Choosing the Right Opener for Your Needs

Garage doors are opened manually or via a motor and are typically wide enough to allow passage to motor vehicles. Some households are even built with the garage door serving as one of a couple or the sole entrance.
Garage doors that are not manually opened make use of what is known as a garage door opener. This is simply a motor-controlled system that opens and closes a garage door in response to a switch or remote. With all the garage door openers on the market. There are several areas to factor into your decision. These are:
• Motor horsepower
• AC vs. DC Current
• Additional Features
• Type of door opener
Generally, garage door openers work in the same basic manner. A motor moves the carriage along a rail. The motor doesn’t do the actual lifting of the door, but instead guides the trolley’s counterbalance system to lift and lower the door.

Motor Horsepower

The motor, which is usually a six-amp, horsepower-based device, is hooked up to a 120-volt outlet. The horsepower rating gives a measure of the lifting power of the garage door opener. For residential openers, a rating of ½ – 1 ½ horsepower is recommended and the figure should be selected based on your garage door type.

Heavier doors require more horsepower to operate. For example, if your garage has a heavy single door, then a 1 – 1 ½ horsepower motor would be best. On the other hand, if you have a double-care garage door which is a lighter load due to segmentation, then a simple ½ horsepower motor should suffice. Additionally, more horsepower means less wear and tear as it uses less effort.

AC vs. DC Current

Door opener motors can run on Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC). This refers to how current flows along a circuit. The difference between the two is direction. DC current flows in a single direction while AC current alternates direction. The additional overhead required for AC current makes it the less cost-effective option.
The advantage of AC current motors is durability. They typically last a longer time than their DC counterparts and require little to no maintenance during their life cycle. Despite this, most modern garage door opener openers are built on DC current. This is due to the advantages that a DC current system poses, which include:
• Energy saving – The single direction flow of DC current makes transmission and conversion a simpler process with less overhead. Therefore, DC garage door opener motors use less energy than AC ones.
• Sound – Using less power allows DC motors to operate at a near silent volume.
• Gentler – AC garage door opener motors do not allow variation of door opening and closing speeds. This means that if the speed is too fast, the components of the door can sustain compounded damage. DC motors, in contrast, allow for speed variation. So, a door can begin opening slowly, proceed a bit more quickly, then end opening slowly to prevent crashing.
• Battery backup – DC motors are typically built to be small and efficient. Additionally, they can be bundled with a chargeable battery backup system that can work while power is out. AC motors do not have this capability as the amount of power provided by a battery backup system is not enough.
As households do not generally natively run on DC power, the motor uses an inverter to convert AC energy to DC energy prior to operation. Choose your opener based on your preference for either durability or efficiency.

Additional Features

As with any product or service, there is a purpose for its purchase and use. The garage door opener’s purpose, for example, is to open and close a garage door. Besides the intended purpose, additional features usually form part of the reason for a purchase. These are purely subjective, and it is advised to choose a garage door opener with features that appeal to you. Some known features that can be found in garage doors are:
• Home automation – This allows you to control the state of your opener without being near it (usually over Wi-Fi).
• Vehicle integration – Some modern-day vehicles have controls that can be set up to control the opener.
• Battery backup – This feature is only available to DC powered openers and allows use of the opener even when power is out. Of course, the length of time the door can be used for without power depends on the battery capabilities and the motor’s power requirements.
• Motion sensor features – A motion sensor can be setup to complete a required action such as turning on the lights outside.
• Auto-close – This feature allows the opener to close garage doors that have been in the open state for a set period.
These features are not exhaustive, and it is recommended that you browse the features and select a combination that best suits your needs.

Type of Door Opener

Earlier, it was mentioned that door openers typically work in the same way. While this is true, there are five types of door openers. The difference lies in how the trolley is moved by the motor.
• Chain drive – This is the earliest form of door opener technology. This system operates in a similar manner to how a bicycle chain helps in the turning of its wheels. The metal chain connects the motor to the trolley and allows raising and lowering of the door. The simple design makes this the cheapest, initially, however, the metallic chain design generates more noise than other methods, and the number of moving parts means regular maintenance is required.
• Belt drive – These openers function like chain drive systems with the motor connected to the trolley. The difference here is that these systems use a rubber belt as opposed to a chain. Not only does this allow for quieter operation than the chain drive, but the system also requires less maintenance as it is made up of fewer moving parts. If a quiet operation is essential to you because of your neighborhood or the proximity of the garage to other rooms, then this may be the option for you.
• Screw drive – These openers derive their name from the long screw within the track that the trolley connects to. As the screw (or rod) rotates, the trolley is driven to raise or lower the door. The advantages are the same as the belt drive opener as this type is also quieter than the chain alternative and requires less maintenance.
• Direct drive – This is a smooth, quiet, single moving part mechanism as it is the only one in which the motor is directly involved in the lifting and lowering process as opposed to simply driving it. Here, the motor moves along the track (and is the only moving part) and so there is a low maintenance requirement.
• Jackshaft – Instead of being installed above the door, the jackshaft openers are installed along the sides of the door. This opener requires a torsion spring system and is generally more suited to garages with high, sloped or cathedral ceilings.
The burden of choice can be overwhelming, so our technicians are readily available to help you make your decision. Contact us to schedule a visit to decide on the right opener for you or learn more about our garage door repair service.

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