We get this question frequently and there are some things to consider. For this post we’ll talk specifically about residential garage door openers.
What size is your door? This question really has many variables. If you have a Traditional Steel door that is one sided, non-insulated, and without windows it could weigh as little as 150lbs even if it’s 16 feet wide and 7 feet high, much less if it’s smaller. So the real question would be 2 part. What size is your door and what type it is? A typical door for the Northeast will generally be insulated and in most cases be a steel front and back with the insulation sandwiched in between. The extra layer of steel combined with the insulation makes the door more than twice as heavy as the Traditional Steel. Even so, if your door is balanced correctly a 1/2 hp motor would be all that’s necessary. If you can lift your door manually with relative ease than the springs are doing their job and thus the motor is only lifting that relative weight as well.
If you have a custom wood door that has had some wood veneer installed making it much heavier than most we may recommend a 3/4hp motor but not why you may think. Wood doors when cared for properly will last a very long time. Even with this care (painting, staining, adjusting, etc.) they will absorb and release moisture during the seasonal changes. This added weight can make the wood door run slightly different at certain times. If the springs were adjusted when the door was installed and now some years have past it almost certain the door weighs more now due to water weight. A 3/4hp motor has the additional power to compensate for these changes and the settings on the motor itself will not need seasonal adjustment.
The overwhelming majority of garage door openers we install are 1/2hp and in almost every instance we use those powered by DC motors to insure quiet performance.
When it comes down to the drive system (chain, belt, screw) we almost always recommend the chain drive models because of their historic reliability and ease of adjustment if needed. Contrary to popular belied a belt drive is not substantially quieter than chain drive. The noise you hear comes from the motor not the drive system. DC motors are far quieter than AC so if noise is a concern always choose the DC motor.
So logically it would make sense that you would get more life out of a larger motor but the historical data shows that in many cases you’re paying more for horsepower you neither need nor use.
Lastly, please consider the motor warranty. Like most of todays devices garage door openers are packed full of electronics and although they are built and tested to last for years they still are subject to electrical issues from time to time. Having a local company do the installation for you insures you have a local contact, real live expert, should you have an issue.
Our expertly trained staff is available anytime by phone to answer any questions you may have regarding garage door openers even if you’re not purchasing one from us. Let us help you make the most informed decision possible.
Your Overhead Door Team