What is the Difference Between a Chain Drive, Belt Drive, Screw Drive, and Direct Drive Garage Door Opener?

If you are looking at having a garage door installed, there are options when it comes to the garage door opener you choose. Garage door openers have typically followed the same formula for decades – chain drive, belt drive, or screw drive options. However, a couple of other styles were introduced, which include direct drive and jackshaft models. If you want to know what is the difference between chain drive, belt drive, screw drive, and direct drive, we have the answers you’re looking for.

Chain Drive

One of the most common types of garage door openers, the chain drive is similar to what you find on a bicycle, or at least the concept is the same. A motor works to rotate the threaded steel rod on which the trolley rides. There are not as many moving parts in this type as some of the others, which means it is traditionally easier to work with.

Belt Drive

This type of garage door opener is quite similar to the chain drive garage door opener. The difference is that instead of a chain, there is a belt that works on the trolley to push or pull the door. There are a few materials that the belt is made of which include polyurethane, fiberglass, and steel enforced rubber. This type of garage door opener works the same as the chain drive option and are more quiet to use but typically cost more.

Screw Drive

Screw-driven garage door openers also have fewer moving parts and are another option that is easy to work with and requires less maintenance on average. This one also has a threaded steel rod where the trolley rides and a motor is what rotates the rod. This option is one of the fastest ways to open and close the garage door however, some of the older screw driven door openers can be noisy and subject to severe temperature changes.

Direct Drive

One of the more recent garage door opener types is the direct drive opener. This type of garage door opener is the most quiet due to it only having one moving part. Instead of a trolley, there is a motor that moves down a stationary chain coming from the overhead rail. This motor, developed by German engineers, is linked to the door by a J-arm. This type of garage door opener is surprisingly similar in cost to a belt drive garage door opener but one of the differences is that it also comes with a lifetime warranty.


A jackshaft garage door opener is unique due to how it is mounted. This one mounts beside the garage door on the wall. It raises the garage door via a 24-v DC motor that drives the cable and pulleys and raises the garage door by turning a torsion bar. When it is time to lower the garage door, the motor is reversed. While this option is the most costly of the garage door openers, it is one of the quietest options, it is one of the most reliable ones, and an added bonus is that the overhead space is freed up for storage or ideal for garages that have either high or low ceilings where it is harder to reach or in the way.

If you are considering a new garage door, there are many options when it comes to the type of garage door opener you choose. At Advanced Garage Solutions, we help you choose the right one for your needs and have the experience and professionalism to install everything from start to finish. If you want to learn more or schedule an appointment, simply contact us so we can help.