Garage Door Openers: Chain vs Belt vs Screw Drive

Garage Door Openers: Chain vs Belt vs Screw Drive

Garage door openers come in several types, with the most common being screw, chain, and belt driven models. In most respects, these three drive types are similar – they raise and lower the garage door with a stationary motor – but they have individual differences that you should consider before purchasing. All three types have a working life of around 10-15 years on average.

Don’t worry, all three types are tried and true, you only need to decide which one works best for your home. All garage door openers can be fitted with remote controls, leaving the primary difference in mode of operation, not ease of use.

Chain Drive Openers

Chain drive is one of the oldest types of garage door openers. It uses a stationary motor with a gear on it to reel up the door when it needs to be opened. To lower the door, the tension on chain is reduced and the motor acts as a check to keep the door from sliding downward too fast.

Chain Drive garage door openers tend to be low to moderately priced, depending on the brand and model. Because of the noise level, this type of opener may not be a good idea beneath a bedroom, unless you want to wake someone up every time the garage door is opened and closed.

Belt Drive Openers

Belt driven openers are the logical evolution of the chain drive. Instead of a chain that is reeled in, belt drives uses a continuous belt and a roller system attached to a reversible motor.

In most respects, it operates the same as a chain drive, but it also has the distinction of being the quietest commonly used drive type. Because they are quieter, typically faster to raise and lower, and have fewer moving parts, belt driven garage door openers tend to be priced a bit higher than other types.

Screw Drive Openers

The screw drive is one of the oldest types of garage door opener. It has the benefit of having fewer movable parts, but the disadvantage of being the noisiest type on the market.

Screw drive works, as the name implies, by ratcheting the door up or down using a rotating shaft. Screw drives tend be more vulnerable to shift in heat extremes, and that makes them less desirable in southern climates.

Given that the cost is equal to or greater than a chain drive unit, it makes more practical sense to use the chain drive unless you are using the garage door opener as part of your home security program.

Our Recommendation

All things considered, a name brand belt drive garage door opener would without question be our recommended type for the typical homeowner. Sure, it may cost a bit more than a chain drive (<$100 more in most cases), but for something that will last 10+ years, you’re literally spending less than $10 a year for the convenience of a much quieter and faster model. Bob at HandymanHowTo.com has a great article on his choice of best garage door opener (hint: it’s a belt drive model).


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