Chain vs. Belt-Drive Garage Door Openers

December 3rd at 10:17pm

Garage door installer adjusting chain drive garage door opener model

If your garage door opener has finally given in and you need a new one, or you’re shopping for one as part of a completely new garage door installation, you've no doubt found that there are numerous different options to consider. One of the first things to decide however is whether you're going to buy a chain-drive or a belt-drive garage door opener. Each has its own benefits and in this piece, we're going to talk through the main factors to consider to hopefully help you decide which option is better suited to your requirements.

We’ve installed hundreds of garage door openers around Littleton, so we’ve seen how both options can be a good solution provided they’re bought for the right reasons.

How Chain and Belt-Drive Garage Door Openers Work

Before we get into the benefits, it’s important that you’re first aware of how exactly each of these garage door openers works. The name does kind of give it away and if you look at each of these openers side by side, you’ll see the difference immediately. But sometimes it’s worth stating the obvious!

Chain-driven garage door openers pull your door up and lower it down using a chain. Within the opener, there are a series of gears and springs that turn to release this chain and bring it back in. Belt-driven garage door openers are very similar, and use a rubber belt instead of a chain to open and close the door.

Chain and Belt-Drive Openers: Head to Head

Now we’re going to compare the two types of openers across a number of different areas to highlight both their differences and their respective strengths.


How much do you want to pay for your new garage door opener? If you have limited funds, you’re probably going to lean toward a chain-drive opener. They are made from cheaper components, which brings the cost of production down. But if you can afford a belt-drive opener, they offer a number of interesting benefits that may well be worth the extra cost, depending on your specific requirements. It really all depends on what you want to spend upfront, and what’s important to you.


Belt and chain drive openers are not equal when it comes to how much weight they can shift. There's quite a difference in fact, and in this sense, a chain-drive opener has the edge. So if you've got an extremely heavy metal or wooden garage door, they might be your best bet. Obviously, if you have a lighter door, this isn't a factor.

So when would a belt-drive opener be ok? If your garage door is made from a lighter material such as fiberglass or a lighter metal, they work just fine. They’re also a good option for a single garage, whereas a chain-drive opener would be a better bet if you have a double garage.


If you have an attached garage that is not that well insulated and your bedroom shares a wall with it, this is one part of this comparison that might interest you greatly. One of the big selling points of belt-drive openers is that they are significantly quieter, so your sleep is less likely to get interrupted.

If you have a detached garage this might not be an aspect that you give too much importance to, in which case a chain-driven model will suffice. As it's metal on metal, they generate quite a lot more noise.


It’s difficult to say which option comes out on top in this category. On the one hand, chain-drive openers do tend to last longer than belt-drive openers, but they also require more frequent maintenance and are particularly at risk of rusting (especially if your garage door insulation isn’t great). But on the other hand, while a belt-drive opener’s lifespan is typically shorter, they rarely need any maintenance doing at all.

It’s all about what your preferences are. Less time but no hassle (belt-drive) or more time but greater maintenance requirements (chain-drive)?


This will likely be a factor that not many property owners in Littleton really think about, but there is a difference in terms of the speed at which the garage door is opened and closed with these two different types of openers. Belt-drive openers operate more smoothly and are a bit faster, while chain-drive openers can sometimes be a bit bumpy and take a few seconds more to open and close.

Quick Recap of Both Options

We’ll now quickly list out the main pros and cons of each option to summarize this comparison for you.

Belt Drive Opener Pros

  • Produce little noise during operation
  • Very smooth action
  • Little maintenance required
  • Faster at lowering and lifting the door

Belt Drive Opener Cons

  • Higher upfront cost
  • Often don't last as long as chain-driven openers
  • Not suitable for heavier garage doors

Chain Drive Opener Pros

  • Very affordable to have installed
  • Can support heavier doors and double garages
  • Can last a long time if carefully maintained

Chain Drive Opener Cons

  • They make significantly more noise
  • More maintenance required
  • Operation not as smooth

As you can see, both of these types of garage door openers can be good options. If you still need help to work out which type would be best suited to your Littleton home and requirements, contact our garage door support team on (303) 730-0232 and we’ll be more than happy to provide advice or arrange an appointment to assess your needs.

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