Whether you’re installing a new garage door or just want to update your current door, you have a decision to make: should you install a belt or chain garage door opener? Both options are effective, but there are pros and cons to each.
While a chain garage door opener is the most affordable option, a belt garage door opener is quieter and more convenient. Chain drives are generally stronger, making them ideal for heavy, industrial garage doors.
Looking for more details? The rest of this article will break down the difference between chain and belt garage door openers, or drives, to help you make your decision.
Table of Contents
- How Does A Garage Door Opener Work?
- Belt vs. Chain: Price
- Belt vs. Chain: Speed
- Convenience In Installation
- Belt vs. Chain: Noise
- Belt vs. Chain: Strength
- Steel Chains Aren’t Likely to Snap
- Rubber Openers Can Be Costly
- Long-term durability
- The Bottom Line: Which Is Better?
- When to Choose A Chain Garage Door Opener
- When to Choose a Belt Garage Door Opener
- Related Questions
- When does my garage door opener need to be replaced?
- Can I install my new garage door opener myself, or should I hire a professional?
- Can I replace my garage door rollers myself?
How Does A Garage Door Opener Work?
Before we discuss the specific differences between chain and belt garage doors openers, it’s important to understand how these devices work. Both types of drives function the same way: tension springs attached to a strong cord pull the garage door open and shut.
|Feature||Belt Drive||Chain Drive|
|Type Of Drive||Non-Positive||Positive|
|Elements Of Drive||Belt, Driving Pulley & Driven Pulley||Chain, Driving & Driven Sprocket|
|Space Requirement||More Space||Less Space|
|Initial Tension||Required||Not Required|
The only difference in design between belt and chain drives is the material used to raise and lower the garage door. A chain garage door opener uses a steel chain, while a belt garage door opener supports the weight of the door on a rubber belt.
While chain garage door openers are more common, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better. The weight of your garage door, noise level in your home, and cost to install your garage door opener are all important factors to consider before you choose one option or the other.
Belt vs. Chain: Price
When it comes to affordability, there is a clear winner. Chain garage door openers are less expensive than belt garage door openers. In fact, most new homes come with a chain garage door opener already installed.
A standard chain drive generally costs between $50-$150. A belt drive will cost around $300, or even as high as $1,000 for the nicest models. Of course, those are just the initial costs; installing your garage door opener will cost an additional $150-$250 if you hire a professional.
You should also factor durability into these price differences. While a belt drive comes at a higher initial cost, it will last for a long time without needing to be replaced.
A chain drive, on the other hand, can wear down quickly as a result of metal grinding against metal. You will probably have to replace your chain garage door opener within a few years unless you adjust it regularly.
Belt vs. Chain: Speed
When you open your garage door, whether you’re using a switch or a sensor, you don’t want to have to wait in your car for too long. That’s why some people choose belt drives over chain drives.
Belt garage door openers are faster and more convenient than chain garage door openers. That means you won’t have to wait long for your garage door to open or close. It probably won’t make too much of a difference in your day-to-day routine, but that convenience is nice when you’re in a hurry.
Convenience In Installation
While a belt garage door opener is faster in operation, the installation speed is about the same for both types. If you choose to install a garage door opener yourself, without hiring a professional, it will take between 4-6 hours.
The only factor that could affect installation speed is testing the tension of the chain or belt when you first install it. This stage could take slightly longer with a chain drive, but the overall time to install the garage door opener will be about the same with either model.
Belt vs. Chain: Noise
The main reason some people choose a belt garage door opener over a chain garage door opener is for the noise level. Chain drives are much noisier than belt drives. If quiet function matters to you, a belt drive is the way to go.
Is your garage attached to your home? If so, noise is probably an important factor for you. Chain drives produce a loud, rattling noise that can be heard throughout the house whenever someone closes or opens the garage door.
On the other hand, if you have a detached garage or don’t mind hearing the rattle of your garage door opening, a chain drive will work perfectly. You can also dull the sound of the metal chain by applying WD-40 or a similar lubricant to the chain every few months.
Belt vs. Chain: Strength
If you are installing a garage door opener in your home, the strength of the device doesn’t make much of a difference. A standard single car garage door will be light enough for either a chain or belt drive to pull without any issues.
However, if you have a heavy garage door, or are looking for a garage door opener for a factory or industrial garage, strength makes a difference. Chain garage door openers are generally stronger than belt garage door openers.
Steel Chains Aren’t Likely to Snap
Belt drives are made of rubber and don’t have as much pulling strength as a steel chain. The last thing you want is for your belt to snap in the middle of opening or closing the garage door. This is rare, but it can happen if the door is especially heavy.
Rubber Openers Can Be Costly
That said, stronger rubber belts for heavier garage doors have been made. They’re just more expensive. If you’re willing to spend $1000+ on your garage door opener, you can get a device that will give you the quiet function and convenience of a belt drive with the strength of a chain drive.
When it comes to garage door openers, sheer strength is not the same thing as long-term durability. While chain drives are stronger, belt drives will last longer with minimal maintenance.
The force of metal rubbing against metal will cause your chain garage door opener to wear down over time. The chain will need to be adjusted and eventually replaced. Belt drives, on the other hand, will last for years as long as they aren’t overly strained.
The Bottom Line: Which Is Better?
The truth is, neither belt nor chain garage door openers are necessarily better. They both have their own pros and cons. The choice comes down to your garage type, budget, and preferences.
If you still can’t decide which type of drive to install in your garage, here are a few more pointers to help you out:
|Feature||Belt Drive||Chain Drive|
|Available Battery Backup||Yes||Yes|
When to Choose A Chain Garage Door Opener
A chain garage door opener will work in any circumstance. If you aren’t sure which type to get, you can’t go wrong with a chain drive. They’re affordable and easy to find online or in your local hardware store.
If you have a two-car garage, commercial garage, or large detached garage for RVs and boats, a chain drive is the best choice. The steel chain will be stronger than a rubber belt and able to lift your heavy garage door without snapping.
Remember that your chain drive will be noisier than a belt drive, and it will require a little more maintenance. That’s the tradeoff you get for the cheap price and strength!
When to Choose a Belt Garage Door Opener
Belt drives are quiet, fast, and durable. But they are slightly more expensive than chain drives and not as easy to find online or in hardware stores.
If you have a single car garage attached to your home, you should go with a belt garage door opener. You won’t have to hear the rattling sound of the chain every time your door is opened or closed, and you won’t have to worry about the weight of your garage door breaking the belt.
When does my garage door opener need to be replaced?
As a general estimate, a garage door opener will last 10-15 years without replacement. With routine maintenance, it might last even longer. Belt drives tend to last a little longer than chain drives.
Keep an eye out for signs that your belt or chain drive is wearing down. If the door is opening too slowly, opening randomly, or making a loud grinding sound, it’s probably time to replace your garage door opener.
Can I install my new garage door opener myself, or should I hire a professional?
Installing a garage door opener isn’t too difficult, but it is time-consuming. This project will take between 4-6 hours if you decide to take it on yourself. Make sure you have all the tools you need and a helper to assist you.
If you choose to have your garage door opener professionally installed, you should expect to pay between $150-$250, not including the cost of the device.
Can I replace my garage door rollers myself?
Yes, you can replace your garage door rollers yourself. It takes 1-2 hours to complete the job if you have the right tools and a helper. You will need to remove all the rollers individually, starting from the bottom and working your way up.