Chamberlain PD220

Model PD220 1/2 HP Review

This is the age of convergence. My phone is now also where I watch TV, read the newspaper, and write letters to people. Every device is smart, everything connects to the internet, and everything talks to everything else. More features means “better” in the modern world, but sometimes a company is still brave enough to release a product that does just one thing – a product that isn’t “smart” and doesn’t have an “i” in front of its name. Something that simply works.

So here we have just such a product from Chamberlain (aka Liftmaster). The Chamberlain PD220 1/2 horsepower chain drive garage door opener. This is a product that often dips below or close to the $100 mark (list price $139), which makes it one of the cheapest brand name garage door openers on the market. At this price it’s almost an impulse buy, but would you be better off getting something a bit more expensive? Let’s take a look.

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Packing Light

There’s not much in the box – you have the main drive unit, a single tri-band remote, one doorbell wall control, the IR safety sensor, and of course the sundry rails, nails and other things you’ll need to install the device. The PD220 can also accommodate a 60W LED or CFL lamp, but there isn’t one included in the box.

Looking Good

I really like the design of the PD220. The polycarbonate shell looks modern and neat; too many lower-end products come in garish colors or otherwise lame attempts at making them look interesting. To me the PD220 wouldn’t look out of place opening the door for a luxury German sedan. It may not matter to some people, but I think attractive design is important at any price point, there are quite a few $150 and $200 openers that don’t have the PD220’s simple lines and stylish black and white coloring. I honestly think that it will still look modern years from now, and that’s a big plus point in my book.

Polycarbonate is also a good modern material, which should wear much better than the covers on some of the cheap plastic products in this price range.

It’s also notable that the PD220 is quite a bit smaller than other garage door openers, something which elderly users and others of small stature frequently noted as a plus point.

Featherweight Champion

With this 1/2 HP unit you’re limited to lighter doors, at most 7 ft in height. Interestingly, users have reported that not only is the PD220 quiet, it also opens the door faster than comparable models from competitors such as Genie. Since there are barely any other features or components, I can only assume that the bulk of the cost went into the motor. Not a bad thing considering the PD220’s bare-bones nature.

Safety Inspection

Garage door openers have an important job; when they get it wrong adults, children, and animals can sustain serious injuries. The PD220 provides the basic safety that all modern garage door openers should have. It has IR sensors that will reverse the door if your dog or toddler wanders through the beams. It also has an automatic force sensor that stops the door if something prevents it from opening, and opens it if something prevents it from closing.

No Heavy Lifting

Thanks to its small size and low weight, many users report a speedy and simple installation. Some users said they were able to do a complete install in 45 minutes, but it seems two hours is a more reasonable expectation.

The manual also mentions that some extra parts, such as wood, may be needed for a successful installation. Luckily the manual is available on Chamberlain’s web page, so I suggest you have a look while you wait for delivery to make sure you know the process and have any extra needed materials at hand.

Future Imperfect

Now we get to the most glaring omissions. Unlike Chamberlain’s MyQ range of products, which are internet and app enabled, the only way to control the PD220 is by using the wall control or the single remote. It is, however, compatible with the HomeLink system, although Chamberlain says some cars will need a bridge unit at an additional cost. It’s best to give them a call and confirm compatibility before you put any money down.

Although it isn’t mentioned in the online product description, the PD220’s manual suggests that it uses code-hopping, where the remote is programmed with a new code every time you use it. This is a feature I see on more expensive models all the time, so it’s nice to see it here. It provides a little more peace of mind, knowing that someone won’t copy or hack your remote and make off with your car.

Bottom line – Not Bottom End

If you can live without all the “smart” internet-enabled stuff, then the PD220 is a great choice. Chamberlain is a trusted name and the motor on the PD220 has a six-year warranty. That’s way more than than some products at twice the price, so Chamberlain must be quite confident that this motor is a good one. Parts, on the other hand, have only a one-year warranty, which is a bit worrying. I haven’t seen any user reviews that make me think there’s an issue, but costs had to be cut somewhere, so I guess the motor will outlast some other components. I don’t think getting parts from Chamberlain will be an issue though, or that they’ll be particularly expensive.

So, if you just want your garage door to open when you press a button, don’t want to hang something ugly above your car, and also want to spend as little as possible, the PD220 might just be for you.

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