If you’re thinking of switching to an automated garage door, you may be wondering how to choose from the many types of electric opener for your existing garage. In this guide, we’ll take you through the different types of garage door that can be automated as well as factors to consider when choosing an electric opener.
Which Garage Doors Can Be Automated?
Before you can choose the right electric garage door opener, you need to know what type of garage door you have. The easiest doors to transform into automatic solutions are:
- One Piece Up and Over – These retractable garage doors have spring-assisted horizontal runners which go into the garage.
- Sectional Doors – These doors have the same requirements as a retractable door.
- Roller Doors – If your door is a continuous curtain single-skin steel roller door, it is easy to switch to an automatic version.
- Side-Hinged Doors, providing they are made with a durable chassis construction.
- Canopy-Style Up and Over – Hormann and wooden garage doors such as Garador are the only styles of canopy door suitable for automation. A common mistake is to omit the canopy bow arm converter, but the door won’t work without this.
If you’re unsure if it’s possible to convert your garage door, or you have any sort of canopy door, it can be beneficial to speak to an industry professional who can advise you.
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What to Look for When Choosing a Mechanism
There are various mechanisms to choose from when shopping for a garage door opener, which can make it a daunting process. We’ve outlined the key features to look out for below to help you make your decision, based on your specific needs and the type of garage door you have.
When you’re dealing with an electronic operator, it’s paramount that you consider safety first. Garage doors are heavy and can be a hazard if you don’t have the correct features in place, such as automatic stopping if the door is obstructed. The UK now has safety regulations in place to ensure that door operators should, at the very least, have a power surge system to stop and immediately reverse if it hits an object. Any door without this system in place requires the addition of a ‘break beam’ device or a pressure-sensitive sensor that will ensure safety. However, this is an extra cost and they can be difficult to install, so it’s a better investment to choose a garage door with a self-learning safety mechanism.
Garage door operators should also have an emergency release mechanism that makes it easy to disconnect them from the inside, and this is done via a cord that releases the towing arm to manually open the door. Be aware that in smaller garages, this will make it difficult to access to the towing arm cord if the vehicle is inside. This will ensure you can still get out if there’s a power shortage.
In addition to safety, your garage needs to be secure from unauthorised access. Electric operators have a rolling code remote control system to safeguard you against the risk of someone copying your security code and using it to access your garage.
But there’s also the door itself which you need to ensure is secure. Basic garage doors are typically held closed by a towing arm at the top of the door, which is all that’s locking a basic installation in place. This makes it easy for someone to force the bottom of the door and access your garage this way.
But it’s easy to add additional devices that will deliver a stronger locking system, such as a de-latch mechanism which uses a manual lock alongside the electronic operator. This system can be retrofitted to older doors, which makes it a versatile solution. If you have a Hormann sectional-type garage door, you can incorporate a steel latch into the towing carriage which provides a physical lock even when the garage door motor is in emergency override mode, as well as extra resistance.
There are a range of operators to choose from, but the general rule to follow is that you need to choose an operator that is capable of lifting more than the force required to shift the door. This way, you’re not straining the mechanism each time you open or close the garage door. In order to choose a motor that can cope with the weight of your garage door, we recommend that you gather as much information about the door you have as you can and contact our team for advice.
Belt and Chain Drives
Most manufacturers offer a choice of belt or chain drives, and both options will work well providing they are of good quality and have auto-tensioning.
Operator Boom Length
If you have a ceiling-mounted boom operator, there are various lengths to choose from to suit different door heights. Most standard operators are capable of lifting a door up to 7 feet high – anything higher than that, you need to be sure that you’ve got the right length in order to fully open the door. Roller garage doors work with fewer options and are usually used with adapter kits.
There are more methods of accessing your garage than just hand-held radio transmitters, including internal pushbuttons, digital keypads and finger scanners. Some electric operators also have built-in timers to close automatically. Another feature of electric openers to look out for is soft start and stop motors, which are beneficial if you have a particularly heavy garage door – they’re quieter and smoother to operate.
Modern electric operators tend to have an efficient low-voltage DC motor, and because they operate for such a short amount of time, you don’t need to be concerned about the amount of energy it uses. However, you do want to be cautious of the energy consumption when the motor is on standby. Choosing a low energy transformer can provide you with great savings in running costs, and they can be quieter too.
As well as the features of the electric opener itself, you need to consider the availability of spare parts for future repairs, as well as the guarantee for peace of mind. Most garage door electric openers come with a 5-year guarantee and 2 years on remote controls.
How Much Does an Electric Opener Mechanism Cost?
The price you’ll pay for a high-quality mechanism depends on how many functions you want or need, and the size of the door. For a basic electronic operator fitted to a lightweight retractable door, you can expect to pay around £150, while an operator with more function and power may cost upwards of £200. Larger double door garages or sectional doors are likely to cost in the region of £280. You will also have the installation costs as well.
Investing in an electric opener for your garage door provides you with a host of benefits, from added security to the seamless operation of opening and closing heavy garage doors. The team at Wessex Garage Doors are happy to offer advice and guidance when it comes to switching to an automated opener – contact us today to learn more.