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I’ve heard lots of arguments on this topic.  I always thought that the screw types are the most reliable, but I’ve heard lots of people complain about the noise, recommending belt types instead.  I’ve always seen the chain types as “cheapies.”

Truthfully, I’m hoping some of you can share your personal experiences and wisdom to clue us in.  Which one is best?  Let us know in comments.

(Thanks, Ecnerwal, for the great cc-licensed photo.)


26 Responses to Reader Question: What’s The Best Type Of Garage Door Opener?

  1. jeremiah johnson says:

    Whatever kind I don’t have is the one I like. 🙂 You can feel mine through the floor throughout the entire house.

  2. Brad says:

    I think, like anything, the trick is proper maintenance. Keeping the guide rails, rollers, and chain properly maintained/lubed should help with some of the noise that you get from a chain setup.

  3. Hollywood says:

    As a garage door technician I can’t stress this point enough, what ever you get go the extra mile and get a “professional” model with a single piece rail. Rails that come in 3 or 4 pieces bend and wear out way too soon. And never use grease on the screw drive types grease is for high friction applications and they’ll never get hot enough to do anything but harm.

    As for a brand that I’d recommend, go with Marantec, you might have to look around to find one, but they are the absolute finest operator I’ve ever dealt with. DC motor so it’s super quiet, digital controls, chain or belt drive that is enclosed never needs maintenance, and a 15 year warranty.

  4. JK says:

    Not sure how much quieter a belt-drive would be, but going from a cheap Craftsman chain-drive to a fairly cheap Craftsman screw-drive was night and day in smoothness and noise level. I see how a beltdrive would be quieter, but I’ve got a single-door oversize 2 car, and I’d assume a belt-drive would suffer the same fate as my chain-drive. Lucky for me, all the Craftsman GDO’s still share the same mounting points for the most part, so swapping out one for the other was a pretty painless ordeal, even by myself.

  5. Vito says:

    I have a Craftsman 1/2 hp chain and fell like it has treated me well. I agree with the lube statement. I use white lithium grease in a spray bottle – really helped quite things down. I was about to change out the metal rollers for nylon to hopefully remove even more noise, but we moved homes and did not do it. But even with that said, I did not think the chain drive was that bad.

  6. I’ve been slowly starting the research to replace my garage door; one thing I’ve wanted that nobody (except Marantec) seems to have is a lock; I’ve always heard that thieves can basically pry up a garage door until the mechanism gives, then open it freely. (I do know about not making the power-fail-release cord easy to snag and pull). Marantec apparently bought or licensed a product called Gaplock (http://www.marantecamerica.com/pdfs/Gaplock_ProductSheet.pdf — pdf link, sorry) that appears to fill this niche.

    Has anyone used this accessory, and is it worth the extra $50 (or whatever) to add it to an installation?

  7. Rick says:

    We’ve got three chain drive Craftsman 1.5hp openers. Basically have had them forever. Noise isn’t much of an issue for a detached garage. We’ve had one just die of old age – and the rest are the original 15+ year old ones.
    My dad took a Genie screw drive to Spain to install in his summer house (Stone and concrete slab construction with garage in basement level) and he has no complaints about noise.

    I think Brad nailed it.. it’s all about proper maintenance. The only issues we’ve ever had aside from the one opener that just stopped working (it was cheaper to just buy a new one than repair the motor) we’ve only had some problems with the helper springs.. that help bring the door up.. and those aren’t part of the opener mechanics..

  8. Mike Yancey says:

    We have an 18′ wide steel door (wider than the usual 16′).

    The GDO that came in the house was a Craftsman, chain-drive. I think it was well over 20 years old when the motor died. I installed a current Sears Craftsman 1/2 hp model – also chain drive – about 3 years ago. Only problem I’ve had is a nearby lightening strike took out the controller board ($90 from Sears parts, ouch) which I was able to mail order and replace myself.

    It’s reasonably quiet (not sure how quiet since it moves a lot of steel up & down on metal tracks) and works every time, although I’m considering a surge suppressor mounted on the ceiling next to the plug.

  9. Mark Garrison says:

    I have a Craftsman screw-drive, and I don’t see much difference from the Craftsman chain drive. Sounds about the same, not sure about reliability yet.

  10. Steve Thompson says:

    My house came with a new Lift-master opener – which I have no problem with. It is noisy – but the garage is detached so It’s not a big deal. The question I have is if anyone knows of a UPS system that I can add to my GDO (I know there are GDO’s with built in UPS – but I want to add something). I found some models from a company called On/Kor – but they don’t seem to be available anymore (http://www.aaaremotes.com/on30plgadoop.html). I am in a wheelchair and can’t reach the power-fail-release key (not that the previous owner even left me the !#!@$@ key) and when the power goes out I’m basically screwed.

    I’d love to find a plug in UPS that would work.

  11. Piett says:

    When I had to replace a screwdrive GDO I went with a belt drive in the hopes that it would be quieter. I have not found this to be true. The belt drive isn’t loud but for the slightly higher cost it wasn’t much quieter either.

  12. Piett says:

    In terms of the battery back-up you might be able to get away with a UPS that they sell for computers. Some of those are pretty large and I would guess have the capacity for a garage door a few times.

  13. Hollywood says:

    Those springs aren’t helpers. Openers are the lift assist, the springs do all the work. They should be lubed to prevent rust so they don’t break. Also, if you disconnect your opener and your door is heavy to lift, you’ve got a problem and should really have it checked out. Remember your garage door is the heaviest moving object in your house, and if it were to come crashing down it could very well do some serious damage or hurt you or a loved one.

  14. Hollywood says:

    @Piett: Disconnect the door and run your operator, the door itself might be where all the noise is.

    On the subject of batteries, Liftmaster has a model with a built in battery back up. Most of the GDO companies have batteries that are just UPSs with a length of angle attached to the top to mount from.

  15. F451 says:

    I have switched to DC belt-drive, and I am never looking back. They are much quieter to the point that you will want to replace and other ancillary parts of the system (e.g. rollers) to further quail any noise. Our garage doors are double-door solid wood with glazing and these units handle them with no effort. I purchased the battery backup units in the event of power outages, and I’ve already used them twice for just that purpose.

  16. ken says:

    I have a Stanley chain type garage door opener for at least ten years.other than grease it works great and not noisey.

  17. Vincent says:

    I have a Chamberlain Premium Whisper Drive GDO (belt). I found that unless you are inside the garage or if you are in the bedroom above the garage, there is practically zero noise. I’ve only had them for

  18. Vincent says:

    I have a Chamberlain Premium Whisper Drive GDO (belt). I found that unless you are inside the garage or if you are in the bedroom above the garage, there is practically zero noise. I’ve only had them for less than 2 years but so far they are great!

    Like a previous comment said, I also had a logic-board failure due to “an electrical power-surge incident”. So, I ran to the local HD and bought the surge protector from the same company:

    Anyways I guess my GDO was still under warranty (or Chamberlain is a super nice company) so they eventually sent me a free replacement logic board..

    I’ve never had a problem since!

  19. Robert says:

    I have owned several over the years and my current and favorite is the Genie Accelerator. It’s so quiet that I can’t hear it in the next room. Plus it’s twice as fast on the upstroke as any I have seen.
    But – if you don’t like your opener, the first thing to check is the operation of the door. Disengage the opener and operate the door manually. It should be free and easy to move. The spring should do most of the work, and the rollers should follow the track easily and not bind. One word of caution – there is a lot of energy stored in the spring. Don’t try to adjust it yourself without a lot of planning and carefull thought. It is not your typical DIY project.

  20. ambush27 says:

    If you get a computer UPS you’ll need a big one, but it should work. My cheap one has around a 4.2 amp output or about 500 watts, probably not good enough but many should work.

    I’ve had the most experience with the manual variety, and they work very well so long as you don’t mind getting out of your car and lifting the door or pulling the chain.

  21. RawCode says:

    Have any of you ever looked at the Wayne Dalton idrive direct drive opener? It has always interested me, but I have not gotten around to buying one. From what I have read on the net, it is super quiet and smooth, but is difficult to install.

    Here is a link in case you have not seen it.

  22. Sheldon McGee says:

    My house came with a old Geinie screw drive and it worked well but it was really loud (you knew someone was home no matter where you were in the house) and we only had one opener that was still working and new openers were $40 and the keypad thing I wanted was another $50.

    Instead of spending the $90 to get the things I wanted for my old opener I spent $199 for the Chamberlain belt drive (from Home Depot, Lowes sells Lift Master I think) mentioned above. It came with two remotes and the keypad thing too. It was a little quieter than the old screw drive but that wasn’t the real cause of the noise. It was the springs!!! I put WD-40 on almost every moving part of the garage door itself and it didn’t seem to make much difference. Then I decided to put some on the springs. I was nervous because the springs are a key part of the system and aren’t user replaceable. And sometimes things like WD-40 makes things worse. But it worked!!! Now you can be in the room right next to the garage and you can’t tell the door is being opened.

    So, I’m not really sure if the belt drive is that much quieter than my good old screw drive but I am glad I made the change. If not I would have let the spring rub against each other and eventually they would have snapped. Does anyone know what lubricant should be used on the springs? I’m not sure how good an idea WD-40 is.

  23. Wayne D. says:

    I have a Sears Craftsman I installed myself and the chain drive really isn’t that noisy. I really don’t consider noise a factor with an opener since it really usually runs about a minute a day and the garage is heavily insulated where it connects to the house. Most of my noise comes from the door itself creaking because it was installed in the “winter” in Arizona and now that it is summer, the expansion of the door is making it creak and moan.

    AS for WD-40, use the lithium lubricant. WD is good at water displacement and is a good temporary lubricant.

  24. dbett says:

    I love my newish Liftmaster DC powered belt drive.

    It’s quiet and will work for weeks on battery backup.

    The one thing I’d recommend against is any of the Genie Excelerator line. They are the ones on the commercial with the guy racing some other guy to work.

    Yes they are fast. But they also (as I found out to my dismay) put a lot of strain on the rails and other hardware. I ended up replacing my entire garage door not long after installing one.

  25. Sheldon McGee says:

    Hey, thanks for the tip about lithium lubricant. I’ll look into it. I’m always nervous about the various types of lubricants and where to use them. I paid almost $20 for a can of spray lubricant that was recommend for the top of a table saw and it smells a lot like a $4 can of WD-40. I haven’t tried the WD-40 on the top of the table saw yet but I’m going to after this other stuff is gone.

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