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Garage Door Openers – Reviewed
The class is already in session….
There are many types of garage door openers out there, so which one is right for you? The first thing you need to realize is that garage door openers are not a one-size-fits-all application. Garage door openers are made to work best if they are on the correct type of door, most of our repairs are done on machines that are installed incorrectly or if the operator is on the wrong type of door, and in many cases just a leave. quality opener.
Now, so far I’ve used the words “opener” and “machine” they mean the same thing, they refer to the whole mechanized operation, so when I say “opener” I’m not referring to the portable device in your car. .this is called “remote control” or simply “remote”. That being said, there are several different types of garage door openers on the market…there are screw drives, chain drives, belt drives, and last but not least, direct drives commonly known as “shafts dam”. But let’s take them one by one and start with…
These machines have been popular (not necessarily good) on all types of doors for the better part of 45 years, but…by design they require regular maintenance. In the late 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, Genie used very durable steel in the “carriage” or “carriage” and the machines were tough! Even with no grease on the screw they would work for what seemed like forever, then they changed to a lighter grade steel and everything went downhill, the openers would still go as long as there was as long as I greased the screw regularly, but who ever does. !! So the average life of the Genie auger cart was about 4-5 years and that’s being generous, Liftmaster or Chamberlain or Craftsman, all made by the same manufacturer… (Chamberlain) also has an auger and has the same problem to counter they use a plastic inner carriage and a self-lubricating shell around the bolt to keep the heat and wear out, but the self-lubricating shell really only lasts about a year…or the equivalent of your warranty and then it’s back to the back in the same ol, the same ol, “greix-grease-grease”. My official opinion on screws is… stay away from them, they are old technology with a new look.
These types of machines have been around for as long as screws give or take 5 years and have moved on. Chain drives have always been very durable machines, but they got a bit of a bad rap when Sears started selling a do-it-yourself model of Chamberlain called the Craftsman, now this machine, although called a “chain drive”, was driven by a chain on one side and a cable on the other and it seemed like nothing could be done to calm this thing down because the cable was stretched until it snapped at the noose. So from then on chain drives started getting a bad reputation as a “coffee grinder” or noisy machine, even though it wasn’t a true chain drive.
The Liftmaster 1300 series of chain drives… dollar for dollar they are as good a machine as you can get, they are versatile as they can handle any type of door from heavy wood to light steel in one piece or sectional and they’re powerful and cheap and relatively speaking… low maintenance, but to get to this point they’ve had a lot of nice improvements along the way. Chamberlain added a chain spacer that keeps the chain from hitting the rail, changed the front sprocket to a pulley that dramatically reduces chain noise, changed the steel worm gear to a steel worm gear nylon inside the case to reduce heat in the worm gear and they removed the two inner carriage tension springs to reduce door bounce and it’s a solid one piece rail with a full chain.
The components on this machine can handle what the motor puts out, so in most cases you don’t need 1/2 HP to lift the door, and as far as routine maintenance goes… there is virtually none, you only have the two nylons. The gears inside the motor case are lubricated every 7 years and that’s it, in the rare case that you have a beach house and only use the opener in the summer, you can spray the chain with a good silicone to keep the chain links free. The two models I prefer that have been real workhorses for us for the past two decades are currently called #1346=1/3 HP and #1356=1/2 HP.
Several manufacturers make belt drives these days, but I like to stick with the most reliable brand, which for me is Liftmaster, we have the most brands, but we prefer to deal with the brand with the fewest issues, so let’s focus on Liftmaster belt drives for now. Please note that strap openers are a VERY door specific machine, they do NOT work very well or for long on 1 piece doors and should NOT be installed on a 1 piece door . To keep it simple, there are two types of belt drive…AC and DC.
The Model AC belt drive model, known as Formula I, is one of the earliest belt drive designs in the model and is essentially a chain motor head that drives a belt instead of a chain. It’s minutely quieter than a chain drive minus the power and to me…not a good machine, but it’s an easy sell because it’s cheaper than a DC model and the general public doesn’t know the difference, he just knows Belt drives are supposed to be top of the line and this is a belt drive so none the wiser with the tricks, dealers can buy these types of machines much cheaper than their counterparts of direct current motor and sell them by the belt. unit price (premium). What makes the belt drive of a “DC motor” silent is the motor! Otherwise why would they even offer it in DC, plus the other advantage is being able to have a battery backup connected so it will run even with the power off.
In its simplest form, a DC motor puts out more torque than an AC motor, and power for DC is rated in “Newtons” rather than HP, but DC motors also have a function of ‘”slow start/slow stop” which helps maintain the whole operation. quiet. When an AC motor machine is activated, it goes O-60 or should it say “O full speed” all of a sudden… the second you push the button, but the door on the other side is not in the same page and flight to resist the sudden force and that’s where a lot of the noise comes from…basically it’s the shaking of the door resisting opening, where as the slow start of the DC machines act as a gentler motivator for the door to achieve this. going without all the jolting, and does the same when it stops, so that for the first two inches and in the last two inches it slows down, greatly reducing the creepiness of the whole operation.
DC machines also electronically calibrate the pressure required to operate a door based on its resistance and weight,
which leaves little room for installer error, meaning the installer can’t set up the machine to crush your car hood or your cat, AC motors are at the mercy of the ‘installer, if you set the force setting too high, it crushes, if he sets it too low, the door will bounce back on a cold or wet morning as you happily drive to work unaware that the garage door will open all day and that new Craftsman toolbox you just got for your birthday is about to sell for a fraction of what it’s worth at the local swap meet…all because you thought you had a door opener of garage with belt for a bargain price!! Final Thoughts… AC Motor Belt Drives= not good (better with a chain drive) DC Motor Belt Drives= Very good, very quiet, but very door specific. (Only works on a sectional door)
Jack-Shaft (Direct drive)
This section is simple because there is literally only one available and it is a Liftmaster #3800, and it will only work on sectional doors. So for those of you looking for a machine that doesn’t mount to the ceiling like a traditional machine does, the Liftmaster #3800 might be what you’re looking for, it’s quiet, has (800 Newtons) or the equivalent of 3 / 4 hp and mounts on each end of the torsion tube as long as you have at least 10 inches of side clearance, so the idea behind this opener is that if you have a room above the garage, it completely eliminates… the vibration of a typical opener. that hangs from the ceiling, or if you have a low beam in your garage that supports the second floor of your home, or you’ve installed a loft or storage shelf where a typical opener would be mounted, you could still automate your door with this type of machine
It can also be used in applications where you just don’t want an opener hanging out in the middle of your garage. I have found over the years that the #3800 likes the heavier sectional doors compared to the lightweight non-insulated models, another advantage of this type of machine is that it will lift a sectional door up to 13 feet height without modifications, while a normal machine only lifts doors up to 7’4″ with a normal rail machine, you’ll need to get a longer rail to accommodate. the added height of, say, a 8′-9′ or 10′ tall opening that is increasingly common in newer homes, the Liftmaster #3800 has been a very reliable alternative for us since 2004.
Everyone likes options, but considering that when it comes to garage door works there really are so many options it also makes it very easy to make the wrong decision for a particular garage door, which could lead to many future service calls and repairs, so hopefully this can clear things up for you in choosing the right machine and have many “good” ups and downs with the right system.
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