We spent over 50 hours researching and testing 10 different brands of garage door openers and found that performance, ease of installation, and brand reputation were most important. SOMMER Direct Drive Garage Door Opener scored high marks in all categories and is our top pick. The durability and quiet operation of this garage door opener makes it a popular choice among homeowners. One of the unique things about this opener is that the motor is attached to the door instead of the ceiling. This means you won’t have to install a bulky ceiling unit. The rail accommodates 7 or 8 foot doors and comes with a complete installation kit.
Introduction to the Garage Door Opener
An automatic garage door opener enables you to open the door when you leave or arrive home at night without having to exit your car. These units are attached to an existing garage and add a high level of convenience making them a popular choice among homeowners. When it is raining or the weather is poor, no one wants to have to get out of the car to open the garage.
Garage door openers can also add another layer of security in the home and allow you to lock the doors for additional security. The newest feature that has been added to the operation of garage doors are remote access. This allows you to check on and operate the door from a remote location. If you can’t remember if the door was closed, you can use your computer or smartphone to check and then close it and/or lock it from wherever you are. Wi-Fi access is becoming more available and more sophisticated adding to your comfort and convenience.
When you begin shopping for a garage door there are a lot of options available and choosing between the hundreds of products available can be overwhelming.
Top Rated Garage Door Openers Summary
All of our top picks are built from top quality materials and are able to open garage doors effectively.
The Sommer has the largest motor at ¾ HP followed closely but the Liftmaster with ½ Hp. The Chamberlain has the smallest motor but utilizes technology which gives the motor more power without the additional energy output. The Sommer is the quietest deign followed by the Chamberlain model and the Lifemaster is the loudest unit. Quiet operations are important when living quarters are above the garage or the garage is near a bedroom, when a loud opener might disturb the peace.
The Sommer and Chamberlain offer two remote controls and two safety sensors which add to the convenience and safety of operations. The Lift master only includes one remote with the unit. Additional remotes may be ordered separately.
Sommer and Chamberlain feature Wi-Fi capabilities. The Sommer model can connect with Homelink for remote access, where the Chamberlain can be operated through Homelink or through an App download not requiring additional equipment. The remote features of the Chamberlain are the highlight of this product.
The Lifemaster unit operates with the standard chain and rail system which can save you money if you want to use the existing chain system. The Sommer does not use a chain system and requires replacing the full assembly, which is all included with the unit. The motor on this unit is on the door rather than the ceiling which is the stand out feature of this product. There is only one moving part and minimal vibrations making its operations virtually silent.
The Sommer and Lifemaster both feature the Rolling Code Technology which extends a new code each time the remote is used. This prevents code duplication and creates a more secure home.
Whichever unit you choose you will enjoy the benefits of a top quality garage door opener that will enable you to secure your home and get in and out of the garage without ever leaving the comfort of your car.
Garage Door Opener Buying Guide
What is a Garage Door Opener?
If you are looking for a convenient way to enter and exit your garage an automatic garage door opener can help solve the problem. It is easy to use and can often be self installed. Installation kits may be included with the unit and most plug directly into an existing outlet. Choosing which garage door opener will meet your needs will be decided by a number of factors.
How much power do you need? Double door units require more power than single units because of the overall weight of the door. Double doors should be at least ½ HP and single doors can operate with less. The size of the motor will play a big factor in the cost of a unit. A larger motor will tend to open the door faster and will generally last longer.
Does the noise level matter? Drive systems will determine how loud the door is when it starts. A loud door can be an issue if the garage is close to or below a bedroom or other location where the sound of a door opening could disturb you.
Do you need remote access? One of the newest features found in garage doors are those that are operated wirelessly. This will allow you to turn the system on or off and open or close the door from your smartphone or computer, rather than only with the remote control.
What safety features are important? All doors have a system than stops the door from closing on someone or something under the door. The technology used to reverse the door can vary across manufacturers. The highest quality units use a beam that detects an object crossing the beam and stops the door from closing. These units are more sensitive and can prevent accidents or damage.
What security measures matter? Garage doors can be a common place where thieves try to break into your home. Additional security measures can include the ability to lock the door in place and rolling codes on the remote control, that change the access code each time the door is opened. This technology prevents someone from stealing the code and accessing your home at a later time.
Features to Consider
What drive style do you want. Chain drives are the most commonly used. These units use a chain and a lift to open the door. They are typically the least expensive models but also the loudest. The motor is secured to the ceiling and a rail system is installed to operate the lift. A screw drive system uses a steel rod that the lift moves along to reduce the noise of the opener. It has fewer moving parts and less vibration than chain units. Computer drive openers have a motor which sits on the door rather than the ceiling and does not use chains or screws. The motor directly lifts the door rather than pulling a lift to the motor. These units are virtually silent and reduce the headroom needed.
What size motor should you buy. The size of the motor will control the speed in which the door opens. Larger motors do not have to work as hard and will last longer. They will also open the door faster. Closing is about the same because of the safety precautions needed to stop the door if something or someone crosses under the door.
Remote controls. All automatic doors offer remote controls that are typically operated with radio waves. One or two controls are generally offered with each opener purchase. Additional remotes can be purchased separately. Operating the door may also be available through Wi-FI. If this is the case either a Wi-Fi panel must be installed or connection with a company like Homelink, who provides remote access to multiple devices.
Fixed remotes and wall panels offer the ability to open and close the door while in the garage. Panels can offer a basic open and close but may also allow you to control other features such as lighting or turning the unit on or off without unplugging the device.
Lights. Most openers offer a light that comes on when the door is opened and then remains on for a certain time before shutting off automatically. The ability to set the time that is most convenient to you can increase security and save power.
Locks may be available. This feature allows you to lock the garage and disable the remote, preventing the door from being opened while you are away or late at night after everyone in the home is in for the night.
Timers can lock the garage door at a set time every evening. This is an added level of security that can lock the door when you are away at work or home at night.
Soft start feature reduces the noise caused by the door and also saves energy.
Whichever garage door opener you choose you will find they are convenient to have and easy to operate. A good quality unit will be able to provide years of maintenance free service and enable you to gain access to your garage in a fast and convenient manner.