Though there are some important things to consider when choosing between a chain and belt garage door opener. You’ve come to the right place if you find yourself asking: chain vs. belt garage door openers — which is best? This article compares the pros and cons of chain vs. belt garage door openers to help you pick the best one for your home.
Image: Chris Smith Photography
Your garage door is probably not something you spend a lot of time thinking about, until it breaks and you need a new one, or you’re building a new home and you think about every detail. While selecting a garage door opener may not feel as exciting as picking out new tile for the bathroom, or testing out paint colors, it’s absolutely more of a functional consideration than an aesthetic one!
In this post we’ll discuss:
- How Chain and Belt Garage Door Openers Work
- Is a Chain or Belt Drive More Affordable?
- Strength and Durability of Chain vs. Belt Drives
- How Noisy Are Chain and Belt Drives?
- Pros and Cons of Chain and Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
- The Bottom Line – Which is Better?
How Chain and Belt Garage Door Openers Work
The way each of these systems work is pretty much exactly how it sounds. A chain drive uses a long metal chain to open and close a garage door, while a belt drive uses a rubber belt. The function is the same, but the tools to do it are different.
A chain drive garage door opener works by using a chain running assembly unit to open and close the garage. The chain running assembly consists of an interconnection of gears, metal parts and tension springs that work together to lift the garage door. A belt drive garage door operates by moving a rubber belt to slide the trolley open and closed.
Let’s take a closer look at these two types of garage openers, their advantages, disadvantages and characteristics that may help you decide which is right for you — chain or belt garage door openers.
RELATED: Acrylic vs. Porcelain Tubs
Is a Chain or Belt Drive More Affordable?
Well, it depends on how you look at it because each option has its pros and cons.
Many homes come with a chain drive garage door because of its inexpensive price and availability on the market — which means it’s easier to purchase, install and use — making it a popular choice. When it comes to affordability and ease of access, many homeowners chose the chain belt for these reasons. These types of openers tend to wear out faster and need more repairs because the metal on metal friction causes the parts to wear down or break. But with some simple upkeep, like oiling the chain drive system to keep it lubricated and prevent rust, this type of garage door opener can last longer.
Belt drives are more expensive up front, but they’re an economical option for the long term. Since they use a rubber belt and trolley to move the garage door up and down, there isn’t any metal on metal friction and the materials in belt drives last longer. Belt drives are also quieter because of the smooth rubber materials used to make it.
When you’re comparing your options and deciding between a chain or belt drive garage door opener, look at what options are available for each kind. Then compare the price to how long it’s expected to last and decide which one makes the most sense for you!
Strength and Durability of Chain vs. Belt Drives
Chain drives are stronger than belt drives overall. Since they can lift more weight, they’re often chosen for multi-car garage units and heavier garage doors — like heavy wood or steel. Chain drives can lift a two or three car garage door with no problem.
Belt drives would work fine for a one car garage, but they will have trouble lifting two or three car garage doors or anything heavier than a lightweight aluminum or fiberglass door. That said, you may be able to find a belt drive that can do these things, but it’ll be harder to come by, especially since belt drives aren’t as widely available as chain drives in the first place.
If you have a specific aesthetic in mind for your home, which you likely do if you’re doing a custom build, then a chain drive would be the ideal choice. You’d have more options when it comes to materials and appearance of your garage door. These options also happen to be the most durable materials (heavy wood and steel), which is something to consider.
But if the appearance and durability of the garage door doesn’t matter much to you, then maybe a belt drive can meet your garage door needs. There are also some materials, like aluminum, that are lighter and can accommodate a belt drive, that can also be painted to look like a heavier material such as wood.
How Noisy Are Chain and Belt Drives?
The motor and drive system in both chain and belt garage doors will generate some noise and vibration. One of the major differences between chain and belt drives is how noisy they are, or aren’t.
Chain drives are louder than belt drives because they use metal materials and the metal on metal friction makes more noise than a soft rubber belt does. But there are a few other factors to consider in your garage door selection process.
First, consider the location of the garage to the rest of the house. Will you have an attached or detached garage? How far from the house will a detached garage be? If attached, will there be a bedroom directly above the garage? These are some questions to consider when you’re weighing the options between chain vs. belt garage door openers.
Since chain drives are louder, you may not want a noisy garage door right below a bedroom. If you have a detached garage, then going with a chain drive garage would be great since it’s more affordable and gives you more options for garage door materials. But if your new home will have an attached garage you may want to consider a belt drive if the noise factor is important to you.
Pros and Cons of Chain and Belt Drive Garage Door Openers
So which is better, a chain or belt drive garage door openers? Here are the pros and cons for each options:
Chain Garage Door Opener
- Strong, durable, and more reliable (with proper maintenance).
- Widely available at home improvement stores, hardware stores and garage door installation companies.
- More affordable compared to belt drives.
- Gives you more options for garage door types.
- Noisier than a belt drive.
- Does require routine maintenance.
Belt Garage Door Opener
- Easy to install.
- Easier to maintain because it doesn’t require lubrication.
- Slightly faster than chain drive garage door openers.
- More expensive upfront costs.
- Not as durable as a chain drive so may need replacing.
The Bottom Line
There are advantages and disadvantages to each option – both chain and belt garage door openers. When deciding which option is better for you, consider the type of home you have (or will have) and what things are most important to you in these categories: affordability, durability, sound and appearance. Then you can make an informed decision about the best garage door opener for your home!