12 September, 2023

Garage doors with a drive – is it worth choosing them over classic doors?


The best garage doors look the most striking, are the most durable and give your home prestige. Is this all? In a sense, yes, but many other factors are also significant for our choice, such as thermal and acoustic insulation. In this article, we will focus on an equally relevant issue - the operating mechanisms. However, we won't' determine whether we should install a garage door with an electric drive. The consensus among experts here is clear: it is worth it. Therefore, we will focus on why this is so obvious to the experts and why it should not cause dilemmas for us either.

Motorised and non-motorised garage doors – types of garage doors according to how they open

The easiest way to classify garage doors is based on the way they open. There are many detailed subdivisions. For the text, let us distinguish between 4 types:

The first of these are the classic door-doors. They can be installed almost everywhere and have negligible garage opening requirements, but they are the least convenient. They offer poor thermal performance and require a lot of space for the opening leaf.

The situation is similar with up-and-over garage doors. We lift them and hide them under the ceiling, but the door swing still requires a lot of space. Their thermal and acoustic performance is poor. The disadvantage of these two doors is their manual operation.

Roller doors and sectional doors can be fitted with drives. In the case of roller doors, we are de facto dealing with slightly modified roller shutters. They are moderately durable and do not impress in terms of performance. A sectional garage door with a drive is always the best choice.

Sectional door with a drive vs doors without a drive

All motorised garage doors, or at least sectional doors designed for private homes, can also be non-motorised, which is, however, definitely not recommended. Above all, the lack of a drive means that they have to be operated manually, and this is not only an inconvenience associated with getting out of the car and doing manual work, often in adverse conditions.

Muscle-powered garage door opening types do not have automatic mechanisms to protect the user. A falling manual door falls and, if not caught, can cause damage or even hurt someone. An automatic garage door stays away from the user, so, for example, there is no risk of fingers getting stuck between the segments of a folding sectional door.

An electrically operated garage door takes up a minimum of space, is effortless to use and is also the warmest and objectively the best looking of all options due to the varied finish possibilities for its panels. Even glazing and woodgrain textures can appear here, allowing it to be easily matched with other elements. Eko-Okna even has special All-in-One offers with a consistent style:

and, of course, sectional garage doors.

How does an electric garage door mechanism work?

The way the electric mechanism for garage doors works is straightforward. In the case of a roller door, it rolls up the curtain the same way a roller shutter drive does. The sectional garage door drive pulls the sections up using special cables and allows them to fall in a controlled manner.

Contrary to what many people might think, we do not need a lot of energy here at all, as the electric door drive only has to cope with the inertia of the curtain. Manual opening of the doors teaches us that this effort is considerable, but not that much.

This is made possible by a dedicated system of tension springs or, more commonly, torsion springs. Their resilience balances the weight of the curtain. We don't need to fear them breaking because:

We have already established that we must watch the moving curtain while we manually open the garage door. Doors with a drive are usually equipped as standard with, if not photocells, then at least amperometric safety devices. They stop the controlled movement of the door if they detect any obstruction.

Installation of a garage door with a drive

Since the introduction of the INFINITI ZERO system, garage door dimensions and the opening for the door are no longer a limitation for garage door builders. Although we will still be unable to create extremely large or small doors, the mere absence of a lintel does not necessarily mean that a sectional garage door will be unavailable at a given location.

The headroom is important because we must accommodate the door suspension system and the drive. A solution is to hide the curtain not under the ceiling but parallel to the wall. However, this measure wastes a significant part of the garage space and poses a potential danger to its users. It is also easy to damage a mechanism installed this way, so many manufacturers abandon it altogether.

Using the INFINITI ZERO renovation system, we can create a lintel from assembly components. Furthermore, the pre-assembly of some parts of the door and the tensioning of the springs mean that the vast majority of the installation work of the sectional requires only one person. In principle, the assistance of a second fitter is needed at one stage only.

Sectional garage door drive and garage doors with different types of suspension

Suspension is the usual term for the system that balances the weight of the sectional door curtain so that the door is easier to operate, regardless of whether we use a drive or rely on our muscle power.

We have already established that the counterbalance is provided by springs. In practice, we have three solutions:

The F system features front-mounted torsion springs. This is the most effective option and allows the creation of the largest doors. However, it requires a lot of lintel space, making it unsuitable for use with renovation systems. The garage must be suitable for it.

The R and X systems allow the balancing of correspondingly smaller doors. The former still has torsion springs, but they appear at the rear. Although the tension springs of the X system are the least effective, they are very versatile and do not require special conditions in the garage.

An automatic garage door for the 21st century, or how is a garage door controlled in practice?

The installation of drives for garage doors is universally recommended. It is a market standard, and there aren't any good arguments for abandoning it. Especially that door automation, thanks to technological developments, is now versatile and durable.

Remarkably, we won't even be inconvenienced if the power supply to the garage door fails due to a power outage. Prudent homeowners can equip themselves with emergency batteries that will allow them to perform several opening and closing cycles without current in the socket.

However, this is not what we think about when the topic is operating the door drive. Much more exciting are remote controls and smart systems.

When it comes to remote controls, they can take a very different shape. They can be:

The simplest option comes as a key we turn to lower or raise the door. However, this is a relic. In most cases, we will have a button on the wall or a small remote control next to the keys, which sends a radio signal to the door drive.

The most technologically advanced solutions send commands and receive feedback on their execution. This is how so-called two-way devices work, such as those operating with io® technology from Somfy, one of the market leaders in doordrives. Such a remote control can take the form of an app on your phone and be part of a comprehensive smart home solution. Are you sure you have locked the door? Has an unauthorised person opened it? We can find out all this on our phones.

Using a garage door with a drive, especially an INFINITI sectional door or similar, is always the optimal solution. Doors with drives offer the best performance, look the best and are the most convenient. They also provide security and can be operated by anyone. Especially when combined with modern radio control methods, including smart home systems.


See also

Eko-Okna S.A.
Kornice, ul. Spacerowa 4
47-480 Pietrowice Wielkie
NIP: 6391813241, KRS: 0000586067

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