You are looking to upgrade your old electric garage door opener to one that is quieter and more modern. A friend tells you not to forget recent technological advances, such as smartphone connectivity. What is THAT all about?
Not to worry – here is a blog that can answer any questions you might have, and a few more.
To start with, some basic background info
First and foremost, you need to understand that an electric garage door opener’s job is just to make your life easier so that you can, for instance, avoid dashing through a downpour when arriving home in the rain. However, don’t forget that the door opener only takes the place of you opening or closing the garage door manually, with no more than the strength of one hand.
The way for this to happen is your garage door must be properly balanced using either a torsion or extension spring system which serves as a counterweight to the door’s deadweight, anywhere from 90 to 350 lb. (40 to 160 kilos). A garage door that has been properly balanced should appear to weigh from 8 to 10 lb. (3 to 4 kilos), a weight that ought to be easy enough for you to lift manually.
So how do I tell if the spring system is unbalanced? The proper way is to disconnect the electric door opener with the door closed, then manually open the door halfway, about 4 feet (1.2 m). It should be able to remain in this neutral position, without moving. If it quickly falls or shoots open, this door is unbalanced, and your spring system isn’t working properly. It is highly recommended to contact a GARAGA garage door specialist immediately to remedy this situation.
Okay, but isn’t a garage door opener designed to lift a much heavier load, like up to 225 lb. (100 kilos)? Yes, it is, but this also means the motor can push that same weight down. Without safety systems included with modern openers, people or objects found under a closing door could be crushed.
Good terminology to know
Before going any further into talking about motor sizes, let’s review a few terms. With many motorized products we talk about horsepower, abbreviated as HP. But did you know that there are two types of electrical current to connect to garage door opener motors? There is the more well-known AC (alternating current), or DC (direct current).
When speaking about alternating current, it is measured by HP. For direct current, we instead use newton force (N). Even though they are somewhat different as power types, equivalencies do exist.
What is the fundamental difference? AC-type motors remain at the same speed while DC motors start slowly, increase in speed, and then reduce their speed before stopping. Which one is best? Both models are equivalent in terms of technical performance, but DC models are a little quieter that AC.
So what size motor do I need?
Now that we’ve reviewed current types, what size motors are found on the market for residential door openers? For AC motors, the range is ⅓, ½ or ¾ HP, while for DC motors, they either come in 500 or 700 newtons. For comparisons, a 500 N motor corresponds to a ½ HP motor, and 700 N corresponds to ¾ HP.
Incidentally, for commercial and industrial applications where garage doors are often much larger and used more, motor sizes vary from ½ HP to 4 or even 5 HP. The biggest sellers for residential garage door openers are those of ½ HP or 500 N.
Taking all of that into consideration, what size do I need? Well, for a single door, commonly 9 x 7 ft. (2.7 x 2.1 m), a ½ HP or 500 N motor is sufficient. For a double garage door, 16 x 7 ft. (4.9 x 2.1 m), or a solid wood door, a ¾ HP or 700 N motor is recommended.
In addition to the size of the garage door, another rating to factor in to your decision is motor life – do you want it to last for 7 or 15 years? If you are looking at a slightly more expensive door opener, make sure you are clearly explained the difference in price.
Lastly, among your selection criteria, you should be aware that there are optional accessories (ex.: garage door monitor, remote light switch) which you can add to your door opener. For some lower price motors, not all the accessories you might desire are available. Again, have your various choices clearly explained to you based on motor size and the manufacturing quality of the door opener.
Connection with my smartphone?
Lastly, among your selection criteria, you should be aware that almost all door openers currently on the market, whatever the size, either come with built-in Wi‑Fi connectivity or are able to be adapted with optional accessories. This means you can monitor and control your garage door from your smart device from your driveway or anywhere in the world.
Again, if you meet with a GARAGA garage door professional, have these capabilities explained to you. This may not be overly important for you today but knowing that this function is available by adding on an accessory or two in the future is attractive. Note that lower-end openers may not have every type of accessory available.
Safety issues to keep in mind
- Remember, to have peace of mind, your door must always remain properly balanced and you should be able to lift it with only one hand. Here is the procedure to evaluate the state of your door:
- Disengage your door opener by pulling on the red emergency release cord.
- Raise the door using the lift handle located on the bottom or 2nd from the bottom section, being sure to bend your knees.
- Hold the door at about 4 ft. (1.2 m) from the ground. It should remain stable at this height.
- If everything is fine, reengage your door opener by backing up the trolley that pulls the door and then reconnect the system by operating the door from your remote.
- If something is amiss, get in touch with a GARAGA technician specialized in garage door systems.
For additional information on this subject…
Don’t be reluctant to contact us at 724-834-8450. It would be our pleasure to explain our complete selection of electric garage door openers and assist you in finding the one that will best suit your needs and your budget. We are also able to provide you with a quotation by email.
Alternatively, why not come and meet us at our showroom? If you end up deciding to change your garage door, go ahead and use our Design Centre to help you choose the style of garage door that fits you best. You can also peruse our image gallery to find lots of inspiration.