Liftmaster 8500

8500 LiftMaster Elite Review

Most of the garage door openers we see are ceiling-mounted and use either a belt-drive or chain- drive. Another less common type of opener uses something called a “jackshaft” drive. This is a type of drive that works with doors that have a front-mount torsion spring. The opener is mounted on the wall adjacent to the shaft that rolls up the door and drives it directly.

The LiftMaster 8500 Elite Series opener is just such a product and we’ll have a look at why you might want one next.

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DIY? Not So Much.

You may not know this, but the popular Chamberlain and LiftMaster brands actually belong to the same company. Chamberlain products are intended for self-installing, although of course you can always get a professional to do it. LiftMaster-branded products, on the other hand, are explicitly meant for professional installation and, in the case of jackshaft openers, this is especially important, since the tension of the door must be perfectly tuned or the opener will not function at all.

Since you’re reading a garage door opener buyer’s guide I’ll assume you aren’t a professional installer yourself, so I can’t over-emphasize that this opener has lots of technical requirements; you can really make an expensive (possibly dangerous) mess if you try to do it yourself. You have been warned.

Smarter Than a 5th Grader

The 8500 comes with a long list of features. Like many Chamberlain and LiftMaster products, it’s MyQ enabled. If you fork out an additional $40 for the CIGBU internet gateway you can control your opener via an app on your smartphone. With the rise of home automation these features are welcome, although the need to buy additional hardware is a pain.

If you do bite the bullet you’ll have the ability to control, remotely via the internet, the 200W of lighting and the door’s power lock and opening functions.

I Can’t Let You Do That Dave

The 8500 also comes with a keyless entry keypad that can store codes for up to eight doors. So one keypad will open multiple doors, but you can close them all at the same time with a single button, to save you the hassle of putting in eight codes. It’s also handy if you want to pretend you’re a supervillain punching the red alert button in your volcano base, but maybe that’s just me.

The 8500 has the safety features you expect, with a safety system beam that stops the door if a person, animal, or object is in the way. It also automatically reverses if it detects any obstruction. The remotes also have code-hopping ability, making it unlikely that a criminal can hijack your signal remotely. There’s also HomeLink compatibility, but check your vehicle against their list or phone LiftMaster directly to make sure.

The motor in the 8500 is apparently designed from the ground up for garage door openers. LiftMaster calls it the P3 motor (TM) and they’re so sure of themselves that it comes with a lifetime warranty. The warranty for the rest of the parts isn’t too shabby either, at five years.

Thanks to the power lock, you’ll want to get a backup battery too, in case the power goes out. It’s an additional outlay, but the 8500 is ready to hook up to a LiftMaster battery out of the box. From the inside you can manually disengage the power lock and, of course, there’s an emergency release for the opener itself.

Killing Me Softly

Jackshaft openers are generally some of the quietest ones, and the 8500 is no exception. Feel free to check out some YouTube videos of it opening and closing. The actual sound of the door itself drowns out the low hum of the opener’s motor. It’s also very smooth and quite fast.

Click to Install

Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, this is not a DIY job. The 8500 may require extensive modification to your existing door, especially if the door hasn’t been installed well. It will only work with doors that have the right type of drum and torsion bar, so get the installer to inspect your existing door before committing to anything. There’s a long checklist of door requirements, which is probably why we don’t see too many residential jackshaft openers.

Please Rise for the Verdict

This is a premium product for a premium setup. I won’t lie to you, getting all of this up and running isn’t going to be cheap. The opener itself is about $300, which isn’t too bad. But factor in the installation, battery, CIGBU gateway, and sundry other costs and you’ll be looking at four figures easy. On the other hand, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something as slick, robust and refined. A belt-drive or chain-drive system just doesn’t compare.

If you’re building or remodeling a home I have no doubt that this is the way to go. Sure there’s a large outlay, but once the (professional) installation is done you’ll have a system that could last a lifetime; LiftMaster even guarantees it, for the motor at least.

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