The Types of Automatic Garage Door Openers

The four common types of garage door openers for residential use are classified by the mechanism that moves the garage door, a chain, screw, belt or torsion spring. When deciding on which type of garage door opener to install in your garage, three other factors come into play: price, noise level and maintenance. The type of garage door opener best suited your needs will be a compromise between those three factors.

Chain-Driven Garage Door Openers

Chain-driven garage door openers are the least expensive and most common type of automatic garage door opener. Although the most economical type of garage door openers, chain-driven models are the noisiest and require a lot of maintenance.

The chain winds into the power head and pulls the carriage that is mounted to the door bracket. When the garage door opener is activated, the chain has a tendency to slap the rail. The rail slapping noise is reduced on more expensive models, but the nature of the power head will still produce a lot of noise.

With a large amount of moving parts, maintenance is important to reduce premature wear of internal components and the chain.

Screw-Driven Garage Door Openers

Moderately priced and less noisy then chain-driven models, screw-driven garage door openers have a worm screw held within their rail. A grooved carriage rides under the worm screw. When the garage door opener is activated, the worm screw turns and moves the carriage, lifting the door. With the least amount of moving parts, they require the least amount of maintenance.

The screw-driven automatic garage door opener is also the strongest and fastest type of garage door opener.

Belt-Driven Garage Door Openers

Expensive and quiet, belt-driven garage door openers operate in the same fashion as chain-driven types, but the loud chain is replaced by quieter rubber belt. Like its chain-driven cousins, the belt-driven garage door opener has a lot of moving parts that require maintenance.

The rubber belt that raises and lowers the garage door is durable, and most manufacturers offer a "life of the home" warranty on the rubber belt and power head.

Progressive Technology: Torsion-Spring Garage Door Openers

Torsion-spring automatic garage door openers are the most expensive type of garage door opener. Their design allows them to be installed in less room than the other types of garage door openers. Due to their limited availability and unpredictability, torsion-spring garage door openers are not common. Unlike the other style of garage door openers, torsion-spring garage door openers do not have a rail. They turn the torsion-spring rod directly. This allows them to operate with less noise.

Maintenance on torsion-spring garage doors is also higher than the other types of garage door openers. If the power head moves out of alignment, the garage door will jam.


All three types of automatic garage door openers have an infrared safety beam. If the beam is broken, the garage door opener will automatically reverse. Higher-priced garage doors also have a pressure switch. The pressure switch senses slight increases in the amount of pressure exerted by the door. When the pressure increases, the door automatically switches from the down cycle to the up cycle.