Chain vs. Belt Garage Door Openers: Which Is Better?

Researched & Written by Craig

Opening your garage door generally isn’t an activity that you put much thought into.

You do it every now and then (or every single day) to be able to drive in and out of the garage, but you don’t really bother yourself with analyzing the mechanism and its structure… until your garage door opener breaks, that is. And you find yourself in dire need of a replacement.

As opposed to air conditioning or even choosing the best type of flooring, most homeowners don’t install their garage door openers by themselves.

They either come with the house or get installed by the builders without much consultation, in the case of brand new homes. If your garage door opener has broken down or seems to be nearing the end of its functionality, you might need to brush up on your knowledge regarding garage door openers, the most popular types, and why your choice matters more than you might think.

Garage with open door

Almost every garage door in America is opened by a chain or belt opener.

Garage door experts from A1 Garage claim that nearly all of the openers currently used in modern garages are either chain or belt drive garage door openers. Regardless of whether it opens up automatically or not, one drive system or the other is responsible for the smooth opening and closing of your garage door.

While there are other kinds, such as the screw drive opener, and although it isn’t nearly as popular as belt or chain drive garage door openers, it can serve as an alternative that’s worth keeping in mind.

Regardless of whether your own door opener broke down, or you want to have more control over what the construction company is installing in your brand new house, our guide contains all of the information you could possibly need to make an informed decision regarding garage door openers.

How Chain & Belt Garage Door Openers Work

The purpose of chain and belt drive garage door openers is the same, regardless of which type you currently have installed. They make opening garage doors smooth and easy.

Additionally, both of them serve to pull a trolley up and down a track, which is how the heavy door can ultimately be opened. The fundamental difference lies in that track itself, what’s in it and how it operates to pull up your garage door.

In this section, we’ll take a look at two of the most popular garage door openers, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as other characteristics that may help you decide between belt drive or chain drive garage door openers.

Chain Openers

Chain drive openers used to be the only garage door openers available on the market back in the day, which explains their popularity in 2020, especially in older houses. The track used to pull the garage door up and down is a (you guessed it) long, metal chain.

Chain Garage Door Opener

As the name implies, a long metal chain is how these openers open your garage door

Even though many more openers have made their way onto the market since the days of chain drives’ dominance, it is still the most often-picked option in the United States and abroad. People praise its durability and strength — it can easily hold up two-car garage doors, which can’t really be said about the belt drive garage door openers.

That is not to say that the chain openers are perfect. They’re far from it. If you have a chain drive opener, you should know that it requires maintenance quite often, as its chain-based mechanism can rust up very quickly if you don’t lubricate it regularly. Apart from that, these drives can suffer from shaky movement and much slower opening times when compared to their counterparts.

Belt Openers

Invented and became popularized later than chain openers, belt drive garage door openers are similar when it comes to quality, pricing, and durability. They are a little bit more expensive than a chain opener but are much quieter and smoother, so you could say they’re worth the price.

When considering buying a new garage door opener, you should keep in mind that while belt openers typically work just fine, they don’t handle heat or high humidity all that well. This is why, if you live in, say, Arizona or New Orleans, you might want to explore other available options. Anywhere else, though, the belt drive might just be the better choice.

Chain vs. Belt Openers: A Detailed Comparison

Each type of garage door opener has its pros and cons. Just like with most things in life, the choice isn’t black and white, and there are things you need to consider before making the final decision. In this section, we’ll be taking a look at four of the most important aspects of garage door openers: price, noise, power, and durability.

However, keep in mind that factors such as the location of your home or the size of your garage should also be taken into account when making the final decision.

Price

The chain drive garage door opener is definitely the less expensive option. It takes less time and effort to get it properly installed and is made out of cheaper materials. If the lowest possible price is what you’re after, then the chain drive opener should be your go-to choice.

Noise

When it comes to how loud both of these mechanisms are, the belt drive garage door opener is significantly quieter. Chain drives have become synonymous with the loud, familiar noise of a garage door opening. That is not to say that belt drives are completely silent — they’re still quite noisy, but not as much as their counterparts.

Power

As we have already mentioned earlier in this article, the chain drive garage door opener can hold up a two or three-car garage door, which can’t be said about belt drive openers. If you own more than one car and don’t have separate garages for them, a chain drive opener may be your only option.

Durability

This is a tricky category. On the one hand, belt drive openers don’t require much maintenance and typically work just fine throughout their lifespan. On the other hand, though, that lifespan is much shorter than in the case of chain drive openers, which are, in turn, much more susceptible to rust and other kinds of damage.

How Much Would It Cost to Have a Garage Door Opener Installed?

Regardless of which type of opener suits you best, you’ll still likely require the aid of a professional when it comes to installing your brand new garage door opener.

The installation cost varies from $100 to $200, depending on which company you’ll decide to hire, as well as the state of your garage doors prior to the opener change.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know everything there is to know about belt vs. chain drive garage door openers, you can make an informed, educated decision regarding which one to install in your home.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, but the truth is that your reasoning should revolve around the size of your garage and weather conditions in your area, as it might turn out that one or the other opener is simply incompatible with the location and size of your garage.

Once you get those out of the way, you can analyze all of the intricacies regarding each type of opener’s strength, durability, and noise.