Garage door openers, on average, come in one of two types: belt drive or chain drive. There are pros and cons to both. Depending on who you ask, you may get a recommendation for either.
How does one go about choosing which style is best for their situation? Does the choice matter, in the end? There is no scientific research to be found proving either argument. Let’s take a look at each in great detail and see if you can draw your conclusions on the matter.
The Benefits of a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener
- Quiet: There may be nothing more irritating than an insanely loud garage door opener. In the case of belt drive openers, noise is rarely an issue. If a whisper-quiet door is on your must-have list, belt drive could be the best choice.
- Strong: Once upon a time, belt drive garage door openers were only known to do light work. Technology has greatly improved the performance of these belts, making them strong enough for almost every household garage door application.
- Fast: Belt drive openers are typically faster than chain drives. The difference between the two is negligible (unless you’re going for some kind of door opening record.)
- Replacement: Most garage door professionals agree that installing a new belt is noticeably easier than changing out a chain.
- Popular: Belt drives have become popular to the point that their parts are widely available. This style of garage door opener can be purchased at almost any home improvement retailer. Your local garage door company will have a plethora of them, as well.
- Maintenance: Maintenance is easy, as belts do not require the lubrication a chain drive opener does.
The Downsides of a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener
- Best for Single Door Applications: While strong enough for the typical single-car or split multi-car garage, belt drives are not built to handle large or heavy doors.
- Durability: Belt drive openers can struggle in extreme conditions like excessive heat and humidity. They will likely still function but could be slower or slip in these conditions.
- Longevity: Belts wear out much faster than chains do. Fortunately, belt drives are easy to replace.
- Cost: Belt drive openers tend to cost more than chain drives.
The Benefits of a Chain Drive Garage Door Opener
- Strong: Belt drives are strong enough for average home needs, but chain drives can do the truly heavy lifting. Large, heavy, or wood doors often require the installation of a chain drive garage door opener. Chain drive openers are popular in industrial settings.
- Longevity: The chain on a chain drive garage door opener will last longer than a belt in most cases. This assumes that the owner performs the regular maintenance required (see below).
- Durability: Chain drives perform well in any weather condition. They lack the issue with slipping in high humidity that a belt drive might experience.
- Cost: Chain drives are a more economical option. Their lower cost is a major factor for homeowners deciding to deal with this noisier option.
The Downsides of a Chain Drive Garage Door Opener
- Noise: The chain on this type of garage door opener can become very noisy. If your garage is close to living or sleeping spaces, the noise may be a major issue. For homes with detached garages, noise is rarely a factor.
- Clunky: The function of the chain drive can lead to an opening experience lacking the smooth lifting of a belt drive. This can also make the process slightly slower than belt drive opening.
- Regular Maintenance: Chain drive chains must be lubricated at regular intervals. This helps prevent rust and other problems. Lubrication is a DIY task but will need to be done annually, at a minimum.
Have you drawn any conclusions yet? As you have seen, the pros and cons are limited when comparing these two popular types of openers. The choice may come down to the type of door you have and your tolerance for noise. If cost is an issue, the chain drive garage door opener is an easy choice.
When it comes time to make a final decision, consult with your local garage door installation company. They can go over your needs and preferences, helping you decide which option is the right one for your garage.