What is an Automatic Garage Door?

Article Details
  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Merrilee Willoughby
  • Last Modified Date: 08 February 2018
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An automatic garage door is a motorized garage door that opens and closes through the use of remote controls and installed switches. Remote controls are often carried in the vehicles that park in the garage. As drivers approach the garage, they press a button on the remote control and a radio frequency signal is sent to open the door. Automatic garage doors keep the driver from having to get out of the vehicle to pull the door open and closed each time.

There are multiple installation locations for automatic garage doors, ranging from parking garages to homes. In locations with multiple users, remote controls can be programmed with access codes so that the door is programmed to operate when the appropriate code is entered. From inside the garage, the door can often be opened by pressing a button that is accessible from the driver's side window.


The automatic garage door is opened by an electric motor unit that is attached to a metal track. A metal arm is attached to the top of the garage door and moves back and forth on the track when the door is activated. There is an emergency handle and rope attached to a trolley so that the door can be manually opened or closed in an emergency or power outage. All automatic garage doors come with a standard safety system that will stop the door from closing if there is any object in the way and this system is mandatory in all installations. When selecting an automatic garage door opener, there are four important items to consider: drive system, power consumption, motor power and noise.

The three different types of drive systems available are screw, belt and chain. The screw-based drive system was the first type of system developed and is simple to repair, but very noisy. Belt systems are silent, but can wear out over time and break. Chain systems combine the strength of a metal chain with a plastic belt drive for quiet operation and longevity.

The most important power consideration is the amount of energy required when the system is not in use, which is the vast majority of the time. Review the product specifications to find this information and to compare different models. Look for models with a lower energy transformer to save money in electricity.

When selecting the motor power for an automatic garage door, measure the width and height of the door and compare it to the product details. The operator should be capable of lifting the door and keeping it balanced. It is better in the long run to have the automatic garage door operating at 60% of capacity than at 90% of capacity.

The amount of noise generated by the motor is an important consideration in the selection of residential door openers since there is often a bedroom located directly above the garage. Look for a model with a soft start and stop. With this model, the speed is accelerated in a controlled manner, reducing the noise as the door is opened or closed.



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