The horsepower of each electric garage door opener illustrates the lifting power of each model. And since not all garage doors are the same, the opener’s power is different too. Up until recently, choosing the right opener was not very hard. Things started getting more complicated as the options among garage doors grew and the opener technology made leaps forward.
Think about it. Not long ago, you had three main garage door opener options. The chain, the screw, and the belt drive opener. These are the so-called carriage or trolley openers. Why are they called like that? Because they all incorporate a trolley to pull the garage door open or to push it to close. The main difference was the way the trolley was driven – by a chain, by a belt or by a threaded steel rod. Regardless of the drive type, each opener was coming out in different horsepower options.
Nowadays, these carriage openers are still the most popular ones on the market. But not the only ones. There is also the choice of jackshaft openers, which are mounted on the wall instead of the ceiling. And there is the choice of direct-driven openers which utilize a moving instead of a stationary motor and a stationary instead of a moving chain. The diversity among opener choices makes it much harder to track down the right horse power for each garage door. To make it easier for you, let us pinpoint some things you must know.
AC and DC motors (or HP vs HPs and HPc)
Another main difference between traditional and modern openers is the current. Let’s take a small break here. It’s important to understand that when we are talking about horse power, we actually refer to the traditional screw, belt, and chain drive garage door openers – the carriage openers. Up until recently, they all worked with an alternative current (AC) while the most recent models are designed to work with the direct current (DC).
What’s relative about the horsepower here is that AC motors have a specified horsepower, DC motors don’t. To make things easier for the consumers, the manufacturers provide a horsepower equivalent so that the people who buy DC openers would know the lifting power capacities of the model they get compared to the AC ones. And so, when you shop for an AC opener, you will see the small HP sign indicating the HorsePower of the motor. When you shop for a DC motor, you will either see a HPs (horse power similar) or HPc (horsepower comparable) sign on the model. This will indicate the lifting capacities of the opener if compared with an AC motor.
Garage door motor horsepower choices
Most residential garage doors work fine with ½ HP openers. What you will also find on the market is openers with ¾ HP, 1 HP, and 1 ¼ HP. These ones are much stronger and thus only useful for very heavy garage doors. That’s why there are rarely used for residential garage door opener installation.
The greater the horsepower, the easier garage doors are lifted. But there is no need to invest in such expensive options unless you want an opener for large industrial and commercial garage doors.
What to consider to get the right garage door opener horsepower
There are several factors which will affect your decision. Although the weight of the garage door is very important, the counterbalance provided by the springs allows for a lower HP. The two factors which play a major role in your decision are the garage door size and the daily cycles. So oversized garage doors would be better off with a higher HP. Families with multiple drivers or people who constantly open and close their garage door should invest in higher HP openers. Factors to also take into account? Whether the garage door is insulated or is wind loaded. Anything that will strain the opener faster must be considered. The intention here is to buy an opener that will easily lift the garage door. If it doesn’t have enough lifting power, it will strain fast and will need replacement sooner than expected.
Take every little thing into account. Stick to ½ HP openers if you have a standard garage door size. If it’s much heavier and larger and is used constantly, prefer ¾ HP openers.