Universal Garage Door Openers – FAQ & Buyer’s Guide!

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garage door being opened

“Garage door openers are the ultimate accessory to the place where cars are parked, tools are stored, and memories are made.

Whether you’re just looking for one that will make it so you don’t have to get out of your car to park it or one that will ensure that your garage is secure, there’s a garage door opener for that.

Don’t let your trip home from work end in getting soaked in the rain, get a garage door opener that will let you park in peace.”

When I first bought my new home this was one of the first upgrades I insisted that we get for it. The quality of life boost you get from having a garage door opener is hard to quantify easily, but it is also undeniable.

Sitting in the pouring rain after you pull into your driveway is no way to end a commute home after a busy day, but that’s not my favorite use of it. Surprise gift for the wife? Use the garage door for the big reveal. Birthday party for the kids? Open up the garage and let the fun begin.

Big science project for school goes a little sideways? Run inside and open the garage door with a click of the remote while it airs out. It has become one of the most important accessories in our home.

Needless to say, I’m pretty serious about my garage door openers, so when I went looking for the right one for our house I didn’t mess around.

Below you’ll find five of them that managed to make it onto my Final Five list of selections, and I’ve put them here for other enthusiasts, or even just the first-time garage door buyer.

List & Comparison of The Best Garage Door Openers:

Chamberlain B970Chamberlain B970
  • Power- 1.25 HP
  • Doors- Up To 7'
Check Price Amazon
LiftMaster 8500 RJOLiftMaster 8500 RJO
  • Power- 0.5 HP
  • Doors- Sectional, Up To 14'
Check Price Amazon
Craftsman 00954985000PCraftsman 00954985000P
  • Power- 0.5 HP
  • Doors- Up To 7'
Check Price Amazon
Genie 4042-TKHGenie 4042-TKH
  • Power- 0.75 HP
  • Doors- 7'
Check Price Amazon

Table of Contents

When I went looking for my garage door opener I was certain to take all these factors into account. Below is the list that I tried out and found were of a high enough quality to make into the consideration phase.

Review of the Best Garage Door Openers:

🥇 Chamberlain B970 Garage Door Opener

Chamberlain B970

This belt-driven garage door opener is steel-reinforced to produce a super-strong and long-lasting piece that is sure to last your family for years. The smart activity feature helps monitor its opening and closing and takes into account multiple elements surrounding the doors use.

This includes weather conditions that can vary to extremes throughout the year. The smooth performance is thanks to its precision engineering and anti-vibration technology that ensures that will stand up to hard use throughout the years.

The ultra-quiet design makes it a perfect choice for the attached garages. Chamberlains Lift Power System places this device at the top of its category for lifting capacity.

The built-in MyQ App and Wi-Fi connectivity ensure you’ll know the current status of your door, when it opens and when it closes all in real-time. You’ll receive these notifications anywhere you go with the MyQ App.

Safety and security were primary concerns during the development of this model, which is why it’s equipped with a wall control panel that can handle all the functions this system can perform. Triband technology boosts the range while a wireless keypad ensures you can open the garage from inside your car or while standing next to the door.

Advanced monitoring and encryption features ensure that your garage door will be proofed against hacking while the battery backup means it never lets you down, even when the power is out.

Make sure your garage is well lit with two light bulbs up to 26-Watt CFL lights or 100-watt non-halogens (not included). This unit is specifically designed to work with 7ft garage doors. There are extension kits available for doors that are 8 or 10 feet.

First Impressions

This garage door system was a combination of incredible features and high-quality design matched with all the benefits of modern technology. The system sports a hefty 1.25hp engine that quickly and quietly opens and closes the garage door using its belt drive.

After I had had it installed for a day I killed the power to my garage and ran it using the battery backup, and let me tell you I didn’t notice a lick of difference in its performance.

I have no idea why I would need to operate my garage from over 5 football fields away, but let me tell you they weren’t kidding when they said that that was the extent of their range.

There is only one complaint I have about this garage door opener, and I’m not certain if it’s Google’s fault or Chamberlains.

If you intend to integrate with IFTTT or Google Assistant be aware that you’ll be paying a subscription for the privilege, making it the only home automation device I have that I have to pay a subscription to operate.

It was this feature that ended being the breaking point in my decision to keep this otherwise incredible garage door opener.


  • 1.25hp Engine
  • Smart Garage Control


  • Whisper Quiet Operation
  • Battery Backup

🥇 Liftmaster 8500 Garage Door Opener

Liftmaster 8500RJO

This garage door operates with a whisper-quiet operation powered by a 24V DC motor direct from Liftmaster. As part of the 8500 elite series, this opener mounts on the wall and has a variable speed setting that makes it possible to customize it to your preference.

The design ensures you don’t need to hang any rails while its auto-force feature pays attention to the ambient temperature to make sure the right degree of force is used to open and close the door.

The garage door opener can be accessed from your MyQ panel and the smart garage door opener requires security codes that you can put either into the aforementioned panel or the powerhead.

Thanks to its continuous lubrication technology the enclosed gear case protect the smooth operation of your garage door opener providing longer life. Getting the power to the unit is easy, just plug the generous 6’ power cord into any available outlet.

The light on the device is remote and can be set on a light delay that’s adjustable and ensures that you’ll always pull into a brightly lit garage without wasting valuable electricity.

The sensor system protects pets and children with its auto-reverse function, and immediately sends notifications to your app if the door opens or closes.

Never worry about the security of your garage or its contents thanks to the rolling code technology integrated into the system. Every time you open or close the garage the remote control will generate a new code making it impossible to hack.

This system is only compatible with sectional doors, contact the manufacturer for compatibility concerns.

First Impressions

So I helped install two of these garage door openers, one on my house, and one in my workplace. These doors opened and closed without any issues, and did so incredibly quiet. They open quickly but slow down before they reach the end of the rail so they don’t bang at the end.

The sound of the door opening is this quiet, almost soothing hum of the engine running, which was a vast improvement over the rattle and clank of the old chain-driven variety.

The difference is noticeable. With the old garage door we used to have to wait until the garage door finished moving to talk to the customers, it was just that loud. We also didn’t need to hire anyone to install these garage door openers, which was my biggest concern when I first bought them.

One thing that isn’t often talked about with chain-driven garage door openers, especially the ones that sit over your vehicle, is that grease and metal flakes will often end up falling on your vehicle. I didn’t have a problem with any of that with this model of opener.

It was a great selection, but it wasn’t quite the one I decided to go to within the end of my home. The office continues to use this model to this very day, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.


  • Space saving design
  • MyQ Enabled


  • Quiet operation
  • No-overhead motor

🥇 Craftsman 1/2 HP Garage Door Opener

Craftsman 00954985000P

This garage door opener goes to show that Craftsman is about more than just incredible quality tools you can swap out for new for any reason, they also make an impressive line of Garage Door Openers that are perfect for just about any home or office.

Craftsman design has always been about one thing, durability, and longevity from a company that stands behind their products.

Security and convenience are the twin core features of this garage door opener thanks to its tri-frequency radio system that ensures you’ll always be able to communicate with your system while within its range. Interference from your household electronics and powerlines will be a thing of the past.

The power-efficient sleep system ensures that your garage door opener will always be ready to respond to your order to open without breaking your electric bill. Whenever it is in sleep mode it uses less than 1 watt of power to remain vigilant, barely noticeable on your monthly bill.

The interface monitors are simple to use and allow you to determine the amount of force you need to have the door open and close based on different variations in temperatures.

Like all modern openers, it also comes with a security system that will protect animals and children during the door’s operation. The wireless keyless entry means that you’ll always be able to access your garage by punching in a user-set 4 digit PIN.

First Impressions

This wasn’t the most impressive unit that I tried out during these trials, but it stands up with the rest of them. The installation of this product is easy thanks to its rail system that’s designed for a quick install.

Once you have everything set up it’s just a matter of programming your desired PIN into the keypad, setting up the monitors with the proper amount of force for opening and closing your door, and then you’re done.

There isn’t much that can be said to be ‘fancy’ about this garage door opener, but it is efficient and inexpensive. Honestly, my biggest complaint about it was probably that I’d been spoiled by belt drive technology with higher horsepower.

It was quite a bit noisier than my other selections but I had no complaints with how it worked, it was a fantastic piece of technology for its range.

I also liked the fact that the garage door light had a timer on it that was adjustable. It was always nice to know that the light isn’t going to cut out before I get the car started or before I have it locked up and am in the house.

I did have to tinker with it a while to find the right setting so I didn’t end up wasting electricity, but before I ended up taking it off and sending it back I did find the perfect setting for it. It was easily one of my favorite features of this opener.


  • ½hp Engine
  • Durable Craftsman Design


  • Adjustable Light Delay
  • Quick-Install Rails

🥇 Genie SilentMax 1200 Garage Door Opener

Genie 4042-TKH

If you’re looking for a garage door opener that opens and closes with barely a sound then you’re going to want to look into the Genie SilentMax 1200.

The 140V DC motor that comes with it is incredibly smooth in operation and lightweight, ensuring that you’ll be able to come in at any hour without waking the family.

The featured soft stop and start feature ensures that it won’t jerk the door at either end of the rail, instead smoothly starting and stopping with nary a sound.

The SilentMaxs new design ensures that it will be a perfect fit for any residential garage door, and is capable of handling doors of up to 8’ with the extension kit that is sold separately.

You can set your speed for opening and closing at up to 9 inches per second without worrying about creating a risky situation thanks to the auto-reverse sensor that’s built-in. Even better this Safe-T Beam system runs self-diagnostics to ensure that you’re alerted if any malfunctions take place.

You don’t have to worry about it being too dark to see in your garage either! This system includes space to install 2-100 Watt bulbs that will send that light towards the back of the garage to light the most important part of your garage for safety.

No worries about your remote getting hacked either, the rolling code technology that comes standard with this model cycles the code every time you open or close the garage, ensuring that criminals can’t get in.

Included with the system are two remotes that come pre-programmed, a multi-function wall console, wireless keypad, light control button, and a vacation lock to ensure it can’t be opened while you’re gone.

First Impressions

Let me start by saying that this was the model I went to within the end. It demonstrated all the capabilities I needed to ensure that I felt safe and secure with my choice of the garage door opener.

The light spread from the two bulbs ensured that my space was always well lit when I came home, and it opened quickly enough that I hardly felt like I had to wait to pull into my garage when I came home.

The Safe-T Beam sensor worked exactly as advertised, which was a blessing since my beloved dog is an idiot who thinks that a closing garage door is a sign to bolt out of the garage.

I’ve been using this ever since I received it and I can tell you it’s not going to be going back to the manufacturer. The smooth and silent way the door opens and closes surprises me, I have caught myself hitting the button again on my way out to the garage because I didn’t hear it start opening.

This resulted in the garage door closing as I walked into it, of course, so I had to press the button to start all over again. Do you suppose there’s such a thing as TOO quiet?


  • Safe-T Beam Auto-Reverse with Self-Diagnostic
  • Adjustable Open/Close Speed


  • Built-In Light Bulb Mounts
  • Automatic Force Detection to accommodate temperature variations


Which Is Better Chain or Belt Garage Door Opener?

This is the first choice you’re going to have to make when you start looking for a garage door opener, and it can be kind of an important one. Each of these choices has its benefits and drawbacks and deciding which is going to work best for you will help narrow down your search by a fair margin.

Chain Drive Garage Door openers are far and away from the most common form available in the United States and were the first style invented. While it is efficient and inexpensive, the machinery involved in its operation makes it fairly noisy.

Anyone sleeping next to the garage is going to know when it’s in operation. They also tend to wear down faster than the belt drive variety of garage door openers.

The belt-driven garage door opener is considered by most experts to be preferential to the chain door openers. This system utilizes a rubber belt to drive the opening of the garage door, causing less noise when it’s in operation and reducing wear on the system as a whole.

All of this comes at a higher price point than the chain door, but it also lasts longer so it may be worth the trade-off in the end.

At the end which style of door you go with is going to largely depend on how much you want to spend, and how concerned you are with the door being able to open quietly. Neither system is faster than the other so that’s not going to be a factor, but weight may be.

If you have a heavy-duty garage door that is either a custom design or just made of heavier material the chain door may be the way to go. Consulting an expert is a good way to find out which style will work best for you.

Which Brand Of Garage Door Opener Is Best?

Determining the best brand isn’t as easy as just saying “Oh, well Chamberlain.” Instead, you have to take a look at the different types of garage door opener they offer and what their capabilities are.

Chamberlain is certainly a good brand, and in fact, is one of the premier designers in the industry. Their designs tend to be fairly affordable and even their chain-driven models tend to be quieter than their competitors.

Combine that with the Smartphone App that comes standard with most of them and you’ve started to understand why this brand is well-loved.

The Genie brand tends to have a pretty good selection and a price-point that makes it approachable for most buyers. They aren’t good for handling heavy doors and they don’t tend to have a lot of high-tech features, but if you just need it to open a door that weighs under 350lbs they’re going to do the job.

They’re easy to install, but don’t be expecting the light bulb attachment to service your whole garage. The light bulb outlet that’s built into it will only take a 60W bulb.

Liftmaster and Craftsman garage door openers are both made by Chamberlain but are targeting different markets. The Liftmaster line is specifically for commercial customers and comes with much of the same gear and features that the Chamberlain line provides.

The login boards, motors, and gears are all the same, but the Liftmaster line comes with a solid rail rather than the sectional one you’ll see with Craftsman. This line is efficient, heavy-duty, and reliable, and is powered by DC motors.

So what makes Craftsman different? Not much really, they just use sectional rails instead of a solid one.

Is Liftmaster A Good Garage Door Opener?

This brand is well known for its commitment to quality and reliability as part of the Chamberlain family of openers. Their reputation comes in part due to the efficient and heavy-duty operation they provide and the innovative nature of their hardware.

The majority of their motors are powerful AC motors that provide a step above the DC motor in terms of performance. This line of Garage Door Openers is an exceptional example of the performance you can expect from the Chamberlain line and was deliberately designed with heavy-duty operation in mind.

If you have an extra-durable security door for your garage, this is the opener you’re going to want.

How Long Will A Belt Drive Garage Door Opener Last?

A Belt Drive Garage Door Opener traditionally lasts 10-15 years before the springs and rollers start to wear out. That’s just one component that you have to consider, however, and there are other reasons you may need to have your garage door opener replaced.

One component that’s a vital safety element of openers like these is the automatic reversal mechanism. All garage doors have been required to have these since 25 years ago to protect pets and animals from garage door operation.

If an animal or child should pass through the door as its closing, it will automatically begin to reverse. If this system should stop working for any reason, it’s time to replace your garage door opener.

You may also find it necessary to replace your door if you’re looking for greater security. The remote controls of older models have a preset code built-in, and all someone dedicated enough has to do is sit outside and select the right code by trial and error.

Newer doors cycle the code every time the garage is opened making it incredibly unlikely that even a determined thief is going to be able to crack your doors code.

Another upgrade that may make you decide it’s time to change your garage door opener is Homelink Connectivity. These innovative devices flat out recognize your vehicle as it approaches, opening the door as you arrive home.

Start the car up in the morning to leave for work and it opens the door so you can leave. These, as well as other features, may have you replacing your garage door long before the 10-15 years it takes for the unit to wear out.

Which Type Of Garage Door Is Quietest?

There are multiple types of garage door openers, with the belt-driven and chain-driven varieties being the most common. In addition to these, you can also find a screw-driven and direct drive system, a popular option in Europe. Direct Drive systems invert the usual operation of these systems.

Rather than the engine turning a belt or chain to draw up the door, instead, the engine is attached to the garage door and travels the length of the chain to open the garage. This style of garage door opener falls between the belt-driven and chain-driven varieties in terms of quiet.

The belt-driven garage door is still the overall quietest of all the ones on the market.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Garage Door Opener?

The cost of installing a garage door opener is determined as much by the style of the door as any other price point. Most garage door openers will cost you between $200 and 500 dollars on their own.

If you do the installation yourself you may save yourself a significant amount of money, but make sure you know how it’s done or you’ll just cost yourself time and money.

Having them installed often runs around $400 all on its own, meaning that between the motor itself and the installation you’ll likely wind up spending around $1000 on your garage door opener.

How Do I Choose A Garage Door Opener?

Before you can decide on a garage door opener you need to know what features you want it to have. This decision-making process starts with deciding how important longevity, price, and quiet operation are for you.

If you’re looking for a garage door opener at a low price point you’re likely going to want to pick a chain drive. On the other hand, if longevity and quiet operation are your primary concerns then it can be worth the extra expense for a belt-driven model.

This is just the first step of your process, however.

Next, you need to decide on the degree of security that you want your model to have. Many garage door openers can be integrated with your home security system, and have their own system’s built-in as well. Do you want to have to use a keypad to get into your garage?

Do you prefer the button press variety that’s common with many models? Or do you want to not have to touch it at all and have it open automatically when you arrive home at the day’s end?

The last thing to consider is the weight of your garage door. Heavy garage doors tend to be more secure, but the heavier your garage door the shorter your list of options for your opener. Essentially the final decision is going to depend on all the factors surrounding your particular needs.


As I mentioned above I ended up going with the Genie model, it just made sense given that it did everything I wanted to and I didn’t end up paying for extra features I didn’t need. The Craftsman was a trooper, but chain-driven garage doors are just a little too noisy for my tastes these days.

I’ve been very satisfied with my purchase and hope that this guide will help you in your search for your garage door opener.

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