LiftMaster 8160W Garage Door Opener Review

The LiftMaster 8160W is one of the best values in professional garage door openers due to its reliable chain drive and quiet DC motor. The unit has a sleek look and offers just about everything a homeowner could want. The 8160W features a single light bulb, 100% chain drive, solid t-rail, a quiet DC motor, and smartphone control. Yes, there are fancier units on the market, but they come at a significant cost increase that many are not willing to pay. If you’re looking for a simple, quiet, smartphone controlled garage door opener, then look no further.

What Comes in the LiftMaster 8160W Box?

  • Motorhead
  • 882LMW wall button with wiring
  • 893LM remote
  • Pair of safety sensors with snappy brackets and wiring
  • Pickup arm
  • Header and door brackets
  • Hardware for assembly
  • The one-piece t-rail comes in a separate box

The LiftMaster 8160W garage door opener comes with everything you need to install the garage door opener if you’re doing a retrofit. If you are installing the opener in a home that does not currently have an opener, you will need to purchase punched angle and hardware to hang the unit from the ceiling. A staple gun is also good to have along with electrical tape for the wiring connections if the home is prewired. It’s important to note that if you’re ordering a LiftMaster 8160W online, it most likely will not come with the rail because they are cost prohibitive to ship individually.

What Horsepower is the LiftMaster 8160W?

LiftMaster doesn’t provide a horsepower rating for their 8160W model, since it features a DC motor. Their product guide states the full chain drive mechanism features a 63:1 gear reduction with a 12V DC motor thanks to built in transformers on the circuit board. The speed of the opener is 8.5” per second moving upwards and 6.5” per second when moving downwards. If you had to give this unit a horsepower rating, it would be 1/2 HP in my opinion and rated for most normal applications. We have installed this opener on all types and sizes of garage doors without any issues.

LiftMaster Steel T-Rail

Solid one-piece LiftMaster steel rail
Solid one-piece LiftMaster steel rail

LiftMaster garage door openers come with a solid metal t-rail that spans from the motor to the header. The rail on your garage door opener is what supports the carriage and inner slide as your door opens and closes. LiftMaster has used the same design for years, and it has proven to be one of the strongest in the industry. DIY garage door openers at your local home store will come with a multi-piece rail that needs to be assembled. This is how they can fit the rail into a take home box.

Bent rail on Genie garage door opener.
Bent rail on Genie garage door opener.

Competing brands to LiftMaster have cheapened their units over the years, so they can go after home builder business. Most new homes today in our area have Genie or Marantec openers with thinner rails that can easily fail if the garage door binds up or if you attempt to open your garage door with a broken spring. The photo above shows a Genie opener rail that has completely failed because the garage door was opened while the slide lock was engaged. While this can damage any opener or door, a LiftMaster t-rail will not bend to the point of failure like seen here.

100% Chain Drive System

What many people don’t know is many of the chain drive garage door openers sold at your local home store are not 100% chain drive. These units feature a 50/50 chain and cable system to save money. This is one of the most significant differences between the LiftMaster and Chamberlain chain drive openers. LiftMaster units come with a 100% complete chain drive that goes around the sprocket and front pulley and connects to the carriage with master links.

Built in Smartphone Control with Wi-Fi

The LiftMaster myQ app allows you to control and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world.
The LiftMaster myQ app allows you to control and monitor your garage door from anywhere in the world.

There used to be a time when you had to purchase separate accessories to connect your smartphone to your garage door opener. Those days are over. Today, almost all LiftMaster openers feature built-in Wi-Fi that allows you to control and monitor the unit from your smartphone. The service is free as long as you are using their app and their myQ technology integrates with many popular home security companies.

Only one person is required to set up a LiftMaster myQ account, and they can invite members of their family to the account, so they will be able to use the app as well. To use this technology, you will need a decent 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal in the garage for set up and connectivity. The myQ app allows you to open and close the garage door and view how long the door has been in its current state. We use this app every single day and I can confidently say it works as advertised.

Video of LiftMaster 8160W Running

LiftMaster 8160W Garage Door Opener...
LiftMaster 8160W Garage Door Opener Running Full Cycle

Of course, anyone looking to have a new LiftMaster garage door opener installed would love to know how loud the unit is. Above is a video of the LiftMaster 8160W garage door opener running a full cycle on a non-insulated garage door. As you can see, the unit takes off slowly, picks up speed, and then slows down at the end of the cycle thanks to the DC motor.

The LiftMaster DC motors have a bit of a wine to them, but they are smooth operating and never seem to strain even when installed on heavier steel back insulated garage doors. The 8160W chain drive system is quieter than when equipped on a garage door opener with an AC motor due to the fact the DC motors take off slowly when first activating. This reduces the normal chain slap associated with AC motor garage door openers.

LiftMaster 8160W vs. 8160WB

LiftMaster manufacturers their 8160W model in two variants, the 8160W and 8160WB. The “B” designates their battery backup model, which is equipped with a replaceable battery that allows you to run your garage door opener around twenty cycles in a twenty-four-hour period during a power outage. The 8160WB model is required in the state of California ever since they passed legislation requiring all garage door openers to be equipped with a backup battery.

How Much is a LiftMaster 8160W Installed?

For a 7ft tall garage door, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400-$600 to have a new LiftMaster 8160W garage door opener installed. This would include the motor, rail, wall button, safety sensors, one remote, installation, and tax. The pricing I quoted is highly dependent on where you live, supply chain restraints, inflation, etc. If you have a 8ft tall garage door, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$100 more. A longer rail is needed for taller garage doors, so they can be fully opened on the up cycle.

Don’t Listen to the Reviews on LiftMaster.com

Screenshot taken from LiftMaster.com 8160W product page.
Screenshot taken from LiftMaster.com 8160W product page.

There are many negative reviews on LiftMaster garage door openers on their website. Most of the negative reviews regarding the 8160W model are related to Wi-Fi issues and customer support issues. We have been using the LiftMaster myQ app for over five years and I can say it is one of the most reliable apps we use daily. We have had some small issues, but nothing on a scale that would warrant a three-star review for this opener.

As far as poor customer support goes, I can say the LiftMaster support hotline can be tough to get through to someone in a timely manner. This seems to be the case today with most companies that are experiencing a labor shortage. If you are having trouble getting through or the person on the phone is not helpful, try calling back at a different time. This usually works well for us.

LiftMaster 8160W vs. Genie Garage Door Opener

Genie 2024 garage door opener
Genie 2024 garage door opener

As professionals who make a living installing garage door openers, we can use any brand we prefer to use. The reason we don’t use Genie is that recently they have targeted home builder business and lowered the quality of their garage door openers so much that some models would last only two years.

This may not be the case for all Genie openers, but many models like the 2024, Excelerator, and Chain Glide were poorly designed units that would break far too soon or fall on top of your car. The Genie 2024 unit was one of the most fragile units we have ever come across, and I, personally, feel it should have never been installed in a home. When companies manufacturer product built this poorly, all they are contributing to is filling up landfills.

From what I have heard recently, some professional Genie openers with a solid rail are doing better today when it comes to reliability. I could not personally tell you if this is true, since we don’t use their product. Genie has always made small things like programming much more difficult for the homeowner, which always required them to call a service company for simple tasks. I always believed you should install something in someone’s home that could be managed easily by the homeowner. This is why we have always used LiftMaster and Linear because their openers were easy to diagnose and program.

LiftMaster 8160W vs. Chamberlain Openers

Chain and cable connection point on a Chamberlain garage door opener.
Chain and cable connection point on a Chamberlain garage door opener.

What most people don’t know is the chain drive Chamberlain garage door openers sold at your local home store actually use a cable and chain drive system. Half of the drive system is standard chain and the other half is cable. Like we discussed earlier, LiftMaster chain drive garage door openers actually use a 100% chain drive system.

The next main difference between a LiftMaster and Chamberlain opener is the rail. LiftMaster uses a one-piece solid steel t-rail, while Chamberlain uses a multi-piece hollow tube rail. The reason for this is so homeowners can take a Chamberlain DIY garage door opener home from the store with the rail in the box. This allows the complete package to be shipped efficiently to a store or to the customer’s home when sold online. Most LiftMaster openers sold online do not ship with the rail because it’s cost prohibitive.

Finally, the main difference between a LiftMaster and Chamberlain opener will be warranty. The warranty I am referring to is not the manufacturer’s warranty, but more so the warranty that is provided by the installing company. If you have a LiftMaster garage door opener installed, the installing company will provide you with a parts and labor warranty.

What this means is if the unit has any issues in the first year, most reputable companies will cover the parts and labor for a year. A good company will do this because they have installed a product they stand behind, and they know if a part fails in the first year, that is not normal, and they should do right by their customer. If you have a Chamberlain garage door opener installed by a company, they will provide you with a 1-year labor warranty.

The problem with this is, if you have an issue with your Chamberlain opener, you have to call the Chamberlain support team for help. All warranty on Chamberlain openers is between the homeowner and Chamberlain, as they won’t send replacement parts under warranty to an installing dealer. If your unit needs to be replaced, you will have to remove it yourself and return it to a store or pay someone to do it for you.

Problems with the LiftMaster 8160W Opener

We have had some issues with wall buttons and circuit boards on the LiftMaster 8160W, but they have been few and far between. On a few installations, we had a dead circuit board right out of the box and a few customers have experienced premature wall button failures. But, for the most part, we never hear back from a customer after installing this model unless it’s for something like safety sensor misalignment or blockage. And that happens with all brands of garage door openers.

When we had the extreme freeze down in Texas in 2021, I received hundreds of phone calls from customers who had the Linear LDCO800 garage door opener in their home that we installed. In our area, the power was going on and off like crazy for a whole week straight. This wreaked havoc on many Linear LDCO800 circuit boards to the point a field reset was required to get them operational again. The good news is the field reset solved the issue, and we did not have to replace any circuit boards. The LiftMaster 8160W circuit board held up exceptionally well during the freeze, as we did not get any phone calls from customers having issues during that time.

Customers Love the LiftMaster 8160W Opener

At this point, we have installed hundreds of LiftMaster 8160W openers and our customers are loving the unit. So much so that many times if they have multiple openers in their garage, we will get a call back to replace their second or third openers within a month. This is usually because they enjoy the quietness of the motor and the smartphone control.

Yes, LiftMaster offers lower priced units, but we have stuck with the 8160W because the satisfaction level has been so high among our customers. It’s nice to install something in a customer’s home that provides them with so much satisfaction. Homeowners interact with their garage door opener daily, so it’s important to get something you will enjoy using.

Do I Recommend the LiftMaster 8160W Opener?

Yes, it would most likely be the garage door opener I would install in my home. That is to say, if I didn’t have any additional lighting, battery backup, or camera requirements. I prefer a simple chain drive unit over belt drive models because chains never fail. The top sprocket on the 8160W looks more robust than previous LiftMaster chain drive openers, so I’m hoping homeowners will see longer life from this part as compared to previous models. The 8160W model is one of the quietest chain drive models ever offered by LiftMaster due to having the DC motor with a soft start and stop operation.

Where Do I Buy a LiftMaster Opener?

While you can buy LiftMaster garage door openers online, most ship without the rail because it is about ten feet long. The best place to source a LiftMaster opener is to find a reputable garage door company in your area and have them install it for you. This way, you will have a full parts and labor warranty on the unit in case something goes wrong. If you’re capable of installing a garage door opener yourself, then you can purchase a Chamberlain opener online or in your local home store. The Chamberlain unit will not be the same as we discussed earlier in this article, but it will be very similar in many aspects.

At the time of writing this, there are some LiftMaster openers being sold on Amazon.com. If you read carefully, you will see where the title will say “w/o Rail”. If you already have a LiftMaster opener installed in your home and your existing chain rail is good, you may be able to swap out the motor heads and use your old rail. That is a decision you will have to make on your own. I always recommend doing a full replacement so moving forward you don’t have any issues or failures.

LiftMaster 8160W Brochure and Manual

LiftMaster 8160W Brochure

LiftMaster 8160W Owner’s Manual

LiftMaster 8160W User’s Guide

Conclusion

If you can’t tell already, the LiftMaster 8160W garage door opener has been one of our favorite units to install. The main reason is due to the positive feedback we continually receive from customers and other garage door professionals. This simple unit is not fancy, but it does have everything needed to keep up with the modern household without breaking the budget. The quiet motor equipped with soft start and stop and the convenience of smartphone control make this unit highly sought after by professionals and homeowner alike.

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