem is that extreme temperature changes can also affect some of the metalwork, negatively affecting its operation. This has mostly occurred in regions that have a wide variance in temperature

Our Best in Class Pick: Screw-Driven Openers

MachForce 2 HPc Premium Garage Door Opener Exclusive Screw Drive- Aladdin Connect Smart Home w/ Alexa & Google Assistant – has a super quiet 2 HPc DC motor for the ultimate combination of speed and power. This makes this model twice as fast as a chain or belt-drive models.

This garage door opener features LED lights (bulbs sold separately) and Aladdin Connect Wifi Smart Garage System allowing you to control your garage door with your smartphone from anywhere. The MachForce is backed by a limited lifetime warranty on drive components. This model runs just under $250.00.

Jackshaft Garage Door Opener

Next comes the jackshaft opener. The unique thing about these is that they are mounted on the wall next to the garage door. They run on a 24-volt DC motor. One thing to note is that the jackshaft opener only works on garage doors that use torsion spring systems. 

The motor drives several cables and pulleys to turn the torsion bar and open the door. To close, the motor loosens the tension on the cable. Unlike the types mentioned above, the jackshaft opener saves ceiling space thanks to where it is placed. Another advantage with these door openers is how quiet they are. This makes them perfect for garage doors that are close to living spaces or bedrooms.

Jackshafts are not without drawbacks, though. The main problem is that they are expensive, especially when compared to most other garage door openers.

Our Best in Class Pick: Jackshaft Openers

LIFTMASTER 8500W 2-893MAX remotes JACKSHAFT GARAGE DOOR OPENER MYQ ENABLED WIFI AND BATTERY INSTALLED – this jackshaft garage door features a space-saving wall mounting design beside the garage door that does not require an overhead garage door track. It has an ultra-quiet, durable, and powerful p3 motor.

Built-in Wi-Fi allows controlling the garage door easy from anywhere with your smartphone. It has a battery backup system to provide uninterrupted operation even when the power goes out. It also has a bright 1,500 lumens myQ remote LED light built-in. For added security, the Automatic Garage Door Lock will deadbolt the garage door after it closes.

Jackshaft garage doors are pricey but they come with a lifetime warranty on the motor, a 5 year warranty on parts, and a 1 year warranty on the battery and remote control. This model with Wi-Fi and smart home capabilities costs just under $570. However, models without Wi-Fi are available starting at around $400.00.

Direct-Drive Garage Door Opener

Direct-drive units are the next type of garage door opener we’ll be taking a look at. These uber-quiet openers are designed and manufactured in Germany, and classic Deutsche efficiency flexes its muscles yet again.

Direct-drive openers are unbelievably quiet, and many people in the industry laud them as the quietest of all garage door openers because the motor is the only moving part. In these units, the motor itself moves along an overhead metal rail to either open or close the door, attached to the motor via a J-arm.

Our Best in Class Pick: Direct-Drive Openers

SOMMER Durable and Secure Direct Drive Garage Door Opener – This German-made direct-drive garage door opener is extremely quiet and strong, and nearly vibration-free. It has a 1.0 HP DC-powered motor that features a lifetime warranty and includes a full installation kit to fit both 7 ft. and 8 ft. doors.

It also features Secure Rolling Code Technology and is compatible with Home Link. While Wi-Fi operation is not included, it can be added through aftermarket smart home controllers. The opener now features LED technology.

The Sommer Direct-Drive garage door opener can be purchased for around $270.00

Speaking of garage doors, we’ve put together an article How Long Garage Doors Last: Repair, Maintain or Replace with details on garage doors, how long they last, and garage door maintenance.

Smart Garage Door Openers

We’ve been writing about Wi-Fi Enabled garage door openers throughout this article thus far. It is important to note that this is not a separate classification, as many chain-drives, belt-drives, direct-drives, and jackshafts can also be smart door openers. 

Smart openers are great because you have remote access. Thanks to the built-in cameras, you can usually monitor the system (and your garage) from anywhere with an internet connection. If you have a smart home hub, Alexa, Google Assist, etc., you can get your smart garage doors to link to it. This allows you to open or close your garage with other devices on your home network.

That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one standout in the smart garage door market.

Our Best in Class Pick: Smart Garage Openers

The Sentry – BU400 – WiFi Garage Door Opener, Smart Home Garage Opener – this smart home garage opener is a chain-drive opener with a smooth and reliable 3/4 HP DC motor. The opener is designed for 7 ft high doors but can accommodate 8 ft to 10 ft doors with an extension kit.

These garage door openers are designed with safety and security in mind. From your smartphone, you can control all aspects of the garage door opener including the 3000 lumens motion-activated LED security lighting. It’s also easy to set up and includes step-by-step instructions, manuals, video tutorials, and telephone tech support.

One drawback versus some of the other models we have featured is that the motor is slightly smaller. However, it’s still powerful and features a lifetime warranty on the motor and chain, a 5-year warranty on parts, and a 2-year warranty on accessories making this model a bargain at just under $235.00.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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