Home & Garden

Ask Angie: How to buy a garage door opener

When shopping for an automatic garage door opener, look for one that comes with a single piece metal track.
When shopping for an automatic garage door opener, look for one that comes with a single piece metal track. TNS

Q: I just purchased a house with an old two-car garage. Structurally, the garage is in tip-top shape. However, the door is manual, and I’d like to install an automatic door opener. How much will it cost?

A: An automatic garage door opener can certainly help make life a little easier, allowing you to come and go without the extra steps of getting out of the car to open and close the door yourself.

However, the type of automatic opener you buy is going to depend on your garage door. Steel, composite, wooden, fiberglass, one-piece tilt-up, roll-up, high-lift and low-clearance garage doors each require a different garage door opener for different reasons.

Regardless, the cost to buy an automatic garage door opener can range from $150 to $300 plus the cost of installation, which can also range from $150 to $300. Angie’s List members nationwide who recently purchased a garage door opener reported paying an average of $428, including installation.

Tips for buying a Garage Door Opener

There are a few things you should be aware of when shopping for a quality garage door opener. First, make sure it comes with a rail that’s one solid piece. The rail, or “track,” is installed across the ceiling from the operator to the door and allows the trolley to travel back and forth. Box store or mail order openers typically come with tracks that are in three or four pieces (easier to fit in the box that way), and tend to be flimsy.

Also, for durability, make sure the opener is mostly made of metal and not plastic. Take some time to find out which opener is popular with reputable garage door dealers in your area. Undoubtedly, it’s going to be the one that’s reliable with excellent manufacturer support and customer service.

Because this is a new installation, it will require an electrical outlet in the ceiling in order to plug in the opener. Depending on whether or not your garage has such a receptacle, you may need to hire a licensed electrician to install one. Don’t use an extension cord – it’s against building code and is a fire hazard.

If you have the proper tools and are committed to thoroughly reading the directions, you could try installing the opener on your own. Our garage door experts say it comes down to time – most homeowners who try to DIY an installation spend the entire day on the project, whereas a professional could have the job done in an hour.

Be sure to inquire about an opener’s warranty, including what is and isn’t covered. To get the best deal – with the most coverage — consider buying from a garage door dealer, as they usually offer warranties on the installation as well as a manufacturer’s warranty.

How to Hire a Garage Door Company

When hiring a garage door professional, it’s important to read reviews on various companies. Industry licensing is spotty – some municipalities may require a contractor’s or home improvement license, while others don’t require anything.

Check out a company’s longevity and if they have a brick-and-mortar office or showroom. In any case, the company should be insured to cover any possible damages.

Send questions to askangie@angieslist.com or tweet with #AskAngie. Follow her @Angie–Hicks.