The Best Garage Door Openers to Buy: Belt or Chain Drive?

Best Garage Door Opener Reviews: Belt Drive or Chain Drive?

Long gone are the days of heavy, clunky garage door openers. Today’s best garage doors quietly and reliably open themselves – and they include incredibly smart features for added safety and functionality.

Before buying a garage door opener, it is a good idea to know the different types available, how they work, and where to find them.

Belt Drive or Chain Drive?

Chain drive garage doors use metal chains and gears to move the trolley up and down to open or shut the garage door. Though a little noisy, they handle heavier weights and are less expensive.

With belt drives, the trolley is moved up and down using a rubber belt, which is much quieter than the chain driver. They require less maintenance compared to chain-driven doors whose metal-on-metal friction can be pesky. But a belt drive will have trouble lifting heavy garage doors like 2- or 3-car doors or heavy wooden doors.

Screw-drive garage doors

Here, a threaded steel rod operates the trolley to move the door up and down. Although quiet and durable, they can’t handle heavyweights like the chain-driven garage door openers.

Direct-drive opener

Here, the whole unit moves to lift the door. They are the quietest and least complex mechanisms available, but also the most expensive

Best Garage Door Openers

Chamberlain B1381 Belt Drive Smart Garage Door Opener

Chamberlain Group Chamberlain B1381

Belt-driven | 1¼ Horsepower | LED lighting | Back up battery

This powerful garage door opener will lift your door effortlessly, thanks to its strong 11/4 horsepower lift system. The ultra-quiet belt drive is reinforced with steel for safety and durability. It comes with multiple accessories including 2 remote controls, a wireless keypad, MyQ Control Panel, and a backup battery- in case the power goes out. But what makes this home garage door opener shine is the inbuilt superior LED lighting which is great for lighting up your garage, especially if you use the area as a studio or workshop. Plus, this premium garage door opener is packed with smart features such as the MyQ app to monitor and control the door remotely on your smartphone. Subscription options include integration with Google Assistant, Key by  Amazon, and IFTTT.

Genie QuietLift garage opener system

Genie QuietLift best smart garage opener system

Belt drive system | ½ HPC | MyQ/Google Assistant/Alexa Connected

Pair up this top smart garage door opener with your home hub to keep your house seamlessly connected. With MyQ smartphone app, you can monitor and control the door remotely through voice commands and receive real-time text notifications whenever the garage door is opened. It also works with Amazon Alexa Alexa Connect-enabled devices and Google Assistant. Its belt drive provides smooth and ultra-quiet operation of your garage door -perfect for garages that are attached to occupied spaces. It comes with two remotes and a wall control panel. As far as garage doors go, we found this Genie garage door opener to be among the best smart garage door opener on the market. 

Genie SilentMax quiet garage doors opening system

Genie SilentMax 1200

Belt drive system |  ½HPC | MyQ/Google Assistant/Alexa Connected

You’ll want the quietest garage door opener if your garage is attached to a living space. With this Genie, you don’t need to worry about noise or rattling. The belt drive model is designed to deliver ultra-quiet liftings of your home garage door up to 7 feet in height. In terms of strength, the opener is powerful enough to lift most residential garage doors, thanks to its ¾ horsepower motor and steel-reinforced belt drive system. Its accessories include two pre-programmed remotes, a wireless keypad, and a wall control panel for an easy setup.

Best Floor Jacks

Chamberlain C870 Chain Drive Door Opener

Chamberlain Group C870

Chain drive door opener | 1¼Horsepower | MyQ

If you are looking for a reliable garage door opener for heavy doors, the Chamberlain C870 is a good bet. Surprisingly quiet for a chain drive garage door opener, this model offers a 1¼ HP powerful lifting force to effortlessly lift heavy wooden doors or 2 or 3-car garage doors. With this smart garage door opener, you never need to wonder if your garage is secure. It comes with built-in Wi-Fi which links to the MyQ app and other smart home systems and devices, such as a Google Assistant, IFTTT, Key by Amazon, and Wink. Some of these services may attract a subscription fee

LiftMaster Jack Shaft Operator

LiftMaster 8500 Elite Series

Jack shaft door opener | MyQ

If you want to use the overhead space in your garage, this then wall mount garage door opener is the perfect option. It takes up just a square foot or less – plus wall-mounting means that any vibrations or noise of the opener are felt by the exterior wall and not the ceiling. Thus, the Liftmaster Elite is one of the quietest garage door openers – a good option if your living spaces are attached to the garage. It is MyQ compatible and comes with remote control. Another neat feature is the opener’s deadbolt, which can be set to automatically lock the garage door when you close it. Keep in mind that the Liftmaster only works with sectional garage doors and not roll-ups.

Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener

Sommer Direct Drive Garage Door Opener

Direct drive opener | Homelink | ¾HP & 1HP

This garage door opening system has a long rail that can open 8ft doors without having to buy an extension kit. This type of garage door opener employs the quietest and least complex mechanisms to open and close your garage door. The Sommer’s motor carriage simply glides along the steel rail to lift your garage door. So, it is virtually vibration-free, smooth, and super easy to install. Available in ¾ HP and 1 HP lifting options, the Sommer direct is just as powerful and durable as the conventional openers and will easily lift your heavy 7ft-8ft doors. You also get safety features such as the auto-reverse safety beam sensor to prevent accidents and Homelink connectivity.

Chamberlain B970 Ultra-Quite Garage Door Opener

Chamberlain B970 Ultra-Quite Garage Door Opener

Belt-drive opener | MyQ | 1¼ Horsepower

Chamberlain is one of the top garage door opener brands and the B970 does not disappoint. This belt-drive opener offers a quiet and reliable service. Its 1¼ horsepower and steel-reinforced belt drive strong enough to withstand regular lifting of your garage door. Chamberlain’s anti-vibration feature that dampens powerhead vibration and reduces noise. Compatible with MyQ technology, you can remotely monitor and control the garage door via your smartphone. 

More Features To Consider

As you shop for a new garage door opener, keep the following in mind:


The heavier your door is, the higher the level of horsepower (HP) needed to lift it. Horsepower levels range between 1/3HP- 11/2HP. Typically, 1/3HP can lift a single car garage door, while a dual car garage door of 300lb will need 1/2HP.. For doors weighing 400+ pounds, you need the more powerful ¾HP -11/2HP to efficiently operate your garage door.

Remote control technology features

When it comes to connectivity, the first thing you need to consider is whether your garage door opener comes with built-in Wi-Fi. If not, you may have to buy a separate hub to connect to the app. 

Once you install the app, you can then have access to a myriad of features that can be remotely controlled via your phone. Be sure to check what kind of settings are available to you. Examples include the ability to remotely monitor, open and close your garage door with your smartphone, shared access control, and free in-garage delivery with key by amazon

Safety Features

     I.        In-built backup battery

This comes in handy in the event of a power outage. You don’t want to be locked out or stuck inside your garage so having this feature is a plus. 

    II.        Auto-reverse safety sensors

Here, the garage door will reverse if the opener detects an obstruction in its way when closing the garage door. Many garage doors have this feature by default, but double-check that your garage door has this essential feature before you buy to prevent accidents. 

Can I install my garage door opener?

Installing a garage door opener is far from easy, and can be downright dangerous. Unless you are an experienced or skilled handyman, we highly recommend that you get professional help. A professional has the expertise to handle the installation efficiently and deal with issues arising. However, if you are confident in your ability, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. 

As for maintenance, here is a DIY guide to garage door repair.


ProductTypeMyQ CompatibleHorse Power
Chamberlain B1381 Smart Garage OpenerBelt-drive openerYes
Genie QuietLift SmartBelt driveYes 1/2
Chamberlain B970 Ultra-QuiteBelt-drive openerYes
Sommer Garage Door OpenerDirect drive openerHomelink¾
Chamberlain C870 Smart Door OpenerChain-drivenyes
Genie SilentMax 1200Belt-drivenno¾
LiftMaster Wall-mountedJackshaft no
Ryobi GD201 Belt DriveBelt-drive openerNo2

Final Word

We found the Chamberlain B1381 Belt Drive – a strong and ultra-quiet opener that has super good lighting for your garage- to be the best overall. For heavy garage doors, go for the chain driven C870 Smart Garage Door Opener. If you’re looking for a garage workshop door opener, go with the Ryobi GD201 that has tons of customizable functionalities to suit your needs.

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