Garage door openers are a modern day convenience that many take for granted. It wasn’t very long ago when garage doors had to be manually opened as a matter of everyday life. In 1926, a man by the name of C.G. Johnson invented the first electric garage door opener motor. This was just 13 years after The Model T Ford was in production. In 1931 radio controlled opener motors were made available. The convenience of opening the garage door from a vehicle was a popular breakthrough, yet the lack of security was an issue. In the 1970’s, transmitters and receivers were equipped with DIP switches, which could be randomly selected up or down in a series of 12 small levers. This remained a great security solution for a couple decades, until the digital age where hackers could digitally replicate random codes and open a garage door within minutes. Today, most manufacturer’s produce systems that operate on a rolling code, which is amazingly secure and the risk from hacking is slim.
It’s getting close to a century since their invention, and garage door opener systems have come a long way. There are now a multitude of makes and models to choose from. The cost can range from less than $200 to well over $500 to buy a garage door opener in Houston and install as a do-it-yourselfer.
The following are some of the major considerations that you will want to think about when deciding on a garage door opener unit that’s right for you.
WHERE TO BUY-
You can purchase a garage door opener from a local Houston garage door supplier such as Parts 4 Garage Doors, The Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, Sams, Costco, Ace Hardware, online, and through a service company such as Spectrum Overhead Door. You will find most of the pricing to be similar and competitive between the big box retailers. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales to save a little bit of money. Most suppliers will carry a handful of the most popular manufacturers and models available. If you are interested in a professional series unit, that is a bit heftier and more reliable for the long term, then it would be recommended to speak to your local service company that is authorized to sell LiftMaster professional products.
The major manufacturers of garage door openers include LiftMaster, Chamberlain, Craftsman, Genie, Linear, Guardian, Ryobi, and Sommer. You can read online reviews to research customer satisfaction ratings on each. Chamberlain and Genie are the most commonly units sold at the Home Depot and Lowes. LiftMaster is the most common unit sold by garage door service companies, and is our preferred garage door opener.
Garage door openers come in a few different drive type options: chain, screw, belt, jackshaft, and direct drive. Chain drive openers are a good all-around choice. They are strong, dependable, and not as noisy as they used to be. Screw drive units require periodic greasing along the rail for smooth operation. They are the best choice for 10+ ft tall doors. Belt drive units are quiet, and usually offer the most top-of-the-line features. Jackshaft openers are good for heavy-duty residential, or commercial applications. Direct drive units are not too common in the U.S. The advantage is that they have less moving parts overall.
It is important to take a look at optional features sold with certain packages to make sure that items you are needing are included. Higher end packages will offer more in the box such as a second remote and wireless keypad. Usually the more expensive packages are actually the best value. At times, you may see a garage door unit offered for sale in the Houston area sale for what appears to be a discounted price, but upon further inspection, you will notice that it only comes with one remote control and nothing more.
PICK WHAT YOU NEED-
- Battery Back-Up: Allows the opener to function even when the power is out. The battery power typically will operate up to 20 cycles before depleting.
- Wifi Operation: The unit will connect to your home router via wifi, and allow you to access door function by use of an app. This can come in handy in order to open or close your garage door when not at home. It is also great to receive a notification sent to your cell phone whenever the door is operated.
- Light Options: A light will illuminate on the motor above whenever the garage door is cycled up or down. Some units have one light- facing forward, and some have two lights facing side-by-side. The newest models are now using bright LED’s that face downward and will brighten even the largest garages. If you regularly park a vehicle in the garage at night, then you should choose a unit that has enough lighting for your needs.
- Smart Wall Pad: The button inside the garage that is used to open and close the door can be a simple doorbell type, or a smart pad that boasts many more functions. Some of the additional functions include: motion sensor, time, temperature, time to close, keypad and remote programming, error code reading, and lock feature (freezes out remote controls).
- Rail Options: Store bought units will come with a light duty rail that is hollow in the middle and is fit together with 4 to 5 pieces. Professional series openers such as LiftMaster will include long one-piece rails that are solid steel and are capable of lifting more weight. The shape can be a “T-rail” configuration, or the more hefty “I-beam” rail used for lifting heavier wooden, insulated, or oversized garage doors.
- Keypad: A keypad is a great option for opening your door when a remote is not in hand, and you are already out of your vehicle. This option is also great for allowing children to enter the house after school using their 4 digit code, or for letting repairmen into the house to do some work. Generally speaking, the security in using a keypad is considered fairly high as long as you conceal the use of your code, and do not write it down on the cover etc.
- Horsepower: The most common motor sizes are 1/3 hp, ½ hp, ¾ hp, and just over 1 hp. 1/3 hp units are good for most small single car doors. ½ and ¾ hp units are good for most 16 ft wide doors. Typically, there is not a need to buy an opener motor that is oversized for your door. Even the stronger ¾ hp units have the force setting dialed down, so that it never really puts out a true ¾ hp. A garage door opener with a stronger rail, is actually preferred for smooth operation, over having a stronger motor. The force control on a garage door should always be adjusted to power the door at the most minimal setting possible- during normal operations.
It is important to ask yourself the following questions: What is my budget? How heavy is my garage door? What features are the most important to me? How long do I want my unit to last? Will I be hiring a garage door service company, or installing the unit myself? Answering these key questions, and utilizing the information above, will help narrow down the right garage door opener unit for your needs.
Hopefully the information supplied here has been helpful in deciding what is the best garage door opener for you.