February 13, 2020

Understanding the Advantages Offered by a Belt-Drive Garage Door Opener

Is it time to buy a new garage door opener? Perhaps you’re investing in your first one ever. Whatever the case, there are different types on the market that you’ll need to consider. When you do, the primary area of difference is going to be the drive mechanism, which works something like the transmission on a car or truck. There are several different options out there, including chain drives, belt drives, screw drives, and even jackshaft openers that get installed beside the door rather than on the ceiling.

Wondering which is best? While there is no one size fits all solution here, in most instances, a belt drive garage door opener is going to be the better solution. We’ll discuss why within this post.

Myths or Facts

A Little Background First

Before we delve into the nuts and bolts of the situation, we need to lay some groundwork first. There are two types of garage door motor used today, AC, or alternating current, and DC, or direct current. With DC motors, they start slowly, speed up, then slow down to finish the cycle. With AC motors, they run at the same speed the entire time. Is one faster than the other? No. Each type manages to open or close the door with a speed of 6 to 8 inches (16 to 20 cm) per second.

Is the difference between AC and DC motors actually all that important? It is, mostly because DC motors are much quieter than AC motors, and for many homeowners, noise level is a serious consideration. There’s also the fact that DC motors can be equipped with a battery backup, whereas AC motors cannot.

What to Know about Operation

First, understand that we are discussing trolley‑style garage door openers here, not jackshaft style. Trolley‑style openers are installed in the center of the ceiling. The belt that drives the system is made from rubber that has been reinforced with metal wires, similar to your car’s steel belted radial tires. However, some manufacturers also use fiberglass and polyurethane as components.

The belt creates a loop that runs along a track shaped like a T. The belt’s tension is adjustable – you just need a wrench to keep it taut and prevent slipping. You can opt for a ½ HP or ¾ HP motor to turn the belt. If you have a double garage door that is around 16 feet wide, we recommend a ¾ HP motor. If you’ve only got a single door that is around 8 feet wide, our recommendation is ½ HP.

You also need to remember that all a garage door opener does is replace the effort you would need to exert to open the door. When properly balanced, your door should only weigh between 8 and 10 pounds (3.5 and 4 kilos). To test this, pull the disengage cord and see if you can easily raise the door by hand. If you cannot, there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

Belt Drive Opener Advantages

There are plenty of advantages to going with a belt drive garage door opener. However, the most significant is that they are so much quieter than other models. In fact, it’s estimated to be up to 30% quieter. That’s particularly important for homes with a bedroom attached to the garage, or located above it. In addition, going with a DC motor like the LiftMaster 8550W means you could reduce the noise level even more.

It’s normal that a garage door makes noise

Is it just the rubber belt that makes these openers so quiet? Not really. The drive design ensures fluid movement, which prevents jerking motions that can create unwanted noise. There’s also a different design to the motor housing, which reduces noise even more.

Of course, no product is completely perfect and belt drive openers do have one drawback. They’re more expensive than chain drive systems. This is particularly true if you’re comparing them to those three‑piece trolley systems that you can buy from your local big box retail store. Is it worth it to pay more? For most homeowners, the answer is yes. The reduced noise level coupled with improved liability makes this something of a no brainer.

Additional Ways to Reduce Garage Door Noise

There are other ways that you can reduce at least some of the noise created by your garage door opener, including the following:

Secure the Opener: One way to reduce noise is to make sure that you’ve secured an opener that is mounted on wood joists. Putting a strip of rubber between the steel angle and the joist will help to reduce noise, as will installing a vibration isolation kit between the angle and the housing of the opener.

Change the Rollers: If your garage door rides on metal rollers, you will find that they create a lot of noise. You can reduce that by swapping over to nylon rollers, which are available in black or white.

Lubricate Metal Parts: Make sure you lubricate the hinges, track curves, and horizontal tracks twice per year. Use 5W30 engine oil and do not go too heavy, or you’ll end up making the rollers slide rather than roll, and that will create even more noise.

Carpeting: If there’s a bedroom over the garage and it has wood floors, installing carpet can help to insulate against unwanted noise from below.

Consider a Jackshaft Opener: Another way you can reduce noise is by installing a Jackshaft opener, which sits beside the door, rather than being mounted to the ceiling.

There is no single action that will help to reduce garage door opener noise. It usually requires a combination of different steps. Work with an experienced garage door technician at Doan’s Overhead Garage Doors to find the right solution for you.

I’m Ready – What Next?

If you’re ready to move forward, get in touch with us. Call our office at 1‑888‑995‑5403. We’re garage door experts and would be happy to provide you with the advice and guidance necessary to find the right garage door opener. Don’t want to get on the phone? We can send you a quote by email, too.

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