Garage Door Opener Buying Guide

garage door opener buying guide

Several types of garage door openers exist today. Each with their own share of pros and cons. Choosing between them can frustrate the best of us. Prevent buying paralysis by using this garage door opener buying guide to make an informed decision.

Basic Components

Motor: There are two types of motors you can choose from: alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC). While AC is the most common, DC motors offer softer starting and stopping, which translates to quieter operation. They both use standard 120v outlets to help raise and lower the door each time a button is pressed.

Lifting Power: When buying a garage door opener, choose a ½ horsepower (HP) for standard doors, or ¾ HP for frequently used or insulated doors. 1 HP and up is recommended for heavier doors such as wood. Keep in mind, however, that higher HP ratings will put less strain on the motor.

Drive Mechanisms: There are three main types of garage door openers: chain, belt, and screw. Belt drives provide quiet, smooth, reliable performance. They are also easy to maintain. This is the opener to get if there is occupied space above the garage. Chain and screw drive openers are often noisier than a belt drive.

Must Have Features

Internet Connectivity: Wi-Fi enabled openers provide peace of mind. They allow you to monitor and control the door from anywhere. To get started, you need to connect the opener to your home Wi-Fi network, and then download a compatible app to your smartphone or tablet. Web access is also available.

Battery Backups: In the event of a power outage, openers with a fully charged battery backup will ensure uninterrupted power for 24 hours or 20 full cycles, whichever comes first. These openers are recommended in areas prone to power failures. LiftMaster® offers chain and belt drive openers with battery backup systems.

Can I Self-Install a Garage Door Opener?

A professional can install your new garage door opener in less time than it would take you. They can also ensure safe and proper functionality. Dynamic Door Tulsa has certified installers readily available to assist you with the installation of your new garage door opener. We can even provide same-day service.

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Garage Door Springs 101

garage door springs

Garage door operation depends on several crucial components, especially the springs, which work to lift and lower the heavy door. With a limited lifespan, measured in cycles, the springs are the most frequently replaced part on a garage door. Once they reach their breaking point, they will likely snap, rendering the door inoperable until professional repairs have been made. Here is everything you need to know about them.

Spring Type

The two types of garage door springs are torsion and extension.

Torsion: Mounted on metal bar directly above door opening, torsion springs twist and coil, providing force as the door is lifted either manually or via a garage door opener. In this position, they are under tremendous tension; tension that is released as the door closes. The industry standard for torsion springs is 15,000 to 20,000 cycles.

Extension: Suspended above the vertical tracks on a cable pulley system, extension springs expand and contract, counterbalancing the weight of the heavy door as it moves up and down the tracks. All extension springs should be paired with safety cables! The industry standard for extension springs is about 10,000 cycles.

Understanding ‘Cycles’

The industry standard for extension springs is about 10,000 cycles, whereas, you can typically expect anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 cycles from a torsion spring. Cycles can vary depending on spring material and quality. Opening and closing your garage door counts as one cycle. If you operate your garage door four times a day, which is the national average, you can expect a lifespan of approximately seven years.

Other causes for spring failure include lack of maintenance, rust and corrosion, and extreme weather fluctuations. They can also break due to damage sustained from a vehicle colliding with the door (it happens more often than you’d think!) Because the lifespan of springs varies from one house to the next, high-cycle torsion springs are also available. These springs are rated for 20,000; 30,000; or even 50,000 cycles.

Always Contact a Professional

Garage door springs are under a lot of pull. Once they break, the door cannot operate safely, and should not be used until the springs have been replaced – a job best left to an experienced professional. Professionals have the experience and equipment to do it safely and efficiently. Many companies even offer same-day or 24-hour emergency repair for broken springs.

Home Improvement for Your Garage Door

home improvement

Ah, spring! The season for new beginnings has sprung. For most, the home feels like the most logical place to start, and with good reason. Improving curb appeal by cleaning or replacing the garage door; maximizing space through organization; and safeguarding your vehicle from damage can decrease costly repairs and add value to your home.

Here are some things you can do for your garage door this spring.

Organize the Space

Is your garage a catchall for stuff? Optimize space by selling, donating or trashing what you don’t need, and installing organizational products. Wall and overhead storage racks work great for getting stuff off the floor. As you’re organizing, store like items together, keeping those you use the most easily accessible.

Clean the Garage Door

Cleaning the garage door is an easy chore that with the right products (i.e., a detergent with <0.5% phosphate and soft sponges/cloths), takes only minutes. Begin by wetting the door using a hose, then washing from top to bottom, rinsing thoroughly. Allow to dry completely. Avoid using a pressure washer as it could damage the door.

Replace the Garage Door

If your garage door is worn, damaged or in need of constant repair, replace it. A new steel door with two coats of factory-applied paint and R-12 foam insulation has a 98.3% return on investment. New doors are available in a variety of colors and styles to compliment any architecture. They are also safer and energy efficient!

Install an Easy Parking Aid

Have you ever bumped the wall by pulling too far into the garage? A parking aid is an inexpensive way to save you from damaging your car and home in the future. A laser parking assist works by directing a laser light to a location you determine is safe. The aid is automatically activated whenever you pull into the garage.

Perform a Safety Check on the Door

To test the automatic reversal feature, open the garage door and place a 2×4 or roll of paper towels on the floor, directly in the door’s path. Press the “close” button. The door should reverse direction as soon as it contacts the object.

To test the photoelectric sensors, the door should be open. Press the “close” button. As the door is descending, pass a broom in front of the sensors (attached 6” from the floor on both sides of the horizontal track). The should immediately reverse direction.

Should the door fail either of these tests, the door can become a safety hazard for pets and children, and you should contact a local garage door professional for repair. Note: Disconnect the opener from the door until repairs have been made.

Entry Door Smart Tech

smart tech

Smart deadbolts and video doorbells are two of the best ways to keep an eye on your house. Installing smart tech on your front entry door is relatively easy. Connected technology allows you to monitor your children, package deliveries (and thieves), and visitors even when you’re at work or at an exotic resort.

Make your front door smarter with these smart deadbolts and video doorbells.

Smart Tech: Doorbells

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Compatibility: Amazon Echo, Google Home, IFTTT

Field of View: 160 degrees

Motion Detection: Yes

Video Resolution: 1080p

Price: $240 on Amazon; $3/monthly subscription fee per camera.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro features 1080p video, custom motion zones, and pre-buffering to capture what was going on before the triggered event. It also integrates with Amazon Echo and Google Home as well as a several other smart devices via IFTTT. Uses three infrared LEDs to provide up to 30 feet of night vision. Comes with four interchangeable faceplates (black, bronze, nickel, and white) for customization.

SkyBell Video Doorbell

Compatibility: Amazon Echo and Google Home

Field of View: 180 degrees

Motion Detection: Yes

Video Resolution: 1080p

Price: $165 on Amazon; $0/monthly subscription fee.

Feature-rich, the SkyBell HD Video Doorbell is easy to install, delivers sharp 1080p video and offers free cloud storage at an affordable price. It also integrates with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Additionally, the SkyBell HD uses multi-color LEDs to provide full color night vision video, and captures several seconds of footage prior to a triggered event. Comes in a brushed silver or bronze finish.

Smart Tech: Deadbolts

August Smart Lock Pro

Alarm: No

Compatibility: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomeKit

Connectivity: Bluetooth

Number Pad: Optional

Price: $230 on Amazon

Go keyless with the August Smart Lock Pro. Features include automatic unlock and remote monitoring. It is easy to install and can be controlled remotely or with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri voice commands (requires a hub). Can also be integrated to work with other smart home gadgets, such as lights, thermostats, and garage door openers. Comes in your choice of silver or dark gray.

Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt

Alarm: Yes

Compatibility: Amazon Echo (hub required)

Connectivity: Z-Wave

Number Pad: Yes

Price: $180 on Amazon

Another option for going keyless, the Schlage Connect features a sleek, modern touchscreen as well as remote capabilities. It is also equipped with a keyed cylinder for backup purposes. An audible built-in alarm notifies you if anyone attempts to tamper with it. The lock is available in a variety of finishes, including satin nickel, satin chrome, bright chrome, and aged bronze. Installation is straightforward.

Take Back Your Garage

take back your garage

Follow these tips to achieve your dream of a Pinterest-worthy organized garage.

Step One: Declutter

The first step to organizing your garage is to take everything out of your garage – after ensuring no rain is forecasted that day. Then, sort items into three groups: sell/donate, trash, and keep. Be ruthless during this process. If you come across an item that you’re unsure about, it may help to answer the following questions:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I need it?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • Do I own more than one of this exact item?

While you’re sorting through the clutter in an all-out effort to take back your garage, there are some items that should be stored anywhere else, but the garage. These items include paint; propone and other hazardous materials; pet food; paper products; and large appliances like a spare refrigerator or freezer.

Paint: Extreme cold or heat can ruin it. Store paint in a low-moisture, climate-controlled area, rather than the garage. Responsibly dispose of any left-over paint you don’t plan to use in the very near future.

Propane: A spark could ignite the fumes. Propane tanks should always be stored outside – away from the house. Always ensure the valve is fully in the “off” position after using the tank. Propane tanks also require responsible disposal.

Pet Food: Mice and other pests consider pet food – whether open or unopened – an open dinner invitation. This includes birdseed. Store pet food in sealed containers and place in a climate-controlled area.

Paper Goods: Another thing that may attract mice and other pests is paper goods (e.g., toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, etc.). It’s a good idea to store these items in your pantry instead.

Refrigerator or Deep Freezer: In areas that are not climate-controlled, these appliances will battle against the ambient temperature to keep your food and/or drinks cold, thus using more energy than if they were stored in the house.

Step Two: Storage

Now that you’ve thrown away the junk and sold or donated anything of value that is no longer useful to you, you should have a better idea of how much storage you need, and what kind. Your objective in this step is to get as much as you can off the garage floor and onto the walls or shelves.

Storage-solutions ensure that there is a place for everything and that everything goes back in its place after use. Before going out and purchasing storage-solutions or the materials to make your own, it’s important to determine whether you prefer to store items behind closed doors, on shelving units or a mix of both.

Step Three: Layout

Cabinets: If you’d prefer to store items behind closed doors, consider thick, low-gauge steel cabinets with sliding doors for longevity. Sliding doors are preferable in a garage over swing out because they help to minimize potential dings to your car.

Pegboard: Pegboard (now also available in galvanized steel) with an array of hooks and baskets is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to store your most often used tools. Slat walls or track systems with hooks and baskets are two more viable options.

Shelving: Industrial strength storage units are perfect for storing large items. Combine with stackable clear-plastic bins with lids for loose or small items. Use mason jars or other clear jar for nuts, screws, and bolts.

Workbench: A built-in workbench is the perfect accessory to any garage. You can custom build a standing or fold-down workbench in little to no time … or you can buy one. Painting the top using chalkboard paint allows you to jot down quick measurements.

Overhead Storage Racks: An effective cluster-busting storage solution is overhead or ceiling-mounted storage racks. Installation is very easy and straightforward. Their ability to free up valuable floor space is why so many people choose them.

Use the following rules of thumb as you assign everything a home:

  1. Store similar items (e.g., camping, gardening, woodworking, vehicle maintenance, etc.) together and within reach of where you are likely to use these items.
  2. Put bulky items, like lawnmowers and trash receptacles, in corners where they won’t get bumped or knocked over.
  3. Store seasonal decorations towards the back of the shelving units. Rotate forward during the month you’ll be using them.
  4. Finally, the single, most important tip for ensuring you’re able to park your car in the garage is to keep items off the floor whenever possible.

Must Have Gadgets for Your Garage

must have gadgets for the garage

The garage: It’s where we park our cars and store our stuff. Garages, whether attached or detached, add a great deal of value. However, no garage is complete without its share of gadgets! Here are some must have gadgets for your garage.

Smart Garage Door Opener

Have you ever driven away from home wondering if you left the garage door open? With a smart garage door opener, you can monitor and operate your door using only your smartphone from virtually anywhere in the world; assuming you have a reliable Internet connection. Whether you’re upstairs, at the office or on vacation, you’re always in control. You can also receive notifications whenever your door is opened or closed.

Emergency Roadside Kit

Getting stranded with a dead car battery or being caught off guard by a flat tire is not only stressful, but potentially dangerous, which is why it’s a good idea to store a well-stocked emergency roadside kit in the trunk of your car. AAA endorsed, this kit features both first-aid and automotive emergency items, including (but not limited to) jumper cables, tools and first aid items. You should also add:

  • Blanket
  • Paper towels
  • Fix-a-Flat sealant
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Coolant (one gallon min)
  • Motor oil (one quart min)
  • Flares or triangle reflectors
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • A portable jump starter kit (optional)

Laser Parking Assistants

Whether you share your garage with another car or space is at premium, a laser parking assistant takes the guesswork out of parking by telling you exactly when and where to stop. When the garage door opens, a laser beam turns on automatically, guiding the driver to a predetermined location as evidenced on their dash or hood. No more need to inch back or forth, or worry about damaging your vehicle.

Travel Tray

It’s inevitable. From the grocery store, pediatrician’s office or local amusement park, today’s families are always on the go. Make car rides easier with Travel Tray; an innovative two compartment snack and drink travel tray. It can be taken anywhere and fits conveniently into vehicle, car seat and stroller cup holders. 100% food grade safe; BPA-free, PHT-free, and PVC-free; and top rack dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

Prepare Your Home for Winter (and the Holidays)

The holidays are less than four weeks away! While we’re sure there’s a lot to do (gifts to buy, decorations to hang, cookies to bake, etc.), it’s just as important to ready your home for the winter season as well. Having lists, such as this one, is guaranteed to help you prepare your home for both winter and the holidays.

Maximize Useful Space

Home to so much stuff – from sports and recreational equipment to seasonal decorations and garden tools – there’s rarely room to park one car; let alone two in a three-car garage. Let’s change that. Before decorating for the holidays, take a couple hours or if necessary, days to declutter your garage.

Start by donating, selling or trashing anything you no longer use, or have too many of. The idea here is to get items off the floor, into clearly labeled containers, and onto modular storage units. You can easily purchase everything you need – shelves, cabinets, hooks, pegboards, overhead storage racks – at local home improvement stores.

Replace Weatherstripping

After you’ve maximized space in your garage, inspect the weatherstripping around the garage door’s bottom, sides and top for any wear or tear. Replace as needed to keep rodents, debris, and rain from getting in. Weatherstripping can also improve energy-efficiency by keeping cold air out – an especially valuable quality in an attached garage. Don’t forget to improve weatherstripping on side entry doors as well.

Increase Lighting Outdoors

Transform your whole home in both curb appeal and function simply by increasing your use of LED or solar lighting outdoors. Path lights, spot/flood lights, landscape lights, deck lights, in-ground/well lights, and porch lights are all solid choices. Additional benefits include extending your living space and deterring intruders. Motion-activated lighting often provides the greatest benefits.

Decorate Your Front Porch

Deck out your front porch for the holiday season by stringing lights, hanging wreaths and/or garland, or setting up mini pine trees on both sides of the door. Line your walkway with luminaries or pathway trees for a festive touch. Another good idea is to cozy up any outdoor furniture with holiday printed throw pillows. Pinterest offers some excellent ideas for decorating your front porch for the holidays. Tip: Using LEDs will reduce the cost of decorating your home for the holiday season.

Schedule Garage Door Maintenance

By having the garage door periodically inspected and maintained by a professional garage door service company near Tulsa, you can extend the functional life of what is, arguably your home’s largest moving object. A garage door professional can identify excessive wear and tear, and parts in need of repair or replacement, as well as tighten any hardware that may have become loose over time.

Consider a New Garage or Entry Door

If you’re looking for a way to save energy and increase security, while also adding value to your home, consider replacing your existing garage or entry door. Replacing the garage door ranks as one of the top home improvement projects you can do, generating a 76.9% return on investment at resale, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value report. A new entry door has a 90.7% return on investment.