Garage Door Openers: What’s the Difference Between Chain Drive and Belt Drive?

Garage Door Opener

Did you know that the very first automatic garage door opener was designed in 1926? Back then garage doors were operated with two boxes: one that stood outside the garage for opening and one on the inside for closing. Although technology has come a long way in 90 years, the drive systems we use to hoist the heavy door open and closed boil down to two reliable options: chain and belt drive.

You might have asked yourself: “What’s the difference between a belt and a chain drive?” If so, you’re reading the right article. Today we’re going to demystify the differences between these Garage Door Opener (or GCO) drives that help keep your garage door from slamming down on the hood of your car.


While there are several differences between these two options, both are equally dependable and both are made with the quality craftsmanship you expect from Craftsman® products. With that said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty:

CHAIN DRIVES — Similar to bicycle chains, the durable interlocking steel linked chain hoists your garage door effortlessly along a metal bar that’s attached to the garage door — called a J-arm. Homeowners whose garage is directly below their bedroom might hear some noise here and there. However, those homes with detached garages won’t be affected by the metal-on-metal hoisting. You’ll like this drive option because it’s:

  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Common in most households

*For those wanting a chain drive and a quiet night’s sleep, check out the ¾ HP Chain Drive GDO model with the Motor Vibration Isolation System (MVIS®) built for quiet operation.

BELT DRIVES — Similarly designed to the chain driven systems, only this system raises and lowers the garage door using a belt made from a variety of materials including fiberglass, polyurethane or steel-reinforced rubber — which means no metal-on-metal noise. This option can cost $30-$60 more than the chain system but you can count on the belt drive to lift quietly, every time. You’ll like this drive option because it’s:

  • Quiet
  • Dependable
  • Durable

*Avoid the dreaded “Did I close the garage door?” question that can pop into your head halfway through your commute — the Craftsman Smart Garage Door Opener now allows you to monitor and control your garage door anywhere from your phone.

Garage Door Opener

No matter which drive option you choose, you’ll find the one to suit your needs at