April 29, 2020

Should you choose a Jackshaft opener instead of a trolley-type opener?

If you look at residential home construction trends over the last 7 years or so, you’ll notice that there is one thing that stands out. Garage ceilings are getting higher and higher. Today, 9‑foot ceilings are pretty common. Some homes have 12 or even 14‑foot tall ceilings. Considering that the typical garage door is only about 7 or 8 feet tall, that leaves a lot of room left over above the door. Is there something that can be done with it?

Jackshaft garage door opener

Actually, there is. LiftMaster/Chamberlain, a leading garage door opener manufacturer in North America, decided to provide an answer to the question of unused space. The company took their commercial/industrial garage door opener design and revamped it. The result? A door opener with a secondary shaft – called a jackshaft opener – was born.

What does that mean, though?

So, what does it mean if the design is a jackshaft opener? Actually, it means a lot. Compare it to a conventional trolley-style door opener:

  • Trolley-style:
    • Installed on the ceiling
    • Located in the middle of the door’s path
  • Jackshaft‑style:
    • Located on top of the door
    • Out of the door’s path

In most cases, jackshaft openers are used on standard garage doors between 7 and 8 feet in height, and in situations where there’s at least two feet of headroom above the door. This is a pretty common situation with newer homes, as today’s builders strive to give homeowners more storage space than what was once the norm. Homes with cathedral ceilings can also benefit from jackshaft openers.

Simply moving the opener from the middle of the ceiling to the side of the door offers additional storage space – you can mount shelves, use ceiling hooks, and put additional storage cabinets in place. There are also other situations where jackshaft openers are better suited to solving your needs than a traditional trolley‑style opener, such as the following:

  • If you’ve got low headroom above the door, but you have enough space beside the door, you can use this type of opener. Older homes with concrete block walls are examples of where this situation might occur.
  • If there is a window above the garage door, such as a transom‑style window, or if there’s a false panel above the door, you can use this type of opener. Some builders prefer to put a fixed window above the door to allow light in rather than using a door with windows. In homes with a high‑lift track system, the tracks are not visible through the window. The same thing applies in the case of a false door panel.
Contemporary House

As a note, this type of opener is well suited for garages where you might store your RV. They can be used with garage doors up to 14 feet high and 18 feet wide and can withstand usage of 2 to 4 cycles per day.

Requirements for using a Jackshaft opener

If you’re thinking about installing a jackshaft opener beside the door, you’ll need to meet some minimum requirements. These are as follows:

  • You need at least 8 inches to one side of the door (right or left doesn’t matter).
  • You need a minimum of 3 inches of space over the door.
  • You need to use a torsion‑type spring system. The shaft holding the springs slips into the opener’s housing, where it is turned to open and close the door.
  • You must have an electrical outlet no farther than 6 feet from the area.
  • You need at least 16.25 inches of space for the garage door opener housing.

Key advantages over trolley‑type openers

You Get More Space: Without a garage door opener in the middle of the ceiling, you get more usable space to help you organize your stuff, or just for a clutter‑free view.

Quieter: Jackshaft openers run on direct current (DC), which makes them quieter than alternating current (AC) openers. They start slow, speed up, then slow down again before finishing the open/close movement. For homes with bedrooms above the garage or abutting it, that’s good news.

Cathedral Ceilings: In garages with cathedral ceilings, trolley‑style garage door openers require at least four feet of space behind the door, it may be that there’s just too much space between the opener housing and the ceiling for everything to be secured without using a triangle bracket, which could be dangerous.

Jackshaft Opener

Improved Safety: Because the opener is mounted beside the garage door, there is no risk of it coming loose and falling on your car, or on someone walking beneath. In addition, there is no risk of a thief using a clothes hanger to trip the safety release mechanism that gives you egress/ingress when the power is out.

Battery Backup: With Model 8500W, you get an emergency battery that will open and close your garage door for you in the case of a power outage. Many trolley‑style openers do not have battery backups, and some cannot even be retrofitted with them.

Additional features of note

In addition to the important features we discussed above, your jackshaft opener will also come with a number of other important capabilities, many of which are also available with trolley‑style garage door openers, including the following:

  • MyQ technology that allows you to open and close your garage door from your smartphone or tablet.
  • Photo‑eye based reversal systems for safety during operation.
  • Emergency disconnect cords to disengage the motor.
  • LiftMaster’s Security+ 2.0 system that prevents anyone from copying your remote code.
  • LED lighting that can be installed almost anywhere in your garage.
  • Additional accessories to make life easier.
Jackshaft Opener

Ready to learn more?

If you’re in or around Center Barnstead, contact us today at 1-603-833-7135. We would be happy to discuss anything you might want to know about electric garage door openers.

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