Belt Drive vs Chain Drive Garage Door Opener: Which is Better

The user experience in the garage has improved immensely, thanks to the introduction of garage door openers. Interestingly, it is now even possible to manipulate your garage door from a short distance with the help of a handheld remote control. However, for you to enjoy such garage door opener technology, you ought to choose an ideal opener for your home or commercial space. It can be a daunting job to determine the best opener, given that they are available in several different types.

The question of belt drive vs chain drive garage door opener systems has been with us for quite long and still Belt drive openers and chain drive openers are the two dominant opener types you might have come across in your search. You have probably noticed that these two types tend to be highly acknowledged and are a common preference among many homeowners. How then do you distinguish the perfect option for you?

Belt Vs. Chain Drive Garage Door Openers; which is better? Based on characteristic features, chain drive garage door opener systems provide the perfect solutions for the garage owners.  The chain-drive garage door system is less costly, durable, strong, and powerful, giving it an edge over the belt systems. Even though it’s characterized by high noise levels and maintenance due to its gears and metallic parts, its benefits surpass its drawbacks.

an image of a garage door operated with a chain system

Join me as I stretch the discussion on belt drive vs. chain drive garage door openers for a detailed understanding to make the right purchase decision.

What is belt drive garage door opener?

The belt drive garage door opener is a top-of-the-range garage door operating mechanism that utilizes a steel-reinforced rubber, polyurethane, or fiberglass belt to raise or lower the garage door.

The belt drive system tends to be ideal for homes with living rooms that neighbor the garage or houses attached to the garage. This is because of the smooth and quiet operation it displays. This way, you can enjoy unmatched seamlessness when relaxing in your home.

The belt drive opener has an ergonomic construction. It employs fewer moving parts, making it a more user-oriented and safer option. The belt drive system has strongly established itself as one of the principal types of garage door openers.

 Advantages of Belt-Drive System 

  • Noiseless operation – belt drive systems have a quietly operating motor unit.  The operation does not emit any squeaking sounds and makes the garage door stutter, vibrate or sway much less. The aspect makes its use environmental friendly and limits the high noise levels in the neighborhood. 
  • Easy to use – There are various controls available for belt drive systems ranging from house controls, car controls, garage controls, and keychain controls that makes its use straightforward. 
  • Descent speed – Due to its smooth operation, you get to enjoy an efficient speed of about 10 inches per second when the garage door is ascending and 7 to 8 inches per second when it is descending.
  • Ergonomic lights – belt driven-openers often have essential lights integrated at the back and front. These lights tend to be bright enough to assist you as you park your car.
  • Easy to install – with the precise set of measurements, installing belt drive systems is quite simple. It involves setting the opener in the raised position and also setting the mounting brackets.
  • Ease of installation-unlike with the chain drive systems, the belt drive systems are the easiest to maintain as they do not require lubrication. The practice reduces the maintenance and repair cost.
  • Availability– you would not be bothered by the long travels when you intend to purchase a belt-drive system. A belt drive garage door opener is available in almost every home improvement shop or garage door installation and service company. 
  • Strength– belt drives are robust and are perfect for lifting various types of garage door openers. You can never question their durability. Today, they are even used in large motorcycles and can drive even the largest door garage opener with minimal considerations to wear and tear. In other words, they give you the value for your money.


  • Slightly expensive – being the efficient and supreme type of garage door opener it is, its price tends to be a little higher. It is also not easily available. However, the merits it comes with greatly outweigh the purchasing cost.
  • In terms of strength, chain drive garage door openers outmatch belt drive systems. Chain drive systems tend to be suitable for a two-car garage door and heavier garage doors as opposed to belt drive systems.

What is chain drive garage door opener?

The chain driven-opener is the commonest type that utilizes a chain to open and close the garage door. The chain is part of a bigger assembly linked to tension springs that push the door up and down. 

The ease of availability of chain drive systems and their inexpensiveness makes them widely used. How do chain drive systems rate in terms of power and reliability? Discussed below are the benefits and drawbacks of chain drive systems.


  • Cheap – in contrast to belt drive systems, chain drive garage door openers are easily available, making them inexpensive. They are also an excellent option if you are working with a tight budget.
  • Powerful – chain drive systems are stronger than belt drive systems enabling them to lift more. This makes them appropriate for two or three-car garage doors as well as doors crafted from heavy wood. 


  • Readjustments – chain drive systems will need adjustments made to the chain. This is not so much big of a demerit since the adjustments are made only around two times in the entire lifespan of a chain drive opener. What’s even better is that the process is achievable in just ten minutes.
  • Loud operation – the mode of operation of chain drive systems can be a bit noisy. You might get irritated by the squeaking sounds or noise produced when the motor runs, especially if your bedroom neighbors the garage.  
  • If the garage door rollers wear down, chain drive garage door openers tend to slack.

Belt Vs. Chain Drive Garage Door Openers; which is better 

Both belt driven-openers and chain drive garage door operating systems stand as one of the most popular types of garage door openers. They have both dominated many homes because of the convenience they deliver. However, there are variations between these two systems.

These differences lay a base for determining suitability. For instance, if you have a heavy garage door, chain drive systems will be more suitable since they have more power.

I will shed light on these variations with respect to scopes such as;


This is an essential factor that you ought to take into account before making a purchase decision. The weight of your garage door influences its operation. A relatively strong garage door opener can be overwhelmed by a significantly heavy garage door.

For that reason, you should consider the type of garage door you have. A 2-3 car garage door, a heavy wooden or heavily insulated door, will require a chain drive garage door opener since it has more tensile strength.

Belt drive systems will be appropriate for lighter models of garage doors. They handle such models without strain, considering their design is in such a way that the distribution of the total weight of the garage door is even along the belt rails.  Thus, for heavy garage doors, consider chain drive systems to belt-drive.


Affordability is certainly a crucial factor when it comes to the purchasing of just about anything. How much you can spend has an effect on the choice of garage door opener.

A chain drive system is a way to go if you are looking for a cheap yet dependable garage door opener. It is readily accessible and will not have you breaking the bank to procure it. On the downside too, poor maintenance practices of chain drive systems significantly reduce their lifespan. This is because the metal components often come into contact, causing friction and, in return, causing wear. You also need to lubricate them as a maintenance practice to increase their efficiency and prevent rust.

Belt drive garage door openers, on the flip side, are more costly than chain drive systems. This is because they are difficult to access and deliver smooth and efficient garage door operations. However, they are quite durable since they use a trolley to run the rubber belt up and down.


This factor does not hold much weight in influencing your purchasing decision. However, you will want to note that there is a difference in how fast the garage door opens and closes depending on the garage door opener.

Because of the smooth operation of belt drive systems, the rate at which they open and close the garage door is higher when compared to chain drive systems. This smoothness does not make the garage door vibrate or sway hence the faster the operation. Chain drive systems tend to operate my bouncing slightly as they ascend the rail.

Noise level

The mode of operation of garage door openers will determine the level of noise produced. Normally, vibrations and sounds are present when the drive system and motor unit are running. However, for chain drive systems, the noise levels are aggravated by gears and other metal components coming into contact resulting in clinking. This, in return, disrupts the serenity in your home, especially for the rooms adjacent to the garage.

Belt drive systems, on the other hand, have minimal noise levels since they operate quietly. You do not have to tolerate the irritating noises with belt drive garage door openers.

The video below shows the working principles of the chain-drive and belt-drive garage door opener systems

Can I replace a chain drive garage door opener with a belt drive?

Yes, you can. Whether you wish to upgrade from your old and noisy chain drive opener or simply transition to a quietly operating opener, a replacement with a belt drive garage door opener is a sure way to go. 

Belt drive systems generally require less maintenance compared to their chain drive counterparts. This could be yet another reason prompting you to replace your chain drive system with a belt drive. The important question, however, is, how do you successfully do the replacement. 

To start with, equip yourself with a drill/driver and a socket wrench to uninstall the older chain drive opener.

Here are the tips to remove your old garage door opener.

  • Unplug the opener at the outlet level.
  • Detach the light housing that conceals the wiring and the light unit.
  • Take note of the wiring by improvising your phone to capture the wiring layout. The white wires link to the safety sensors, and the brown-colored cables link to several switches.
  • Unlink the wiring using a screwdriver and also disconnect the light bulb.
  • The weight of the opener requires support since you are unscrewing the opener from its fixed position. You can achieve this by placing a box on a ladder.
  • With the help of a socket wrench, loosen the screws and bolts on the brackets securing the opener.
  • Disconnect the emergency release. You will then pull the ring fastener and clevis pin, after which you can scrupulously disengage the opener. 
  • To totally disconnect the whole garage door opener unit, get rid of the ring fastener and clevis pin from the bracket on the header.

You have now successfully removed your old garage door opener. It is time to set up the new belt drive opener. Below are the steps to follow:

  • The rail system usually comes in pieces that need to be set up together manually. Connect the pieces by hand or with the help of a rubber mallet while ensuring that the tab faces upwards. 
  • With the rail set up as a continuous block, rest one end on top of a box on the floor while the other end rests on the opener.
  • You ought to ensure that the trolley bears four plastic tabs for its smooth movement on the rail. Now, position it correctly and slide it onto the rail.
  • Next, you will need to fix the U-bracket in position onto the rail. Employ a rubber mallet to gently tap the U-bracket if it gets stubborn.
  • Position the garage door opener in the right direction.
  • Fasten the 1/4“ bolt and lock nut into the rail at the point just next to the opener.
  • The opener typically has bolts and nuts at the top. Unfasten these components using a socket wrench.
  • Position the U-bracket over the corresponding holes and tightly fasten it down on the opener using the bolt and nuts you had earlier loosened.
  • Proceed to set up the idler pulley. There is a window on the other end of the rail (front end) on top of the box. Feed the belt through this window for about one foot. Ensure that the idler pulley is properly greased and then position it in the window next to the belt. Take its bolt and slip in through the hole above the window.
  • Fasten the washer and the nut with a socket wrench tightly but still ensure that the idler pulley has space to play.
  • Bend the tab near the window with a screwdriver or pliers, and then connect the belt to the trolley.
  • Feed the pulley around the entire length of the rail, including the pulley on the opposite end linked to the opener.
  • To tighten the belt, manipulate the provided spring and rod by detaching the two. In the correct orientation, tightly connect the rod to the pin system and insert it in its respective space on the trolley. Re-screw the spring back on the rod more tightly with a socket wrench till it pops by ¼” to ensure correct tension.
  • Fasten the cap over the drive on the opener with the screws it comes with.
  • Install the brackets at the center of the garage door.
  • Fix the clevis pin and the ring fastener in place to secure the opener to the brackets.
  • Install the new garage opener on the corresponding support brackets. Do consider having the support brackets screwed into joists rather than only drywall.   
  • Fix the emergency release rope through the trolley. Two brackets come with the opener, a curved one and a straight one. Fix the straight one into the trolley and the curved one to the bracket on your garage door. Attach the two brackets by fastening about two bolts, nuts, and washers. 
  • Install the light bulb and re-engage the trolley. Connect the wires correspondingly to the terminals according to the instructions provided.
  • Plug the opener into the electrical outlet, after which the bulb will flash about 3-4 times. Press the garage door opener, and then take time to admire the work of your hands!

How much does it cost to replace a garage door belt?

The average cost of replacing a belt drive garage door opener ranges between $275 to $725. However, the prices might scale higher for you, especially if you pay for labor, whereby the services may range between $159 to $379. For accessories like sealants and fasteners, the price ranges between $16 and $19.

Belt and chain drives? How do they work?

The belt drive and chain drive garage door openers operate more in the same manner. It is the components used in either of the systems that usher in the differences. The chain drive systems utilize a metal chain that runs along the rail and is connected to the garage door springs to raise and lower the garage door.

A chain drive opener operates through the correlation of various components. It has a trolley linked to an arm connected to the garage door top. It is this arm that travels to facilitate the movement of the garage door. Other parts of the assembly are counterbalance springs and cables that establish the force required and an electric motor that oversees the extent to which the door closes or opens.

The belt drive systems, on the contrary, employ a rubber-style belt as the drive mechanism. This belt is typically a steel reinforced rubber that runs the entire rail length and wraps around the sprocket. An adjustable threaded clip used to adjust the tension connects the ends of this belt. This rubber belt slides the trolley to achieve the closing and opening of the garage door.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, garage door opener chain drive or belt drive?

Both types of garage door openers are excellent in particular types of garage doors. The chain driven-opener is the perfect fit when dealing with a heavy door or a 2-car garage door. It has the upper hand, courtesy of its remarkable strength. The belt drive garage door opener will be appropriate if you wish to move a standard one-car garage door. Price is also a determining factor when aiming to establish a better garage door opener choice.  

What is the average life of a garage door opener?

The average lifespan of garage door openers ranges between 10 to 15 years. They are not complicated systems, and with proper maintenance of the springs and rollers, you should enjoy the service of your opener for the said period or more.

Are belt drive garage door openers reliable?

Belt drive garage door openers rank highly and solidly match in terms of reliability to the chain drive openers. Belt drive systems are not only reliable but also commendable for their silent operation. The only disadvantage attached is their high pricing.

Does HP matter in garage door opener?

The HP rating of a particular garage door opener matters since it indicates the power produced by the opener. This power helps you determine if the garage door opener will have the capacity to lift the garage door’s weight. To exemplify this, an opener with ¾ HP will be appropriate for a one-car garage installed with wooden or heavily insulated doors.

How much horsepower do I need for a single garage door opener?

For a standard one-car garage door, an opener with ½ horsepower will be ideal. Often, most home-based garage door openers need horsepower ranging between ¼ and ½ HP. Basically, the size and weight of the garage door will influence the horsepower raring you need in a garage door opener.


From this comprehensive conversation, you can deduce that both belt drive systems and chain drive systems are excellent choices in their respects. Both systems tend to have an even score considering that each system has several aspects that makes it precede the other. 

For instance, when using noise and convenience as the determining score, the belt drive garage door opener takes it home. When using strength and price as the evaluation score, chain drive garage door openers outmatch their counterparts.

For that reason, you ought to take all the scores into account when evaluating both options. This way, you stand guided in order to make a well-versed purchase decision that will be suitable for your garage door. All the best!

Other Related Articles