Overhead Door Horsepower

Pole Barn Guru Blog

What Horsepower Should a Garage Door Opener Have?

Good question, and important enough to be well deserving of its own article. It was asked of me by JAME from CAMBRIDGE:

“Just bought a home with a great pole barn already on it. My question is I want to install a door opener on the big door just not sure what HP should be on it, would you have any idea?
Thank you for your time.”

DEAR JAMIE:

As I know nothing at all about the overhead door on your building, so I will probably overkill you with information.

When it comes down to it, the horsepower needed for your opener really depends upon how often you want to replace your opener.

Seriously.

At our Newman Lake, Washington home, our small post frame garage has two 9 foot wide by 6’8″ tall wooden overhead doors. I’d never recommend putting wood overhead doors on any garage, after having them myself. They are very heavy, and they require frequent staining, varnishing or painting. I’d guess mine have been done at least ten times in 25 years. They do look nice, but just not worth it in my humble opinion.

These doors originally had 1/4 horsepower operators on them – the most used overhead door opener had to be replaced, it just plain wore out. I went to a 1/2 horsepower unit, which was virtually the same price!

Here are the three most common horsepower sizes and the suggested doors which can be used with them. With any size opener it is critical for the door to be installed correctly, properly balanced, and the weight is evenly distributed.

1/3 HP: Can technically lift any garage door, but is not always recommended because the long term benefit isn’t high. This type of horsepower is often used for single steel garage doors which are not heavy. Although it is used for lighter doors, one could get away with using it on a heavier door if they understood they might need to replace the opener more often than one with more horsepower. It is the cheapest of the three and least power.

overhead door opener½ HP: This size opener is the most popular out of the three and is recommended for single or double garage doors with average weight. An opener with more horsepower will last longer. It is the second cheapest of the three with medium power.

3/4 HP: Oversized, large, and heavy doors will need an opener with ¾ horsepower. This is recommended by most due to the fact it will last the longest and provide the best long-term outcome. This is the most expensive out of the three but it is durable and the longest-lasting so you are receiving the most for your buck. Maximum power.

As with anything building related, you have one opportunity to do things right or wrong. I encourage everyone to (even if it takes a little more investment initially) err on the side of safety and practicality. I don’t want to have to spend a bunch of time, effort and money down the road to redo or replace something I could have solved initially (and I have made plenty of mistakes in this area in my lifetime).

Do it right, you won’t regret it.

For other reading on Overhead Doors: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/pole-building-faqs/overhead-doors/

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