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Garage Door Motors
The electric overhead garage door motor was invented by C.G. Johnson in 1926 in Hartford City, Indiana. Electric Garage Door Motors did not become popular until Era Meter Company of Chicago offered one after World War II where the overhead garage door could be opened via a key pad located on a post at the end of the driveway or a switch inside the garage.
As in an elevator, the electric motor does not provide most of the power to move a heavy garage door. Instead, most of door’s weight is offset by the counterbalance springs attached to the door. (Even manually operated garage doors have counterbalances; otherwise they would be too heavy for a person to open or close them.)
In a typical design, torsion springs apply torque to a shaft, and that shaft applies a force to the garage door via steel counterbalance cables. The electric opener provides only a small amount of force to control how far the door opens and closes. In most cases, the garage door motor also holds the door closed in place of a lock.
The typical electric garage door motor consists of a power unit that contains the electric motor. The power unit attaches to a track. A trolley connected to an arm that attaches to the top of the garage door slides back and forth on the track, thus opening and closing the garage door.
The trolley is pulled along the track by a chain, belt, or screw that turns when the motor is operated. A quick-release mechanism is attached to the trolley to allow the garage door to be disconnected from the opener for manual operation during a power failure or in case of emergency. Limit switches on the power unit control the distance the garage door opens and closes once the motor receives a signal from the remote control or wall push button to operate the door.
The entire assembly hangs above the garage door. The power unit hangs from the ceiling and is located towards the rear of the garage. The end of the track on the opposite end of the power unit attaches to a header bracket that is attached to the header wall above the garage door. The power head is usually supported by punched angle iron.
Recently another type of garage door motor, known as the jack shaft garage door motor, has become more popular. This style of garage door motor was used frequently on commercial doors but in recent years has been adapted for residential use. This style of garage door motor consists of a motor that attaches to the side of the torsion rod and moves the door up and down by simply spinning the rod. These garage door motors need a few extra components to function safely for residential use.
These include a cable tension monitor, to detect when a cable is broken, and a separate locking mechanism to lock the door when it is fully closed. These have the advantage that they free up ceiling space that an ordinary opener and rail would occupy. These also have the disadvantage that the door must have a torsion rod to attach the motor to.