This article was written by Gary Saletrik, director of product development, Access Solutions Division of Overhead Door Corp. and provides detailed information about the current trends in residential garage door opener.
We appreciate Gary taking the time to write this article for Professional Door Dealer magazine
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When examining the latest developments in the residential opener market, one characteristic is clearly paramount among the others. Consumers are exhibiting a preference for openers that are quiet. Historically, the need for near silent operation hasn’t made the list of consumer demands. In fact, when major manufacturers polled consumers in an effort to uncover their desires, quiet operation didn’t even make the list of top 10 features on their wish list until recently.
So what’s driving this need for quieter residential garage door openers? There have been major changes to new housing structures over the past 15 to 20 years. For example, the detached garage has been replaced by an attached garage in an effort to give homeowners even greater comfort and protection from the elements. Common floor plan designs have the garage adjacent to living areas such as the family room or kitchen, which results in the noise generated from garage door openers being a concern.
As urban sprawl set in and space became more of a scarcity in many communities, home builders began to build two-story homes in an effort to increase the available square footage without using more land. This upward footprint usually takes advantage of the space above a garage by adding an extra bedroom, game room or the ever-popular man cave. With the number of garages increasing over time, this has lead to multiple rooms adjacent to and above garage areas, creating a demand for quieter openers.
The DC Motor Advantage
Many associate belt drives with the quietest of garage door openers due to their smooth operation. While belt drives are indeed quiet, the development of DC motors really is the foundation upon which a quiet garage door opener system can be built. There’s no audible hum like that experienced with an AC motor.
Similarly, DC motors have significantly less vibration than their AC-motor counterparts. DC motors also have the additional advantage of soft start and stop, which results in less wear and tear on the door. These smart systems that allow the garage door to open and close smoothly without jerking minimizes the noise created during operation.
Now that the garage door opener has been designed and engineered to provide quieter action, it becomes immediately apparent that the accompanying door should be designed for quiet operation as well. Upgrading the entire door system presents an opportunity to sell service, replacement parts or upgraded doors. A recent study by Remodeling magazine showed consumers can reap a return on investment of 84 percent when upgrading their garage doors from opening price point to mid-range doors while dramatically improving their curb appeal.
In addition to noise control, consumer’s busy lifestyles composed of dual-career households, children and their activities, and community commitments dictate that speed be a priority feature as well. We all have a full plate, and the last thing we want is to wait for the garage door to open or close so we can go to the next activity. The newest lines of residential openers available operate at speeds up to 12 inches per second with a DC motor.
Better Access Control
This busy lifestyle is also creating a need for more convenience features and accessories to supplement door systems. Wireless keypads are now almost a mainstay for every garage door opener. Convenience is king. Consumers want unique features that will enhance their lifestyles. How many times have you watched someone back out of their driveway, hit the remote, and then wait until the garage door opener has closed the garage door before driving off? How many times have you driven off in the morning, down the street and wondered, “Did I close my garage door?” The remote that answers this question is just another example of understanding the consumers need for convenience, safety, security and peace of mind.
The consumer has always recognized power as important for garage door openers. It must be spillover from the power desired in cars, lawn mowers, and other household appliances. The consumer has stated he clearly wants a garage door opener with plenty of power to open and close any residential door safely. Gone are the worries that garage door openers will fail to lift doors such as custom wood, carriage house doors or sectional doors with the added weight of moisture after a seasonal shower.
Other Desired Features
To protect their investment, consumers also want a strong warranty and are willing to spend the money for it. Consumers have lived through the era of openers with gear failures, the broken chains and belts, and the jerking of the top section. With the advancements in opener technology, customers have an expectation that the garage door opener will work every time they activate it. Garage door openers must deliver on the promise of the warranty stated.
Safety and security are also key features that are extremely important to consumers. Added safety features such as repair alert can help prevent accidents due to broken springs or an improperly balanced door. Save the door, save the opener, and win a customer for life.
More consumers are using the vacation lock on a daily basis as a value-added security feature—and it isn’t just for vacation anymore. Burglars have learned that they can easily gain entry into a home by breaking into an automobile and using the garage door remote, typically left clipped to the visor. By using the vacation lock, homeowners have added a layer of security to their door system.
Given the consumers need for quiet, power, speed, safety, security and convenience in a garage door opener, one can easily see the need for a next generation of garage door openers. Many manufacturers have tried to implement a few of these features, but haven’t been able to build an opener that fulfills all of consumers’ demands until now. Consumers want a garage door opener that can meet their needs today, and be expandable to meet future needs as well. A quick look at the most recently launched openers brought to market reveals manufacturers have done a great job of meeting all of the consumer demands.
Gary Saletrik is the director of product development, Access Solutions Division of Overhead Door Corp., a manufacturer of doors and openers for residential, commercial, industrial and transportation applications. Based in Dallas, the company has four divisions: Access Systems Division, which features the Overhead Door and Wayne-Dalton Corp. brands; The Genie Co., a manufacturer of residential and commercial operators; Horton Automatics, which includes automatic entrance systems; and TODCO, a producer of truck doors for the transportation industry. To reach Mr. Saletrik, call 469.549.7017; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; visit www.overheaddoor.com .