Garage Door Openers: Chain Drive, Screw Drive, Belt Drive, or Jackshaft?
Why are there 3 different major categories of garage door openers? Factors such as price, durability, and technological advances have each contributed to the current garage door opener market. Each variety of garage door opener, including a fourth style (Jackshaft), has their own story, their own benefits, and their own pitfalls. Let’s take a look at each style.
Chain Driven Garage Door Openers
Builders tend to use chain-driven openers because of their cheaper components and simpler construction. As the true original form of electronic garage door openers, there’s no denying that the chain drive transformed the way we live. Since the garage door opener became mainstream, a majority of Americans now use their garage like a front door. Chain drives are cheap, plain and simple. Their quality is questionable, their durability involves plastic cheap components, the warranty is nowhere near that of other garage door openers, and they are down right noisy. Most consumers are choosing not to have chain driven garage door openers installed, which has led to a change in retail sales focus for large corporations. Chain drives are rarely available even at your typical home improvement stores. There are models that account for the growing demand for wood faced, or “overlay” garage doors. These garage doors are much heavier- up to twice as heavy. For this reason, the chain drive can be quite practical for such applications. Author’s Pick: Liftmaster 8587 Heavy Duty Chain Drive.
Screw Driven Garage Door Openers
Screw Driven Openers came along and had their glory years. For a period of about 20 years, the screw drive garage door opener was the best thing available. These openers addressed the issue of being loud, and popularized newer features such as battery backup systems, infrared safety sensors, and electronic limit and force settings. Unfortunately, the screw drive has really gone by the wayside, as consumers typically choose between two options…the chain drive or the belt drive. The screw driven garage door openers are well known for having terrible trouble during above average temperature changes, and still contain cheaper plastic parts used for main operating functions- much like the chain drives. Author’s Pick: Liftmaster 3240 Screw Drive.
UPDATE 2017: Screw Drive garage door openers have been discontinued by all major manufacturers. Learn More Here
Belt Driven Garage Door Openers
These are the most popular garage door opener in today’s market for several reasons. The belt driven opener brought a new age of technology to the garage, and there’s no sign of it slowing down any time soon. Belt driven garage door openers brought wireless control from anywhere in the world using our phones and laptops, automatic self-adjusting limits, lifetime warranties on major drive components, fingerprint access technology, DC motors with self-lubricating gears encased in steel housings, automatic closing features, and more is yet to come. Even the lower end of belt driven garage door openers offer so much more than the openers of the 1980’s and 1990’s. The belt driven opener is the way to go as far as the current Plano, Richardson, Allen, Garland, Frisco, Dallas, McKinney, Wylie, and Murphy garage door opener market is concerned. The same could be said about most states as a whole. Author’s Pick: Liftmaster 8550W Belt Drive.
Jackshaft Driven Garage Door Openers
The newest technology of garage door openers involves a unique configuration. The jackshaft garage door openers are applied to the side of a garage door, rather than hanging above the garage door. Unlike the past 50 years, these garage door openers have a more cosmetic and special application quality. Though the jackshaft openers are fantastic, most modern homes are built without enough room to the side of their garage door shaft in order to install a side mounted garage door opener. However, when installed properly, the jackshaft is just as nice as a belt driven opener, but can me much more useful for situations that call for high lift garage doors, or homes with ceiling clearance issues. The jackshaft is considerably more expensive, but might just be a glimpse into where garage door opener technology might be headed. Author’s Pick: Liftmaster 8500 Jackshaft.