Welcome to Garage Automatics!
I’ve put this site together to help you make sense of the number of choices and considerations you’ll face when buying a new garage door opener. I know, it seems like you’ve got a big job ahead of you, but with a little elbow grease and a moderate amount of reading we’ll have you sorted out in no time.
Garage door openers are something we have to think about only once every decade or two (if we’re lucky) and I’m pretty sure most people who aren’t paid to keep up with garage door openers don’t think about them until forced to do so. If the last time you (or whoever was living in your house) bought a garage opener was in the ‘90s, you won’t be surprised to know that things have changed quite a bit since The Macarena was still a thing.
Technologies, warranties, security and history. You name it, I’ve tried to explain it. My goal is to make this a one-stop shop for people who just want to get the facts they need to buy a good product to serve their needs. By the time you get to the bottom of this page, you’ll be informed, entertained and installing a new door opener (or hiring someone to do it for you).
Straight to the Reviews
If you just want to get straight to the dessert, here are my top five picks. These are the garage openers I think deserve your money the most. Each serves a different purpose, but I think each one is a champion in it’s own way. If all you did while visiting my site was to pick one of these excellent openers, I’d consider my job done.
Perhaps, for some strange reason, you don’t quite agree with my impeccable taste. That’s weird, but it’s OK, I understand. It’s a good thing I came prepared with some more stuff for you to look at.
If you want a wider variety of products to pick from, check out my collection of reviews. Here I’ve taken the specifications, price points and user feedback for a number of popular garage door openers and judged them for overall value. If one of my top picks doesn’t appeal to you, the perfect opener for your individual needs is probably waiting among those reviews. I’ve also pointed out one or two products that looked good at first, but ultimately weren’t worth consideration, for one reason or another.
Just be sure to have a look at my buyer’s guide so you know what to look out for when making your decision. There are quite a few specifications, caveats, pros, cons and pitfalls. The least you can do is skim through an itty, bitty guide to make sure you don’t miss something important.
The Best of the Best
I have taken the time to look at the most popular or best specified products available today, and I’ve chosen five products that I’d spend my own money on. A beautiful cheapskate, a weird but smart German, a Speedy Gonzales, an expensive luxury model and the ultimate all-round purchase.
Remember that I have chosen these products out off all that I’ve reviewed based on what I think are valuable features. Depending on your needs, you may prefer something different. However, I believe the majority of people will be happy with one of these excellent products.
So without further ado, here they are.
Best Opener Overall
I had to do a double-take when reading the specs and features for this opener. It’s under $300, it has every conceivable accessory, it’s right at the top of the power range and its quiet. Oh, and it has built-in battery backup. Where is the compromise? I don’t see it.
To sweeten the deal even more, this is the first MyQ-enabled product I’ve seen that doesn’t also need you to buy the CIGBU internet gateway to work. Honestly, if Chamberlain sold only this and the PD220D I’ll tell you about next, they’d have 90 percent of the market covered.
The only criticism I could level is that I don’t think MyQ itself is that great compared to the competition, but I can’t hold that against the opener itself. Honestly, I can’t imagine why I would consider anything else other than not having enough money in my budget to stretch to the WD1000WF.
Best Budget Garage Opener
Let’s face it, most of us aren’t made of money (I’m certainly not), and good budget options are always appealing.
I was very impressed with the PD220D’s fantastic price, competent feature set and most of all, stellar looks. This is the best-looking opener. Period. This is what I imagined stuff would look like after the year 2000 when I was a kid. The PD220D may be inexpensive, but it looks anything but cheap.
The unit has just enough power for most people at half a horsepower, has a nice six-year warranty on the motor, and has all the basic features a garage door opener needs.
If you’re strapped for cash or just want to stick to a budget, forget the rest, this is the one to go for.
Best Smart Garage Door Opener
Sommer is a German company best known for quiet and creative direct-drive opener designs, where the motor itself moves up and down a fixed track towing the door with a j-arm.
You’d probably be happy with any of Sommer’s direct-drive openers, but the inclusion of a GoGogate smartphone connection kit pushed this into my top list. The list of smart features included in the Sommer’s kit are genuinely useful. Not only can you do the remote monitoring and control stuff available on openers with the MyQ system, you can also give access of varying degrees to anyone with the app. You can set the level of access and the time and duration for it. You’ll know who came in when and, best of all, you don’t have to pay a subscription fee.
If your Internet connection conks out, there’s no worry either. The Sommer’s kit can make its own short-range wi-fi connection, so you can still ditch that remote.
I know that MyQ is probably going to get support for other devices that GoGogate won’t, but in terms of smart garage door opener features that I would actually use, I’d go for this Sommer bundle.
Best Opener for Really Impatient People
Genie Excelerator II 1500
Screw-drive openers are losing relevance in the face of excellent modern belt-driven products, but the Excelerator II from Genie has one party trick you can’t miss. With an opening speed of 12 inches per second (closing speeds are limited by federal law) this slightly pricey opener will blow every other belt or chain driven system out of the water. It’s a perfectly competent system that offer the advantages that screw drive inherently possesses. Check out my article on drive types for more info .
Best Mr. Moneybags Opener
Liftmaster 8500 Jackshaft Opener
Do you need somewhere to park your Rolls Royce while you do a Scrooge McDuck into your giant pile of money? Well this is the garage opener for you. This Jackshaft opener is fast, quiet safe and super swanky. You need a pricey professional installation, door calibration and possible a new set of doors, but in the end you’ll be in the company of serious car people eveywhere with warehouses full of supercars.
Types of Garage Opener
If you’re interested in knowing a little more about how garage door openers work and what the pros and cons are of the different designs out there, you’ll want to check out my article on garage door opener drive types.
There have been quite a few ways people have thought up to open a garage door with electric power. Methods using cats on treadmills have proven less popular. Each of these drive types bring advantages and disadvantages. At least one of them is heading for the trash heap, if you ask me.
There’s also a choice to be made about motor power type and rating and, guess what, I have an article about that too! Don’t get caught buying a motor that’s the wrong type or has too little power.
Armed with that information you should have no trouble picking the right size and type of product. Go ahead, impress people at parties with your garage door opener knowledge.
It’s a great way to make friends. Actually, it’s not a great way to make friends. Generally speaking, garage door opener conversation won’t make you the most popular person at the party. Trust me!
Garage Opener Safety and Security
Garage door openers are potentially dangerous when handled carelessly, but also stand between our valuables and people who’d prefer we were separated from them.
There’s important information everyone needs regarding safety features and what to look for in garage door openers. Especially if your existing opener is older than 1993. Unsafe garage door openers have claimed their fair share of lives and limbs over the years, and you had better make sure you or a beloved child or pet aren’t next on that particular list.
Feel free to have a look at my general security tips for making your garage door, garage itself and home just a little bit safer. There are many easy precautions you can take to keep burglars away from your car and other valuables. There are a lot of things we usually don’t think about that a crook will spot with ease. The rest of the time people are just lazy. I get it, I’m lazy too. In fact that’s a list of safety tips even lazy people will appreciate. So read it, I bet you’ll like it.
There’s also the matter of garage door opener security. Criminals are figuring out new ways to get around even the smartest automatic openers. My article on garage door hacking has information on this troubling trend that every person with a garage opener should know. There’s little point in applying all the other security tips if a guy can just click a button and open the big door with no hassle. If you have an older opener, you’ll really want to read about it since your existing opener may be vulnerable to some of these attacks.
Maintenance and Installation
Thinking of installing your own garage door opener? Make sure you know what you’re in for. Check out my overview of what’s involved in installing a garage door opener and be prepared to take the plunge or phone an installer if it seems like too much hassle.
I’m not really the DIY type, but after almost a century manufacturers have gotten the whole DIY kit thing down to a science. There’s also a ton of resources on the net, including manufacturer-sponsored installation videos. There’s probably never been a time in history when installing a garage door opener yourself has been easier.
Have a garage door opener that’s on the fritz? Want to make your new opener last a bit longer before the trouble starts? I’m pretty proud of this piece I put together of troubleshooting and maintenance tips I picked up in my travels on the web. You can make yourself feel like a real handyman without too much trouble, which is cool.
Maintenance is preferable to repair and repair is generally preferred to replacement. I try to make the appropriate time for each choice as clear as possible.
History and Future of Garage Openers
In 2021, it will be the 100th anniversary of the invention of garage door openers. They’re nearly as old as the Model T. It’s not a long story, but it’s a neat one. If you want to know a bit about the history of garage door openers, I’ve put together the main points here. Hey, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, right?
Fast Forward 100 Years
The Internet is the present and the future. As we speak, everything from your kettle to your car is learning how to get on the web and talk to all your other appliances. Now, that may sound like the start to a 1980s sci-fi movie with a bodybuilding Austrian in it, but this is one of the ways modern technology is looking to make our lives a little easier.
Believe it or not, garage door openers may play a key role in the rise of home automation. I explain why in my article on home automation and garage door openers.
The home automation revolution is coming, people, it’s not just for Bill Gates anymore. You read it here first.
I just want to thank you again for visiting my site. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into making something I really believe will help people faced with the same confusion I experienced when first asked which product was the best choice.
I’d really appreciate it if you refer your friends and colleagues as well. If you really felt the material here helped you in some way, sharing the site it the best way to give other people the same opportunity.