what to know about jackshaft garage door openers

jackshaft garage door openers attach to the side of your door and eliminate the need for an overhead rail. here's what to know about them.

when we built our getaway vacation home for the september 2021 issue, we used a roll-up glass garage door in lieu of a sliding door to the deck. but we didn’t want a traditional overhead opener track in our kitchen and living space, so we used a jackshaft opener (also called wall-mount or side-mount) that sits discreetly to the side of the door.

we opted for the genie model 6170 wall mount garage door opener. now, almost everyone on staff wants a similar opener at home. and why not? our garage door on the loading dock at the workshop has one. but is a jackshaft opener right for your garage?

surprisingly small and quiet, a jackshaft opener connects directly to the torsion bar above a garage door. there’s no long chain or belt, eliminating much of the noise you get with an overhead-mount opener. the side-mount opener also doesn’t need a trolley or track system running across the garage ceiling. that can be the biggest benefit of all, especially for a garage with a cathedral or otherwise high ceiling.

to install a jackshaft opener, you’ll need at least eight inches of wall space on one side of your garage door and four inches above the torsion bar. that’s not a problem for most homeowners. one of these openers costs about $150 more than a standard overhead door. you decide if that additional expense (and lower maintenance) is worth it. you’ll also need a three-prong electrical outlet near the opener.

jackshaft openers can feature all the niceties of newer overhead openers, including battery backup, wifi connectivity, safety reversal systems, emergency cord disengagement, led lighting and more, depending on the manufacturer and model.

the genie 6170 wall mount opener uses a 24v dc motor and offers everything we look for in an opener: smart connectivity, led lighting, security features, wireless wall remote and a battery backup system.

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benefits of a jackshaft opener:

  • less noise: fewer moving parts than an overhead opener means quieter operation.
  • diy friendly: jackshafts are easier to diy than an overhead operator.
  • doesn’t take up ceiling space: if your garage has a high ceiling, use that space for storage.
  • low maintenance: with fewer moving parts and no chain or belt, a side-mount opener is cleaner and requires less regular care.

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glenn hansen
a magazine editor and writer by trade, glenn gained experience in home repair when he bought his first old home while working side jobs in construction to supplement his starving-writer salary. he has built several furniture projects from the pages of family handyman magazine and worked through countless fix-it-up projects at home to save a few bucks.