If you are in the market for a new electric garage door opener, you may be looking for something that is a bit more modern and quieter than your old opener. Maybe you have a family member who mentioned new technological advances to look for like connectivity with a smartphone.
If you aren’t sure where to start when looking for a new door opener, this blog will answer all of your questions so you can make the best possible decision. Read on to learn what to watch for and which decisions to make during your next purchase.
First, you should be aware of some basic information
When it all comes down to it, understanding the way that an electric garage door opener can make your life easier is important. This small device can create a situation where you don’t have to worry about running in the house through the rain if it’s pouring when you come home from work. Of course, a door opener can do a lot more, too. It also makes it a cinch to open or close your door without exerting physical effort.
In order for this to be possible, you need to have a door that is balanced properly using a torsion or extension spring system. These systems work as a counterweight to the deadweight of your garage door, which can be anywhere from 90 to 350 lb. (40 to 160 kilos). When you have a garage door that is properly balanced, it will feel like it weighs no more than 8 to 10 lb. (3 to 4 kilos), which should be a breeze for you to lift up manually whenever needed.
At this point, you might be curious about how you can determine whether your spring system is balanced or not. In order to do this, you want to close your garage door and then disconnect the door opener. After you’ve done that, open the door about halfway manually to about 4 feet (1.2 m). Once you do this, you should notice that the door stays in that position without any movement. If the door instead falls down or goes all the way open, that is an indication that the door is unbalanced and your spring system is not working the way it should be. At that point, it is recommended that you get in touch with a garage door specialist so your door can be fixed.
You might be aware that a garage door opener is capable of lifting a very large load, up to about 225 lb. (100 kilos). That is true, but you also need to keep in mind that it can push that same amount of weight down. That is why modern openers have safety systems including to prevent them from closing on people or objects that might be underneath the garage door.
Terminology to be aware of
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of motor sizes for a garage door, it’s a good idea to review a handful of terms. As with many motorized products, horsepower is often discussed, which may also be referred to by its abbreviation, HP. What you may not already know is that there are two types of electrical current that can be used to connect to garage door opener motors. AC or alternating current is the most well-known, while the other is DC or direct current.
Alternating current is measured by horsepower, as you might expect. However, direct current is a bit different and is instead measured in newton force (N). While these are different power types in some ways, there are equivalencies to compared the two.
The difference between the two types of motors is that AC-type motors constantly stay at the same exact speed while DC motors have a slow startup and then increase in speed before slowing down again when stopping. You might wonder which is best and the reality is that both have the same technical performance, but DC models tend to be a bit quieter than AC motor.
Choosing the appropriate motor size
Now that you understand the basics of current types, you probably are wondering which size motors are typically on the market when choosing a residential garage door opener. If you go with an AC motor, they come in 1/3, ½, and ¾ horsepower. DC motors, on the other hand, come in either 500 of 700 newtons. In order to compare the two, realize that a 500 N motor is the same as a ½ HP motor and a 700 N motor is the same as one with ¾ HP.
It’s also worth being aware that for industrial and commercial application, garage doors tend to be used on a more frequent basis and are larger. For these garage door openers, the motor sizes can range from ½ HP to 4 or 5 HP. Most residential garage door openers on the market are going to be 500 N or ½ HP.
Now that you know all of that, we can delve into what size motor is appropriate for your needs. If you are buying for a single door, which is most commonly 9 x 7 ft. (2.7 x 2.1 m), a 500 N or ½ HP motor is going to be more than enough. If you have a double garage door, typically 16 x 7 ft. (4.9 x 2.1 m), or you are using a solid wood door, your best option is a motor of 700 N or ¾ HP.
Motor size is one thing to consider, but you should also take into account the motor life of the door opener you choose. Think about whether you want one that will last 7 years or one that will last 15 years. If the door opener you are looking at its more expensive than average, be sure you have the price difference explained to you.
The last thing you want to decide is what sort of optional accessories, like a remote light switch or a garage door monitor, you might want with your door opener. Some of the least expensive options may not have all the available accessories that you want. This is another situation where you should have all your options explained to you based on the quality of the door opener and the size of its motor.
Deciding whether you want smartphone connection
Also to be considered during selection is that many of the door openers available to you, no matter the size, are going to offer either built-in Wi-Fi connectivity or be capable of adapting with special accessories. What that means for you is that you’ll be able to control and monitor the garage door using a smartphone or tablet no matter where you happen to be.
If you decide to meet up with us at Door Systems Metro Boston, you can have all of these features explained to you. While it might not be something you need or will use right now, having the available functionality on an accessory for the future is never a bad idea. Be aware that the lower-end models may not have these accessories available.
Things to be aware of with safety in mind
In order to ensure total peace of mind, you need to be sure that your door is always properly balanced to the point where you can easily lift it with a single hand. We’ll explain how to evaluate there below so you can check:
- First, pull on the red cord that operates as an emergency release to disengage the door opened.
- Next, you want to raise up the door using the lift handle on the bottom or in the second from the bottom section, making sure you bend your knees as you do so.
- At about 4 ft. (1.2 m) from the ground, hold the door. If all is well, it should keep stable while being at this height.
- If there are no problems, it’s time to reengage the door opener. Back up the trolley that pulls on the door and then finish by reconnecting everything from your remote to operate your garage door.
- If something is wrong, it’s time to contact us to meet with one of our technician who knows the ins and outs of garage door systems.
When you’re ready to learn more or get assistance…
You can contact us anytime at 508-875-3508 for Framingham and 617-345-9500 for Boston. We would be pleased to go over our selection of garage door openers and narrow down, which is the one that best fits your budget and needs. We are also able to offer you a quotation by email.
You can also come and meet us in our showroom. If you make the decision to swap out your garage door, you can use our Design Centre to figure out which garage door style is right for you. We also have an image gallery for all your inspiration needs.
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