Not Exclusively Sold At Sears
When consumers hear the name Craftsman, they generally think of tools with great warranties that are sold exclusively at Sears. Over the years, Sears has added an entire line of home and garden products for the do-it-yourselfer. One of those product lines that have been added is garage door openers. Unlike some other products in the Craftsman line, the Craftsman Garage Door Opener is a rebrand of a Chamberlain Garage Door Opener. At 1st glance, these openers are of the same quality as many other Craftsman products. However, those of us with more experience dealing with garage door openers know that retail models, such as these, are of much lower quality than what can be purchased for a similar price from a local door dealership.
Will a Retail Model be best for my Garage Door?
When trying to decide which garage door opener is best for your home you will need to gather a bit of information.
You will need to know:
- The size of your garage door
- The Weight of your garage door
- The Number Of Times Your Door is Used Daily
- Is Noise a Big Issue?
Liftmaster Professional Vs Retail Models
When looking at pictures of garage door motor heads in pictures, you will see very little difference in professional and retail models. The major difference in these openers is when you make a side by side evaluation of the opener’s rail system. The rail system is the part of the opener that connects your motor head to the wall above your garage door. This rail also supports the chain or belt system and helps support the weight of the door when the door opens and closes. Due to the high demands placed on the rail system, I think that it’s of utmost importance to have the strongest rail system available. If the manufacturer did not think that it was important, they would not use the extra resources to build such a powerful rail system in their Liftmaster Professional line.
Solid Rail vs 3 or 4 pc Rail
Every so often, we have a customer buy an opener from a home store and ask us to install it for them. This is rarely pleasurable for our technicians. Retail model garage door openers are designed to fit in a small box and be light weight. These compromises make for a much lighter garage door rail system that’s been broken down in to many parts. The biggest compromise in this configuration is that the rail system is broken down in to 3 sections on 7 ft tall doors and 4 sections on 8’ tall doors. Other than being a headache to assemble, these rail systems are thin and the joints are the biggest weakness in the product line. If a homeowner has a coupon or special offer that makes one of these openers very reasonably priced, I would only do so on a light weight single car garage door. Just be sure to properly adjust the garage door springs, so that there is no undue pressure put on the garage door opener from a door that is not working smoothly.
Chain Drive vs Belt Drive
I’d like to start by saying that cost is almost always an issue with our customers. Whether it be a home builder or a single mom, budget is the most common topic when making a choice between door openers. It doesn’t happen every day, but we do have many customers that regret trying to save $30 or $40 and not buying a belt driven model. Although chain drive models are very durable, they do make more racket than a quality belt drive opener. If this extra noise is not an issue then a chain drive model will do nicely. Just keep in mind that many low end retail models, like some offered by Craftsman and Chamberlain, have wall stations that are basically door bells. These door bells have no lighting controls or security functionality. In the end, we think that if it’s at all possible, invest in a belt drive openers. You will get the durability of a chain system, along with quiet operation. Note: I did not make mention of screw drive models here because I do not recommend using them.
AC Motors vs DC Motors
AC vs DC was once a major battle in the electric industry. Edison, JP Morgan and GE were pushing DC power, while Westinghouse and Tesla were backing the concept of AC power. Eventually, GE got their hands on the pattons to AC power and AC became the standard for our rising industrial empire. In recent years, the garage door industry has started to use DC power in many of their more innovative designs.
What are the advantages to DC powered openers?
- Battery back up compatible
- Super Quiet Operation
- More energy efficient
No matter if you decide on a retail model or professional model opener, you can easily get your hands on an AC or DC powered motor. Liftmaster has recently released the MyQ opener in many of their offerings and they include AC openers and battery back up models. These battery back up openers give the advantage of using your garage door opener even if your power goes out.
My Picks & Recommendations:
If budget is not the largest concern, and you want a super quiet opener that will work when the power is out, then the Liftmaster 8550 is the cat’s meow. It has a battery back up, DC power and a solid one piece belt rail system. This opener generally sells for under $400, including professional installation. One slight step below the 8550 is Liftmaster’s 8355, AC powered opener. It still has most of the advantages of the 8550, but you lose the battery back up. This opener is also very reasonably priced at about $50-$60 less than the 8550. For homeowners that want reliability and you have a double car garage door or a heavier single car door then a Liftmaster 3255 will work out well. These openers are very reasonably priced. Many dealers often run specials on these openers at less than $300 with professional installation. Other than the one piece rail system, you will get a control station with more functionality than most entry level retail models offered at a similar price.
To close, I would like to stress the importance of a thorough door service and tune up when installing a new door opener. Contrary to the belief of many laymen, the door opener is not built to lift the garage door. The opener is merely there to assist the door and tell it when to open and close. It’s more for convenience and security than anything else. No matter who you purchase your opener from, just be sure that your doors’ springs are properly adjusted and all parts are tight, aligned and lubricated. In many cases, the old opener died as a result of a door not in good working order.