Electric Garage Door Openers Explained

Ever wanted to make your garage door elecrically open but not sure which type of operator is best for you? Baffled by all the variety and accessories? This guide will help explain all the information you need to help you make an informed decision about which type of opertor is best for you.

First things first. Why do you want to make your door electrically controlled? The most common reason for upgrading are:

  • The door is becoming difficult to open
  • You would prefer to be able to operate your door without leaving the car/house etc.
  • You would like to open more than one garage door simultaneously


The operator is not designed to open the door on it's own, it will always need a full set of working springs to do the work for it!

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If your door is becoming stiff or difficult to open...

If you find that your garage door is becoming difficult to open or does not want to remain in the open position, the first thing to look at is the springs. Springs will age over time and will begin to fatigue, becoming weaker and weaker until they eventually snap. This in turn can often result in damage to property in the garage, including your beloved car! As soon as you become aware that your door is feeling heavier than normal or starting to creep closed on it's own, it's time to install new springs. Once this is done, you may add an electric operator when you are ready. If you need replacement springs, you can click here to find the correct springs for you.

So my door is opening OK, I just want to get an operator installed...

Woah, slow down a second! We'll have you up and running in no time but you need to make sure you choose the right operator for your door. There are many different operators to choose from, each designed for different types of door and uses so it is vital you pick the right one for you.

Motor Power

Without a doubt, the most important factor when choosing an operator is to ensure you choose one with sufficient force to open your size of door. Manufacturers nowadays make this very easy by breaking it down into two types; single door & double door. As a rule of thumb, if your door is over 9 feet wide, it is considered to be a double door. In general, a power of around 500N is sufficient to lift single doors, whereas a power of 650N or greater would be recommended for larger double width doors

Double doorExample of a double door

Single DoorExample of single door

Garage Door Type

You are now in a great position to weigh up the benefits of various operators to best meet your individual needs but before we dive right in there is one more important thing to remember: Not all garage doors operate the same way.

The two most popular styles of up and over style door mechanism are called Canopy and Retractable. The difference between the two is most notable when the door is fully open. If your door sticks out by approx. a third of its height and forms a "canopy", hence the name. If your door opens back fully into the garage with very little sticking out (if any) then your door is a Retractable style.

  • Canopy doors will have overhead spring(s)
  • Retractable doors will have springs down either side

Retractable doors can have an electric operator attached to them directly without the need for any additional parts or modification. Canopy doors however, travel in a different way when opening and they require a part called a "Bow Arm Converter" to be fitted. This will allow the horizontal motion of the operator to open the door smoothly, without damaging it.

Side-hinged doors can also be electrically operated with the addition of a 'swing' door kit.

Canopy door 

Retractable door 

 Canopy doors will require a Bow Arm Converter

Retractable doors do not require a Bow Arm converter 

Now that we know which size of operator you need (single or double door), and whether or not you require a Bow arm converter, you now need to ask yourself "what is the most important feature you want in an operator". Are you looking for an all singing all dancing version, or simply something that is really easy to install?

At the bottom of this page we have compiled a handy table to show which features are offered by operator along with handy links to take you directly to the product page to check them out for yourself. Just click on the operator name in the chart and off you go!

Power supply and alternate access

All of the electric operators that we supply work by simply plugging into the mains in your garage. Obviously this means you will require electricity in the garage. All of the operators are low power consuption. If you don't have power in your garage, don't worry, the innovative Sommer Aperto X-Box comes with its own rechargable battery pack.

You will also require alternate access into the garage. Due to the hightened security of an electric garage door opener, in the case of you breaking or losing your remote controls, or in the case of a power cut, you will not be able to access your garage. Most garages will have an alternate entrance, be it via a side door or if the garage is attached to the house. If yours is free standing with no second entry point, this will require the addition of an emergency release device which is a small keylock installed through the garage door which will pull on the release chord to disengage the motor allowing you to open the door manually.

Key product features?

One last thing - bear in mind that if you are unsure about which operator is best for you, you can always call our technical support line. We know this can be a confusing choice to make and we here to answer any questions you might have.

Here we break down the key features of electric openers:

  • Opening force - Simply put, this is the amount of force the unit can exert on the door to open it. Generally speaking a higher force is used for larger doors.
  • Number of remotes included - This is the number of remote controls included in the box with the operator kit .
  • Detects obstructions - This means you can add sensors to the operator to detect if something is in the way of the door to prevent damage or injury.
  • Seperate control box - Is the circuit board on the operator (on the ceiling) or away from the operator (on the wall).
  • Courtesy button - Does the kit come with a wall switch to operate the system from a convenient location in the garage.
  • Ease of installation - If you are installing it yourself, would you like it to be a straightforward to set up?
  • Plugs into wall socket - The operator does not require a specialist junction box installed by a qualified electrician and can be plugged into a normal power socket.
  • Temperature and Humidity - Do you want the operator to be able to monitor the temperature and humidity in the garage and adjust accordingly?
  • Accepts Fingerprint reader - An additional level of security that reads the users fingerprint to open the door. This can be used either internally or externally.
  • Does not require electricity on site - These operators are run on a bank of rechargeable batteries that can be swapped out and charged at home.
  • Accepts Solar panels - These operators are capable of charging their batteries on site via seperate solar panels.
  • Suitable for low headroom areas - Not all garages have a lot of height available above the door or vehicle. These operators can be modified for low headroom areas.
  • Emergency release device - An emergency release device allows for the door to be operated in the event of a loss of power to the system (available seperately).
  • LED lighting - A low power (and low cost) lighting solution vs traditional bulbs.

All of these features are important to some people, whilst a more simplistic system is preferable to others. That is why there are so many choices available.



**Additional accessories sold seperately

Duo 650
Aperto L
Aperto LX
Aperto X-Box
650nm 550nm  800nm  600nm  550nm 
Number of
remotes included
Ease of
Medium Easy Easy Medium Easy
Control Box
Can Detect
Plugs into
standard wall socket
humidity sensor**
Temperature sensor**
Fingerprint Reader**
Does not require
on-site electricity
Accepts Solar
Suitable for low
headroom areas
Accepts Emergency
Release device**
LED lighting      
Works for
side hinged doors**

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Operator image 1 

Operator image 2