Technology has come a long way. In today’s world, most of our daily activities have something to do with technology. It’s not just in our jobs that most tasks are digitized. Even at home, the usual home processes are already automatic and can be done digitally.
One of the items at home that have gone automatic and even smarter is the garage door opener. Before, an automatic garage door opener would open or close the garage door with a push of the button. These buttons can be in remotes or in-wall switches. However, most of the garage door openers today can do so much more than just automatically open and close your garage door.
The History and Discovery
The first garage door opener was invented in 1926 by CG Johnson. He started the Overhead Door Company to sell the electric garage door openers to pair with his other invention, the overhead sectional garage door that came out five years prior.
The electric motor of the garage door opener does not have the power to move the garage door. The weight was mostly offset by the counterbalance spring.
Back then, the electric garage door openers were operated through a switch that was wired to the device. There were two switches, one placed inside the garage and the other placed outside.
Although the invention of the electric garage door was done in the early 20th century, it wasn’t all that popular until the later years.
Types of Garage Door Openers
Today, there are already different types of garage door openers available in the market. Each type has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages that work depending on the kind of home that you have and the lifestyle that you lead.
• Chain-drive garage door opener.
– This has a metal chain that drives the trolley, which raises or lowers the garage door. This type of garage door opener is one of the most popular options among homeowners and is widely available. It is cost-effective and durable. However, it can be noisy during operation. The chain-drive opener is best for heavy garage doors, like wooden doors, insulated doors, or oversized doors. Because it is noisy, it works for homes with detached garages so the sound won’t be an issue.
• Belt-drive garage door opener.
– This type of opener works like the chain-drive opener. Instead of a chain, this has a rubber belt that allows the trolley to move. Thus, it has a smoother and quieter operation. Since it is quiet, it can suit homes with an attached garage especially those with living spaces above it. The belt-drive garage door also has a few moving parts, which makes maintenance a breeze. Unfortunately, this garage door opener can be a bit expensive.
• Screw-drive garage door opener.
– This opener has a threaded steel rod in order to move the door. While the rod rotates, this drives the trolley in order to open or close the garage door. The screw-drive opener is usually quieter compared to the belt-drive opener. It also requires less maintenance because of its few moving parts. This opener can be a reliable option for single-car garage doors that are attached to the home. It tends to operate faster compared to the other types of garage door openers.
• Direct-drive garage door opener.
– This has a quiet mechanism with the motor operating as the trolley. It travels along the track, which opens and closes the garage door. With just a single moving part, this reduces the noise, vibration, and the maintenance requirement of the garage door opener. This type of opener usually comes with a lifetime warranty and are durable. However, this tends to be pricey.
With varying garage door opener types, there are also varying horsepower ratings depending on the opener. The horsepower rating refers to the lifting power of the different garage door opener models. These ratings range from ½ horsepower to 1-1/2 horsepower.
• 1/2 horsepower model.
– Consider this opener for standard garage doors. When paired with the right drive, it can lift most of the garage doors. However, keep in mind that heavier doors like wooden or insulated ones can strain it. It can work for smaller single-car garages.
• 3/4 horsepower model.
– This is the higher rating from 1/2. This model works for wooden or insulated garage doors. It also works for two-car garages. It is more powerful so it can lift heavier doors without wearing out the motor. Its motor is more durable and can be long-lasting. Unfortunately, this durability can also mean that it’s more expensive.
• 1 or 1-1/2 horsepower model.
– This opener is perfect for heavier and more industrial doors. It comes with maximum power and efficiency that is great for oversized garage doors and even for commercial or industrial ones. Having more power definitely adds to its price tag. However, this garage door opener can also be used for regular residential garage doors so that it’ll have less wear and tear during the operation.
Garage door openers do not just open doors today. In fact, they already come with various features that add value to the homes and to the homeowners as well.
• Home automation. – Some garage door openers allow you certain connectivity to the home. There are those that have lights control so you can turn on and off the lights in your home through your garage door opener system.
• Auto-close function. – This security feature automatically closes the garage door after a certain period of time. It is usually pre-programmed by the owner.
• Battery backup. – Having this extra feature is handy, especially during a power outage. This lets you operate your garage door without using it manually.
• Wi-Fi connectivity. – This lets you connect to your home’s network so you can operate and connect to your opener through your device.
• Smartphone compatibility. –This can be built-in with your garage door opener kit or it can be an extra feature to be purchased. With this feature, you can control and monitor your garage door opener through your mobile device. You can get real-time updates about its status and you can allow access any-time wherever you are.
• Automatic lights. – These are courtesy lights that turn on as the door opens or through the opener’s motion sensors. This will automatically turn off after a set period of time.
• Vehicle compatibility. – For some garage door openers, vehicle compatibility allows you to operate your garage door through your car. The controls can be built into the vehicle.
There are still many features that a garage door opener can come with. This depends on the make and brand of the garage door opener. Some features are extra and have to be purchased and installed while others are already included in the garage door opener kit. The price of the opener will also vary depending on the features that it comes with.
The garage door opener also requires regular maintenance to make sure that it is safe to use and it operates accordingly. This is especially important since the garage door is the largest moving part of the home.
• Check the garage door.– First, you need to check the garage door itself. Inspect the moving parts for some rusting and lubricate the moving parts once a year. Check for some wear and fraying on the metal parts, rollers, rail, bearings, hinges, and springs. Make sure that nothing is broken and there are no weird sounds.
• Test the alignment and balance.– Disconnect the garage door opener from the door by pulling the emergency cord. This should allow you to pull up and down your garage door easily. Your door should be light and should operate smoothly. If it doesn’t, then the door is misaligned. Open your garage door halfway and release it. It should remain in place. If it falls down or rises up, then it is out of balance. You need to contact a professional if this happens.
• Test the safety reversal system.– Garage door openers need to have a safety system that will reverse the door once it comes in contact with an object. This feature can save you your properties or your family’s lives. This is an essential feature that should always be working. To do this, open the garage door and place a board on the floor that’s centered under the door. Close the garage door through your remote or wall switch and it should reverse back once it makes contact with the object. You then have to make adjustments if the door didn’t travel far enough. Do this test at least once a month.
In maintaining your garage door, make sure that you do not attempt to tighten or loosen any bolts as this should be left to the professionals. If you encounter any problems or issues with your garage door opener’s safety system, then you should contact a professional to help.
In addition to that, it is important to never let your kids play under the garage door. Remotes and switches should be kept out of a child’s reach in order to prevent any unwanted incidents.