Garage Door Drive: Review & Recommendations

By

Many are happy if they find a parking space at all, others are lucky and can park their car in a garage. But especially in older garages you usually have to get out of the car and open the garage door manually.

This not only takes time, it can also be physically demanding. Would you like to be able to open your garage door more easily in the future? Then a garage door operator can help you. It allows you to open your garage door at the touch of a button.

We will show you which garage door drive is the right one for you and what you should look out for when buying it in our large garage door drive Test 2020. We have compiled helpful background information for you, such as whether you can equip every garage door with a drive.

The most important facts in brief

  • With a door operator you can open your garage door automatically. Thanks to the drive, you no longer have to get out of the car, but can move it at the touch of a button.
  • Basically one can distinguish between two types of drive: The drive chain and the toothed belt. There are also models that are operated in different ways. This can be by mains, battery or solar power.
  • The most common method of operation is via the mains, but this requires a socket in the garage. The door operator runs in the same way with both types of operator, there are only differences in quality, volume and durability.

Garage door drive test: Editors’ favourites

  • The garage door drive with the best price-performance ratio
  • The best garage door operator for up-and-over and sectional doors
  • The best garage door drive with energy-saving transformer
  • The best garage door operator for up-and-over and roller doors

The garage door drive with the best price-performance ratio

The power-driven RADEMACHER S1-650N-1 scores with its price-performance ratio. Because for this relatively low price you get a good product. The tractive power is good, so you can open any single garage. Secondly, the drive is very energy-saving and environmentally friendly.

That is why this device is very popular with the buyers. The manufacturer RADEMACHER has also proved with this model why they play along with garage door operators at the top.

The best garage door operator for up-and-over and sectional doors

The Chamberlain Premium 1000EV is a power-operated garage door opener that runs with a toothed belt. This drive has a very strong tractive force and is also very energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Therefore, this garage drive is very much appreciated by its buyers, as it offers a lot for the price.

Since you have to mount the Chamberlain Premium to the ceiling, it is important for you to consider how to mount this door operator. Due to the weight, the installation of the door opener may be more difficult.

The best garage door drive with energy-saving transformer

The Hörmann Liftronic 700 is connected to the mains. This door operator runs with a toothed belt. The Hörmann garage door opener can lift a lot of kilograms of door weight despite its relatively low tractive force. Due to its powerful motor, this door operator is very popular with its buyers.

The Liftronic 700 weighs about 13 kilograms and measures 118.4 x 26.2 x 15.4 cm. Therefore this garage opener is rather one of the heavier drives on this website. Since the door operator is mounted on the ceiling, you should consider the weight especially problematic. Because this can make it difficult for you to mount the drive despite its easy installation. 13 kilograms combined with the size and mounting of the door opener can be a bit difficult.

The best garage door operator for up-and-over and roller doors

The Sol Royal SolTech GT-800-12 is a garage door opener with a drive chain that is connected to the mains. This door drive runs solidly and is in the lower price range also very powerful and energy saving.

The Sol Royal SolTec moves the garage door with a drive chain. Thanks to the robust stainless steel from which the chain is made, it is extremely tear-resistant.

Advisor: Questions you should deal with before you buy a garage door operator

What do you need a garage door opener for?

An electric door operator offers you the comfort of not having to open the garage yourself.
In principle, a garage opener is not a must-have. It will still be at the top of the list for your needs, but it is a good feature that can make your everyday life easier.
It is very practical for older or sick people who no longer have the strength to open a garage door themselves.
Another argument is that you can sit in your warm car and not have to go out in the dark and wet to open your garage door manually.

Which drive is the right one?

As already mentioned above, the choice of the right garage door opener depends mainly on the door size and the door weight. Based on this, the strength of the drive motor is decisive.
However, there are some criteria to be considered. A larger door is not always heavier than a smaller one. This is because, in addition to height and width, the composition and material play a particularly important role. Because a smaller garage door made of solid wood is considerably heavier than a larger one made of sheet metal.
Once you have determined the weight, the next question that arises is which drive can now move it. In the article description, the strength of the garage door motor is given in N (Newton). But you don’t have to be a physicist to convert this. For example, if a strength of 500 N is given, the motor is designed for a weight of up to 50 kg.
Whereas with 900 N, up to 90 kg can be moved. But there are exceptions here too, because there are manufacturers with very powerful motors that can also move 90 kilograms with 500 N.

How does a gate opener work?

In order for a garage door to open and close automatically, it needs a motor. This is the actual drive – also called the drive head.
The motor must be powerful enough to move the respective door. The most common are up-and-over and sectional doors, for which a relatively small drive head is sufficient. More power is of course needed for larger and heavier doors, such as industrial doors or double garages.
The motor of the door drive moves the toothed belt or the drive chain in a rail. These are firmly connected to the carriage, which can be moved back and forth by the drive, so the drive head holds the garage door, i.e. it can no longer be opened or closed manually.

A garage door drive works by means of a motor that moves the door through a rail of toothed belts.

What accessories are available for garage drives?

A handheld transmitter is standard with the garage door drive. There are also additional radio transmitters as well as special wall brackets or safety devices.
While a hand transmitter is already included in the cheaper versions, you can purchase additional accessories at additional cost. The hand transmitter is a kind of remote control that can be placed in the car and opens or closes the garage door at the push of a button.
An alternative is the radio code button. With it you can program a special PIN into the remote control. This is to ensure that only a certain group of people can access the garage door.
However, the security can be increased even further with regard to the radio transmitters, namely with the radio finger reader. This remote control only sends a signal when it reads the correct fingerprint. Since garages often contain more valuables than just the car, these should also be secured.
A good accessory for this is an attached wall mount. This can be a key switch. With this you can open the garage door by inserting a key and then turning it – just like a door.
The code switch works in a similar way. This differs from the key switch in that you enter a PIN instead, just like with a wireless code switch. Consequently, there is also a finger reader for the wall. This also requires a fingerprint.
A suitable alternative is the transponder button. This contains an evaluation device to which a reader is connected. This is to ensure a sabotage-proof line. Consequently, the garage door can only be operated with the transponder keys that are registered on the evaluation device.

Besides securing your valuables, you can also prevent personal injury and material damage with the right accessories.

An important safety device is for example a light barrier. This ensures that the door comes to a standstill when an object is in the way. This is particularly recommended if you have children or pets. It can also protect your car from damage if it is too close to the garage.

The closing edge protection is another important security aspect. It stops the garage door immediately if it bumps into something. Thus, larger damages can be avoided.

Since the door is held and secured due to the garage drive, manual opening is not possible. This can become a problem if the power suddenly fails. Therefore, there is an emergency release for this case. This unlocks the garage door and allows it to be opened when there is no power supply.

There are also so-called wicket door contacts. The accessories are only of importance if you have a door in your garage door. This prevents the door from moving when this door is open.

What does a door operator cost?

A door operator is available in every price range. The costs depend on the performance, but also on the accessories and extras.
You can buy a simple garage door opener for just under 110 euros. In this price category, the drive has no special extras and is usually not very powerful. Therefore, such an operator is only suitable for smaller sectional doors or light up-and-over doors. Only the power-operated operators can score in this price category, as they are very powerful for the comparatively low value.

If you have more money at your disposal, you will have a better choice. For example, you can expect a very good battery-powered drive for about 300 – 400 Euros. But there are of course also much cheaper variants, and the drives can also reach prices in the four-digit range, with the corresponding accessories and features.

Where can you buy a garage door opener?

You can buy the electric door operator in electronics stores, specialist shops, department stores and sometimes as an offer in supermarkets. In addition, the gate opener is being offered more and more by Internet retailers. In addition, the manufacturers themselves often offer their products via the Internet.
According to our research, garage door openers are sold most in these shops:

Amazon
Ebay
bauhaus
toom
obi
Hornbach

Is it possible to retrofit a garage drive?

Yeah. It’s not as hard as you might think sometimes. Besides, it’s not the goal that counts.
In principle, every garage door can be supplemented with a drive. No matter whether it is an up-and-over selection or roller door. Even hinged doors can be retrofitted with a special garage door motor. This merely replaces the force you apply when opening the door.
The assembly is very easy with the simplest designs. Precise instructions are always included and help even a less skilled craftsman to succeed, so you can usually save yourself the trouble of a specialist and install the garage door drive yourself, step by step.

Decision: What types of garage door openers are available and which one is right for you?

Basically one can distinguish between two electric garage door openers:

  • Garage drive with a toothed belt
  • Door drive with a drive chain

How the garages open is the same for both door openers.
It only depends on which garage door – whether sectional or up-and-over door is irrelevant – is to be operated and above all how heavy and how large it is.

Afterwards you should think about how your garage door motor should be driven, there are these variants:

  • Garage drive, which must be connected to a power outlet
  • Drive with one battery
  • A solar-powered garage door operator

Depending on these criteria, we would like to show you which garage door drive is best suited for you and your garage. In the following we will go into more detail about the two types, the characteristics and the variants.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a door drive with a timing belt?

The strap is made of synthetic rubber and looks like a black rubber band. On the inner surface it has teeth that engage in specially shaped gear wheels. Thanks to these teeth, the door drive prevents the belt from moving on the wheels.

With the toothed belt, you have the great advantage that moving the garage door is almost silent and smooth. This is a great advantage for the garage opener with belt.

Since synthetic rubber is not a scarce commodity, the price for such a timing belt is in the favourable range. But at the cost of noise the belt loses traction. Since the timing belt is made of rubber, it can only open smaller garages and would tear at heavier doors.

Advantages

Very quiet
Affordable

Disadvantages

Not very powerful
Susceptible to cracking

And this brings us to the next disadvantage, namely durability.
Due to its nature – namely the rubber – this is unfortunately not very long.
Because even if the toothed belt is strong enough for your garage door, it wears out constantly during use until it finally breaks.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a garage door opener with a drive chain?

The chain is made of steel and moves tautly around the sprocket. It is the same principle when riding a bicycle. There the chain is also moved to move forward. With the door drive with drive chain, it is only slightly longer and wider.

The drive chain is much louder than the timing belt. But it is also all the stronger. Since the chain is made of robust stainless steel, it is able to open or close even the heaviest garage doors.

Advantages

Powerful
Long durability

Disadvantages

Louder than timing belts
More expensive

You can imagine it like in an old knight’s castle, where the huge castle gates were moved with thick chains. The robust material and the high tractive force also result in a long service life of the chain.

Thanks to the long durability you have the huge advantage that the chain should run smoothly for many years under normal everyday use. Normally at least the lifetime of the drive motor.

How should the garage door motor be operated and what are the individual advantages and disadvantages?

After you have decided on a type of drive, you should still consider how the heart of the door opener should be operated.

How does an electric drive work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

The garage door operator has a power cable and can be plugged into standard household sockets.

This drive has the advantage that it is very common. Therefore, you can buy a high quality gate opener for a relatively low price.

Furthermore, the power-supplied drive heads are usually much more powerful than their counterparts in the same price class. This is similar to comparing a cheap power-supplied drill to a cheap cordless drill.

Advantages

Value for money
Powerful

Disadvantages

Consumes electricity even in standby
Power connection required

As a small disadvantage, however, you have the fact that the connection to your electricity grid regularly increases your electricity costs. These are usually not worth mentioning. A big disadvantage that speaks against this variant is that you need electricity in your garage. Most of the houses that are attached to the house are equipped with sockets.

However, this is often not the case with smaller garages that have been built afterwards. So if you have no power supply in it, it is not worth buying a power-operated garage door opener. In this case you could invest your costs for laying a power line better and more sensibly.

How does a garage door motor with a battery work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

If your garage does not have a power supply, you do not have to do without a door operator. Because there are also garage door operators that can be operated with an integrated rechargeable battery.

These are also quite powerful, but require a higher budget than the electric ones.
Since the energy consumption is very low, one battery charge is usually sufficient for a long time. High-quality drive batteries can therefore last for several weeks before they “run out of juice”. However, these are often in the higher price range.

Advantages

No power connection necessary
Long battery life
Powerful

Disadvantages

More expensive to buy
Long charging times
Limited service life

You should also pay attention to how long it takes to fully recharge when you buy it. Charging times vary from model to model and range from five to ten hours.
That is why manufacturers also offer exchangeable batteries for garage door openers. So you always have a fully charged battery ready for replacement.

As is usual with rechargeable batteries, these only have a certain life span. This is measured by the so-called charging cycles. This is the same principle as with a smartphone. In the beginning you have a long battery life and this will become less and less over time until the battery is finally disabled.

How does a garage door drive with solar module work and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

A modern alternative to the battery drive is the solar-powered door opener. This also works without a permanent power supply.

The solar module is also powered by a rechargeable battery. The difference in principle is that this is not charged with electricity but with solar energy. For this purpose “small photovoltaic systems” are attached to the south side of the roof. In these there is space to charge the batteries. A very environmentally friendly and sustainable variant.

Advantages

Decentralized power supply
Environmentally friendly

Disadvantages

Very expensive acquisition
Rather less powerful
Depending on weather

As with all electrical devices, the acquisition costs for solar-powered drives are correspondingly high. In addition, solar energy can only generate a comparatively small amount of power. Whereas an ordinary garage door motor can convert a voltage of 220 – 240 volts, the more environmentally friendly version can only convert around a tenth of this.
In addition, with a solar drive you are very dependent on the weather. This can be very annoying for you, especially in the darker seasons, if you use the door often.

Purchase criteria: You can compare and evaluate garage door openers based on these factors

In the following we would like to show you which products you can compare and rate garage openers with. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain device is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Item weight
  • Dimensions
  • Maximum door area
  • Maximum gate weight
  • Maximum tractive force
  • Running speed
  • Performance
  • Standby power consumption
  • Obstacle detection
  • Service temperature
  • Volume and durability

In the following paragraphs you can read what the individual purchase criteria are and how you can classify them.

Item weight

If you want to install the door opener yourself, this feature can be very important for you. After all, the garage door opener will be fixed to the ceiling.

Therefore you should be aware in advance how heavy the drive is, or if you can lift it. There are smaller models that weigh about five kilograms, but there are also some that reach 14 kilograms.

The heaviest part of the opener itself is the motor. How much it weighs depends on its size. In most cases, the weight depends on the power, i.e. the more traction, the heavier the opener.

Dimensions

The measurements often correlate with the weight of the article. The smaller the garage opener, the lighter it is. As there is limited space in your garage, it is important to know what size the door opener is. After all, it should fit into your garage without any problems and function smoothly.

You can use the dimensional information to determine whether the door operator can be mounted with sufficient clearance.

The door operator is mounted centrally on the ceiling. This means that the width is basically irrelevant for the selection. More important is the length and especially the length of the rails, because otherwise there is not enough space between the operator and the door.

You should also pay attention to the height. Because many garages are very low and slightly higher cars hardly fit in. You should therefore be careful that your garage drive does not protrude too low from the ceiling and could damage your car.

Maximum door area

The door area is a very important criterion for selecting the garage drive. You calculate the area by multiplying the width by the height of your garage door. Most door openers are designed for the standard dimensions. It could only become a problem if your garage door has special dimensions and therefore requires a larger area.

The width of the standard sizes varies between 2.375 and 3 metres. The height varies between 2 and 2.25 metres. For double garages the height is between 2.125 and 2.25 metres. The width, on the other hand, varies from 4.5 to 5 metres.

You can see the most common variants in the following table:

Maximum gate weight

The door weight is decisive for the right choice of garage door drive.

However, you must not focus solely on the size of the gate. The material is equally important. Because a wooden gate is much heavier than a metal gate of the same size.

Maximum tractive force

As explained above, the tractive force is the power of the engine. This is specified in N (Newton). It can be used to determine up to which weight the operator can move the door. But you should also be aware that there can be deviations for different gates.

Since the selection gate opens differently than the up-and-over gate, a different tractive force is also required. As a rule, the up-and-over door requires more pulling force than the selection door for the same weight.

The three preceding properties are very much interdependent. Because the weight is partly derived from the area. After that you have an approximate value, what kind of traction you need.

It is also possible that the operator has the necessary power for the weight, but the door opener is not designed for the surface. For example, if you have a garage door that weighs 70kg and measures 12m², a door operator with 700N would be sufficient at first sight.

But then it may be that this garage door opener is designed for a door with a maximum area of 10 m². In this example you would have the necessary traction, but the door would be too large for this drive. The reverse may also be the case.

Therefore it is very important that you compare these three criteria in advance. And then make sure that they are applicable together.

Running speed

The running speed indicates the distance the garage door covers in a certain time when opening.

Whereas the kilometres per hour are relevant for motor vehicles, centimetres per second are relevant for gate drives. The value varies between 10 cm/s and 20 cm/s. The former is among the slower and the latter among the faster. This depends mainly on the manufacturer and the model.

The indicated running speed is an average value for each door opener. This means that it could run a little faster or a little slower for you. The reason for this is that it depends on the factors mentioned above.

The door weight and the door area are particularly decisive for this. A comparatively heavy garage door will open a little slower, a lighter one a little faster. In addition to the running speed for opening the garage door, there is also that for closing it.

We have limited ourselves on this website exclusively to the opening speed, as this is more relevant. Because normally you only wait for the garage door to open when you open it.

For some, the speed at which a garage door operator opens the door is of great importance. When buying a garage door drive you should pay attention to how fast the door opens.

Performance

The power indicates the consumption of the door operator. This is indicated in watts.

Thanks to the power you can determine how much your door operator consumes during operation. Here, the less the better. Especially as you then have lower electricity costs and on the other hand it is much more environmentally friendly.

The consumption of the garage door openers already varies considerably. There are models that only consume about 80 watts. Others, on the other hand, reach 200, although tractive power is not always important, as there are more powerful motors that consume less than less powerful ones. Often it is up to the manufacturers.

For example, a Hörmann model consumes about 200 watts at a tractive force of 800 N. His model partner with 500 N, however, also consumes 500 N. Whereas there are models that have 1000 N power but consume considerably less.

Standby power consumption

This value indicates how much your garage door drive consumes in idle mode.

Because your device must also work when it is not working. The door operator finally closes the door and waits for the signal to open it, which also consumes energy. But by far not as much as when operating.

There are models where the standby consumption is around 6-8 watts. However, this is already one of the large consumers. Because as with power, the less the better.

For this reason, the manufacturers are also trying to score points here. This is why more and more devices are coming out that are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. These garage openers consume a maximum of one watt in idle mode.

Performance and standby power consumption are therefore important purchase criteria for you. Because especially these values have ecological as well as economical aspects.

Because these are running costs that constantly accompany you while you have the gate drive. Therefore you should pay attention to this when buying it.

It could be that there is a drive for 150 euros that has 200 watts of power and consumes 6 watts in idle mode. On the other hand, there is one for 200 euro with 120 watts of power and one watt in standby mode. If we ignore all other aspects such as the door surface or traction, the second drive would be the better choice.

This is because garage openers represent an investment for a longer period of time. The first garage door opener would be cheaper to buy, but due to its long life span it has much higher fixed costs and would ultimately cost you more money than the initially more expensive one.

Obstacle detection

Obstacle detection ensures that the garage door stops automatically if something is in the way.

This is an important safety feature, as otherwise incorrect use can result in personal injury as well as material damage. You should therefore make sure that your drive has such an obstacle detection system. Normally, this is no longer a feature of door openers, but standard equipment. A drive that does not have an obstacle detection system will not pass the TÜV.

Service temperature

This indicates the temperature range in which the door operator functions smoothly.

Most actuators are designed for a range between -20 and +40 °C. This means that as long as you use the garage door drive in Germany and not in Central Africa or Siberia, the temperature should not play a decisive role.

Volume and durability

The two properties depend very much on the drive types.

As described in detail above, these are the drive chain or timing belt. In terms of volume, the belt ensures that the garage door opens and closes almost silently.

This is due to the synthetic rubber of which the timing belt is made. Because of this, the belt is not as tear-resistant as its counterpart, the drive chain.

Consequently, it is not as durable. By and large, you can remember The timing belt is quiet, but not as durable. The drive chain is much louder, but also more robust and durable.

Trivia: Worth knowing facts about the T

What spare parts does a garage door operator have?

With the gate opener there is a replacement for just about every part. Only with the engine it becomes problematic.

It depends essentially on which garage opener you have. The more extras the more spare parts. From solar panels to exchangeable batteries, everything is included.
You can buy the wearing parts like timing belts or rails quite cheap.

What is the power consumption of a door opener?

Power consumption varies from model to model and from manufacturer to manufacturer. The price is not always the most important factor.

For some models, the consumption can amount to about one watt in standby mode. But there are also more expensive models that consume much more. More environmentally friendly models, for example, can get by with just under one watt in standby mode.

How safe is a door operator?

The safety depends entirely on which accessories you buy.

A normal electric drive motor with a hand sensor is of course easily accessible for everyone. A transponder button, on the other hand, offers you much more security.

How long does a garage drive last?

This depends on the use of the opener.

It is not necessarily the engine itself that breaks down, but over time, the parts that are subject to wear. This could be a belt, a rail or a spring.

However, these are relatively cheap to purchase and can be retrofitted without any problems. The problem, on the other hand, only arises when the engine gives up the ghost. Then it is often worthwhile to buy a new drive.

Can you open a garage with a smartphone?

In principle this is possible, but for this you have to retrofit your garage door drive.

An ordinary drive is usually supplied with a hand sensor. If you prefer to open the up-and-over door or sectional door with your mobile phone, this is usually no problem.

But for this you need a special module. The receiver is mounted on the garage door drive. Then you need an app that allows you to connect the smartphones to the receiver. Your mobile phone should then be able to function like a remote control.

But be careful, as the drives may only accept modules from the same manufacturer!

Table of Contents

Leave a Comment