What Kind of Motors The Automatic Garage Doors Use?


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Now just about everybody who owns a garage door has thought about what type of motor their doors have. As experts, this is a question we get asked a lot, and honestly, there isn’t a one-line answer to it, mainly because there are so many different types of garage doors out there. More importantly, there are many different garage door openers, which is where the motor and drive are housed. 

Generally, speaking you have three primary types of garage door opener motors, i.e. belt-driven, direct-drive motors, and chain-driven motors. So, deciding on a suitable motor for your door or figuring out what type of motor your door has all boils down to the type of garage door you have! 

To fully understand what type of motor may be in your garage door, we need to start by examining the Various Types Of Motors

Belt Driven Garage Door Motors 

As the term suggests, belt drive or belt-driven openers have a rubber belt that runs across the motor. It is arguably not as reliable as a chain drive but a lot quieter. Usually, the motor is center-mounted and will attach to your door via what’s called a hockey arm connector. The silent nature makes them ideally suited for most homes, especially where the people don’t want to wake up the kids when they arrive. However, various brands and models of these motors are mainly meant for varying door sizes and weights. That said, the drawback of these belt-drive motors is that they cost more than their chain-driven counterparts. 

Chain Drive Motors 

Chain drive motors are very similar to their belt-driven counterparts, with the main difference being that instead of a belt, you have a metal chain. The chain and sprocket add a bit of weight to the garage door opener. Also, as mentioned earlier, chain drive motors aren’t quiet, but they are a cost-effective option for many homeowners. Also, parts for these garage door openers are easier to find. Items like sprockets, chains and gear drives are comparatively easier to find and buy. The motors are center-mounted and will attach via the hockey arm connector. In terms of sizes, there are quite a few different ones available mainly to match the existing garage door size and weight. 

Direct Drive Garage Door Motors 

The major difference between direct drive and other motors is that the motor directly drives the torsion springs. In other words, there are no belts or chains, which means that the motor can be placed ideally within the garage door, which gives it enough space to be mounted in the center of the ceiling. However, the number of choices are limited. But because there are fewer components that will break down, since they are few components used, direct-drive motors are used on both sectional garage doors and roller doors. 

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Which Garage Door Motor Is Easiest To Install?

One of the reasons we get asked about the various types of garage door motors is that people want to find out which of these motors are easiest to install. We can tell you from experience that all motors will take between 1.5 to 2 hours to install by a professional. 

Direct drive motors are a little more time-consuming to install because of their complexity. However, just about any professional garage door technician can handle the installation. Though you can try installing a motor yourself, but there is a lot that can go wrong. Furthermore, there might be an underlying problem with your garage door that’s being overlooked. 

Difference In Lifespan 

All garage door motors stated above have approximately the same lifespan. Many modern motors are well built using high-quality materials that make them reliable. However, some brands do a better job of making motors than others. 

In terms of life expectancy, you can expect most garage door motors to last at least 9 years on the low end and up to 15 years on the high end. To ensure that your garage door motor lasts the longest time, it is important to invest in annual maintenance and inspections. That way, any problem that can wear out the motor prematurely can be identified in time and eliminated. 


Our advice is to always invest in the best motor you can afford, especially if you’re getting one replaced. Trying to save a few dollars can often be disastrous. Also, make sure that you hire a professional garage door technician to install the motor. That way, you can expect it to perform reliably without voiding its (motor’s) warranty. 

Author Bio: Ran Kroynish is an experienced handyman who’s been working for Elite Garage Door & Gate Repair for 10 years. When he’s not fixing garage doors, he likes to share his repair ideas and knowledge with others.

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