When I first was invited to attend Genie’s Blogger Summit in the heart of Amish country in Ohio, I was a little confused. It’s a garage door opener. How much to it can there be? It lifts the door up and then lowers it back down. Well, it turns out there’s a whole lot more to garage openers than meets the eye. Once I started to get past the severe culture shock of the San Diego to Amish country transition (we passed a lot of horse-drawn carriages and women with bonnets riding bicycles), I started to absorb a lot of useful information about garage door openers in general, and Genie garage door openers in specific.
In the interests of disclosure, in addition to hosting the blogger event, Genie will also be providing HomeFixated with two openers, one for our use and one that we’ll put into the rotation in one of our future monthly giveaways. As the only company to assemble garage door openers in United States, a visit to their HQ in Mt Hope and their plant in Baltic was a great way to get enough info to make me feel like a garage door opener geek. However, it’s not a visit I’d recommend if you’re planning on going bar-hopping, clubbing, or anywhere after 8pm.
Chain, Belt or Screw
Nope, that’s not from the list of forbidden technology for the Amish, it’s your three options for the drive mechanism of your garage door. Genie openers (and most openers in general) come in chain, belt and screw drive configurations. Chain tends to be at the budget-conscious end, belt drive is known for its quiet operation, and screw drive is noted for it’s power. In fact, Genie holds a patent on the direct screw drive mechanism where the motor ties in directly to the screw rod, resulting in the most efficient application of power. The screw drive also provides the most consistent speed (up to 13″ per second). Genie’s new screw drives require no lubrication or maintenance which should be music to just about any homeowners’ ears.
Silence is Golden
While we’re on the topic of ears, I have to confess I’m a bit of a silence nut. In fact, I pretty regularly provide mini tirades about various tools being too loud. That’s why I was thrilled to find a company in the home improvement realm that is very serious about making their products quieter. Mike Kridel, Genie’s president, fired up a couple of their belt driven models in the serenely quiet Genie HQ lobby and they were stunningly quiet. On a random side-note, the Genie HQ has postcard countryside views of cows, occasional peacocks, a random camel or two, and a poor dog assigned to a tethered semi-circle of one of Genie’s neighbor’s yards. Back to the topic of sound levels, if your door itself makes any noise (it very likely does), you probably won’t be able to hear the actual opener itself. If you have a detached garage, that might not mean much to you. But if you have a bedroom right over the garage, this is a serious selling point and a strong reason to consider Genie in particular. It’s clear from their products that quiet operation is a major priority for them.
No, we’re not talking Back in Black rock ‘ n roll here. Little did I know that garage door openers come in both AC and DC versions here (referring to the type of motor the opener uses). For those of you less electrically inclined, AC stands for alternating current (what you get out of your wall sockets) and DC stands for direct current (what you get out of your batteries). Naturally, both AC and DC openers plug into your typical electrical outlet, but the motors they use vary. DC motors are extremely light relative to AC motors, making the DC openers much easier to install by the way. While AC has either a full power on or completely off power profile, DC can be stepped up or down according to the power needed for each phase of the garage door lift. The result is a much smoother and even lift of the door. DC motors in Genie openers also have a soft start and stop function. This helps you avoid a heart attack if you’re standing in the garage when the door gets triggered to open or close. It also makes for less wear and tear on your door and track hardware. Genie’s higher-end openers us a 140 v DC motor with plenty of juice for newer three panel doors, doors with windows and heavier doors in general. 140 v is also more than 10 times the juice of many competing DC opener motors.
Never Wonder if You Closed the Garage Again – Genie Closed Confirm Technology
If you’re like 90% of Americans, or 99% of Americans over 40 years old (I totally made this stat up), then you frequently suffer for abrepuertaphobia. This phobia manifests itself anywhere from a block to many miles from your home, or sometimes when you’ve just gotten comfy in bed. You’ve left your garage and you suddenly wonder, “Did I close the garage door?” Depending on how inconvenient double-checking will be, you may opt to hope for the best or make your way back to the door to see if its open. Hoping for the best sometimes results in coming home to an emptied-out garage, or worse yet, an emptied out home if your garage is attached and your house door isn’t locked. Genie thankfully devised their new Closed Confirm technology (which requires their optional network adapter), to help ease the symptoms of, or even cure abrepuertaphobia. Closed Confirm uses a special remote which can operate up to three garage door openers and works with Genie IntelliG and TriloG models. The remote beeps and flashes green when the garage door closes. It also flashes red and gives a warning tone when the garage door does not close properly.
Shed Some Light Where It Belongs
Most garage door openers feature a light on the front of the opener, where the light conveniently illuminates the top of your garage door when open. This leaves you to rummage in the relative darkness of your garage. Genie puts their lights on the back, where the light does the most good. We also really liked their motion sensor feature on select models. The motion sensor helps prevent the light from shutting off at inopportune times, like when you’re carefully snaking your hand into a box of sharp tools, or planning your next footstep among a minefield of kids toys and storage boxes. Some of the Genie models allow for two 100 watt bulbs, the dimly-lit garage equivalent of a Supernova.
Troubleshooting Your Garage Door Opener – The First Thing to Check
One fascinating fact I learned at the Genie Summit was that the vast majority of garage door opener service calls are due to a photo beam obstruction or alignment issue. So, if your door is refusing to close, check to make sure the photo beam wasn’t knocked out of alignment the last time you rolled the lawnmower into the garage. Most of the photo beam sensors have a small LED light on each side that illuminate when you’re on target. If that just fixed your issue, boom!, we just saved you a $100 service call.
How To Save the Life of Your Child, Dog, or Your Neighbor’s Annoying Cat
While we’re speaking of the perils and wonders of photo beams, we should discuss safety. It turns out that prior to 1993, garage door openers didn’t need to have a photo beam to shut off the door when someone or something is under the door. That means if you own a pre 1993
guillotine of death garage door opener, you should definitely consider upgrading to a new model. Hopefully you’ll save your kid, your dog, or your neighbor’s annoying cat that likes to sneak into your garage at the last second. Not to get too morbid, but there’s a reason photo beams became law way back in 1993. The photo beams help prevent injury or what could only be described as an unpleasant death. Genie’s new openers’ Safe-T-Beams were even designed with rounded edges rather than square square corners to help you avoid snagging your extension cord or jump rope on them. Reckless jump roping is, of course, a leading cause of photo beam misalignment. Genie also extended a protective hood to help prevent pesky sunlight from interfering with your door. Bottom line, photo beams are your friend.
Now that you’ve read this crash course and realized your current opener is a noisy, jerky, photo-beam-lacking death trap, you’re probably wondering what’s involved in replacing yours. Genie told us if you’re replacing an existing opener, installation can often be wrapped up in around an hour, making it a great DIY project if you’re sporty that way. A new installation is often in the three+ hour range, but might not be an ideal DIY project if you need to contemplate installing finger-severing tension springs. Genie has this handy Dealer Locator to help you pin down a local dealer and installer. They also have this handy Can I Install It page with a list of necessary tools and a link to some general animated instructions. If you have any experience DIY’ing your garage door opener, let us know your experience in the comments below. For more garage door opener related videos than you can shake a remote at, check out the Genie YouTube Channel.
So, what brand should you buy? If you like to buy products made in the US, Genie is your only option (although a couple of their budget models are made in China). It was also refreshing to hear Genie has a support line that’s actually staffed by real humans residing right here in the USA. That means you won’t be talking to an operator in New Dehli who has never even used a garage door opener. Genie also tests 100% of their units before they leave the plant (that’s in addition to some recurring punishment they regularly put their openers through). Genie’s new models also offer a limited lifetime motor and gearbox warranty. Optional features like the network adaptor for Closed Confirm and, later, a battery backup called Ener-Genie might also sway you.
Genie’s newer remotes feature Intellicode® 2, Genie’s latest encryption system, and auto seek technology that can automatically switch between both 315 and 390 MHz frequencies to reduce interference. Plus, Genie is working on an intelligent wall console that should be available around the end of the year. That wall console features a touch screen and far more options than your current up/down buttons. Genie’s more modular approach also enables you to easily add accessories now or later, all with the same opener.
When it comes to a purchase that’s potentially going to be in your house for decades, my personal advice is to go with the best model you can afford. Genie’s IntelliG and TriloG models are both great options for dealer installed versions. Home Depot also carries several models including the Powermax 1 HP Screw Drive Garage Door Opener 37282U. It’s official: If you made it this far through the post, now you’re a garage door opener geek too!