How to Choose the Right Garage Door Opener

garage door opener

When it comes to new home construction in America, a garage is relatively standard.

Consider these 2015 statistics from the National Association of Home Builders:

  • 61% of new home constructions featured a two-car garage.
  • 24% had a garage large enough for three or more cars.
  • 6% had a single-car garage — most which were found in smaller townhouses.

While the number of homes with a garage of some kind is increasing, there are still some considerations for homeowners. What is the best type of garage door? What sort of security features should I include? And, for the purpose of this guide, how to I pick a garage door opener?

Garage door openers are extremely important, and, recently, they have undergone some technological innovations, especially by integrating smart technology.

To help you make choosing the right garage door opener a snap, we have created a complete, expert guide to the opener selection process.

two car garage doors

Think About Noise

Thinking about the noise impact is a smart first step in choosing the best garage door opener for your home. Do you have a room — especially a bedroom — located above your garage? Is there a study or den directly next to your garage? If this is the case, noise could become a problem.

Imagine coming home late at night from a long business trip only to wake up your whole family because you open the garage door. Or, consider a day spent in the home office, under the gun on a big project, only to be constantly startled as your partner takes the kids to school or runs errands.

Many homes today are designed to isolate the garage from more sound-sensitive parts of the house. Some garages are even detached from the rest of the house for just this reason. If this is the case, noise won’t may not be crucial to you — but it might be for your neighbors.

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Choose the Best Garage Opener Style

Once you determine your noise requirements, select the garage door opener that best meets those needs. There are three common styles of garage door opener, each one offering different advantages and drawbacks regarding noise, reliability, and cost.

Consider these options for openers:

  • Chain drive. This is the most common garage door opener. It is reliable and affordable. Using what is essentially a bike chain to lift the door, it works in most garages and can be adjusted to properly lift both light and heavy doors. Its biggest drawback is the noise it generates. The act of rolling the chain to lift the door creates a good deal of vibration and thus sound. Innovative manufacturers have done well to reduce the amount of noise produced by even the standard chain drive model, so these aren’t the loud machines of a generation ago.
  • Screw drive. Rather than lifting the door with a chain, a threaded shaft connects the lift with the door and spins to generate lift. The biggest advantage of a screw drive is the diminished vibration when compared with traditional chain-driven lifts. It’s a reliable style and isn’t overly expensive, although they are generally a little costlier than chain drives.
  • Belt drive. This is the quietest garage door lift available. However, it’s also the most expensive. Rather than using a chain, a Kevlar polymer belt with textured teeth pulls up the door as it’s rolled by a gear system, drastically reducing vibration. Also, the Kevlar does not make nearly as much noise when it makes contact with the lifting mechanism.

In some exceptional cases, there are a couple of other garage door styles that homeowners can choose from. A direct drive system avoids using a pulling mechanism altogether. This makes the system extremely quiet, but they are rare in the United States. Jackshaft openers are placed next to the door rather than on the ceiling. They are expensive, but they make sense for some garages with tight spaces or insufficient head room.

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Check Your Power Source

 Your next concern is power. You want your garage door opener to be strong enough to lift your door without causing too much wear and tear on the opener mechanism. However, you don’t want your opener to be overpowered, as it will use more energy than necessary, thus sapping efficiency.

On average, garage door openers come with one of three power ratings, ranging from 1/2 horsepower to 1 horsepower. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • 1/2 horsepower. This is the standard option for most residential garage doors, especially in newer constructions. Today, garage door manufacturers have done well to design doors with strength and durability that are simultaneously light and well-insulated. If you have a newer, standard width garage door, this will most likely be your best bet.
  • 3/4 horsepower. If you have an oversized door, you will likely want to upgrade the power to 3/4 horsepower. Some homeowners prefer a faster door and increasing the power to 3/4 horsepower will accomplish this.
  • 1 horsepower. These powerful lifts are usually reserved for special doors that are extra heavy. Sometimes, older garage doors made of solid wood will require this kind of lift. Other homeowners who have an extra-large door may need to upgrade to this power level.

Assessing your exact horsepower needs can be difficult. We recommend partnering with a professional who has the experience to identify where a higher horsepower motor might be beneficial and where it might be overkill.

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Understand Remote Control Security

Remote controls are a huge convenience and one of the most used aspects of a garage door lift system. They are also pretty simple devices. Simplicity is good — there are fewer things that can go wrong. But, simple means easy to access, and some garage remotes don’t offer sophisticated protections from outside interference.

There are essentially two issues to keep in mind when thinking about remote control security technology:

  • Protect against outside interference. If you live in a more densely populated residential area, it’s likely that you won’t be the only person with a garage in the vicinity.

Your remote — along with the remotes of your neighbors — can interfere with each other, especially if they are the same brand. Without standard protections, your neighbor might be accidentally opening your garage door at the same time that they are opening their door.

To protect against this kind of interference, manufacturers have begun to implement dual-frequency technology, which causes your remote to automatically switch between frequencies to ensure your remote is uniquely connected to your garage door opener.

  • Protect against security breaches. While accidental interference is an inconvenience, it’s not the worst thing that could happen. You also need to be on guard against intentional security breaches, and hacking a garage door opener isn’t that hard for the tech-savvy burglar.

Consider this story from Wired. In 2015, a security technology professional demonstrated how, by using a simple child’s toy, burglars created a device that could unlock any garage door with a “fixed” security code.

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Fixed security code systems are the simplest remote-controlled lifts available. They have a unique code — not unlike the combination on a padlock — that pairs the opener with the remote. This toy was hacked to transmit every possible numerical code in seconds, essentially turning the toy into a universal remote for “fixed” systems.

However, aware of this security flaw, newer remotes use “rolling” security codes. This would be like having a padlock that changes the code from over a billion possibilities every time it is opened.

According to the Wired article, Liftmaster garage door openers made “rolling” codes standard on all models after 1992. Therefore, if you have a garage door opener that is older than that, your garage may be at risk. If you are unsure if your garage door uses “fixed” or “rolling” code technology, a quick consultation with a professional should offer an answer.

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Install Battery Back-Up for Convenience and Safety

Garage door openers are electrical tools. Like your refrigerator or television, they aren’t going to be much use if you don’t have power. Many newer models feature battery back-up, however. That means, at least for a period of time, you will still be able to use your garage door even if your home is without power.

Even without it, you can always open your garage door by hand using the manual release. The manual release is the pull cord that typically hangs from the opener. By pulling this cord, you will be disconnecting the door from the lift mechanism. Because garage doors have ultra-strong springs installed to minimize the amount of motor power needed, you can also lift a detached door by hand.

There are certain emergency situations when even this additional step could become a safety issue. There are times when you need to exit your home, and do it quickly. While every family should have an emergency exit plan, the truth is, under pressure, exiting your home should be as easy as possible. This is especially true if you need to take your car with you as you exit. Batteries are an easy remedy to this eventuality.

Make Sure Your Garage Light Is Versatile

The vast majority of garage door openers come with lights installed. That way, any time you are pulling your car in your garage, you will have a light, even if you haven’t turned one on by hand.

Not all garage door lights operate the same way. The oldest versions only turned on when you activated the garage door opener. While this is convenient in most instances, there are cases when you may need light but aren’t activating the opener.

To compensate, many newer models come with a motion-activated light. With these, if you happen to be entering your home and the garage door is already up, the motion of your car will turn on the light. Similarly, if you enter your garage to get a tool and never open the door, the light will turn on regardless. If you happen to leave your garage door open, the light will eventually turn off.

Because of the kinds of things most people store in their garages — mowers, yard equipment, snow blowers and power tools — having a responsive light is an excellent safety feature. You don’t want to suffer an injury fumbling around for a light switch.

Safety Features Are Essential

There are other safety features to keep in mind, and, if you have a family, safety is likely your top priority. Though it isn’t clear why, there was a huge jump in the number of garage door injuries between 2014 — where the stats had been holding steady for over a decade — to 2015. In 2014, the nation saw 9,094 injuries. In 2015, that number jumped to 17,782.

garage-door-injuries

Because of the power of a garage door opener and the weight of a garage door, many of these injuries are serious.

Garage door manufacturers and installers care about the safety of you and your family, so they have developed highly sophisticated technology to avoid these types of injuries.

There are three types of garage door safety technologies that will help prevent injury:

  • Entrapment Sensors

These types of sensors come in a number of different forms, but regardless of the form, they are designed to make sure nothing is obstructing the threshold of your garage when you close it. Often, they’re a laser sight beamed between two lenses on either end of the garage door threshold. If that laser is obstructed, even for a second, the garage door will automatically stop closing.

A sensor like this is especially important if you have children or pets. Say your kids are playing basketball in the driveway, and someone closes the garage door. If that basketball then crosses into the garage, there’s a good chance a kid is right behind it. Luckily, once that ball crosses the security beam, the door will stop in its tracks.

  • Door Reversal

While entrapment sensors are a great way to make sure doors never come into contact with an obstacle or person, on the off chance that a door does, it is essential that it also features door reversal.

This sensor will activate if anything is obstructing a garage door as it lowers. If it feels an obstruction, the door will automatically reverse and open again. These features are sensitive enough that many will activate when hitting a sports ball without popping it.

Beyond protecting loved ones, door reversal can prevent damage to your car. Entrapment sensors are usually placed close to the floor of your garage.

If your car is parked halfway into your garage — to unload groceries, for example — it is possible the entrapment sensor will be unobstructed between the front and rear tires of your car. If you then forget the car is there and attempt to shut the garage door, nothing would stop the motor from continuing to push the door downward, causing catastrophic damage to both your car and the door.

While a door with reversal technology may still cause a small ding on the roof of your car, the cost of repairs will pale in comparison to what damage could be done without such technology.

  • Constant Contact Control Buttons

A constant contact button isn’t standard on every door because they can be an inconvenience some homeowners would rather do without, but it’s an important feature if you have a young family.

Rather than pushing the wall-mounted button once, a constant contact button requires you to hold the button down the entire time your door is opening or closing. When constant contact control buttons, people are looking at the door while it closes, thus helping to avoid accidents.

This feature can easily be added to a preexisting garage door opener system or removed, meaning it is easy to change if you suddenly find you need it or are ready to return to a standard style button.

Smart Homes Require Smart Garage Doors

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Smart garage door openers with internet connectivity are the latest trend, and, for many, they are the ultimate security and convenience feature.

Imagine leaving for a vacation overseas. You’ve set the thermostat. Your mail is being held at the post office. You have set the security code on your front door. As you leave your car in the long-term lot at the airport, you suddenly get the feeling you forgot to close your garage door as you left.

With an Internet connected garage door opener, you can check on your smartphone or device to see if the door is open or closed. If it is open, with the touch of a button, you can close it remotely. Even if you don’t remember to check until you’ve arrived at your exotic location, you still have the power to open or close your garage door.

The best part is, even though this kind of smart technology is powerful, it is simple to install and use. Take MyQ® technology from Liftmaster, for example. Simply connect your opener to your home’s Wi-Fi, and then download the app. You will receive email and text alerts while having complete control over the door and lights in your garage right at your fingertips.

You can even integrate your garage door into your larger security and home lighting system. That way, you can check the security of your home on vacation, even turning on the lights at night to help deter burglars.

A Garage Door Opener in Mesa or Phoenix, AZ

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If you live in the Phoenix or Mesa, Arizona areas, and you are ready to start exploring a new garage door opener or you are building a new home and still need to make a selection for your garage, look no further than Stapley Action Garage Door.

Since 1986, we have been committed to being the best garage door company serving Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale Chandler and other Phoenix, Arizona communities. We’ve done this by committing to unrivaled service, professionalism, and the highest quality garage door products.

We work in both the commercial and residential garage door sectors, meaning we have a wide range of experience. With such a diverse background, we have the know-how to tackle each and every garage door issue we come across. We provide the same attention to detail whether you are looking for a budget-friendly garage door system or you want the top of the line luxury option.

We partner with Liftmaster garage door openers because we believe in their product, and we never want our customers to settle for second best. We can stand by their products because they stand by them. Take some time and explore the residential opener options we offer to find the product best suited for your needs.

Our service team is available for advice or questions, even if you aren’t looking to purchase a new garage door opener at this time. We take professional, courteous service seriously, and we are always looking for new partners.

If you are ready to work on a new garage door opener installation, whether in a new home construction project or as a replacement for an aging opener, contact us today for an estimate. One of our professional sales representatives will be more than happy to guide you through the installation process while helping you decide which garage door style and features are best suited for your home.

You, your family and your home deserve the best in quality, safety, and convenience. Let us help you choose the perfect garage door opener in the Phoenix, AZ area today!

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