July 26, 2019

Garage door opener motor sizes: how do you tell which size is right?

Thinking about upgrading your existing electric garage door opener? If yours is old and outdated, there are many new features and capabilities you can take advantage of. For instance, did you know that you can now use your smartphone to open and close the garage door? That’s just one of the features you can benefit from.

Of course, it can be confusing to choose between various motor sizes out there. Don’t worry – we created this guide to help ensure that you’re able to make an informed decision and purchase the right garage door motor for your needs.

Various size motors for my new garage door opener… which one is right for me?

The basic groundwork

Before we go much further, we need to lay some ground work. We’ll start with the basics – what does a garage door open do? Really, it’s all about making your life simpler. Rather than pulling up at home in the pouring rain, then slogging through it to manually open the garage door, you can simply press a button and the door swings smoothly open. You pull into the garage, press the button again, and the door closes.

Of course, don’t forget that your garage door actually weighs a lot, but you only need to use a single hand to open it. Your garage door opener similarly only has to use a limited amount of power to open and close the door.

This is only possible due to your garage door being balanced. It uses either an extension spring system, or a torsion spring system. The springs act as a counterbalance to the garage door’s weight, allowing it to be offset, and the door to open and close very easily. Remember that the actual weight of your garage door can be anywhere from 90 to 350 lbs. (40 to 160 kilos). With proper balancing, that weight can be reduced to just 8 to 10 lbs. (3 to 4 kilos). That ensures almost anyone can easily open and close the door.

How do you ensure that your garage door is correctly balanced, then? To check the door’s balance correctly, follow these steps:

  • Close the garage door.
  • Disconnect the electric garage door opener.
  • Manually open the door about halfway.

Does the door stay in position? If so, it is balanced. Does it try to slide back closed or try to open all the way on its own? If that’s the case, then it is unbalanced. Unbalanced garage doors can be incredibly dangerous, and it’s important that you get professional help right away. Call Baker Door Company.

But, you ask, isn’t a garage door opener supposed to be able to lift much heavier weights? Aren’t they designed to handle weights up to 225 lbs. (100 kilos)? Yes, they are. However, remember that this capability also means that the opener pushes down with the same amount of force. Without modern safety systems, you, your family, and even your pets would be in danger of being crushed every time the door was used.

Learning the lexicon

Now that we’ve built a basic foundation, we need to take a moment and explore some of the concepts and words that you will need to know when shopping for a new electric garage door opener. You’re probably familiar with the concept of horsepower, or HP. However, there are other terms you need to know.

  • AC/DC – There are actually two types of electrical current that garage door motors can use, AC, or alternating current, and DC, or direct current.
  • HP – HP is a measure of power but is only used in reference to alternating current.
  • Newton Force – Newton force, or N, is the direct current equivalent of HP.
  • AC Motors: Motors that use alternating current motors operate at the same speed all the time.
  • DC Motors: Motors that use direct current to operate start slow, speed up, then slow down again.

Which is better for your needs? Actually, they both perform about the same. The only real difference is that AC models make a little more noise during operation than DC motors.

Choosing your motor size

Ok, so with that behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to motor size. What are your options? Actually, there are quite a few, and they vary depending on whether you’re looking for AC or DC motors. We’ll break them down below.

  • AC Motors:
    • 1/3 HP
    • 1/2 HP
    • 3/4 HP
  • DC Motors
    • 500 newtons
    • 700 newtons

To clarify a bit, a 500 N motor offers about the same power as a 1/2-HP motor, while a 700 N motor is the equivalent of a 3/4-HP motor.

If you’re wondering how residential garage door openers compare to commercial and industrial models, you’ll find that those used for businesses are much more powerful. They tend to range from 1/2 HP all the way up to 5 HP for some of the larger doors. Most residential garage doors installed are either 1/2 HP or 500 N, in comparison.

So, what size do you need? That’s going to depend on your garage door. For the most common garage door size, which is 9 x 7 feet (2.7 x 2.1 m), you’ll need no more than a 1/2 HP or 500 N motor. If you have a double garage door, it probably measures 16 x 7 feet (4.9 x 2.1 m), or if your garage door is made of solid wood, you’ll want a larger motor, probably 3/4 HP or 700 N.

There are other factors to consider here, too. One of those is the life of the motor. You can opt for a lifespan of seven years, or one of 15 years. You will also want to consider the various accessories that come with the garage door, such as monitors, lights, and switches, and more. Some budget models have no extras, while some of the more expensive models come with plenty of bells and whistles.

What about smartphone connections?

Today, most garage door openers can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi either out of the box or through an accessory purchased separately. With this capability, you can use your smartphone to open and close the garage door from just about anywhere – even if you’re not at home. A GARAGA garage door professional can explain all of these capabilities to you and help ensure that you’re able to make the most informed decision possible.

Safety considerations

Your garage door must always be properly balanced. If you cannot lift it with one hand, or it tries to close or open all the way when left halfway open, it needs to be repaired.

  • To determine if your garage door is balanced, follow these steps:
    • Pull the red emergency release cord to disengage the motor.
    • Raise the door by pulling on the handle.
    • When the door reaches about four feet high (1.2 m), release the handle.
    • If the door does not remain stable (slides up or down), it is unbalanced.
    • If the door is balanced, close it, and then reengage your garage door. If it is unbalanced, contact us to schedule a service call.

Take the next step

Ready to move forward? Contact us at 717-767-1419 (York) or at 717-901-4056 (Mechanicsburg). We’ll happily give you a quote over the phone or quote you by email if you prefer. You can also use our Design Centre and image gallery to get an idea of how a new garage door would look on your home.

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