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Best Garage Door Openers
Why Buy a Garage Door Opener?
Best Overall: Chamberlain B730
We chose the Chamberlain B730 as the best garage door opener, because it has most of the features we look for in this type of device. It’s one of only two units we looked at that comes with a built-in backup battery. This feature allows you access to your garage in the event of a power outage, which is especially helpful if you have trouble using the manual release.
The lift system uses a belt to provide a quieter way to open your door compared to more common chain-driven systems. With a motor rating of 3/4 horsepower, the unit can lift most residential garage doors without excess wear and tear. Both the belt and the motor have a lifetime warranty, while other parts get five years of warranty coverage. This isn’t as good as Sommer’s lifetime parts warranty, but is still worthwhile. The unit comes with two remote controls and is compatible with the Chamberlain MyQ app, provided you buy the appropriate adapter.
- Lifetime motor warranty
- No lifetime parts warranty
Best Value: Craftsman 54930
The Craftsman 54930 comes with a 10-year motor warranty and a durable chain-driven lift system. The unit has very favorable customer reviews on the Sears website with a 4.5/5 star rating. At 1/2 horsepower, it might not be able to lift some larger doors, but is a great option for most homes, particularly those with single-car garages. The unit comes with two remotes and is compatible with an internet connection and mobile app, provided you have the appropriate internet gateway.
The Craftsman 54930 isn’t as quiet as the belt-driven garage door openers we evaluated, but its chain helps make it a reliable option for moving your garage door. At the time that this was written, the Craftsman 54930 cost around $140, making it the most affordable garage door opener in our comparison. In fact, it costs about $90 less than our top pick, the Chamberlain B730. Although the unit lacks lifetime warranty coverage on the motor, it’s still an excellent choice for budget-conscious homeowners.
- Positive customer reviews
- No lifetime motor warranty
- Noisier than belt-driven lift systems
Best Warranty: Sommer Direct Drive
The warranties on garage door openers tend to be quite generous. In fact, it’s normal for the motors to have lifetime warranties. However, the Sommer Direct Drive garage door opener has a lifetime warranty for the lift system and parts as well as the motor, which is the most generous warranty package of any opener we reviewed.
Uniquely, Sommer is the only direct drive lift system we evaluated, which means the 3/4-horsepower motor travels along a fixed chain in the rail with only one moving part. This provides the durability of a chain-driven system and the reduced noise of a belt-driven system. Unfortunately, this results in a more expensive garage door opener that costs over $30 more than our top pick.
The unit comes with two remotes for your vehicles as well as a control panel for inside your garage. However, it doesn’t include a remote keypad like its competitors; however, you can buy a keypad separately for about $44.
- Lifetime warranty on all components
- More expensive than average
- Doesn’t come with wireless keypad
Latest News & Updates (January 2019)
Since our last major update, some new garage door openers have become available for purchase. We will evaluate these new models in our next major update:
- Chamberlain C870: This 1 1/4-horsepower unit is designed for heavy doors, comes with built-in Wi-Fi and has a battery backup. (Released in 2017 for $249)
- Chamberlain C205: This 1/2-horsepower unit can be upgraded to work with Chamberlain's MyQ smartphone app. (Released in 2017 for $129)
- Genie MachForce Connect: This 2-horsepower unit uses a screw-type lift system and has built-in Wi-Fi. (Released in 2017 for $248)
- Genie SilentMax Connect: This 3/4-horsepower belt-driven unit can be upgraded to work with Genie’s Aladdin Connect app. (Released in 2017 for $198)
- Genie Chain Drive 500: This system has a chain drive rated for 1/2 horsepower. (Released in 2017 for $160)
*At CES in January 2019, Amazon and Chamberlain announced Key for Garage, which brings Key by Amazon in-home delivery to Chamberlain MyQ-compatible garage door openers. Key for Garage requires an Amazon Prime membership, a MyQ smart garage door controller and the Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition). The service will be available in Q2 2019. Key by Amazon is not available in all areas, but you can check your eligibility here. We evaluated Key by Amazon during our smart lock testing in summer 2018 and found it was useful, but its service area really limits its potential.
Why Trust Us
Since 2015, we’ve tested a variety of devices such as smart locks, video doorbells, DIY home security systems, thermostats and more. We use these testing experiences to inform our evaluations of other equipment. As time and resources allow, we occasionally test new types of products, but there are still some circumstances where we’re unable to conduct in-house tests. When testing isn’t possible, we conduct thorough research using the same standards we apply to our in-house tests – this is the case with smart garage door openers. We’ve reviewed garage door openers since 2011.
As we researched for this comparison, we looked over each garage door opener's user manual and made note of any special features that set it apart from the competition. In addition, we did a detailed cost-analysis of as many garage door openers as we could find to give you a good idea of what you should pay in most cases.
We also consulted information from industry organizations, including GarageWowNow.com from the Door & Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA) and the International Door Association (IDA), which has an extensive list of major manufacturers. IDA also has a useful Consumer Safety Guide with safety and maintenance tips.
How We Evaluated
Due to installation requirements, we don’t conduct in-house testing of garage door openers at Top Ten Reviews. Instead, we research what makes each model unique and worth buying and read user experiences shared on the web. Our scoring methodology for garage door openers is only a very basic accounting of the features each unit has but offers a quick way to compare the products we reviewed.
We’ve used the same scoring methodology for garage door openers for a few years, and it’s starting to show its age. As such, we plan to overhaul our evaluation and scoring process in our first major update of 2019. For examples of our latest smart home scoring methodologies, check out our comparisons of smart locks and video doorbells.
We are also re-evaluating our decision to not conduct physical testing of garage door openers in our lab. We will update this article when we reach a decision.
How Much Do Garage Door Openers Cost?
You can expect to pay between $130 and $350 for a garage door opener, with most models costing an average of $200. The most expensive openers usually include extra accessories and smartphone controls, though most openers can work with a smartphone if you buy a Wi-Fi adapter such as MyQ. The types of garage door openers in increasing order of average cost are as follows: chain, belt, screw and direct drive.
Although you can replace your garage door opener on your own, it’s more difficult than most DIY projects, so following the installation instructions is a must. If you’re not confident you can replace the opener on your own, you should consider hiring a professional, which further increases your costs. You can also expect to pay more if you’re replacing a garage door in addition to the opener.
Choosing a Garage Door Opener
Some of the best garage door openers offer special features like a backup power source or a timer that automatically closes the door behind you at a predetermined time. While the door openers we reviewed vary in terms of power, noise and efficiency, they are all effective in the all-important task of letting you come and go with the simple push of a button. Here are the criteria we used to rank the top garage door openers:
If you’re replacing an existing garage door opener in your home, the simplest way to find a new one with the right horsepower is to check the rating of the unit in your garage – get something with equal or higher power. Most homes have single- and double-car sectional garage doors made of aluminum or steel, which is the most affordable type. These doors are relatively light, so a motor with a rating of 1/2 horsepower is more than sufficient. While 1/3 horsepower motors are available, they can wear out faster than those with 1/2 horsepower in such settings, so it’s a good idea to invest a little extra for a more capable garage door opener.
If you have an oversized door, one made of a heavier material such as wood or a one-piece door, you should consider getting something stronger. In these cases, look for a garage door opener motor rated between 3/4 horsepower and 2 horsepower. There’s nothing stopping you from using a 2-horsepower opener on a smaller door, which can make for smoother operation and a longer service life, but high-horsepower units cost more.
The lift system determines how smoothly and quietly an opener moves the garage door. Residential garage door openers usually use one of five lift systems: chain, belt, screw, direct drive or jackshaft. One is not necessarily better than the others, but they each have their strengths.
- Chain – A chain-driven lift system uses a durable steel chain, much like that of a bicycle. This type of system is very reliable but can be rather loud. It is the most common lift system for garage doors and generally the most affordable, costing around $167 on average.
- Belt – A belt-driven lift system uses a reinforced rubber belt, which reduces vibration. As such, it is much quieter than a typical chain-driven system. Belt lift systems are the second most common type and cost around $230 on average.
- Screw – Screw-driven lift systems attach a long screw to the motor to move the garage door. These systems are powerful, fast, relatively quiet and require less maintenance than typical chain- or belt-driven systems. Genie and Overhead Door are two popular brands that make screw-driven systems. Based on our research of Genie’s line, you can expect to pay $244 on average for a screw-driven garage door opener.
- Direct Drive – Unlike chain- and belt-driven systems, where the motor remains stationary while moving a chain, a direct drive motor moves while the chain stays in place. Because of this, the only moving part is the gear the motor uses to move while lifting the door. To our knowledge, only one company makes direct drive garage door openers: Sommer. The company claims the motors are more efficient and quieter than any other type of opener. However, this is one of the most expensive types of openers we’ve found, costing around $286 on average.
- Jackshaft – This is another type of direct drive lift system that mounts on the side of a torsion spring equipped garage door; it turns the spring unit directly instead of moving a trolley. This type of opener is very compact and frees up ceiling space. You can’t use jackshaft lift systems with extension spring garage doors, the most common type of garage door. The unique design makes jackshaft the most expensive type of garage door opener, costing around $400 on average. Both LiftMaster and Chamberlain make jackshaft-type garage door openers, but we didn’t include any in our comparison.
Most garage door openers come with two primary safety features: automatic reverse and infrared beam sensors. These allow the garage door opener to detect if a person or object is blocking the door as it closes. Upon detection, the motor will reverse direction to prevent an accident. Likewise, these features prevent the door from moving until the obstruction has been removed from the door’s path. A third safety feature, motion sensor lighting, lights the garage automatically to help you move between your car and the house.
Garage doors are primarily designed to prevent unauthorized access to your vehicle and home, so garage door openers have two standard security features: rolling codes and a lock mode. As the name implies, rolling codes do not stay the same, but change over time. This allows the remote in your car to communicate with the opener using a unique verification code each time, reducing the likelihood that someone could intercept the code and use it later to enter your home. This is also why your neighbor’s garage door opener doesn’t activate when you use your remote.
Lock mode, as the name implies, prevents the garage door opener from responding to remotes and keypads when active. You can activate this feature using the interior control panel in your garage for extra security at night, or while you’re on vacation.
Another helpful security feature uses a timer to close your garage door automatically after each use. You might have to activate this feature on a new garage door opener, but it can add another layer of security to your garage. Among the garage doors we reviewed, you can get a timer-to-close feature on models from Chamberlain, LiftMaster and Craftsman.
When you buy a door opener, look for one that comes with the controllers you need. Generally speaking, the remote clips onto the visor in your vehicle. If you have multiple vehicles, make sure you get a remote for each one that uses the garage. Among the openers we reviewed, all except the Liftmaster come with two remote controls.
If your car has a built-in garage door control, such as HomeLink or Car2U, you usually don’t need a remote, only a compatible garage door opener. Most garage door opener brands support Car2U or HomeLink, though you may need to buy an adapter if your opener lacks built-in compatibility.
Although each unit we reviewed comes with a control panel for inside your garage, not all have keypads, which allow you to type in a code to control the door from outside. While this isn’t an essential feature, it can make it easier to open and close the door as you do chores around the house and yard.
You can expect to find two lights in most garage door openers, with newer models often incorporating LED lights. While these lights are sufficient to help you get from your home to your car, they may not be bright enough for working in your garage. Most garage door openers automatically activate and shut off lights using motion detectors and a timer. The length of time the light stays on varies according to how it is programmed. In most instances, you don’t need more than a few minutes from the time you leave the car to when you enter your home.
If a light burns out, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on the appropriate replacement light bulbs to use, because some LEDs can interfere with the connection between your remote and the garage door opener. You can also buy LED bulbs made specifically for garage door openers, which comply with the FCC rules regarding wireless interference.
A smartphone app can make it easier to use your garage door, but also lets you check if the door is still open when you’re away from home. If you want to control your garage door opener with a smartphone, there are two options: built-in Wi-Fi or a separate Wi-Fi adapter. Most companies, such as Chamberlain, LiftMaster, Craftsman, Genie, Mighty Mule, and SkyLink, sell models with built-in Wi-Fi, though these are more expensive than base models without Wi-Fi.
If you have an older garage door opener and simply want to add smartphone controls, you can buy a Wi-Fi adapter such as the Chamberlain MyQ, Gogogate2 or Nexx. These units are essentially universal remotes for garage door openers so you only need to program it to control your door to get Wi-Fi functionality.
Smart Home Compatibility
By integrating your garage door with your smart home system, you get another tool for managing your home. For example, you can set your smart locks, thermostat and lights to react to your garage door as you come and go from your home. Here are a few ways to make your garage door opener part of your smart home system:
- Chamberlain MyQ is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Nest, Alarm.com, Honeywell, Tend, XFINITY and Wink. MyQ also works with Google Assistant, IFTTT and Clare Controls, but you need to pay $1 a month or $10 a year for each of these services. We’re not sure why the subscription fee only applies to certain services.
- You can buy a Z-Wave garage door opener controller that's compatible with popular smart hubs such as Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Iris and Nexia. Many of these hubs are also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Genie Aladdin Connect works with the Iris smart home hub but doesn’t currently support other smart home platforms.
- Gogogate2 works with three of the most popular smart home platforms: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT.
- Nexx Garage works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
You can expect each garage door opener to have three warranties that cover the motor, the lift system and other parts that don’t fall into the first two categories.
- Motor Warranty – The motor is the most vital component in a garage door opener, so it should have longer warranty coverage than other parts. We found that the best garage door openers have lifetime motor warranties, though 10 years is acceptable in most cases since units last around 15 years on average.
- Lift System Warranty – While some manufacturers, such as LiftMaster and Chamberlain, offer lifetime warranties on belts and chains, most companies cover them for between one and three years. These components are covered for less time because you can often replace them without buying an entirely new garage door opener.
- Parts Warranty – The parts warranty applies to remotes, wall switches, keypads and other components in the garage door opener. The parts warranty should last one to five years, matching the warranty on the lift system in most cases.
Check the manual that comes with your garage door opener to see if there are any stipulations you must meet before you make a warranty claim.
Good customer service is important for any product, but it is especially important for the class of garage door openers we considered. We looked primarily at models designed to be installed by a homeowner, not a professional. Even if you consider yourself to be pretty handy, you are sure to have questions at some point along the way. As such, we looked for companies that respond to all inquiries as well as for resources, such as a downloadable manual, to help with installation.
How Do I Program My Garage Door Opener?
It is important that you read the manual or watch tutorial videos before installation and before programming the installed unit. Each brand uses its own control layout across the models it sells, so you can expect to find the programming button in the same place on each model.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list below with links to each company’s video tutorials for programming and installation.
Chamberlain & LiftMaster – You can find video tutorials for both Chamberlain and LiftMaster on the Chamberlain Group support website. There are dozens of videos, so it might be helpful to search using your model number.
Craftsman – Craftsman doesn’t host tutorials and videos on its website, though you can find them on Sears PartsDirect.
Genie – You can find video tutorials on Genie’s website. These videos cover a variety of topics such as installation, remote and keypad programming, HomeLink, and Aladdin Connect smartphone setup.
Sommer – The Sommer website has a selection of video tutorials, but the most relevant to DIY installation and programming is the synoris installation video at the bottom of the page. There’s also a helpful tutorial for connecting a keypad to your opener.
Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick