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Bearcat Company - Best Garage Door Openers


Garage Door Opener Guyers Guide

Best Garage Door Openers

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This is garage door opener buyers guide from Bearcat Company is based on many years of experience. Spanning over the decades there has been many different garage door openers makes, models and technologies on the market. The discussion here will apply to residential garage door openers.




Garage Door Opener Companies past and present ...
There are many different garage opener makes and models on the market today. The two main companies are Chamberlain Group and The Genie Company. Both companies offer retail do-it-yourself models as well as professionally installed models. Chamberlain Group manufactures garage door openers for Sears and has for many years. In addition Chamberlain Group also has their own brand of do-it-yourself models. Chamberlain Group's high end openers go under the name Liftmaster Professional. The Genie Company also offers thier own retail garage door openers sold under the name Genie. The Genie Companie's professional openers are sold under the name Genie Pro and Overhead Door.

There was another great company worth mentioning that went under the name of Allstar, previously Allister. Allstar -Allister was well known in the Midwest and Eastern parts of the United States, they were around for many years. Allstar only offered professionally installed robust garage door openers. Allstar also offered garage door openers under the label Challenger. Allstar has since been purchased by Linear LLC or Linearcorp. It should also be mentioned that Linear has thier own line of professionally installed garage door openers as well. Linearcorp has a decent line of garage door openers on the market that are only sold to the garage door industry. Linearcorp's garage door openers have gained a lot of popularity and seem to be gaining market share.

In addition there are also other emerging companies within the industry, such as Marantec, Sommer, Rhine, Hormann, Dominator, Seip, Wayne Dalton, Raynor and others. Lastly the companies out of business are Stanley-Vemco, McKinney Electronics, Heathkit, Crusader, Montgomery Wards, Sioux, Moore-o-matic, Access Master, Scientific Detroit, Automatic-Doorman, Ambassador, DoorKing, Electro-Lift, Crawford, Doorkeeper and more.

Liftmaster or Genie ?...
Up until about the late 1990's Genie garage door openers seemed to be a very large portion of the market. Since the late 1990's Liftmaster Professional has gained a larger share of garage door opener market for all the right reasons. Liftmaster has become known for thier reliablilty, innovation, serviceability, design, simplicity, features, looks, security, parts availability, quietness and more. Fast forwarding to the early 2010's some things have changed. While Liftmaster garage door openers still appear to be the more popular choice, Genie Pro does have has some completely new garage door openers in the market that look pretty interesting. Genie's latest offerings have incorporated some nice features with innovative advanced technology.

Chain, Belt or Screw Drive ?...
Certain garage door openers have their place for certain applications. The type of drive-train used really depends on the weight, balance and type of garage door. For example: On steel sectional garage doors pretty much any type of drive-train can be used. For extremely heavy sectional carraige house wood garage doors, chain drive garage drive openers seem to be the most durable. For heavy California one piece tilt-up wood garage doors, chain drive and screw drive garage door openers have proven to fare well. The most heavy duty garage door opener on the market by far has been the Liftmaster 2595 and 3595 for the past 10 years. The 3595 is a 3/4 horsepower chain drive monster with a commercial rail and reinforced chassis. Another consideration is the noise or quietness of various garage door opener drive-trains. Belt drive openers are usually the quietest of all but with today's technology some of the screw drive and belt drive garage door openers are pretty quiet. The Liftmaster 3595 mentioned earlier is a perfect example of a quiet chain drive garage door opener while being powerful and strong at the same time. Latest update... The Liftmaster 3595 has been replaced with the model 8587.

1/3 , 1/2 or 3/4 horsepower ?...
1/3 and 1/2 horsepower garage openers were around for many years while 1/3 horsepower garage door openers have been phased out. The required horsepower really depends on the weight, balance and type of garage door. The first 3/4 horsepower residential garage door opener was introduced by Chamberlain Group or Liftmaster in 2001. 3/4 horsepower openers have been used on commercial doors and applications for many years. When heavy residential carraige house wood garage doors first came out there was a need for a strong powerful garage door opener. Once upon a time 1/2 horsepower garage door openers were considered top of the line while today they are mostly entry level. Most of the time 1/2 horsepower garage door openers can do the job just fine.

Today and for the last 10 years, the most robust residential garage door opener on the market is the Liftmaster 3595 3/4 hp chaindrive. It's not just the horsepower, it's the overall build of that beast. In 2011 Genie released the TriloG 1200 and 1500 screwdrive garage door openers with a 1 HPc* motor. However when you read the fine print on the brochure pertaining to the horsepower rating... This is what it reads... *1 Horsepower Comparable (HPc) designates that this garage door opener meets Genie's lifting force. Even if the new Genie TriloG screwdrive is truely 1 horsepower, the rest of the opener itself doesn't appear to have the strength and robustness of the Liftmaster 3595. You see the Liftmaster 3595 3/4hp chaindriven garage door opener is so robust that periodically the 280lbs owner of this website hangs on fully installed Liftmaster 3595 opener rail to prove a point to the customer. May not be a good idea with the Genie TriloG 1200 or 1500 as it wouldn't survive. By the way we don't recommend hanging off garage door opener rails. With that said it doesn't mean the Genie TriloG series of garage door openers are bad. They are actually very nice, fairly robust garage door openers with cutting edge technology that will work fine for 95% of the garage doors out there. Lastly it should be noted that most, if not all future garage door openers will be measured in Newtons and Kilogram force as opposed to horsepower. Latest update... The Liftmaster 3595 has been replaced with the model 8587.

Retail vs. Professional ...
The main difference between retail openers and professionally installed garage door openers are in the rail. Retail openers come equipped with multi-piece rail assemblies, where as pro model openers are installed with one piece rails only. Multi-piece rails make it possible for the retail consumer to fit a retail opener in the trunk of thier vehicle. It's pretty ingenious how these multi-piece openers are designed and packaged. However the problem with a multi-piece designed rail is the lack of strength and rigidity, in most cases they are downright flimsy. The pro model rails are far superior in strength and rigidity. With some makes and models there is not much difference between retail vs. professional other then the rail itself. Then there are the some professional models far superior in quality to retail openers. For the do-it-yourself customer, buying a retail opener can offer some savings if installed properly. Customers buying retail and then paying for installation may save very little. In some cases it actually ends up costing more then a professionally installed opener. Openers that are installed by a garage door contractor or professional can cost anywhere from a little less to a little more than a retail installed garage opener. Basically for about the same retail vs. pro price, a professionally installed garage door opener will be a superior product with an overall better value. Also the garage door itself should be balanced, safe and operate properly. The best garage door opener will not last as long and will not be safe, on a garage door that is not operating properly. The last consideration is the installation itself. You can have a good garage door opener with a bad installation or a bad garage door opener with a good installation. Why not have the best of both worlds ?

Latest Generation Garage Door Openers ...
In middle 2011 Genie released thier latest line of professionally installed garage door openers. The technology and features appear to have some interesting attributes. Genie has designated thier latest offerings under the names IntelliG 1000, 1200 and TriloG 1200, 1500. The TriloG garage door openers have adjustable programmable opening speeds of up to 12 inches per second. Both the Trilog and IntelliG series garage door openers offer optional Network Adaptor accessories and a Intelligent Wall Console. The Genie triloG and IntelliG garage door openers offer some cutting edge technology.

In the summer of 2011 Liftmaster released thier new generation of garage door openers. Liftmaster's latest offerings are the model 8360 Chaindrive and 8550 Beltdrive. This was not a reponse to Genie's latest offerings. Liftmaster spent years with the R & D before releasing these garage door openers to the marketplace. The new 8360 and 8550 are both variable speed DC motors with battery backup and packed with all new standard features such as Security+ 2.0 remote controls, Timer-To-Close, Intuitive wall control and more. The most impressive new feature is Liftmaster's optional MyQ Technology. With Liftmaster's optional (828LM) MyQ Internet Gateway you can control and monitor your garage door opener or home lights from anywhere in the world via a smart phone or computer... The new Liftmaster 8360 and 8850 openers are state of the art with or without the optional MyQ accessories.

The past, present and future of Garage Door Openers ...
The garage door opener industry seems to be heading towards the complete utilization DC motors as opposed to AC motors. Chamberlain Group which manufactures Liftmaster, Chamberlain, Raynor and Craftsman still manufacture many garage door openers with AC motors. Linear Corp also manufactures and sells a couple of garage door openers with AC motors as well. Genie's latest PowerG 900 also has a 1/2 horsepower AC motor. Eventually all residential garage door openers may all have DC motors.

AC motors have been used in the residental garage door industry far longer than DC motors in the garage door industry. Both Genie and Liftmaster has made a plethora of garage door openers with AC motors. However technology has progressed to the point where DC motors are more common place in the market as a whole. Chamberlain group didn't actually release thier first DC equipped garage door opener the Liftmaster 2500 Beltdrive until 2000. Chamberlain Group has since manufactured many different DC powered garage door openers. Genie actually introduced thier first DC equipped garage door openers in about 1994. These models were the Stealth Beltdrive, GPS Chaindrive and Excellerator Screwdrive. Now Genie's latest line of garage door openers are all DC equipped except for one.

Advantages of DC motor equipped garage door openers: DC equipped garage door openers consume less power, generate less heat, sometimes run quieter, small DC motors can provide the same or more torque as an AC motor of a larger size, smoother because DC motors are easier to control speed and phase. This control of speed and phase control is what allows for the soft start/stop upon opening and closing. Disadvantages DC motor equipped garage door openers: Possibility for costly repairs in the future, A little more complexity, requires a couple more components to power and operate the DC motor. So far no DC powered garage door opener appears to be as robust as the current or past AC motor equipped garage door openers.

With the exception of Chamberlain Group ( Liftmaster ) ...
The industry as a whole appears to lack long term parts or support with a replace-it-all throw away mentality. Chamberlain Group ( Liftmaster ) has proven to provide the most innovation, engineering, quality, simplicity, reliablity, parts, support and everything a consumer or authorized dealer would expect from a company. Hopefully Chamberlain Group ( Liftmaster ) will continue to manufacture the garage door openers that our company prefers to sell and install. Hopefully Liftmaster will continue to manufacture thier AC motor equipped garage door openers. We've heard rumors that Chamberlian Group may someday discontinue all thier AC motor equipped openers for DC motor equipped openers. Thier support representatives claim that will never happen and we hope that's true. It wouldn't make sense because Liftmaster's current line of AC equipped openers sell very well, it's been thier bread and butter for many years. Now as far as DC powered garage door openers go, Liftmaster's latest 8360 and 8550 garage door openers are state of the art. We also know that Chamberlain Group tested those garage door openers for years before they put them out on the market.

Some of my colleague in the business including us, feel that Linear-corp garage door openers may become the next big thing if Liftmaster blows it. Genie went in the wrong direction back in the mid 1990's. They chose not to listen to those in the industry. They thought they knew better than those that installed and repaired Genie garage door openers for many years. They thought wrong, Chamberlain Group and Liftmaster Professional took alot of Genie and Genie Pros market share in both the professional and retail markets. Times change and with a free market economy, the consumer will punish the company that doesn't deliver as promised by spending thier hard earned money on a product that does deliver as promised. So if Chamberlain Group or Liftmaster Professional slips, they will not be immune to the fate that Genie suffered and still is suffering. In all fairness Genie's new garage door openers do look pretty interesting. A lot of recent changes at Genie Company appear to be good for the garage door industry, consumer and Genie's business model. The Genie Company website looks really good with updated and concise information. We are keeping a cautious but open mind with Genie.

Latest updates: The Liftmaster 8355 replaces the 3280, 8557 replaces the 3585, 8587 replaces the 3595, 8550 replaces the 3800 jackshaft. The 8355, 8557 and 8587 are all still equipped with AC motors. However the electronics are completely different from the previous generations. You can no longer manually set the up/down force or up/down limit travel. The installtion procedure is done by pressing buttons and letting the garage door opener sense the door balance and operation. The 8355, 8557 and 8587 come equipped with Security+ 2.0 are MyQ enabled and designed for fluorescent bulbs. The biggest complaint with all the new Liftmaster garage door openers is the additional Liftmaster 855 repeater for programming the Homelink devices in our customer cars. In summary we really like the Liftmaster 8360 and 8550 garage door openers with the battery back-up and DC motors the best.