If you’ve considered getting an automatic garage door opener and have done even a little bit of research already, you likely know that you have a major choice to make. The belt vs chain drive garage door opener debate is an interesting one.
Those are the two main styles – belt and chain drive. There, of course, are pros and cons for each. There really have to be, or one of them wouldn’t exist.
We’ll take a look at what those good points and not so good points of each type are in this article. Then we’ll recommend what we think are the best belt drive garage door opener and the best chain drive garage door opener in the market today.
If you end up disagreeing with us, that’s fine. You may have a specific situation that calls for a different opener. However, we think the two we’ll suggest are the best overall for most people who want or need a good garage door opener, whether it be chain or belt drive.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to check the pricing and availability of these openers at Amazon, you can click the links in the short list just below.
Chain vs Belt Drive Garage Door Opener: A Comparison
Let’s first look at the positives and negatives of each type of garage door opener, starting with the chain drive openers.
The points we’ll make are applicable when you’re comparing “apples to apples”. It’s only fair to say something is better about the one type in general when you’re looking at a belt drive opener and a chain drive opener that are roughly equal in capabilities and features.
Don’t compare “apples and oranges” and say that the following points are invalid.
Chain Drive Opener Pros
Probably the main feature a chain drive has going for it is its strength. A metal link chain is simply stronger than a belt that can more easily wear through. That said, you only need more strength if you have a large, heavy door. Most people don’t.
As we just hinted at, a chain drive will normally last longer than a belt drive simply because it’s made of stronger stuff. The two benefits go hand in hand.
Chain drive garage door openers will cost less than comparable belt drive openers. The caveat here is that you get what you pay for.
Chain Drive Opener Cons
On the down side, chains rattle and make a lot of noise. If you have an attached garage, that could be a big problem, especially late at night or in the wee hours when some family members may still be asleep.
Chain drive openers are slower by a few miles per hour than most belt drive openers. This isn’t often a true problem, unless you’re in a real hurry as in an emergency.
Chain drives do require some maintenance, if you want them to have a full, normal lifetime. A little lubrication periodically helps prevent rust and keeps the whole system in good working order.
Advantages of a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener
The advantages of a belt drive versus a chain drive garage door opener are pretty much the flip side of the chain drive’s cons.
A belt drive is much quieter, virtually silent while running. It moves up and down more quickly, and it doesn’t require lubrication to keep working properly.
In addition, it’s strong enough for the vast majority of garage doors for the vast majority of customers. This likely includes you.
Belt drives also tend to be easier to install than chain drives. If you like to do it yourself (and there’s little reason you wouldn’t, as long as you’re able-bodied), you’ll prefer a belt drive model.
Disadvantages of a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener
And the disadvantages will be the flip side of the chain drive’s pros.
You won’t want a belt drive for most heavier doors. They have a relatively shorter lifespan, and they cost a bit more. But, we’ll say again that you do get what you pay for.
Now, on to our two recommendations: a Chamberlain belt drive opener and a Genie chain drive opener.
Belt Drive: Chamberlain B970 Ultra Quiet Garage Door Opener (Best Overall)
We won’t spend a lot of time describing the Chamberlain belt drive opener because we did so over here in this article on the quietest garage door opener.
The Chamberlain B970 is extremely quiet during operation. It’s also made of strong materials, so it should last a long time.
This model has a 1 ¼ HP lifting capacity, so it should be able to handle your garage door, unless you have one that’s larger or heavier than usual.
It has battery backup for those times the power goes out. You can use the remote control or the myq phone app to operate it from a distance of almost a quarter mile.
Chain Drive: Genie Chain Drive 550 Garage Door Opener (Quietest Chain)
Note: You may see this Genie opener called model 2035-TKV. The “550” in the name just above is not the model number.
The Genie 550 has a 5-piece rail system that snaps together. You don’t need additional hardware to make this work. The chain itself is pre-assembled. Genie apparently understands that chain drive systems have been known to be more difficult to put together and has done all they can to mitigate this problem.
You get a ½ HP DC motor in the gearbox. This motor comes with a 10 year limited warranty.
You can connect this system to car remotes such as HomeLink and Car2U right out of the box. No bridges or repeaters are needed. Again, Genie is trying to keep it simple.
As you should expect, you get two 3-button garage door opener remotes, a wireless keypad for operating via a PIN, and a wall console that includes vacation lock and a light control button.
Standard Genie safety and security features include their:
- Safe-T-Beam reversing system, GenieSense system monitoring
- Diagnostics Intellicode Access. (This makes the whole unit as safe and secure as possible using technology currently available)
Conclusions about Belt Drive vs Chain Drive Garage Door Openers
As we suggested earlier, both belt drive and chain drive systems have their place. If one didn’t, it wouldn’t exist. So which do we like the best?
Both types have those “extras” that have become standards, such as phone apps, smart features, and security measures, so it’s hard to differentiate there.
We prefer the Chamberlain B970 belt drive, especially because of its quiet and maintenance free operation, despite the higher cost. We think the greater cost is definitely worth it. The ease of installation and faster movement are pluses as well.
Again, you may disagree because you don’t care about the noise, because you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty from time to time, or because you don’t have the cash to lay out for the more expensive model. If so, chain drive garage door openers are there for you.
Whether you go with our top pick in the Chamberlain B970 opener or not, if you’re like most users, you’ll look for a suitable belt drive opener for your garage door. We hope you find one you like.