Every garage opener system has the same purpose – get the door up and down on command. With the dozens of garage door opener models available for your Madison WI home, the challenge is selecting the right system for your need.
Three drive systems are the most popular for in-home use:
- Chain drive
- Belt drive
- Screw drive
The goal of each is to raise and lower a very heavy door as quickly and as quietly as possible. Each does the job and each has its up-side and down-side.
Compare Garage Door Opener Drive Designs
The chain drive system is the most common and least expensive of the three popular options. These units use a simple chain – similar to a bicycle chain – to control the garage door’s movement. With regular routine maintenance they last a long time. The strengths of a chain drive garage opener system include:
- Power lifting – chain drives are strong and capable of lifting heavy double doors without slipping.
- Reliable – with routine maintenance the system outlasts other options.
- Durable – seldom affected by the environment including changes in temperature and humidity.
- Service support – because they are so popular there are trained professionals available to maintain and install the openers.
Although they’re the most common garage opener drive systems, chain drives do have some drawbacks, including:
- Noise – a chain drive is the noisiest of the available options. In a house with a room over the garage this can be a serious consideration – especially if the room is a bedroom.
- Uneven operation – a chain drive unit doesn’t move the door as smoothly as other options. You may notice a sudden lurch when the system kicks in.
- Required maintenance – routine maintenance on this system includes lubrication at regular intervals to prevent rust and promote even, smooth operation.
Over decades of use the chain drive has proven itself to be reliable and worth the investment.
The Belt-driven Garage Opener System
The belt drive operating system is basically the same as the chain drive. It just uses a specially-designed belt instead of a metal chain. Common belts are made from steel-reinforced rubber, fiberglass or polyurethane. Because the rubber compound is softer than a chain it dampens noise and provides smoother operation.
The most positive attributes of a belt drive opener are:
- Quieter operation – without chain links to rattle on the metal guide rails this system is very quiet.
- Lifting power – as technology advances belt design these units are capable of lifting heavier loads.
- Durability – the same belts have replaced chains on some high-end motorcycles, a testament to their lasting power.
- Speed – a belt drive garage opener system will lift an average weight door slightly faster than a chain drive unit.
- Easy on/off – when the time comes to replace a worn belt, it comes off quickly and the replacement goes on easier than a chain.
- Lack of maintenance – belts don’t need lubrication.
- Availability – as they’ve proven their worth, belt drive units have become readily available.
A belt drive garage door opener does have its drawbacks, including:
- Strength – while ideal for light metal doors a belt system may struggle with heavy double garage doors or popular heavy wooden garage doors.
- Climate sensitive – during periods of extreme heat, high humidity or extreme cold a belt can slip.
- Longevity – typically, a belt doesn’t last as long as a chain.
- Overall cost – the front-end cost is likely higher than some options and the need to replace the belt is a consideration.
All things considered, many people consider quieter operation the most significant factor separating chain and belt drive systems.
A Screw Drive Garage Opener System
The least know option in the garage door opener market is the screw drive mechanism. A threaded steel rod is used to guide the garage door up and down and the push/pull forces are much different from either a chain or belt. Because it is usually more expensive than the others it isn’t as popular but it does have its positive attributes, including:
- Quiet operation – the carriage moving the door runs along the threaded rod so there is no rattle from a chain.
- Fewer parts – fewer parts usually means less maintenance.
- Smooth operation – no lag time while belt of chain engages.
There are drawbacks, too:
- Noise – while quieter than many chain drive systems, the screw mechanism is noisier than a belt drive.
- Weather sensitive – screw drives are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature.
- Costly – a garage opener with a screw drive mechanism is usually more expensive than alternatives while it delivers few advantages over them.
- Technology – as advances are made in belt design to make belts stronger and more durable, the screw drive system is less appealing.
Rely On A Pro For The Right Garage Door Opener
Installation is the basis for reliable performance of any drive system. Poor installations lead to excessive wear on moving parts and stress on door components. All that stress reduces operating life of the door and its safety features.
Northland Door Systems has the right tool for your garage. We install openers with power and performance features to match your needs. Our lineup of professional-quality residential door openers includes:
- Linear LLC – both belt and chain drive models
- Marantec – both belt and chain drive models
- Genie – belt, chain and screw drive models
- Lift Master – Chamberlain – both belt and chain drive models
Whether you’re looking for a new or replacement garage door opener call Northland Door Systems at 608-251-3627. Or email us for professional assistance to choose the best garage opener system for your Madison WI home.