Advantage Garage Doors February 23 4 min read

Know It All! – General Garage Door Opener Mechanism

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A wide variety of garage door opener types are available on the market. When faced with such a wide array of different mechanisms, each with advantages and disadvantages, how does one select the most appropriate option?

Three Main Types

There are three main types of garage door openers that are trolley-driven: chain drive, belt drive, and screw drive. Chain drive openers tend to be inexpensive, however they are on the noisier side and are not recommended for attached garages. Belt drive openers are smooth, durable, and quiet, but boast a heftier price tag. Screw drive openers are noisier than belt drives, but require very little maintenance.

In addition to these common types of garage door openers, you can also find direct drive and Jackshaft options. Direct drive openers are expensive, but usually come with a lifetime warranty. They only have one moving part, on the traveling motor carriage, and are the quietest type of garage door opener. Jackshaft openers are located on the side of the door, and as such are suited for garages with particularly high or low ceilings.

Inside a Garage Door Opener

Each type varies, but most garage door openers boast the same basic features and parts. A motor, gears, a track, adjustment switches, an inverter, and a battery.

1 – Motor and Gears

The small motor inside of the garage door opener is usually 1/2 horsepower. Its purpose is to overcome the inertia with just enough force to get the garage door moving, or to apply just enough force to prevent your door from crashing down when closing.

2 – The T-Rail

This is the part connecting the garage door operator to the door, via the trolley. The belt, chain, or screw are guided by the rail, opening and closing the door.

3 – Limit Adjustments

This determines the distance the door goes on the tracks. Settings are adjusted to ensure the door doesn’t stop too high or too late.

4 – Garage Door Battery and Inverter

The inverter’s purpose is to switch between AC and DC currents. The battery functions as a backup, allowing you to use your door in the event of a power outage.

How Much Horsepower

The horsepower rating of a garage door opener corresponds to its lifting power. Most residential garage door openers will have a horsepower rating between 1/2 and 1 1/2 hp. A higher horsepower opener will not wear out as fast, however the price difference can be quite noticeable.

For most residential garage doors, a 1/2 hp opener is more than strong enough.

In the event of a heavy commercial or residential door, a higher horsepower rating may be needed to lift the door.

Safety Features

Modern garage door openers come with a slew of safety features, designed to prevent bodily harm and theft.

Photo Eyes

Photo eyes, also known as safety sensors, prevent the door from closing if an obstacle, such as a person or vehicle, crosses its path. All automated garage door openers are now required to have photoelectric sensors.

Rolling Codes

To open your garage door, the remote transmits a unique code to it. A rolling code feature generates a new code after each opening, preventing thieves from intercepting a relevant code that would allow them into your home.


The auto-close feature is particularly useful for apartment buildings or workplaces with a garage. It ensures vehicles can enter and exit without having to close behind them.


Modern garage door openers can have built-in Wi-Fi, connected to your home. This allows you to control your door from afar, opening, closing, and locking it.


You can lock your garage door, manually and via an application, to prevent remotes from opening your garage. This feature is particularly handy for long getaways or vacations.

With all of its handy features, the automatic garage door opener has come a long way since its 1926 birth in Hartford City, Indiana. It is safe to say that with new technological advancements, garage door openers may in the future boast even more practical characteristics! Let us know if you have any questions!

The Advantage Garage Door Team

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