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Garage Door Openers

Garage Door Opener
 

Safety and Security with Your Garage Door Opener


If you're tired of having to get out of your warm car in the middle of a snowstorm to manually open the garage door, now it’s time to consider installing an automatic garage door opener. Say goodbye to the frustrating days of bending and lifting. Garage door openers not only give you the ability to open the door with the touch of a button, they enhance safety and security as well -- features that are particularly important if you have children running in and out of the garage with bikes, skateboards and basketballs.
 
A garage opener is a must for any home with a garage. Without it, stored items are vulnerable to moisture and theft. When deciding on a garage door opener, there are several factors to take into consideration:
 
          • What type of garage door opener do you prefer?
          • How important is opening speed and noise level?
          • What safety features are essential to you?
          • What kind of remote access features do you want to have?
          • Are there any special options you'd like the opener to provide?
 

Types, Controls and Safety


The three types of garage door openers do their job equally well - screw drive, chain drive and belt drive. The greatest difference among openers is how much noise they make while operating; so make sure you know the differences before you purchase.
 
If you have a bedroom or office located above or behind your garage, you'll probably want to keep the noise level to a minimum, so bear that in mind as you compare types. You'll also want to look closely at the types of controls that are available. While single-button remotes tend to be standard, some remotes feature multiple buttons to control different garage doors. You can even have keypads installed outside the house for added convenience. Regardless of what type of door and control you choose, make sure you look for safety features to help prevent accidents.
 

Types


Chain-drive garage door openers use a chain attached to a metal trolley to open the door. These units are amongst the most common. Look for units that hide the chain to help reduce noise.
 
Screw-drive openers feature fewer moving parts and use a threaded-steel rod to raise and lower the door.  Run more quietly, especially when kept properly lubricated.
 
Belt drives use rubber belts to open the door, eliminating the metal-on-metal contact that occurs in the other drives. Makes the least noise.
 
Use the chart below to compare and contrast the benefits of each different type:
 

Opener Type

Benefits

Points to Consider

Belt Drive • Quietest operation
• Reduce vibration
• Require larger up-front investment
• Fewer moving parts
Chain Drive • Most economical
• Dependable operation
• Operation may be somewhat noisy
Screw Drive • Low maintenance
• Fairly quiet operation
• Plastic-lined tracks reduce noise
• Fewer moving parts

Remote Controls and Keypads for Garage Door Openers


Remote access is the primary benefit of installing a garage door opener. No longer will you have to stop, get out of your car, raise the garage door and then get back into your car to park. While basic one-button remotes are very effective, there are a number of additional options you may want to consider. If you have a two- or three-car garage and plan to install multiple garage door openers, you may want remotes that feature buttons to control each one.

If you're worried about the battery running out on the remote or you want to be able to open the garage doors when you're outside and don't have a controller handy, consider installing an outdoor wireless keypad. Simply enter the security code to open the garage door -- a very handy feature to have if you accidentally lock yourself out. Alleviate security concerns by purchasing a unit that features rolling-code technology. These controls cycle through billions of possible access codes to choose a different one every time, preventing thieves from locking onto your opening code and gaining access when you're away.
 
           • Multiple-button remotes are ideal for car garages with more than one door.
           • Wireless keypads can be installed inside the house for even more control options.
           • Some controls feature LED lights that alert you to malfunctions for easier maintenance.
 
Safety: Garage doors, while incredibly convenient, can also pose some dangers when opening and closing, so look for a number of safety features before you make your purchase. Most garage door openers feature standard sensors that automatically stop the door from closing if something, be it a bike, toy or child, gets in the way. They also tend to have automatic lights that activate as soon as the door begins to open, ensuring that you'll be able to make it safely into the house without tripping when it's dark outside. For further enhanced safety, look for units that feature time reversing systems. These systems stop the door from closing and automatically reverse it if it hasn't closed entirely within 30 seconds.
 
           • Test sensors periodically to ensure they're working properly.
           • Wireless sensors make installation easier.
           • Install controls high on walls so they're out of children's reach.
           • Self-diagnostic electronics alert you to any system problems.   
           • Test the door balance to ensure proper operation.
 

Installation


Installing one can be an all-day task for a motivated do-it-yourselfer, so you may want to consider calling a professional if your electrical and mechanical skills aren't up to the task.
 

Features


Manual Emergency Release: This feature is a necessity when you lose power, as it allows you to manually open the garage door by pulling a cord that detaches the door from the opener. It also comes in handy if something somehow gets stuck underneath the door and causes a malfunction.
 
Speed: If you're frequently in a hurry or tend to get impatient, look for doors that open faster. Openers can lift doors anywhere from 7 inch per second to 14 inch per second.

Lights: Most models of garage openers come with overhead lights on a fixed timer, or lights that can be manually turned on and off. Lights with a timer can remain on long enough for the driver to gather his or her belongings and get safely inside the house without having to stumble at night. Opt for a model that handles two bulbs in case one burns out. Be sure to check the maximum wattage, and buy bulbs within the allotted range.

Motor: Motors that use DC current instead of AC current tend to run more quietly, an important quality if the door is located below a living area. If you have an especially large garage door, look for a motor that features at least 1/2 HP (horsepower).

Force Guard Control: This feature enhances safety by allowing you to select the minimum amount of force needed to fully open or close the garage door.
 
Vacation Setting: Units with this feature allow you to disable the opener while you're away to prevent it from responding to any transmitter, helping you rest easy knowing that no one can gain easy access to your house.

Battery Backup: When your electrical power is knocked out, the backup kicks in and allows you to use the garage door opener. Without it, you can find yourself locked out of your own house.