Top 8 Best Garage Door Openers
By | Last updated: September 11, 2020
GagoDesgin/Shutterstock.com. Garage Door

Hands up if you’ve ever toiled on a car behind creaky garage doors with enough gap in the seals to let in heat during summer and snow during winter. Actually, a solid number of us have likely changed engines or replaced fenders curbside or in the parking lot of Canadian Tire. No? Ok, fine; AutoZone, then.

For those of us who’ve grown up and gotten a real garage, installing a door opener is some of the best money one can spend. Every unit on this list has a remote control so you can sneak into the shop and work on your totally horrible promising project car after hours. Plus, most of them can be programmed to play well with OEM door openers (not that any of our horrible hoopties around here have such decadence).

1. Editor's Choice: LiftMaster Premium Series 1/2-HP Garage Door Opener

Yes, they still rate these things in horsepower, a mystifying measure for such devices. Your author finds great humor in looking at the sticker on the garage door opener installed at his home and imagining half a horse up in the rafters, toiling away.

This explains why the LiftMaster kicks off our list – it’s broadly similar to the one residing on the ceiling of my own garage. It toils without complaint, refusing to rat me out when it takes me longer than it should to remove the intake on a tired Dodge Charger. Programming new remotes is a cinch with the well-labeled buttons and a wireless keyless entry pad permits the programming of one-time codes for when a delivery driver is dropping something off in the middle of the day.

Pros/Seamless operation, keyless convenience
Cons/Obnoxious branding on everything
Bottom Line/A great option for single or double doors

2. Chamberlain Direct Drive Wall Mounted Garage Door Opener

Your author discovered this type of garage door opener earlier this year and committed to making it the next unit that he buys. The dandy wall mount garage opener mounts discretely on the wall next to the garage door, increasing the functional space in the garage.

How? By placing the opener astride the door, it frees up overhead space for anyone planning to install a lift or who’s simply finding headroom at a premium in the place where they park their car. The seller of this unit promises “nearly silent operation” and, from what I’ve seen in my own real-world experience, this is a very accurate statement.

 

Pros/Great design, ultra-quiet
Cons/Double the price of conventional units
Bottom Line/My next garage door opener

3. Genie Chain Drive 3/4-HP Garage Door Opener

Genie seems to be one of the major players in the garage door opener market, at least in terms of online sales. This unit is one of the highly rated and heavily reviewed items of its type on Amazon, good for a solid 4.7 out of 5 stars from nearly 750 customers.

The main difference between this option and others on this list is the inclusion of a battery backup system, permitting the door to cycle itself about fifty times after the initial power failure. Most doors have an emergency cord dangling inside the garage to disconnect the door from the chain in the event of a power loss; this works fine but there is definitely something to be said about being able to hit the remote if you’re rolling up on a lights-out situation.

Pros/Battery backup, more powerful than other openers
Cons/Only a single bulb on smaller 500 model
Bottom Line/Get the 3/4 horse 750 unit

4. Chamberlain Smartphone-Controlled Belt Drive Garage Door Opener

Back to the Chamberlain brand, we find this overhead motor that propels the door up and down by way of a belt, not a chain. Some are of the mind that a belt may wear more quickly than a chain, leaving owners with a fistful of no-go when they need to leave for work. Others tout the quietness of a belt vs chain-driven units. You’ll have to decide on which side of the argument you land.

This ‘smart’ garage door opener comes with built-in technology to keep owners connected and informed about what’s going on in their home. The associated apps let you open, close, and know the status of your garage door from anywhere with a simple glance at your smartphone.

Pros/Smartphone options, quiet belt drive
Cons/Someone will surely complain it's able to be hacked
Bottom Line/Luddites need not apply

5. beamUP Workhorse BU100 Garage Door Opener

The cheapest of the three options offered by this company that sounds suspiciously like a command issued by Captain Picard, the Workhorse comes with the basics required to electrically get your garage door off the ground and not much else.

The 3/4-hp motor hauls on a chain drive to hoist either a single or double garage door. This model comes with just one visor clip remote but does include a large pad button for use inside the house. Ratings are pretty good, too.

Pros/Cost-effective, you can make Star Trek jokes
Cons/Weird light positioning
Bottom Line/Very affordable way to get started

6. beamUP Centurion BU800 Garage Door Opener

Following briskly on the heels of Beam Up’s budget unit is this top-shelf opener that included a yaffle of technology. Its 1.25-hp motor is the biggest on this list and should raise a double car garage door skyward with ease. Extra LED lighting solves the weirdo glow of the Workhorse unit.

Included in the box are a motion sensor that’ll flick on those LEDs for courtesy when you walk into the space, a pair of remotes, a keyless entry pad, and configurable tech permitting you to control this thing from your smartphone.

Pros/Full-service kit
Cons/A bit pricey
Bottom Line/Feature packed

7. Mighty Mule 9000 Series Garage Door Opener

Your author won’t argue that this is the saddest looking garage door opener on our list, with a simple black box and plain-jane illumination window. However, who really looks into the rafters at their garage door opener? Oh, that’s right; gearhead weirdos like you and me.

This is a 1hp motor, so it’s capable of opening large doors. Its belt drive should make the thing quiet and, despite my disparaging remarks earlier in the listing, that plain-jane light shade does cover a bunch of LEDs. It can also be configured to work with Alexa and Google Assistant.

Pros/Neat tech toys
Cons/Booooooring design
Bottom Line/Looks aren't everything

8. Commercial Garage Door Opener - 3 Three Button Station

We’re finishing today’s list with this item simply because I like it and I’m the one writing the post. These commercial garage door openers are the kind you’ll find in dealership service bays and U-Haul centers. Warehouses, too, if you’re into that kind of thing.

They have a very satisfying feel to their operation, with each of the three buttons offering a tactile click at the end of their long travel. Yes, these are able to be used with a residential door if installed by someone who knows what they’re doing.

 

Pros/Looks baller (to gearheads, at least)
Cons/Your spouse might question its usefulness
Bottom Line/Pretend you're operating the doors at Barrett-Jackson

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: GagoDesign/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

23 Comments on “Open Wide – Best Garage Door Openers...”


  • avatar
    redgolf

    I’ve had a cheap Genie screw drive going on 27 years, it’s never failed to work and the old style remotes still work also!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      redgolf, that’s an excellent comment because we have garage door openers on all our properties, both screw drive and gravity/chain drive, and all of them have worked flawlessly since they were installed.

      The garage doors have often fallen apart before the opener.

      And that’s a fact, Jack.

      Is there such a thing as a “Best” garage door opener? They either work or they don’t. Pretty simple. Pretty straightforward.

      And I don’t know of any brand, cheap or expensive, that has ever failed us.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I just had to replace one of the three openers in my garage in Maine. It was better than 30 years old. I’m sure the cheap Craftsman unit that replaced it will last longer than I will own the place, if not another 30+ years (I’m only here in the summer).

        Two of the three are so old they don’t have the electric eyes, just a pressure sensor for the door. It was one of those that failed. I assume that originally all three were the same and one died young, since the door that is most used has a different opener brand entirely, but the wall buttons for all three are the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Yankee

        highdesertcat, I thought that too until I saw one of the Chamberlain/Liftmaster direct-drive side-mount openers in action. I immediately ordered one and ripped out the overhead belt-drive one I had that would shake the kids out of their beds upstairs when it operated. I have the older Liftmaster 8500 (looks almost the same as the one above) and it is so quiet the loudest noise in operation is the sound of the rollers going up and down the track. It clamps directly on the overhead spring bar (won’t work with side spring type doors) and twists it, which pulls the door up via the cables attached to it on either end. When it closes, the electric solenoid lock shoots a pin through the track for extra security. My neighbors and friends couldn’t believe how quiet it is and how well it works. Full disclosure: I’m a garage nerd who likes a cool and organized looking garage, and the lack of an overhead mechanism really makes things look better too.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Yankee, thank you, that’s good to know. And it is do-able for an individual homeowner like yourself who takes an interest in having a cool and organized garage.

          But for Home-rental applications of a family business, like that of my wife and her sisters, the cheapest garage opener that works is the way to go.

          Currently we stay part-time with my daughter in El Paso, TX, and I believe she has an old (70’s era) Stanley brand opener. It’s loud, it’s clunky, but it works.

          But we are in the process of buying a home of our own on the West side of El Paso for when we quit traveling and need to settle down permanently. I’ll take your advice if I need to replace that opener.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Our Genie screw drive lasted 18 years. I replaced the carriage twice (the teeth that ride on the screw wear out over time), and the start capacitor once. Finally, the motor bit the dust.

      It was a decent opener, but man, that thing was noisy when operating.

      We replaced it with a LiftMaster MyQ opener (chain drive), then added the MyQ internet controller and phone app. Now we can open and close with the phone, and set automatic schedules to close the door when we forget to.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The review doesn’t address the problem of “creaky” leaky garage doors teased in the intro. Perhaps a follow-up article on that issue?
    Also, can you include the price of each opener in the article, or will that defeat the purpose of the SHOP NOW links?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The wall mounted unit is a nifty concept, but how much space is really saved? Even without an overhead opener, one would still have to allot space for the door in the open position, no?

    • 0 avatar
      Yankee

      Secret Hi5, this is true. The space saving is mostly from an opener that hangs down and the arm that attaches to the door that usually hangs down a bit more than that, not the track, which would have been above the open door anyway. I think Matthew was talking about low-ceiling garages where the arm hangs down and limits how high you could jack up a larger vehicle. It does give a much neater appearance open or closed, but that’s not the main benefit. The main benefit is opening your garage door, having your neighbor be blown away at how quiet it is, and then watching him try to figure out where the opener is! :)

  • avatar
    Oreguy

    I’m surprised you didn’t include Sommer Direct-Drives. I replaced an antique no-brand opener with a Sommer when we moved into our house 6 years ago. I had never heard of Sommer before I bought it. Home Depot carried them at the time. It’s the most innovative design I’ve ever seen for traditional ceiling mount w/track openers. The motor is a small, gear-reduced low-voltage DC servo unit that travels up and down along a fixed chain centered in the track. The track is a galvanized steel channel, and the fixed chain is stretched tight as a guitar string. The chain is insulated from the channel, and the channel is either positive/negative DC and the chain is the opposite polarity depending on whether the door is opening or closing. The plastic housing at the end of the track on the ceiling contains just the LED lights, power supply, and some circuitry. This opener has been working flawlessly lifting a rather heavy door. It’s not fast, but I learned from a technician at a local garage door company that one of the leading causes of door failure over time is caused by abrubt, herky-jerky actions of some openers. Slow is much easier on the hardware.

    There are some downsides to this opener though. On minor one is the dainty little remotes. They look like lipstick tubes. We don’t really use the remotes, as it’s HomeLink-compatible. The second is that it doesn’t link with my Model 3. That’s Tesla’s fault though. The opener works on a european 310Mhz frequency (vs. 315Mhz), but the HomeLink radio in my 2018 Model 3 doesn’t support that frequency. My wife’s Grand Cherokee resides in that stall, and it linked with that vehicle fine – as well as the Honda Pilot we owned previously.

    My side of the garage still has an old Genie screw-drive. It has to be 25+ years old and it’s still cranking. Why replace something that works?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    A majority of the garage door openers on this page use something called “LED” lighting. My first car (1968 model Ford, now 52 years old), used ‘3157’ incandescent bulbs. And a 2020 Ford F-150 uses ‘3157’ incandescent bulbs. If the greatest OEM in the history of the world uses incandescent lighting, why should I trust this newfangled “LED” technology?

    [Viewed another way, the cost of a single headlamp assembly for a 2020 F-150 which *does* use LED’s is $1,666.67 (per side). The rear brake lamp/turn signal assembly is $1,083.33 (per side). That would buy me several complete garage door openers (which also use LED’s). Someone is scamming me.]

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Well, for one thing the LEDs are not susceptible to vibration failure the way normal incandescents are. Nor are they affected by the many on/off cycles you have with an opener. Yes, you could buy “rough service” lamps but with A19 LEDs lamps costing under $2 why would you?

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        True. When we had our Genie screw drive, incandescent bulbs wouldn’t last more than a month or two. So I put a 4″ old work box in the ceiling, added an old school ceramic lamp socket with 100-watt bulb, then ran a short piece of Romex from it into the opener and spliced it into the light wiring. That solved the vibration problem by isolating the light from the opener. After that, incandescent bulbs lasted as long as, well, as long as incandescent bulbs last, which isn’t as long as CFLs or LEDs.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My Chamberlains have been working flawlessly for over 12 years, and I’ve installed similar units in other peoples’ garages. For the prior 40 years our garage doors were hand-lift.

    The challenge I had was the low finished ceiling in my garage. The typical solution is a two-track method which runs the upper panel in a lower track to clear the ceiling, but this requires rebuilding the track system. Instead, I bought some clever sheetmetal hinges devices from Lowe’s that decouple the top wheel from the top panel, allowing the top panel to tip down when raised.

    Sadly, after replacing the springs, cables, and installing new openers over the years, it’s finally time to replace the 53-year-old wood doors.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My ceiling is so low that I had to mount the motors right against it and into the floor joists, and this nullified any quietness of the belt drive. They growl right up through the house.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I thought that LiftMaster and Chamberlain were essentially the same, except that LiftMaster units are sold and installed by professionals, while the Chamberlains are DIY versions sold through home-improvement retailers, Amazon, etc. (This review doesn’t seem to mention if the list was generated from a simple Amazon search, or from other sources.)

    I’d only trust openers from Chamberlain or Genie, and not some off-brand Chinese POS.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Yes, LiftMaster and Chamberlain are basically the same, except that LiftMaster is the brand sold through garage door installers.

      The main differences between them (and consumer versus professional Genie) is how the drives are made. DIY units will have the track for the chain or belt (or the screw assembly) broken down into (usually) three pieces so everything will go into a box that will fit into your vehicle, where the professional version uses a one-piece drive, as it’s usually transported in a rack on top of a truck or van.

  • avatar

    The direct drive Chamberlain do make for a nice compact installation and with some extra doodads can be made to work with Siri.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I had a Genie that was in the house from day one in 1970, and it finally died about 2012. The motor itself was fine, but the screw had worn itself out to the point it would “stick” and bind up. It finally started to make some awful noises and a Lift Master was installed and it is still in there working fine for the new owners. I’ll say one thing, the Lift Master was quieter than the Genie ever was, kind of amazingly so, like my new dishwasher compared to the old one.

  • avatar
    TR4

    My Sears Craftsman/Chamberlain/Liftmaster chain drive failed ca. 2008 when it was about 20 years old. The worm reduction gear inside the head had worn its teeth off. I could complain about cheap plastic gears but 20 years is not bad. Repaired it with a kit from Sears and it’s still working. Common problem judging from Google and the number of repair kit suppliers.

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    Genie has been around a long time. My Grand-Parents house, built in 1958, had one and it worked flawlessly until the house was sold in 1977. Heavy Redwood double car garage door.

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