A garage door opener is a home improvement item most people don’t give much thought to—until they need a new one. While they all provide the same basic functions, not all systems are created equal. Whether you’re building a new house or your current garage opener is broken, you might be surprised by the breadth of options currently on the market.
There are chain-drive, belt-drive, screw-drive, and ultra-quiet models, as well as options with WiFi connectivity. You can also find modern smart home-enabled openers, which allow you to control your system from anywhere. To save you time on your search, we researched the best garage door openers.
Ahead, the best garage door openers.
The best overall garage door opener is the Chamberlain B1381 Bright LED Garage Door Opener (view at Amazon). When you download the associated app you can control your garage doors no matter where you are. If you’re looking for a budget pick, check out the BeamUP Workhorse BU100 Garage Door Opener (view at Amazon). It’s easy to set up and it opens garage doors of virtually any size. Plus, it’s compatible with various smart devices.
Garage door openers work in a variety of ways. A chain-drive model raises and lowers doors with a metal chain — these tend to be inexpensive and able to handle heavier doors, but they’re loud. A belt-drive opener uses a belt and operates more smoothly and quietly. Screw-drive openers, which lift doors with a threaded steel rod, are also quiet and don’t require much maintenance. Finally, a direct-drive opener operates as a single unit — the whole contraption moves to lift the door. These tend to be the quietest, smoothest mechanisms available.
You’ll also want to consider the horsepower of your opener. Typically, 1/2 horsepower will work for most doors in newer homes. If you have a heavier solid wood door, though, you may want to opt for 3/4 horsepower so it can lift it with ease. You can also get 1 and 1 1/2 horsepower models, but those are a better fit for commercial or special situations.
Since 1993, all garage door openers have been required to have a special reversing mechanism to prevent closure if a child, pet, or car is in the way—but in terms of additional security features, you get what you pay for. If safety is a top concern, opt for a model that changes the access code after each use to prevent a break-in.
What size garage door opener do I need?
Most openers are designed to work with all sizes and configurations of garage doors. However, if your garage door is tall (usually 8 feet), you’ll need one with a rail long enough to accommodate the height. Also, if yours is particularly heavy or has double doors, you might need one with extra horsepower.
How do you program a garage door opener?
Virtually all garage door opener units have a “Learn” button. To pair your remote with your opener, press this button. It should activate an indicator light for 30 seconds to a minute. While it’s lit, press and hold the main open/close button on the remote until the light on the overhead unit starts blinking. The blinking light tells you your garage door opener is programmed with the remote.
How do you install a garage door opener?
It’s crucial for garage door openers to be installed correctly so they operate safely and effectively. You might consider hiring a professional, but if you’d rather go the DIY route, these are the basic steps:
1. Read over the instructions and make sure you have all the parts and necessary tools.
2. Assemble the carriage tube per the manufacturer’s instructions.
3. Attach the carriage tube to the front of the main power unit.
4. Mount the header bracket to secure the carriage tube to the wall over the door.
5. Hang the main power unit from the ceiling
6. Wire the opener control box, then mount it to the wall.
7. Attach the connector bracket to the door, then fasten it to the carriage arm.
8. Plug in the safety sensor device to prevent it from closing on anything in the way.
How do you open a garage door manually that has a garage door opener?
Your garage door most likely has a manual cable, which disconnects from the opener chain, allowing you to open it manually. There might also be some sort of small key you can use to unlock the manual cable (if it’s not already unlocked).
Pull down hard on the cord to release the door. Then lift it with your hands, pushing it all the way up to make sure it stays in place and doesn’t fall back down.
This roundup was written by Theresa Holland, a professional writer and homeowner seasoned in reviewing, researching, and testing home goods and home improvement products. Aside from The Spruce, she contributes regularly to MyDomaine.