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How to Install a Garage Door Opener

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I f your old garage door opener has come to a stage where it can no longer do its job properly or you have finally gotten tired of lifting and lowering your heavy door, it’s time to invest in a new mechanism. Openers today have become easier to install, although they include more options than past models. So, if you are feeling up to it, it may be a good idea to keep the installation money in your pocket and do it yourself.

Is this possible? In most cases, it is. These units come with detailed instructions that will help you quickly figure out which part goes where. Plus, we’ve prepared for you an installation guide written in a simple language, so you can easily understand what you need to do.

If you are still looking for the best model, check out our selection of garage door openers. The units in this top are among the most performant on the market and offer an excellent balance between quality and price. Plus, you will find all types of drives here that can fit a great variety of garage doors.

Garage door opener lifting a door Image

How to Pick Your New Garage Opener – Brief Guide

Before getting down to installation, there are a few important steps to consider, and one of them is deciding what type of opener you need. This depends on the type of door (design, material, weight), but it can be a matter of taste as well. Some models are quieter than others, while some of them can last longer. Here are the most common types of units:

  • Chain Drive – If your door is heavy, insulated, or oversized, this is the type you need to purchase. The chain is durable and makes it an excellent long-time investment. The only downside here is that it can be pretty noisy, so it is not a great idea if the garage is linked to the house or a room is built on top of it. Nevertheless, if it is separated, you can consider yourself lucky whit this purchase, as it would take a long time until you need to invest in replacement parts.
  • Belt Drive – This is the option to pick if your garage is linked to the house. Belt models are known for their quietness, as there’s no metal chain to hit against the track. They are resistant, but not as much as a chain mechanism. They are more expensive as well, but sometimes it is worth paying extra for your peace of mind.
  • Screw Drive – Not the quietest but not the loudest, this type is the fastest of all. It has fewer assembly parts than all the other models, but still, maintenance needs to be performed more often in this case, namely, you will need to lubricate the drive every two to three months to avoid wear and tear.
  • Jackshaft – In this category, you will find some of the most expensive models, but the most dependable as well. As the opener attaches directly to the front wall of the garage, there’s no need for ceiling installation. Plus, most of them can lock the door automatically, so there’s no need to install a lock. However, they are only suitable for sectioned door models.
  • Direct Drive – Just like belt models, these are super quiet and in the same price range. Nevertheless, when it comes to durability, they overcome all. They include a chain, but the difference is that the motor is the one moving along the track, not the chain, and this is how quietness and resistance arise. Most models come with a lifetime warranty.

Interested in a high-tech direct drive model? See SOMMER Direct Drive 1042V001 3/4 HP. This unit is great for door weighing up to 550 pounds and comes with a battery backup that can last for up to 30,000 hours if a power outage occurs.

Two men lifting a garage door opener to install it Image

What About HP Options?

When you look at the specification list of each product, you discover the power of the motor which can be 1⁄2 HP, 3⁄4 HP, or 1 to 1 1⁄4 HP. This certainly indicates the type of doors the motor is able to handle.

Here’s a short guide:

Horsepower Door Type
½ HP Light single sectional doors made of steel, aluminum, vinyl
¾ HP Medium-weight double sectional doors, insulated or made of wood
1 – 1 ¼ HP Heavy doors, 1-piece doors, tilt-up models

If you are looking for one of the smartest units on the market, make sure to take a look at Chamberlain B510, which comes with HomeLink compatibility and Posilock technology. It is a 1/2 HP model, suitable for aluminum and steel doors.

A man installing a garage door opener Image

How Do You Manually Install a Garage Door Opener?

To make your work easier, we have divided the setup process into 5 stages, so make sure to accomplish each step of a stage before moving on to the next one.

Section 1 – Pre-Installation

This is the stage where must check that the door is prepared for the unit and gather all the necessary tools, according to the list that comes with the unit. Follow the steps:

  • Step 1 – Check the integrity of the door – It isn’t the opener that supports the weight of the door, but the system of springs, cables, and pulleys, so make sure you can easily lift and lower it manually. If something is making this difficult, make sure to get a specialist to fix the door before installing the opener.
  • Warning! Never take it on yourself to fix a garage door. Many components are under great tension, and if you don’t follow a precise procedure to remove them, they may hit you or cause damages around the door.

  • Step 2 – Prepare the door – Oil it to run smoothly and make sure to remove all the ropes or cords that may come in your way. Additionally, deactivate the locks, if present, to ensure that they don’t activate accidentally during the installation process and wreck the opener.
  • Step 3 – Check if you have an electrical outlet positioned near the place where the opener is to be installed – The motor needs the energy to run so this is essential. If you don’t have one, install it. Don’t use extension cords that can get damaged in time.

Section 2 – Assembly

  • Step 1 – Check instructions – Although most units work on the same principle, some slight differences can appear, depending on the model. So, make sure to go through the entire installation manual and gather around all the parts and tools that will be implicated in the process.
  • Step 2 – Assemble the rail – It needs to fit in the box, so it will come in multiple pieces. Nevertheless, they will easily fit together. You can set the opener on the floor just below the place on the ceiling where you are going to install it and start with the rail assembly from the door, building up the full piece. It should be about the length between the door and the unit.
  • Step 3 – Glissade the trolley over the rail and connect the rail to the motor – This is the piece that will allow the unit to operate the door.
  • Step 4 – Attach the chain or the belt – Set in place the pulley at the end of the rail and insert the chain or belt, passing it through the end part of the rail, all over the pulley, and at the end around the end located at the motor. The final step is to connect the belt or chain to the trolley using the screw that comes with it.

Check out our in-depth review of Chamberlain WD962KEV Whisper Drive and discover the benefits of a belt-drive model. Perfect for insulated or wooden doors, it comes with a 3/4 HP motor and a built-in battery.

Section 3 – Installation

  • Step 1 – Assemble the ceiling bracket – This may be already installed if you are replacing an old unit. If not, make sure to attach it to the joists for better support.
  • Step 2 – Attach the door bracket – This should be included in the package and should be installed above the door in a central position. Check instructions to see how high from the top of the door it should be positioned.
  • Step 3 – Connect the opposite end of the assembly to the door bracket – Step on a ladder holding the end opposite to the motor and lift it to the same level with the bracket. Follow the instructions in the manual to connect it to the bracket.
  • Step 4 – Set the unit in place – For this step, you could use a second pair of hands to keep the unit lifted while you secure it to the ceiling bracket. Make sure that you set it up high enough so tall people don’t bump into it. A height of at least seven feet is recommended.
  • Step 5 – Add the door arm – This usually comes in two pieces that form an L. Attach one of the pieces to the trolley and the second one to the door, then connect them.

Electric eye system working Image

Section 4 – Wiring and Extra Features

  • Step 1 – Provide your unit with lightbulbs – They are usually not included in the package, so you will need to provide them yourself. Nevertheless, you will find in the instruction manual information on wattage and bulb type. Even if it isn’t specified, you should pick a model rated for “rough service”, as the bulbs will be exposed to vibrations several times a day.
  • In many cases, the bulbs play an important part in the programming process, so make sure to install them before adjusting your unit, so the programming can be successful.

  • Step 2 – Fasten the safety rope – This will be your emergency escape in case the door remains stuck. Make sure to mount it at 6 feet from the ground, so you can reach it. The rope connects to the emergency release on the trolley.
  • Step 3 – Mount the electric eye system – This is a safety option based on sensors that detect if there’s something under the door when it closes. Usually, if the object is taller than two feet, the door will not descend, while if the object is smaller, when the door reaches it, it will reverse.
  • Step 4 – Mount the push button – It should be attached on the wall next to the door at a distance of about 5 feet above the floor, so kids cannot reach it. If the kit includes a keypad, attach it to the exterior of the garage, next to the door, so all family members who have the code can access it.
  • Step 5 – Wire the system – Follow the wiring diagram provided with the package and make the connections. Usually the wires are color coded, so it shouldn’t be a problem linking them.

Garages are often sensitive points used by burglars to break in. Find out how garage door security works in our article and secure your garage as soon as possible.

Section 5 – Testing

  • Step 1 – Check if the door closes and opens properly – Use the remote or the wall panel to check if the unit is working properly. At this step make sure no object is obstructing the entrance. If the door doesn’t close completely, rise upward travel. If the door goes up but doesn’t go down again try to lower upward travel.
  • Step 2 – Check the safety system – Open the door and place objects on the floor to check if the sensors detect them and if the reverse function is working correctly.

Man pressing the button on a garage door opener remote control Image

How Long Does It Take to Install a Garage Door Opener?

If you are wondering how much time you should reserve for this job, we would say around half a day or somewhere between 4 and 6 hours. This, if you are a beginner. If you have mounted openers previously, you are probably familiar with the steps and would take less. However, for it to take only half a day, you should already have the outlet installed, otherwise, this will consume more of your time.

But things can go faster if you are installing a new unit in the place of an old one. Some accessories can be reused, like the ceiling or door bracket. You will need to check them, though, and make sure they are in good shape. If they are damaged, don’t hesitate to replace them. You wouldn’t want a motor to fall on your head in one unlucky morning.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve gotten to the bottom, then you are prepared. Take the phone with you and go over the steps as you mount the unit. But remember to follow the instructions in the package as well. Check everything at the end, and prepare for nice mornings and evenings when you won’t need to get out of the car to open the door.

But, before all these, make sure you make the right decision when picking your unit. It should be strong enough to support your door and suitable for the type of garage you own. If it is built-in into the house, choose a quiet model with a belt. If it is separated, go for a chain drive model, which tends to last longer and comes at a lower price.

Trystan Jensen
Trystan Jensen
Trystan is a trusted reviewer who has extensive experience in customer satisfaction gained while he worked as a market research analyst. He is well aware of what consumers want, as well as what they expect the most from the acquisitions they make. It is his personal interest in technologies that help improve life quality combined with his attentiveness to detail and customer experience that make Trystan an unending source of qualitative content.