Garage Door Openers Review
Why Buy a Garage Door Opener?
The top performers in our review are Chamberlain Premium Whisper Drive, the Gold Award winner; Chamberlain Ultra Quiet, the Silver Award winner; and LiftMaster 8550 Elite Series, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a garage door opener to meet your needs, along with details on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 products.
Chances are, you don't think much about your garage door opener unless it is overly loud or giving you problems. Garage door openers have become a standard convenience since their invention in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the mid-1980s that they became a staple in garages across the country. Today, garage door openers are readily available at retail hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowe's, and you can even purchase them online from sites like Amazon.com and have them delivered to your doorstep.
Garage door openers have improved greatly over the past nine decades, with the best improvements made in safety features and noise reduction. There was a time when the room above or next to the garage was a no-sleep zone. Garage door openers were so noisy and clunky they disrupted everything around them. The latest units, highlighted in our garage door opener reviews, are smooth operators – practically silent – and very easy to install and use. In our comparison, you can find reviews of the best garage door openers available as well as articles about garage door openers.
Choosing the Best Garage Door Openers
The best garage door opener is the one you install and then never have to think about again. After that, it fades into the background of your life, offering years and years of hassle-free service.
Some of the best garage door openers offer special features like a backup power source or a timer that will automatically close the door behind you at a predetermined time that you set. While the door openers in our lineup vary in terms of power, noise and efficiency, they are all effective in the all-important task of letting you come and go with the simple push of a button, and without thinking about it. Here are the criteria we used to rank the top garage door openers:
We looked for wireless garage door openers that had the power to lift the heaviest doors, and we found that the 1/2-horsepower motors are best suited for standard aluminum sectional doors used on most homes built from 1990 to today. The 3/4-horsepower garage door opener motors are capable of lifting wooden doors up to 550 pounds. Each opener is capable of opening a standard 7-foot door, and extension kits are available if your door is taller.
The best heavy duty garage door opener is forward-looking and designed to integrate seamlessly with home automation systems. They include a timer-to-close option that automatically closes the door for you. The finest garage door openers also offer a backup power source so you are never stuck with an inoperable door during a power outage.
Most of the openers in our lineup run on either a chain or belt drive lift system. While they are both quiet, the belt drive tends to be the quietest garage door opener, so it works well if you have a bedroom, or other commonly used living space, that is close to the garage.
Safety & Security
Most garage doors are heavy enough to cause serious injury and even death, so safety features on garage door openers are very important. It’s important for the opener to have the capability to automatically reverse if it detects that an object is blocking the door. Also, you will want a door with motion sensors that detect if a child or animal is moving in or out of the garage while the door is closing.
Security features also are valuable considering the fact that the garage door not only secures vehicles and anything else stored in a garage, but may also offer indirect access to your home. A rolling code mixes the code your remote sends to the opener with each use to help prevent criminal activity.
You might not think it could get easier than pushing a big button to open a door, but some garage door openers make things even easier by offering keyless entry and multiple remotes. Many garage door openers come with a keyless entry pad that mounts outside the garage door so you can gain access to the garage without the need for a remote. A remote is preferable for most situations, but there will be times when you need to get into the garage when you don’t have it handy, so this is a nice feature to have.
Most electric garage door openers have two lights, one in front of the opener and one behind, or sometimes they sit side by side. This should provide enough light for you to get into your home from your car. Generally people don’t leave the garage light on when it’s not in use, so it’s a nice convenience to have a temporary light when you arrive home. The amount of time the light stays on varies according to how it was preprogrammed. In most instances you won’t need more than a few minutes from the time you leave the car to when you enter your home. If you are going to be in the garage for an extended period, chances are you will turn on the garage light. We examined each opener to determine what hardware and conveniences are included.
The best garage door openers, like the Chamberlain Group WD1000WF and the Chamberlain Premium Whisper Drive, allow you to control your overhead garage door opener from a remote location through your phone. If you’ve ever left home and had a moment of panic, not knowing if you left the garage door open, this feature will give you peace of mind. The door opener’s built-in Wi-Fi connects directly with your home Wi-Fi router. This allows you to close your garage door from wherever you are through a MyQ smartphone app. The Chamberlain Group model is a 1 hp garage door opener with extra lifting power for unusually heavy doors of over 500 pounds.
Other new technology includes a side mount garage door opener found in such models as the LiftMaster Elite Series 8500. This technology offers a compact design, freeing up ceiling space since it's designed to sit between the wall and the garage door.
The best garage door openers are backed by a lifetime warranty on their motor and belt or chain. Having a warranty provides peace of mind that you will be taken care of if your opener has a defect. While it’s common for motors to come with lifetime warranties, belt and chain and parts warranties are often not that generous. However, it’s not uncommon for parts warranties to extend several years. Often the warranties are limited and are subject to specific stipulations that vary and are detailed in the user manuals. User manuals are generally available as PDF downloads on the company’s website. We looked at how much coverage is provided by the garage door opener manufacturer and compared them to rank this category.
Help & Support
Good customer service is important for any product. It is especially important for the class of garage door openers we considered. We looked primarily at garage door openers designed to be installed by a homeowner, not a professional door company, so it's vital the product you choose offers its own layer of customer support.
Even if you consider yourself to be pretty handy, you are sure to have questions at some point along the way. We looked for companies that respond to any inquiries and for resources such as a downloadable manual to help with your install.
Garage Door Openers: Our Verdict and Recommendations
We identified the best garage door openers on the market. The best options are the Chamberlain Premium Whisper Drive, Chamberlain Ultra Quiet and LiftMaster 8550. All of them are trusty garage door openers, but each has different features.
The Chamberlain Premium Whisper Drive is an efficient, reliable garage door opener in every situation. It comes with a backup battery system that will work in a power outage. The Chamberlain Ultra Quiet has a preinstalled timer that will close your garage door automatically. This automatic garage door opener functionality will give you peace of mind, and you won't have to worry about whether you left the garage door open. The LiftMaster 8550 comes with a 3/4-horsepower motor that can lift heavy doors of all types, from gatehouse to standard sectional doors.
The warranties on these units tend to be quite generous. It’s normal for the motor warranty to extend for the lifetime of your ownership of the opener. However, only the Sommer Direct Drive garage door opener has a lifetime warranty for the motor, lift system and parts, giving it the most generous warranty package of any product in our lineup.
Your next garage door opener will likely last for years. Whether those years are carefree or plagued by calls to your local repairperson depends on the choice you make now. You can compare garage door openers using our in-depth reviews, which will help you choose the best one for you and your garage door type.