Chain Drive vs. Belt Drive Garage Door Openers

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The drive mechanism is one of the most important considerations when shopping for a garage door opener. This choice often comes down to a chain drive or a belt drive garage door opener, the most popular systems on the market. In this article, we will describe each and compare them in terms of strength, noise, and price.

What Are Chain Drive Garage Door Openers?

A chain drive garage door opener, the most common type in the U.S., uses a metal chain to open and close the garage door. The chain is part of a larger assembly that is attached to the garage door springs. This configuration suits a wide range of applications.

What Are Belt Drive Garage Door Openers?

A belt drive differs in that the drive mechanism is a rubber belt used slide the trolley. The ends of the belt are joined with an adjustable threaded clip, which can be adjusted to tighten the belt. Running along the rail, the belt wraps around the sprocket at the top of the garage door opener.

What Are the Differences Between Chain Drive and Belt Drive Openers?

Some of the differences between the two include:

Noise Level

Metal components of a chain drive are in direct contact during operation, so you’ll hear the metal clinking together. This may be acceptable for a detached garage but is quite noisy if there’s a bedroom directly above an attached garage. Belt drives are much quieter. However, if both are properly maintained and lubricated, they should not produce an excessive amount of noise. Contact a garage door professional if you hear any unusual sounds.


Chain drives have a higher tensile strength, which suits them for extra-wide, heavily insulated, or heavy garage doors. They are strong enough to lift a door for a two- or three-car garage. It is rare for a chain drive opener to fail. Belt drive systems are reliable so long as they’re properly adjusted, maintained, and don’t take on too high a weight load.


Chain drive openers are more affordable despite having a greater weight capacity. However, friction between a metal chain and other parts can accelerate wear, making the drive less durable. A belt drive tends to have a longer operating life, so it may pay for itself over time.


Garage doors are limited to move at no more than 7 or 8 inches per second. Chain drives run a little slower because the chain bounces as it moves along the rail. Being smoother, belt drives tend to run faster than chain-type openers.


Any garage door opener system requires regular maintenance. Chain drives need specific care such as oiling; white grease is typically the right lubricant to use. And, once or twice during its lifetime, a chain drive may need to be readjusted. Belt drives should not be lubricated, although they may need periodic tightening.

Which Is the Right Choice for Your Garage?

Unless you have a very heavy garage door or an attached garage, the choice of drive mechanism usually depends on your preferences. Factors to review include cost, maintenance, and convenience. Chain drives are often recommended for use in arid climates. While belt drives are slightly faster, the difference is subtle and likely won’t affect your day. If you have any questions about the best mechanism for your home, consult a garage door professional.

Contact Precision Door Service of Las Vegas

Part of a nationwide company, we specialize in all types of Las Vegas garage door service, including repair, installation, and maintenance. We have taken steps to remain open while protecting our technicians and customers during the coronavirus pandemic, such as practicing social distancing and sanitizing our equipment. If you need help choosing the right garage door opener for your needs, speak with an expert by calling 702-637-2700.