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11 min read

Garage Door Automation: The Key Steps

11 min read

Garage Door Automation: The Key Steps

Garage Door Automation: The Key Steps

By and large, there are multiple solutions available to automate garage doors, all of which are easily controlled via remote control. Here are systems you may use based on your garage door, and how to ensure its long-lasting usage. 

Why automate your garage door?

motorize your garage door

There are at least five reasons to automate your garage door:

1. Improve comfort

Between November and February, the average temperature in Quebec is somewhere between -15°C and 0°C. Given the frosty weather, having an automated garage door is perfectly logical.

Driving home after a long day of work, right from the comfort of your vehicle, you can open your garage door by pushing a button on a remote control. The door will proceed to open automatically. Simply pull your car into your garage, linger in the comfort of your car while the door closes behind you, and then casually make your way out into the warmth of your home.   

2. Save time

One of the main problems with a manual garage door is the risk of the locking mechanism freezing you out. When the door is automated, the entire mechanism is found inside the garage, at ambient temperature. As a result, you won’t have to face any unpleasantness. 

3. Give your back a break

Lifting open and closing an overhead garage door, at least twice daily, requires some physical strength. Doing so, over and over again, is bound to aggravate back problems that sneak up on you, sooner or later. In fact, three out of four individuals will suffer from lower back pain. In other words, the vast majority. So act now before it’s too late. 

4. Boost the market value of your house through automation

An automated garage door undeniably adds value to your house. Not only because it boasts all the previously cited benefits, but also because it’s worth its weight in gold.

In Quebec, the cost of a garage door, installation included, is somewhere around $780 and $3,700—$1,300 on average.

As a result, automated garage doors can’t be omitted when it comes time to price your home, especially during the sales pitch. 

5. Added security?

Safety and security are often put into question, yet are often cited as one of the many advantages of an automated garage door. Granted, their locking mechanism does make it harder for burglars to break in, especially since it’s often coupled with a burglar alarm.

However, a door installed without an obstacle detection sensor, or with a faulty detection sensor, is much more dangerous than a manual door. Fatal accidents are reported in all countries. Understandably rare, yet an automated door requires regular maintenance and upkeep. 

Factors to Consider When Selecting Your Garage Door Automation

motorize your garage door

The Door’s Weight and Size

A garage door weighs between 90 and 350 pounds (40 kg and 160 kg). To automatically open it, you’ll find in retail stores, and online especially, two types of alternating current (AC) motors and two direct current (DC) motors: 

  • ½ hp  

  • ¾ hp  

  • 500 newtons  

  • 700 newtons 

How can these two motors lift open a garage door? Note that garage doors are fitted with counterweights (often torsion or extension springs), which solely allow to move an 8- to 10-pound load (3 to 4 kg). For example, if you were to partially open an overhead garage door, it must be able to balance open. 

Despite this balance, the appropriate motor will depend on the door's size. Here’s a chart detailing which motor is compatible with which type of door: 

Door Size (ft./m)
AC Motor
DC Motor
9 x 7 ft/2.7 x 2.1 m
½ hp
500 N
16 x 7 ft/4.9 x 2.1 m
¾ hp or 1 hp
700 N or 1,000 N
Commercial or Industrial Scale
Up to 5 hp
1,000 N

Garage Door Usage

The frequency of use of a garage door doesn’t truly affect the type of motor chosen. The only factor you should turn your attention to is the lifespan of the material: 

  • Springs: 10,000 cycles (6 to 8 years)  

  • Motor: 7 to 15 years 

On account of the previously mentioned durabilities, the more you use your garage door, the earlier you’ll need to replace its mechanical parts. It’s all the more important to ensure the springs aren’t damaged or broken as it might lead to the door falling, which is what happened to a young man in Quebec, who, as a result, sadly passed away in 2012. 

Types of Garage Doors

There are four types of garage doors: 

  • Side sliding  

  • Tilt-up/up-and-over (overhead)

  • Sectional  

  • Roll up 

Note that, with whichever model you choose, each relies on a particular type of motor: 

Door Type
Chain-Drive Opener
Belt-Drive Opener
Screw-Drive Opener
Direct-Drive Opener
Side Sliding
x
Overhead (smaller than 6.56 ft/2.20 m)
x
x
x
Overhead (taller than 6.56 ft/2.20 m)
x
Sectional
x
x
Roll Up
x

If you're looking to learn more about the functioning of the different garage door motors, check out our article about installing an electric garage door opener.

Installation Cost

The installation price point ranges between $300 and $600, depending on whether the garage door is single or double. All in all, plan on spending between $800 and $4,000, which includes the price of the door, which is, on average, $1,300.

If you plan on installing a new garage door opener too, add about $200 to the above-mentioned price point.

Automated Side Sliding Doors

motorize your garage door

Can you automate a side sliding door?

Yes, a side sliding garage door can be fitted with an automated door opener.

How to Automate a Side Sliding Door

Buy a door opener kit, then affix the top and bottom rail to the wall as indicated in the manufacturer’s installation guidelines. Add the overhead door stop to prevent the opening mechanism from coming off the rail. Secure the bottom guide and the rail motor.

Don’t forget to add the idler pulley, which is used to ensure the auger belt is under tension and properly aligned. Then, install the door on the rails.  

What motor best suits a side sliding door?

As we detailed in the chart above, the sole motor that is suited to, and can be installed, on this type of door is the direct-drive opener. 

It’s both aesthetic and subtle, affixed directly to the rail on which the door slides open and close. This system is easy to install and connected to the lighting to reinforce security when using a remote control. 

Overhead Door Automation

motorize your garage door

Can you automate an up-and-over garage door?

Yes, an up-and-over garage door can be automated. 

How to Automate a Tilt-Up Garage Door

Get ahold of the instructions booklet and assemble the track, keeping in mind to insert the fixing brackets positioned on the ceiling. At the end of the rail, two brackets are added, and secured to the ceiling.

Start by adding the chain, trolley, and motor to the rail. First, snake the chain through the pulley, and then through the trolley’s pathway. Next, fit the trolley onto the rail, and then the pulley. The chain will snake down near the end of the rail.

The chain is typically equipped with a quick release. Simply remove it, as well as the mounting plate, to affix the chain as a unit, enclosing it into the mounting plate. Next, run the chain over the sprocket and insert the track into the motor unit. Tighten the chain affixed to the bracket (arm).

Screw the door arm in the middle of the door. It’ll then anchor into the end bit of the rail. Use support brackets to hold the motor to ensure the belt is perfectly straight and level.

To affix the belt, bend the brackets on the floor after having marked the screw holes with a pencil, then secure the brackets to the belt and onto the ceiling.

Hang the door arm atop the door with self-drilling screws. In the event that you come home and the power is out, don’t forget to install a manual release cord affixed to the garage door to release it and pop it open from the outside. Plug in the garage door opener. Congrats! Your door is now automated. 

What motor is best suited to an overhead door?

Depending on the size of the door, a chain-driven or belt-driven opener is best. Both work the exact same way. The only difference rests on the fact that one is fitted with a chain, while the other operates with a rubber belt. If you’re looking for an opener for an 86 sq. ft. (8 m²) door, weighing up to 176 lb (80 kg), the belt-driven motor is your best bet.   

Sectional Garage Door Automation

motorize your garage door

Can you automate a sectional garage door?

Without a doubt, a sectional garage door can be automated. 

How to Automate a Sectional Garage Door

Start by assembling all the parts. Then, locate the door's top mid-section to affix the header bracket. To do so, partially open the door to locate its highest point. Measure an inch (25 mm) to 6.50 inches (165 mm) above this point, and this is where you will screw the header bracket to the wall. 

Assemble the rail or carriage tube. Proceed the same way with the belt’s other parts. Make sure each section is properly aligned and secured with screws. Mount the carriage tube to the belt's end and then glide the trolley along. Add the end stop. 

Secure the belt to the header bracket without tightening the screws. Using a long piece of wood (or step ladder), place the motor near the ceiling and drill the angle irons in place. Bend the brackets to the right length and secure the carriage tube to the ceiling. 

Position and secure the motor on the rail and manually close and lock the door. Attach the carriage arm to the door and hang the trolley to secure the carriage arm’s other end. Tighten the end stop and position it against the trolley. Unlock it and open the door. Position the motor’s end stop against the trolley and ensure the door functions properly.

With the door in an open position, manually check its proper functioning, then lock the trolley. Next, plug in the system. You can now test the door’s automated function.

What kind of motorized unit best suits a sectional door?

There are several garage door openers on the market, perfectly suited to sectional doors: 

  • Chain driven  

  • Belt driven 

There's a third type of garage door opener that might make its way onto the market: the electromagnetically-propelled garage door. It was developed by University of Michigan students in 2022. It’s functional yet requires a bit more research to fine-tune it prior to marketing this new opener.

Garage Door Opener Maintenance and Lifespan

motorize your garage door

At least once a year, check all your door opener’s parts and accessories. Some installers will make you sign a maintenance contract, which includes two yearly maintenance checks. 

If you don’t have such a contract, here’s how to proceed with a maintenance check yourself. 

Step 1: Manually open the door

Your garage door opener prevents you from detecting any hindrance in the opening process. However, this can be assessed when manually opened. Therefore, it’s important to, at least once a year, to carry out such an inspection. It’ll allow you to spot the following: 

  • Wearing rollers

  • Misaligned panels (rubbing on the tracks)

  • Tension-related problem with the springs 

The issues mentioned above are quite easy to spot: your garage door can’t balance open when partially opened and is relatively heavy to lift. 

Step 2: Clean and lubricate the parts

All parts that might encounter friction (springs, hinges, rollers, pulleys, belts) must be lubricated once every six months. And there’s more to it. Wash the exterior side of the panels with a gentle soap and water solution twice a year to maintain that appealing and ever-so-desirable aesthetic.  

Step 3: Maintain the weather strip

If you don’t want to spend more money on heating and air conditioning, regularly maintain the weather strip that runs along the bottom of your garage door. To do so, clean it with a gentle cleaning agent and use a silicone-based product to lubricate it.

Check the door’s bottom moulding to ensure it lays perfectly flat, preventing air from filtering through the bottom of the door. In some cases, rodents may scratch through it to find refuge in your garage during the harsh winter months.  

Step 4: Check the door’s safety features

Place an object under the open garage door and close the door using the remote control. When the door comes into contact with the object, if functioning properly, it should spring back up immediately. If it doesn’t, release the door right away and switch to manual use until a professional can come in and repair it.

Unplug the garage door opener as an additional safety measure. Your door should no longer move in an up-and-down motion unless manually opened.

Lastly, check the springs and the steel wire cable which, together, also make up a key safety feature. Should a problem occur, under no circumstances should you attempt to repair either of these parts by yourself. Handling such parts can be dangerous and result in grave injuries, some even fatal. So for some peace of mind, hire a qualified professional to carry out any repairs to your garage door.

Last tidbit of advice: Consider getting a backup generator. That said, should there be a power outage, you’re door should remain fully functional. 

Emergency Release with an Automated Garage Door: How-To

No matter the garage door type or automation, it must be fitted with an emergency release system. The latter is typically a string equipped with a red handle that cannot go unnoticed. 

To operate the emergency release, simply pull down the red cord. The motor will be disengaged, successfully disconnecting the door opener, allowing you to manually manoeuvre it. 


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Last modified 2024-03-12

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