“From a Garage Door Professional”
Now clearly there are a multitude of different garage door opener manufacturers and within each manufacturer, there are numerous different models with different options and features. My top three list comes from over 7 years of garage door, opener installation, and garage door repair. On any given day I’m servicing and inspecting anywhere from 3 to 8 garage doors and openers. I know which openers work well, last long, and have the features that customers want and appreciate. All three openers on my list are LiftMaster openers. LiftMaster Openers are made by the parent company, Chamberlain. Chamberlain openers are available at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and of course Amazon. Chamberlain openers are very good for some doors but lack the durability that Chamberlain’s professional-grade line, LiftMaster, provides. Specifically the chain or belt rail system. Chamberlain’s rail system is lightweight and clicks together in multiple pieces. It’s designed to be compact and fit in a box that consumers can transport easily. This lightweight rail system can flex tremendously on heavier doors which causes unwanted wear on the opener. The LiftMaster has a thicker and more durable one-piece rail that makes for a much better product. It is also easier to put together. The downside to this list for some consumers is that LiftMaster is typically only available to garage door contractors. Now, I would most certainly recommend professional installation. If you are set on installing an opener yourself, I would recommend a Chamberlain opener. (Note: DO NOT buy a Genie! They are a drag to put together and won’t last as long as a Chamberlain.)
LiftMaster 8550 WLED
The WLED model has been an extremely popular opener for not only customers but also garage door technicians who are working on garage door opener repair. The “W” in WLED stands for WiFi and the “LED” represents built-in LED lights that are super bright and do an incredible job of focusing that light across the garage. The WLED has an extremely quiet DC motor with a soft start and stops that creates a very smooth ride for the door. The WLED has a Battery Backup that kicks in if there is a power failure and automatically recharges when the power comes back on. (California now requires the battery backup openers.) The WLED is also WiFi-enabled which means you can sync it to a free app on your smartphone and operate and monitor your door from anywhere. Pretty cool! Almost all of the LiftMaster openers have this capability now, even the entry-level models.
LiftMaster 8500w (Wall mount)
The 8500w is a wall mount opener that differs from the traditional opener that has a rail and trolley to lift and close the door. The 8500w mounts to the torsion tube on the upper left or right of the garage door spring system. This frees up headroom in the garage where a traditional opener would hang from the ceiling. The 8500w is also applicable for doors with high lift track where traditional openers are not an option. The 8500w is an extremely quiet and functional opener. It has all the features of the WLED and also comes standard with an auto-lock that further secures the door in the down position. The 8500w made my list not because it is the most common or popular with customers or techs but because it’s a game-changer for many situations where traditional openers aren’t an option.
The 8160w is a traditional chain drive opener that doesn’t come with a lot of the upgrades that the other openers have: Battery backup, auto-lock, etc. This opener made the list because it’s what a lot of customers are looking for. Something dependable and cost-effective. Many customers just want to press the button and make the door go up or down and are not concerned with all the extra bells and whistles. The 8160w has a quiet DC motor with a soft start and stop. Many of the competing openers in this class have an AC motor which is much louder and has an abrupt start and stops. The 8160 has a larger-than-most chain sprocket the keeps the chain from rubbing the rail and creating unwanted noise. I’m a huge fan of this opener due to its no-nonsense functionality and practicality.