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Chain, Belt, Screw drive, or Jackshaft?

For years chain drive and screw drive openers were your only options for residential garage door openers. Chain drives were considered the old reliable ones and screw drives were the high-tech, quiet ones. Thanks to modern technology we now have belt drive and jackshaft openers as well. Now, belt drive units are far and wide the most popular units. They couple the strength and reliability of chain drive openers with the quiet performance of a screw drive. We have found that the Whisper Drive 1/2hp 3280 model finds a great balance between value and performance and install this unit on 95% of our jobs. Recently Liftmaster has introduced the 3800 Jackshaft opener. Specially designed for garages that don’t allow for a traditional garage door opener, this ultra-quiet, space-saving, wall-mounted jackshaft opener is perfect when you need to save space or have an oversized door or vaulted ceiling.

1/3, 1/2 or 3/4 horsepower?

1/3 and 1/2 horsepower garage openers have been around for many years. The required horsepower really depends on the weight, balance and type of garage door. 3/4 horsepower residential garage door openers were introduced by Chamberlain Group or Liftmaster in 2001. 3/4 horsepower openers have been used on commercial doors and applications for many years. Some of the time 1/3 horsepower openers can do the job, but work harder and make more noise in the process. Openers with 1/2 horsepower motors were considered to be top-of-the-line with more power, features and warranty. These openers perform remarkably well on most all residential garage doors. Then there are the 3/4 horsepower monsters. The 3/4 hp. Estate Series is Liftmaster’s quiet, powerful, state-of-art flagship. These units were specially designed to handle the task of hoisting large heavy Carriage style or sided garage doors.

Retail vs. Professional?

The main difference between retail openers and professionally installed garage door openers are in the rail. Retail openers come equipped with multi-piece rail assemblies, whereas pro model openers are installed with one piece rails only. Multi-piece rails make it possible for the retail consumer to fit a retail opener in the trunk of their vehicle.


It’s pretty ingenious how these multi-piece openers are designed and packaged. However, the problem with a multi-piece designed rail is the lack of strength and rigidity, in most cases they are downright flimsy. The pro model rails are far superior in strength and rigidity. With some makes and models there is not much difference between retail vs. professional other than the rail itself. Then there are the some professional models far superior in quality to retail openers. For the do-it-yourself customer, buying a retail opener can offer some savings if installed properly.


Customers buying retail and then paying for installation may save very little. In some cases it actually ends up costing more than a professionally installed opener. Openers that are installed by a garage door contractor or professional can cost anywhere from a little less to a little more than a retail installed garage opener. Basically for about the same retail vs. pro price, a professionally installed garage door opener will be a superior product with an overall better value. Also the garage door itself should be balanced, safe and operate properly. The best garage door opener will not last as long and will not be safe, on a garage door that is not operating properly. The last consideration is the installation itself. You can have a good garage door opener with a bad installation or a bad garage door opener with a good installation. Why not have the best of both worlds?

About Us

A1 Garage Doors is a family owned and operated business who is dedicated to outstanding customer service. A1 Garage Doors was founded in 2005 and we love helping locals with all their garage door needs. We look forward to serving you.


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